With comforting homemade dishes and heaps of old-fashion charm, the beloved 123-year old Duarte’s Tavern is a delight anytime of year, but it really shines during the holidays. In a cozy dining room strewn with wreaths, you can chase away winter chills with a steaming bowl of artichoke soup and a slice of pie fresh from the oven. Plus, from now until New Year’s Eve, you can toast the season with a delicious spiked eggnog that will have you feeling holly jolly!
Established in 1894 by Frank Duarte (pronounced DOO-art), one of many Portuguese immigrants that made their way to the Coastside in the late 1880s, Duarte’s began as a simple saloon and barbershop in what was then the stagecoach stop town of Pescadero. After Prohibition shut its doors, Duarte’s reopened in 1935 as a soda-fountain style eatery, and in the decades that followed, gained a loyal following with fresh local seafood, homemade pies, and warm hospitality. In 2003, the small town restaurant was honored with an American Classic Award from the James Beard Foundation—a notable distinction within the foodie world! Today, Duarte’s Tavern is still a family affair, run by the fourth generation of Duartes who continue the cherished tradition of rustic, seasonal dishes served in a warm convivial atmosphere.
Beyond Artichoke Soup and Crab Melts
Duarte’s is legendary for its crab cioppino, crab melt, and a crowd-pleasing, creamy artichoke soup laden with tender artichoke hearts (do like the locals do and get the soup “half and half,” mixed with cream of green chile). Yet owner Tim Duarte, the great-great grandson of founder Frank Duarte, encourages diners to explore beyond the classics. Tim’s father, the late Ron Duarte, instituted the kitchen’s fervent commitment to fresh seasonal ingredients which not only means local seafood and vegetables plucked from the restaurant’s backyard garden, but also exceptional daily specials. On your next visit, try the soup of the day, artichoke raviolis, and fresh spinach salad made with feta cheese from nearby Harley Farms.
Fresh Handmade Pies
If you’ve ever forked into a slice of one of Duarte’s homemade pies, you owe the pleasure to Frank’s wife Emma who started the tradition in the 1930s. Today, homemade crusts are hand-folded each morning and stuffed with fillings such as apple, pecan, and the restaurant’s signature olallieberry. Duarte’s also makes a fantastic mincemeat pie, a traditional confection whose rich, sweet filling includes fruits, Christmas spices, and rum-and-brandy cured meat (Duarte’s cures the meat in-house over the span of 30 days). Whichever you choose, you can enjoy a slice—à la mode, naturally—or nab a whole pie to take home. To ensure you get your favorite, reserve your order at least one day in advance, especially during the holiday season.
Yuletide Cheer with a Holiday Eggnog
We’ve saved the best for last: seasonal drinks that flow from the historic 1894 bar—miraculously saved from a fire that ravaged much of Pescadero in the 1920s. You’ll enjoy fresh olallieberry margaritas throughout the summer, but when temperatures drop, there’s a homemade eggnog that’s sure to make your spirits merry and bright. Available throughout the month of December, the creamy sipper is like a high-octane Christmas milkshake fashioned from brandy, rum, eggs, sugar, cream, and a dusting of nutmeg. After one sip, you’ll see why locals clamor for it every year. Hurry over soon because they whip up their last batch of the year on New Year’s Eve!