Your Guide to Authentic Regional Eats
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202 Stage Rd.
October 19, 2009 6:24 AM
Duarte's is a 100+ year-old small-town tavern where locals come to eat three square meals a day at mismatched tables and chairs in a knotty pine-paneled dining room or in the bar room or at a short counter. When it is crowded, as it usually is at mealtime, strangers share tables. Geezers hold court; babies squall; townsfolk trade gossip; and travelers are made to feel right at home.
Downhome dining, California-style, doesn't get much better than this. There are pork chops served with homemade apple sauce and chunky mashed potatoes; pot roast; beef stew; roast turkey with sage dressing. Seafood is something special, including big servings of Dungeness crab cioppino starting in the fall, calamari, sea scallops and oysters baked in puddles of garlic butter. Even the house salad – a perfunctory gesture in so many restaurants – comes topped with beets, pickled beans, and tomatoes that come directly from the Duarte family’s garden in back of the restaurant.
The farmland south of Pescadero is thick with the thistle-topped stalks of artichoke plants, and when Ron Duarte took over the business from his parents back in the 1960s, he made a point of giving them star billing in the kitchen. You can get them simply steamed or elaborately stuffed (with fennel sausage), in an omelet at breakfast, or as the foundation of renowned cream of artichoke soup (with or without chilies).
To conclude any meal at Duarte's, you must have a slice of fruit pie, preferably warm and ala mode. They are made with local olallie berries, rhubarb, apricots, pears, or apples that get heaped into crusts that are all the more delicious for being homely rather than symmetrical.
Combination Cream Of Chile & Artichoke Soup
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