Moss Beach Distillery

Foodbuzz Festival wasn’t just an opportunity for me to connect with fellow food bloggers, it was also the perfect time for my husband and I to spend some quality time in some of our favorite places.

Ever the travel and food planner, as soon as I knew we would be visiting Bonny Doon Vineyards and Half Moon Bay, I did some research on interesting places to eat in the area. After spending the afternoon wine tasting and at the beach, we decided on Moss Beach Distillery for a snack and a drink to accompany us as we watched one of many gorgeous West Coast sunsets.

Moss Beach Distillery is not only located atop beautiful bluffs overlooking the ocean, complete with rocky shores and shiny seals; it also has quite the scandalous history.

Seal Cove

Moss Beach Distillery

And a ghost!

Moss Beach Distillery

From the Moss Beach Distillery website:

During Prohibition, the San Mateo Coast was an ideal spot for rum running, bootleggers and “speakeasies,” establishments which sold illegal booze to thirsty clients.
One of the most successful speakeasies of the era was “Frank’s Place” on the cliffs at Moss Beach.  Built by Frank Torres in 1927, “Frank’s” became a popular nightspot for silent film stars and politicians from the City.  Mystery writer Dashiell Hammett frequented the place and used it as a setting for one of his detective stories.

The restaurant, located on the cliff, above a secluded beach was a perfect location to benefit from the clandestine activities of Canadian rum-runners.  Under cover of darkness and fog, illegal whiskey was landed on the beach, dragged up a steep cliff and loaded into waiting vehicles for transport to San Francisco.  Some of the booze always found its way into the garage beneath “Frank’s Place.”  Frank Torres used his excellent political and social connections to operate a highly successful, if illegal, business.  Unlike many of the other speakeasies along the coast, “Frank’s Place” was never raided.

With the repeal of the prohibition in 1933 Frank Torres remained in the food service business as one of the most successful restaurateurs along the San Mateo County coastside.  “Frank’s Place” now called THE MOSS BEACH DISTILLERY still retains its spectacular view and secluded location above the ocean coves.

The Distillery also retains one of  “Frank’s” former customers, as well. Its resident ghost, “The Blue Lady” still haunts the premises, trying to recapture the romance and excitement of “Frank’s” speakeasy years.  The story of The Blue Lady was documented by the TV program “Unsolved Mysteries”, and has been seen by millions of people around the world.

Dog friendly

I love ghost stories and am 100% a believer in ghostly things, so I hoped to catch a glimpse of the Blue Lady, especially after spending the month of October watching scary Halloween-related shows. No such luck though.

Moss Beach Distillery

What we did see was an expansive coastline with the golden sun slowly dropping into the Pacific Ocean as the sky around it turned cotton-candy pink.

Half Moon Bay


Moss Beach Distillery is very dog friendly, and we got to enjoy the sunset with quite a few puppies. They even have a dog menu! Smile

Humans have it good here as well. Seafood from the surrounding waters is featured, and we decided on littleneck clams in a lemony tomato broth with garlic bread. It was the perfect snack to get us through the sunset and to fuel our drive back into San Francisco.

littleneck clams

Seal Cove

If you are ever in the area, Moss Beach Distillery is a special place. You can feel its history and age while enjoying some of the best views in America.

By the time this posts, I will be back from Foodbuzz Festival and Sonoma and ready to get writing and really active in the blogging world, not to mention really active in hunting for a new job! I can’t wait to catch up with all of your blogs to see what you have been up to and to read everyone else’s Foodbuzz Festival recaps! Stay tuned for another post later today, the Foodbuzz Festival Saturday dinner, and lots of cooking going on in the house this week!

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Tags: California, Travel

  1. Michelle’s avatar

    That pot of seafood looks divine…and I love, love, love that they have a doggie menu! Adorable!


  2. Bridget’s avatar

    That place looks amazing! I’ve already decided that I am going to definintely attend the Festival next year and make a whole trip out of it as I’ve never been to SF or Wine Country and have been dying to go! Sounds like it was a fantastic time! Welcome back!


  3. Emily’s avatar

    Aw, the doggie menu is such a cute idea. If only I could stomach putting my pup on a plan, I’d take her! I don’t normally care for clams but that broth looks out of this world. Glad you have a great trip!


  4. A Boston Food Diary’s avatar

    Wow- how GORGEOUS! What a beautiful stop along the way…and those clam look fantastic!


  5. Grace’s avatar

    Ahhhh isn’t California simply amazing?!


  6. alicia’s avatar

    Your pictures are beautiful.
    Glad you’re back though and can’t wait to see you!!


  7. Terri’s avatar

    Those views are just gorgeous. I love the drive from San Francisco to Carmel. It is just breathtaking.


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