Last updated on February 3, 2024
The San Francisco Peninsula lies south of San Francisco and separates the San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean. The area spans from San Francisco on the north to Mountain View on its southern end. In between, you can enjoy the cities of Burlingame, Palo Alto, Half Moon Bay, Menlo Park, Millbrae, Pacifica, San Bruno, and San Mateo, to name a few. Visiting you can divide your visit between the coast and the bayside. For this article, we will be discussing the coastal side of the San Francisco Peninsula.
When considering the San Francisco Peninsula, we are all familiar with Silicon Valley, which comprises a good portion of the Peninsula, but the area is not just about tech. Its beauty lies around the Pacific Ocean and the San Francisco Bay.
My visit took me to Pacifica and Half Moon Bay.
Pacifica, which means peaceful when translated from Spanish, is just that. Its beaches and vibe are very calming. The area lies in San Mateo County. The city spans a six-mile stretch of the Pacific Ocean and is defined by its sandy coastal beaches adjacent to the hills of Sweeney Ridge and Montara Mountain. From its rocky bluffs, the area is known for its surfing.
My visit took us to Rosalind Bakery. Who doesn’t want to start their day by breaking bread? In comes Matthew Kosoy, a software geek turned baker. Like wine, Matthew believes that baked bread can bring people together. The old saying breaking bread comes to mind when visiting Rosalind Bakery. Named after Matt’s grandmother, the bakery is known for its sourdough bread, a San Francisco specialty.
For those with dietary issues, there are gluten and dairy-free options. My favorite is the seeded bread. Rosalind also makes pastries, savory dishes, and cookies. Paying tribute to Matt’s hometown of Philadelphia, he makes hoagie rolls. You will also find some non-bread items.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay started as an agricultural area that the Mission San Francisco de Asis used for grazing cattle, horses, and oxen. By 1841, it began a land grant known as Rancho San Benito. Soon after, the area became San Mateo’s first town. The town, then known as San Benito, went through several incarnations. Renamed Spanishtown, it was recognized for its fishing industry. By 1874, Half Moon Bay’s name came to fruition and has since remained. Throughout this time, coastal agriculture endured and is still a prominent aspect of the landscape. Today, it is a sleepy beach town with rural charm and its surrounding coastline to its redwood groves.
California’s Pumpkin Capital
In the fall, the landscape is dotted with Pumpkin patches, and the race to see who has the largest pumpkin is on. Half Moon Bay is shrowded in orange and is fast taking over as the Pumpkin Capital of the world. It is a toss-up between Half Moon Bay and Morton, Illinois. Being a California girl, my vote would be California.
Every fall is a feast of autumn color at Farmer John’s Pumpkin Farm. Find all sorts of varieties of pumpkins, from small to humungous. Wander the patch to find pumpkins, gourds, and other seasonal vegetables, including squash.
The pumpkins last, too. As of the publication of this article, I still have one pumpkin and a gourd. I am a sucker for fall colors, so even in January, I get to enjoy the reaps of harvest.
Wining and Dining in Half Moon Bay
While visiting Half Moon Bay, one must dine at a local favorite, Fattoria e Mare, an Italian restaurant and the passion project of Chef Pablo Estrada. The cuisine is authentic and created with the freshest produce, meat, and seafood. It is a “farm and sea” restaurant.
Chef Pablo came to San Francisco from Mexico in 1993 with a family background in baking. In San Francisco, he started as a baker at Café Pescatore. He soon became chef at some acclaimed restaurants, including Campton Place, Restaurant LuLu, Palio d’Asti, Red Herring, St. Regis Hotel, Luce at Intercontinental Hotel, and Rose Pistola. While at Luce, he received a Michelin Star four years in a row. He left Rose Pistola when it was time to open his restaurant in Half Moon Bay.
The restaurant offers quaint charm and ambiance. The food presentation is inviting, and the food is outstanding. Beginning with seasonal fresh salads to the Roasted Butternut Squash with Burrata, followed by the Pork Chop, Mostarda, and Chicories. I was satiated. Even the desserts were delicious.
The cuisine paired excellently with family-owned Barterra Winery wines, whose urban tasting room resides just down the street. Sourcing grapes from small farmers and producers in top AVAs throughout California, Barterra offers an eclectic portfolio.
Paul Minoletti’s Italian family settled in North Beach, San Francisco. Both his Grandfather and father made wine for the family. Hence Paul’s passion for wine. Bart and Mary Colucci founded Barterra in 2005 when they were 71. By 2019, they decided to retire and turned the winery over to the Minoletti Family.
During our meal at Fattoria, we visited Lodi and Mendocino through Vermentino, Sojorn Red Blend of Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, Carignane, and Alicante, and Odyssey Red Blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah: the finale, a French Colombard from Mendocino.
The San Francisco Peninsula Coastal Side
While visiting San Francisco, take a day trip to enjoy the sites of the San Francisco Peninsula. The coastal views will captivate you with California’s scenery. The laid-back lifestyle of the Peninsula towns takes you away from the hustle of San Francisco—a glimpse at whales and dolphins that wander up and down the coast. Fill your day with fresh sea air and natural wonder.
Note: Common to the wine industry, this writer received a hosted visit to the San Francisco Peninsula Coastal Outing. While it has not influenced this review, the writer believes in full disclosure.