Great tastes of San Mateo County

I’m sure the last few posts have piqued your interest in San Mateo County, California. So much to see and do! But for all you culinary travellers like me, I’d like to share some of the great San Mateo restaurants where I ate (and drank!) while in the area.

chocolate-martini

The “Death by Chocolate Martini” at Kincaid’s in Burlingame was made with Stoli Vanil Vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, Creme de Cacao White, and topped with whipped cream and chocolate shavings. I had it before versus after my meal as I wanted to taste the nuances of the drink before eating seafood. It was a tad sweet, but probably wouldn’t have tasted so if I’d had it after the meal as a dessert.

san mateo restaurants offer a lot of great seafood

One of my favourite meals while in San Mateo County was the amazing lunch we had at Kincaid’s Classic American Dining. I loved the beautiful waterfront setting (it’s located right on San Francisco Bay) in the community of Burlingame. I loved the bright interior, great food and service … and they make a darn good chocolate martini!

food-san-mateo

The Seafood Louie Salad at Kincaid’s was one of my favourite meals in San Mateo County.

My lunch at Kincaid’s was the Seafood Louie Salad featuring fresh avocado. Loved it. Healthy and tasty, with a cold beverage of fresh strawberries and basil. There are several Kincaid’s in the US, and two other California locations at Redondo Beach and Oakland.

san-mateo-restaurants

The outdoor patio at the Half Moon Brewing Company offers great views of the bay.

I also enjoyed the amber ale, seafood chowder, and Portuguese Fisherman’s Stew at the Half Moon Brewing Company in Half Moon Bay–a highly recommended stop for anyone visiting San Mateo County. Half Moon Bay is scenic, laid back, and considered an ‘escape destination’ for residents of San Francisco and the Bay Area. It’s also home to Maverick’s–the largest surfing competition in the world (held sometime between early December and early February, whenever the waves are at their peak.) And for giant pumpkin lovers, there’s the Half Moon Pumpkin Fest in October.

san-mateo-county

You’ll enjoy tasting the award-winning Barterra Wines paired with some unique chocolate creations.

While in Half Moon Bay, be sure to visit Barterra Winery, right on Main Street. They have a nice selection of chocolate for sale, and to taste with their various vintages. A truly unexpected but delicious pairing was the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay paired with Lakrids B–a black Danish liquorice covered in white Belgian chocolate blended with passion fruit!

Hats off to owners Bart Colucci and his wife Mary who have come up with some very memorable pairings that showcase their wines with a selection of chocolate delicacies. I was honoured to be gifted a bottle of Elegancia Port, a specialty of Barterra Wines sold in custom bottles from Italy and featuring a photo of Mary’s grandmother on the label.

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The Elegancia Port from Barterra Wines in Half Moon Bay is quite a delicacy and paired nicely with dark chocolate truffles.

creative cookery in san mateo county

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The well-stocked bar at Pausa in San Mateo featured some excellent vintage Italian wines.

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The chestnut mini gnocchi at Pausa in San Mateo was delicious, beautiful to look at, and undoubtedly very labour-intensive to make.

My favourite dinner in San Mateo County–without question–was my first night in town at Pausa Bar & Cookery, a contemporary Italian restaurant located right in the heart of downtown San Mateo. No, I didn’t have seafood. But I did try some terrific charcuterie, and a lovely offering of chestnut gnochetti sardi–mini gnocchi made from chestnut flour in the Sardinian tradition served with asparagus, shiitake mushrooms, and a goat milk ricotta. It was incredible. I also tasted my friend’s excellent veal chop, and the wood-fired pizza. All great. But the pièce de resistance was marchesa di cioccolato–the chocolate marquise flourless chocolate cake adorned with salted caramel, truffle burrata gelato, and silver dust.

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The chocolate dessert at Pausa in San Mateo was outstanding.

But what if you’re on a tight budget, and are looking for great food and location without breaking the bank? Try the Taco Bell at Pacifica Beach! It’s located right on the beach in surfing country and you can get lunch for under $5 while watching the surfers catch the waves.

san-mateo-restaurants

You can’t beat the prices and view at the Taco Bell location at Pacifica Beach.

I hope this has whet your appetite–and thirst–enough to plan a visit to San Mateo County. It’s a part of California that many people pass over when visiting San Francisco. But it’s well worth the visit for great tastes, lower prices, super activities, breath-taking scenery, and fewer crowds.

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Doreen Pendgracs

Known throughout the Web as the "Wizard of Words", I've been a freelance writer since 1993. I'm currently researching and writing volume II of "Chocolatour: A Quest for the World's Best Chocolate". Volume I was published in September, 2013.

62 Responses

  1. I’d never thought of San Mateo as a foodie destination but this all sounds incredible. Thank you too for sharing info for the budget eater too. I swing high and low when traveling.

  2. Phoenicia
    Twitter:
    says:

    The death by chocolate drink sounds lethal! What beautiful views you had whilst dining in San Mateo County. The dessert looks tasty – I always have room for dessert whenever eating out. I skip starters and go straight to the mains in order to justify having dessert!

    Thanks for sharing your adventures! San Francisco and the Bay Area is on my list of places to visit.

  3. How could I not have heard of Godiva Chocolate Liqueur? Sounds like a must-try! San Mateo County has a lot of tasting places to explore – I’m saving this for my next visit. You’ve identified some top choices

  4. Alison Netzer says:

    I would go crazy for all of the seafood in San Mateo. Sounds like a lot of great eats and wine pairings. Great pics

  5. Claire says:

    You always have the most mouth-watery food photos on your post!! I am literally dying to have a bite of that chocolate cake with gelato! Haha

  6. Val says:

    One chestnuts gnocchi pasta please and one death by chocolate chocolate ! I am starving after reading this post, these all look amazing ! Great info !

  7. Janet says:

    I’m living vicariously through your adventures. The food, the atmosphere, the drink. It all sounds so yummy.

  8. I’ll just say that after reading your post and looking at all of those images of delicious food, I suddenly feel starved for my lunch. Think I’ll enjoy a bite outside and pretend I’m also visiting San Mateo County. Wonder if I can pull off an Ottawa version of the Louie Salad at Kincaid’s?

  9. I’ve missed out on San Mateo on my various visits to San Francisco, but I’ll have to try it if I go back. It would be worth it just for that chestnut gnocchi!

  10. Beverly says:

    As always, you have written a very interesting travel blog for your readers to enjoy. I would love to visit San Mateo County. The views of the ocean are incredible. The food that is available in the many restaurants looks delicious.

  11. Julie Boyd
    Twitter:
    says:

    I moved to San Jose last year, so I am always looking for new restaurants to try! Thanks for the great recommendations!

  12. Wine-rich regions always have such wonderful food offerings. Looks like San Mateo is no exception!

  13. You had quite a gourmet visit in San Mateo! All of it sounded wonderful, from the seafood Louie salad (love shrimp and avocados!) to the chestnut mini gnocchi. And I see you had plenty of chocolate, too!

  14. Lori
    Twitter:
    says:

    What a nice range of dishes you had, but Oh. Wow. The Chestnut Gnocchetti has to be one the more creative and well executed twists on a traditional Italian dish I’ve seen in a while. And I love the rustic roll of the pasta. That’s a talented Chef!

  15. Carol
    Twitter:
    says:

    Yes, this has whet my appetite! Love that Kincaid’s Louie salad… doesn’t look like a salad at all! The mini gnocchi looks healthy, too!

  16. I had no idea San Mateo had such sumptuous food offerings! Seafood and chocolate are definitely two of my favorite things! Thanks for sharing!

  17. Jackie Smith
    Twitter:
    says:

    I think I gained a few pounds just reading this post, but what a delightful way to add extra weight! Will keep these in mind for the next trip there!!

  18. Looks like you found a winner in San Mateo. I haven’t yet been to Pausa Bar & Cookery but your comments about chestnut gnochetti sardi and the flourless chocolate cake marchesa di cioccolato with salted caramel has me salivating. Have added it to my list.

  19. Doreen, you’re right about people passing through San Mateo County. I’ve stopped at Half Moon Brewing but haven’t been to any of the others. That mini-gnocchi looks like it’s worth a special trip, and so does that chocolate martini! Next time I visit, which I hope will be sometime this coming school year.

  20. neha
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks Doreen. When I head to San Mateo I will know where to head for food. I am particularly not going to miss Pausa at all. That dessert is sounding so yummy.

  21. Suzanne Fluhr
    Twitter:
    says:

    “A truly unexpected but delicious pairing was the 2016 Carneros Chardonnay paired with Lakrids B–a black Danish liquorice covered in white Belgian chocolate blended with passion fruit!” I can’t even imagine this combo, but you are one of the people I trust when it comes to tasting anything prepared with chocolate. I think I’d treat the chocolate martini as a stand alone “frapaccino-exque” drink, and I’m sure it would have been fine.

  22. Julie McCool
    Twitter:
    says:

    Your article brings back happy memories of my time living in Silicon Valley. I’ve been all around San Mateo County but have never eaten at any of these restaurants. The view from Kincaid’s in Burlingame looks tempting, but the dessert at Pausa will top my list the next time time I’m in San Mateo County.

  23. Sandy N Vyjay
    Twitter:
    says:

    San Mateo looks like a haven for foodies. Essentially seafood lovers will surely freak out there. Though as vegetarians our options may be less, But I can see that Bartera Winery serves some nice wine with some delectable desserts, would head there straightaway.

  24. YUKTI Agrawal says:

    San Mateo County has great places to eat out. I loved the views from Taco Bell eat-out. Also desserts from Pausa Bar are very tempting.

  25. Sotia Bella says:

    this is what we call delicious …article!!! after all this yummy info and photos i wish i was closer to San Mateo..!!

  26. Bola
    Twitter:
    says:

    The Seafood and chocolate have definitely whet my appetite! Love the views.

  27. I love outdoor dining and your pictures and descriptions make me ready for a meal outside. (It’s 95 in Pittsburgh, though. Everyone smart is hiding inside!)

  28. Jon Harrison says:

    All food mouthwatering and delicious. After reading your post I want to travel to San Mateo County for testing the chocolate dessert at Pausa in the city of San Mateo. It looks outstanding! Keep sharing.

  29. Adam Liyak says:

    The seafood looks very tasty. I would like to taste that seafood and visit San Mateo County.

  30. Clark Norton says:

    Delicious food and destination. I’m planning a holiday in this county. You’ve provided good information, but if possible, please share more information like hotels, price etc.

  31. linclon says:

    Yummy food decoration, and nice photography too. Nice presentation of food, shrimp and chicken. A very nice food combination. And the dessert also decorated in a tantalizing way. Wish I could visit San Mateo County.

  32. Simon says:

    Hey Doreen,
    You post is very interesting about san_mateo_county.
    I love that place very much and I spent a few days in the area.
    Thank you for providing such lovely content about San Mateo County.

  33. Deepak Singh says:

    I am from India, but scrolling your page I find out some delicious seafood that is looking great!
    I would go crazy for all the food in San Mateo County.

  34. Joseph says:

    Very interesting post about San Mateo County.

    Yummy food & nice photography.
    thanks….

  35. yaseen says:

    I Really love chocolates and this is just amazing blog about these things keep sharing such nice things thanks

  36. Angel Haley
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Doreen. Thanks for telling us about the great restaurants in San Mateo County. This is very helpful for me for finding the best dining options in the area.

  37. Education Ki Dunya
    Twitter:
    says:

    Very interesting post about San Mateo County.

    Yummy food & very nice photography.
    thanks….

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