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.


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!

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.


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.


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.


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


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


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.


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.


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.

































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. Education Ki Dunya says:

    Very interesting post about San Mateo County.

    Yummy food & very nice photography.

  2. Angel Haley 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.

  3. yaseen says:

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

  4. Joseph says:

    Very interesting post about San Mateo County.

    Yummy food & nice photography.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. Adam Liyak says:

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

  10. 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.

  11. 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!)

  12. Bola says:

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

  13. 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..!!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. Julie McCool 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.

  17. “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.

  18. neha 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.

  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. 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.

  21. Jackie Smith 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!!

  22. Lisa Chavis says:

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

  23. Carol 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!

  24. Lori 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!

  25. 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!

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

  27. Julie Boyd says:

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

  28. 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.

  29. Karen Warren says:

    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!

  30. 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?

  31. Janet says:

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

  32. 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 !

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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

  36. Phoenicia 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.

  37. 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.

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