Dad’s Luncheonette

“I can’t believe we are at the beach this late!” I remember shouting to my mom years ago, in the pitch black night. “We should make this a tradition.”

My friends (who were basically my sisters), Amanda and Kristina, excitingly agreed. It was the Thursday of Thanksgiving. After dinner and dessert and dishes, my mom had casually mentioned driving to the beach. We thought she was joking. There was no way we were lucky enough to get to go to the beach this late. Holiday or not.

But she wasn’t joking. We piled into the backseat and drove to the coast, singing and waving our hands to Hotel California on the way. I had that giddy feeling you can only get from doing something completely unordinary and unscripted. As far as my teenage brain was concerned, this was the thrill of a lifetime.

We have yet to return to the beach late at night during the annual thankful Thursday. The night blissfully remains in my memory, not morphing into a tradition after all. However, this past weekend, I discovered something almost as delicious as being a teenager, out past bedtime with your feet in the cold sand. And it’s called Dad’s Luncheonette.


Dad’s Luncheonette is a small eatery off the coast of Half Moon Bay. The kitchen is housed in a train caboose and there are a few chairs and counters within the wood fence built around it. There was a slight chill outside – as to be expected on most days, for most Northern California beach towns – but huddled close together in line, within the fence, the wind was blocked. The day was nice.

The menu is limited but everything looked tempting. Mike and I both ordered a beer and the Hamburger Sandwich. (Although there is “melty cheese” on it… which would make it a Cheeseburger Sandwich, right?) We also spilt an order of the Mac & Cheese with chips.

There’s a reason their website mentions the food is meant to be “enjoyed quickly, messily, on [their] patio…” Our sandwiches were absurdly messy and the patio is tiny; so eat quick – with a lot of napkins – and move along for the next group of foodies to enjoy Dad’s.

Get there early because things sell out quickly
Mike at Dad’s!

We ended up taking our lunch to-go and ate across the street at Half Moon Bay State Beach. (Note: there is a $10 parking fee at this beach.) When the sun was out, it was just hot enough to be considered a nice day. However, even with the occasional cloud coverage, the beach and the view was so pretty, there wasn’t room for complaining.

California Girls

In between gusts of wind and sips of beer, I quickly devoured my cheese hamburger sandwich. It was messy and juicy and satisfying. The bites of fried egg with the combination of burger, melty cheese, and Dad’s sauce was perfect. The grilled bread complimented the sandwich so well, I didn’t even mind that it was white bread and not wheat or sourdough. (#healthyeaterproblems)

Too hungry to snap a better picture

And after? the mac & cheese. THE MAC & CHEESE! Creamy, ooey and gooey. Plus, the crunchy house-made potato chips on top? Next. Level. Mike and I both commented that we should’ve got our own instead of sharing one. The ultimate compliment coming from two sharing-loving people like us…

The food was delicious and satisfying. It’s a splurge meal but not one that you should feel guilty about. After all, almost everything is organic, homemade, and local.

The beach on Thanksgiving night never became a tradition but there’s no doubt that eating Dad’s Luncheonette, seaside, should become one!

Playing Kubb after lunch (which was harder than it looked with the wind!)

PS. Speaking of beaches, I’ll be posting about our trip Bali this week!

PPS. Dad’s Luncheonette is where it’s at but this isn’t a secret. We waited 1 hour to get our food so don’t come starving! (However, the place might have been so packed because of this article that came out in the SF Chronicle the week before.)

Also, a friend we were with is lactose intolerant and Dad’s didn’t allow for any substitutions; including taking the cheese off the hamburger sandwich. The girl working the register mentioned they had become overwhelming behind by making modifications to orders but, if someone has an allergy or intolerance, you’d think exceptions could be made… Luckily our friend had medication with him and was able to still order/chow down.

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