Out on the road, sometimes bicyclists just have to stop and chow down. Several dining establishments in the San Francisco Bay Area are already well known to road bikers, such as Duarte’s (pronounced “doo-ertz”) in Pescadero (“fishin’ place”) just off Highway 1 in San Mateo County. It’s actually called a Tavern and has been around since 1894, serving stagecoaches and, yes, even bicyclists long before cars. Just up the road is an even older former stage stop, the San Gregorio Store, there since 1889. While San Gregorio has liquid refreshments and a mini-store, Duarte’s is a real restaurant, good for a hearty breakfast, famous soup or even cioppino. But of course, for Bay Area bicyclists returning home, ahead is the long ride back up to Skyline.
Up on Skyline at the Skylonda crossroads of Highways 84 and 35 is Alice’s Restaurant, self-proclaimed “home to the best burgers in the world.” Things are usually busy at this junction and you’ll notice far more motorcycles than bicycles. Back down 84 and over to Alpine Road is the Alpine Inn, also entitled “Formerly Rossotti’s.” In reality, it’s pretty much only known as Rossotti’s, except for its nickname Zotts. The pub has been there since the early 1850’s and was much wilder in the old days, even staging grizzly bear fights back in its wild caballero youth.
On the other side of the world known as east of Mt. Hamilton is a cowboy-easy rider tavern at San Antonio Junction Café on Mines Road between the Mt. Hamilton Observatory and Livermore. The junction refers to the offshoot road to Patterson on Highway 5. It’s a surprise oasis of lunch servings in the middle of seemingly nowhere. It’s pretty much all downhill back to either town but going to San Jose means assaulting the steep eastern face of Hamilton, just as several Tours of California have done.
Those are five rest stops very well known to well-traveled road bikers. Of course, vagabond roadies have undoubtedly stopped at random deli’s, 7-11’s, Starbucks and even taco trucks as necessity has called. But perhaps what’s been overlooked is another oasis-source of chicken sandwiches, cokes and fries (when one more Power Bar just won’t get it). Public golf courses have quick lunch availability that’s well suited for bicyclists on the go. The clubhouse restaurants have a fair degree of informality that also works well for spandex-suited pedalers.
Coyote Creek Golf Course in Morgan Hill is, as the name indicates, alongside Coyote Creek, which means it’s beside the paved bike path from Hellyer Park in San Jose to Anderson Reservoir in Morgan Hill. The location is also convenient for biking the hilly route past Calero and Chesboro reservoirs or doing the Metalf Mauler climb past Parkway Lakes.
Almaden Valley’s Harry Road swings through an almost car-free open slope climb up to an IBM campus. From there, the road sweeps down to the Santa Teresa Golf Course on Bernal Avenue, also home to a wonderful golfers grill.
Another 19th hole that is a great destination ride is the Mare Island Golf Course in Vallejo. While Vallejo itself is not usually thought of as a biking draw, it is located near the Carquinez Bridge, now with bike lanes, providing a link both sides of the straits. The island, really a peninsula alongside the Napa River, can be reached by a free short ferry ride from Vallejo or else by drawbridge. Named for Vallejo’s mare that once swam out to the island, the former Navy base is interesting with its deserted ruins but also contains a small but beautiful chapel.
Another spot worth noting is Mountain House Bar, not the one on Skyline in Woodside, which is a prime dinner place with a terrific setting, but a breezy motorcycle burger bar off Grant Line Road, just outside of Tracy. The towering wind-power fans weren’t built on the nearby hilltops for nothing. Nearby, for the die-hard ‘60s crowd is the former Altamont Motor Speedway, still echoing the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil.
Published Cycle California, July 2012, Vol 18, #6