Pacifica a seaside retreat just 30 minutes from S.F.

It is home to the Taco Bell with the best view in the world.

In Pacifica, the fun only starts there. This small charming town on state Highway 1 is also home to some stellar restaurants, a great wine bar and amazing hiking. And it’s only 30 minutes from San Francisco. A day trip here can make you feel like you have taken a mini-vacation in the blink of an eye.

The city also boasts a bowling alley called Sea Bowl with a dive bar that also has views of the Pacific Ocean. You can have affordable local beer by the pint and cheese-smothered fries while donning those groovy 1950s bowling shoes.

Bowling can be a workout if you dance around enough while keeping score and keep lifting those heavy balls. Sea Bowl is like a blast from the past, and, with more than 30 lanes, availability is good. The simple bar-restaurant has a commanding ocean view and serves classic fare like curly fries, burgers and local beers on draft.

A Grape in the Fog — named in tribute to the Bay Area’s iconic weather pattern — is an appealing wine bar that often has live music. It offers an eclectic selection of mostly California wines with a handful of Spanish bubbles and a Portuguese red. There’s also a $5-a-glass happy hour from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. daily.

Two great Peruvian restaurants are in the area. I could eat here three or four nights a week.
Pacifica’s Puerto 27, home to the more consistent food between the two, features pisco sour cocktails and pisco (Peru’s grape brandy) flights. Lots of typical ceviche and traditional dishes, such as the fried seafood dish jalea, dominate the menu.

La Costanera is in Montara, about five miles south on Highway 1. It has stunning views of the ocean and cozy fire pits outside. The food can be hit or miss, with the occasional dull ceviche. However, it is an amazing place to wrap up an evening and perhaps enjoy a pisco sour. If you want to spend the night, the Ritz-Carlton has a fairly stunning property a touch down the coast in Half Moon Bay.

Pacifica offers beautiful trails of all lengths and sizes sprinkled throughout the hills overlooking the ocean. Parking is usually easy, and many trails are good for biking. Mori Point is full of wildflowers and stunning views, and offers short but challenging hikes of under 2 miles.


Sea Bowl: 4625 Coast Highway, Pacifica, (650) 738-8190
A Grape in the Fog: 400 Old Country Road, Pacifica, (650) 735-5854
Puerto 27: 525 Crespi Drive, Pacifica, (650) 733-7343
La Costanera: 8150 Cabrillo Highway, Montara, (650) 728-1600

Liza B. Zimmerman is the principal of the Liza the Wine Chick, a writing and consulting business. She has been writing, educating and consulting about wine, cocktails and food for two decades and has worked almost every angle of the wine and food business, from server and consultant to jobs in distribution, education and sales.

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