August 22, 2011

Casey's Cafe -- A Half Moon Bay Gem

   Even though we live in San Francisco, arguably one of the most livable cities in the U.S., there are times when we feel the need to hit the ZipCar lot and get out of town. Because we live in the far west side of the city, our easiest choices are to go north to the Wine Country or south toward the beach cities on the coast. If we have an entire day, we go north — the Napa/Sonoma/ Mendocino wineries are about one and a half to two hours away. However, if our time is more limited, and we still want to get a quick fix on a universe that isn't all paved with concrete, we head to Half Moon Bay — 28 miles and 30 to 45 minutes south along the Pacific Coast through forested hills and down some of the most beautiful coastline California has to offer.
   We usually take the road through the coastal town of Pacifica. From there, it's a short drive to Half Moon Bay and its historic downtown, where we check out some of the many shops and art galleries before choosing where we want to eat our lunch. (For those with more time, there are a number of pleasant bed-and-breakfasts specifically designed to help visitors unwind.)
   As a member of iDine, I always look to see if an iDine restaurant can be one of our choices. A new Half Moon Bay favorite is Casey's Café, located on Main Street in Zaballa Square. Specializing in lighter fare — omelet's, soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, and enticing desserts — Casey's uses the fine local produce, artisan breads, and selects high-quality vendors for the varied menu items. Additionally, owner Casey has responded to her customers' requests by offering vegetarianvegan, and gluten free options. All of the beef used is hormone and additive free, and she makes a special effort to source organic produce whenever possible.

   Of special note: For the gluten free options, Casey is committed to making the food so delicious that even those who do not follow a gluten free diet will find these special menu items enjoyable. Pancakes, coffee cake, lobster chowder, crab tacos, pasta, and a super-luscious polenta-based lasagna — and all gluten free!
   At our latest visit, my husband chose the Casey's Burger (beef with Italian sausage, caramelized onions, and mushrooms), accompanied by a green side salad. I picked the Sunrise Scramble, a plate full of eggs, crisp bacon, green salad, fried potatoes, and seasonal fruit. The soup of the day was a house-made Curried Carrot, listed as vegan and gluten free. So I ordered a cup.
   The burger was juicy and flavorful, my eggs and bacon were top-notch, and the salads and fruit were at peak freshness. The fried potatoes were perfect — crisp on the outside, soft and pillowy inside. In fact, all of the food was pretty yummy; however, the most intriguing menu item was the soup. Different from the traditional creamy texture associated with carrot soups, this is a lovely house-made broth flavored with celery root and sweet potato, along with the curry spices. Because it is so light (only 20 calories a cup), it makes the perfect appetizer for even the heaviest meal.
   The environment is warm and friendly, and the staff is helpful and friendly. There is even an outside patio for those rare sunny days on the Northern California coast. Prices are in keeping with those in a medium-priced resort town; figure on $15 per person.
   Because this was only to be a short break, once we finished our meal, we headed back to our city life, but not before stopping by the Moss Beach Distillery, a historical landmark and designated as a California Point of Historical Interest. In the late 1920s (when it was called Frank's), it was a popular nightspot for film stars and San Francisco politicians. Many writers and mystery fans make a pilgrimage to Moss Beach, paying homage to famed mystery writer Dashiell Hammett, who frequented the place and even used it as a setting for one of his detective stories. After taking in the spectacular coastal view, we made a quick stop at a local farm stand for the delicious local honey and in-season produce.

328 Main Street, #101
Half Moon Bay, CA 94010
Phone: 650.560.4880

Originally published at
August 19, 2011

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