Barbara’s Fish Trap
281 Capistrano Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Overlooking the harbor in Half Moon Bay is Barbara’s Fish Trap, a fun little restaurant with a great wait staff. This is a unique, casual place to enjoy lunch on a beautiful warm day. Sample its awesome sourdough bread while you sip the potato-based clam chowder flavored with herbs and spices and stuffed with big chunks of fresh clams. Chowder comes as a side with the crab sandwich. Or for a more filling meal, try fish and chips fried tempura style – light, crispy outside, moist inside – or one of the seafood pasta dishes. Barbara’s also has a Senior/Kids menu. There is a small outdoor seating area or you can grab a table near a window for maximum viewing pleasure. Parking is across the street, and you might have a short wait for a table, but it will be worth it.
Miramar Beach Restaurant
131 Mirada Road
Half Moon Bay, CA 94019
Originally built as a Prohibition-era speakeasy, the Miramar Beach Restaurant’s historic building was ruled from 1918 to 1955 by a colorful lady named Maymie. Apparently Half Moon Bay was a friendly port for “rum runners” transferring illegal cargo to shore for transport to nearby San Francisco. Nearly all the speaks have disappeared now and you don’t need a password for the remaining ones, just a reservation. Check out the photo collection while waiting for your table. Reserve this restaurant for that romantic, special-occasion meal. With its beautiful ocean view, it so caters to ambiance that in addition to the menu, the website makes note of both sunset and low tide times – important because the patio somewhat disappears at high tide. Produce, seafood and meats are locally sourced with a seasonally-changing menu. While steaks and seafood are prime choices here, vegetarian and gluten-free diners are readily accommodated. Thursday night is Hawaiian Night, featuring a three-course menu for under $20. Also, the Miramar hosts a Sunday champagne brunch featuring salmon benedict and sourdough French toast.
Moss Beach Distillery
140 Beach Way
Moss Beach, CA 94038
Another speakeasy-turned-restaurant, this historic place even boasts about its own ghost. But that’s not the highlight here: the view is. Built directly on top of a cliff, the back patio has the ultimate dining deck complete with warm plaid blankets to ward off the chill. The bar hosts a happy hour, the hard-working wait staff is attentive and looking out over the beach onto the Pacific tops off the experience. Reserve a window table for about 30 minutes before sunset and dine on perfectly-prepared classic American food.
Related: Best Cheese Plates In The Peninsula
370 Bridge Parkway
Redwood City, CA 94065
Classy but casual, Mistral, which has been an Open Table Diner’s Choice winner, is a fabulous Peninsula location for waterfront dining on New American cuisine. It offers a blended menu of French, Mediterranean and seafood, with seasonal tweaks and environmentally-conscious dishes. This restaurant is a great venue for special-occasion lunches or business dinners, plus it serves Sunday brunch featuring live music to complement the food. Ask to be seated on the cozy patio where you will sit under a tent near the outdoor fireplace with views of the lagoon to complete the ambiance. If you dine at brunch, sample the Dungeness crab cake benedict with chipotle hollandaise sauce.
8150 Cabrillo Highway
Montara, CA 94038
La Costanera is an economical Michelin-starred Peninsula restaurant featuring Peruvian cuisine and a stunning view of the Pacific. To maximize your experience, arrive before the sun goes down: you can inquire as to the best time when you call in your reservation. The ambiance here is definitely romantic so you’ll want to leave the kiddies with burgers and a babysitter. Tuesday through Friday, start your evening with happy hour. Then any evening as the sun sinks slowly into the ocean, revel in the tempting menu. You may select crema de zapallo (not just pumpkin soup) to warm you up on those chillier nights or splurge on a few small plates including yucca balls with chorizo and spicy scallops. There are several seating choices both indoor and outdoor, but each seat in the house provides a great view.
Nina Holtons creative background in travel and cooking and a passion for writing empowers her to share the Bay Area scene with readers avid for information about where to go and what to do. A free-lance online journalist, she lives in Santa Clara; and her work can be found at Examiner.com.