With everything that's been going on in the world, I've been severely lacking inspiration. I feel like I'm juggling more than usual, and that my thoughts are fighting with each other for space and attention. I've been feeling a bit overwhelmed by The City, and looking for a mini escape.
Recently we took a day trip down the 1 with friends and visited the Shelldance Orchid Farm (which is so beautiful and amazing!) and had a roadside lunch at Dad's Luncheonette. Bel Campo may have the best burger in SF right now, but Dad's Luncheonette was stellar. I don't normally get an egg on my burger, but that's how they come standard here and I went with it.
Dad's Luncheonette was started when two SF food industry veterans found out they'd be parents and wanted a change of place. The dad, Chef Scott Clark, was formerly a three Michelin Star chef and the mom runs Beacon Coffee & Pantry. Together, they're serving diner classics that are filling, simple and delicious. A burger, which obviously I recommend getting, will run you $12 and comes with everything--including an egg. The only other choice for a main is a mushroom sandwich, which looks nearly as good as the burger. If you're lucky and get a seat on the patio, enjoy! If not, head out to the parking lot and eat on the hood of your car.
Next up on our mini road trip was Shelldance Orchid Farm, which is the perfect escape from The City. Located a short 15-20 minute drive from SF (maybe more like 40 from Downtown since traffic is killer), the orchid farm is an instant escape. The greenhouses are balmy, the plants enormous and jungle-like, and the flowers are strange and wonderful. Gigantic air plant colonies hang from the ceiling and lay draped over feet of planting benches. The orchids are big and small and everywhere. The place has a bit of a dilapidated feel to it, but it just adds to the romanticism of the overgrown green houses. We went on a Sunday, and it felt like we had the place to ourselves. I can't wait to head back this winter when everything outside is feeling cold and dreary.
A quick drive south offers the perfect respite from The City. Fresh ocean breezes, sweeping landscapes and good food await. As much as I love SF, sometimes even I just need to get away for a few hours. If Dad's Luncheonette is out of lunch (which does happen) there are a couple of other solid choices: The Barn in Half Moon Bay has some of the best mac n cheese bites around, and the clam/crab chowder from the Half Moon Bay Seafood Company is worth the drive.
This is my favorite and preferred way to get to Santa Cruz, since traffic on both the 101 and the 17 can be unpredictable and terrible. I'd rather have a pretty view and slower speeds than get stuck on the 17. It's that bad. If you're headed farther south, keep a look out for the Pie Ranch in Pescadero. There's really good pie, a barn, and it's an educational facility for city kids.
While it's fall, be sure to check out all the pumpkins in Half Moon Bay. No need to go to the festival--there are tons of cute roadside stands and field. Other times of year you'll find wild flowers, sunny beaches, hidden coves and fresh produce. It's amazing what a simple day in the country can do for the soul.