Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Oct 10, 2013 08:06 PM

Bloody Mary near San Mateo or San Carlos

We're heading for lunch to the Refuge in San Carlos on Friday October 18th to check the $17 sammie out. Wondering if there is a great Bloody Mary anywhere nearby. Bar with lots of character/dives are extra points. Coming from the East Bay across 92.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Warning: I don't drink a lot of bloody marys (maries?). I consider it more of a morning drink and I'm not much of a morning drinker - although I've had some epic ones, my favorite had stoli pepper (pertiskova) and strong horseradish.

    I can't think of the "obvious place" for you, here are some thoughts though. That part of the peninsula is very strong on chinese and japanese, which don't go much for the mixed drinks.

    That having been said, I think I do have the answer.

    That's Alice's Retaurant, up "the hill". It's a good fun drive up, and a little roadhouse nestled in the redwoods. It's a favorite of motorcyclists, and a good mix of Sport, Touring, and a few Harley guys. Known for the burgers - not a great burger, but when you factor in the setting and price, it's an awesome stop. It's got a patio area and an inside. I usually have iced tea there (because I'm driving, 8 hour bottle to throttle rule on the motorcycle), but I notice they specifically call out the bloody mary on their menu and say they have multiple spice levels. The place does a nice brunch, and is open all afternoon. The good drive is actually up 92 to skyline, S on Skyle, and enjoy about 12 miles of Grade A twisties before you drop into old la honda. Not as direct as other routes, but the drive along the ridge then through the redwoods sets the mood - and is super fun, if you like a good drive (careful with that alcohol). There's also a few nice hikes up there, if you're making a day of it - and you might consider dropping down Woodside Rd toward the ocean and coming back 1 through HMB - there's a few good eatin' and drinkin' options there, like checking out the fish coming off the docks at HMB harbor, if you haven't done that.

    Now --- if you don't want to drive all the way up to Alice's ---

    I kind of like Piacere. The bar area is pleasant. Should do a good bloody. Don't go to Town, across the street. I know it's not well regarded, they hire for cute bartenders more than good bartenders, but it's the only place with decent blues, and I've always find the kind of grizzled guys drinking vodka that you find in a typical dive.

    There's the place on a corner that used to be Mythos and changed names a few weeks ago (on their building). Yelp still calls it Mythos. Not divey, but I really like the place in the afternoon - have occasionally had business meetings there. Airy bar with big windows, full bar, but have never had a mixed drink there.

    The place that SHOULD be good is the Carlos Club, I think it's your kind of dive bar, but it opens at 4pm. If you do end up in that area at 4pm, you could do worse - caveat that I haven't drunk there.

    There's a new hawaiian place near The Refuge, and they make a few good cocktails (as well as a tasty Kailua Pig Quesadilla). Nice and loungy for sitting around, but not divey. Specializes in rum-ish tropical drinks, and is the closest cocktail to The Refuge that I can think of - it's even a short walk.

    Further afield:

    Yuppie Bar in San Mateo is the kind of dive you might like, and is a straight shot from 92. I haven't drunk there.

    The Swingin' Door is a dive, also up in San Mateo, but more of a beer joint. I like it, and it's near some great chinese places, and you can get wallies.

    Another place I like in San Mateo is O'Neils. I know, it sounds like another fake-y irish place, but it's got reasonable authenticity, and I love that they have menus from lots of local restaurants (like Jeffery's burgers next door). I had an enterpreneur's group that would meet every 2 weeks there - and everyone would order from different restaurants. Not that helps you.

    More out of the way:

    My favorite cocktails in that general area are at Martin's West, RWC. The head bartender is a stockily built gent with close cropped hair who looks more prizefighter than mixologist, and he'll whip you up something good. They do their own infusions and such. The lady there who ends up working often is also good but not The Chief. Mr RL is also a fan of Martin's West, so you can read his posts.

    Also - there are a few urban wineries and distilleries. See if you can stop in at Old World Spirits (which I've never found but is nearby in San Carlos, theoretically), and the place that does Woodside Vinyards (pretty far south but a reasonable winery), same address as "Auto Vino", great stop if you like fancy cars, see if you can get a tasting. Don't go to Dominco's [sic], the wine is pretty awful. If you're not going to Alice's, wineries / distilleries might be a better post-Refuge than a bloody mary search.

    As a warning, if you get to about 3:30 on Friday and you're about to hit the road, don't be in RWC, don't even think about the Dumbarton. It's a god-aweful slog back to the east bay these days --- crossing back on 92 isn't so bad. You're better off finding ANYTHING to do on the peninsula (filoli? computer history museum? a movie?) than spending the 1.5 hours getting back north. Previously one would cross on the Dumbarton easily (my commute, on and off, for decades) but the new Facebook traffic has made the Dumbarton approach HORRENDOUS - an extra 25 to 30 minutes.

    Let us know where you end up....