Our November Featured Destination is Barbara’s Fishtrap, a casual seaside fish restaurant in Half Moon Bay, California. That’s about 30-40 minutes (depending on density of the fog) south from San Francisco on the west coast of the peninsula. Drive time from Palo Alto or San Mateo over the coastal hills is about the same.

Barbara’s is a throwback to when fish shacks on the sand served good, simple food, prices were reasonabe and service was friendly and effecient. Barbara’s Fishtrap has all those features and is celebrating 50 years in business this year. 

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The dining room walls and ceiling appear to be adorned with unsold items from local garage sales, but the theme is clearly fish-related.

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Entrance from inside the dining room.

The menu is basic, with grilled fish, fish salads, fish tacos, fish pasta and lots of other things with fish. But don’t think Barbara’s Fishtrap is one dimensional – beef burgers and tempura veggies are also on the menu. Wine and beer are served, but you’ll have to ask what’s available on the day your visit.

The food is delicious, service is excellent and the experience is classic California coastal. Check hours on the Barbara’s Fishtrap web site before going and expect to stand in line for at least a few minutes before getting in. No reservations.

There are other fun things to see in the neighborhood, so take a walk after lunch and visit a local brewery and other attractions. Zoom in on the map below to see everything within a couple blocks of Barbara’s Fishtrap.

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The dining room is small, but staff provide great service and tables are turned quickly without the feeling that guests are being rushed.


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Reward for being first in line at opening time – I got a window seat on the sand.


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Limited outside seating is available.