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car club event at Moss Beach Distillery

Reviews & Awards

Historical landmark restaurant boasts tremendous ocean views from dining rooms and dog-friendly heated patio. Come see what people are talking about for yourself!

Half Moon Bay Readers Choice Award Winner

We’re proud to announce the Moss Beach Distillery has been voted by Half Moon Bay Review readers as 1st Place Best American Restaurant, 1st Place Most Romantic Coastside Spot, 2nd Place Favorite Bar, 2nd Place for Special Occasions and 3rd Place for Whale Watching. Thank you to everyone who voted for us!

Colorful history translates into favorite spot for sunset, romance
by Stacy Trevenon, Half Moon Bay Review, 2014 Readers Choice

With spectacular ocean views, fine dining for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch, and rumors of a resident ghost, the Moss Beach Distillery is a double winner as Readers Choice for favorite place to view the sunset and favorite romantic destination.

It all began as “Frank’s Place,” built by Frank Torres in 1927. With its proximity to San Francisco, the politicians and silent movie stars of the day flocked there. A recent visitor was Frank’s grandson Frank Torres III, who shared stories of the past.

The scenic spot also had a dark side. During Prohibition, rumrunners’ boats hit the beaches below the eatery. A brothel allegedly flourished in the little rooms downstairs. A hotel, set up where the parking lot now stands, burned in the 1950s. In the 1930s, a young woman was allegedly murdered on the beach below the restaurant that we’ve known as the Moss Beach Distillery since the 1970s. The unfortunate murder victim lived on in legend as the “Blue Lady” haunting the eatery when her story hit television’s “Unsolved Mysteries” in the early 1990s and the restaurant incorporated an “electronic” ghostly young woman’s face randomly appearing in the ladies’ room mirror.

And Author Dashiell Hammett was a regular customer, and his story “The Girl with the Silver Eyes” was allegedly written during visits to the restaurant.

Today, the Distillery features California coastal cuisine upstairs, and casual seating and a dog-friendly patio downstairs. Here, customers can soak in sunset views and dogs can enjoy items from the doggie menu such as burger patties or skirt steak “for the really good dogs,” says sales and marketing manager Mel Vega. “We take great pride in creating a space where dogs and dog lovers can come,” she added.

Moss Beach Distillery a destination in “Half Moon Bay Revisited”
Half Moon Bay Revisited
by Whitney Wilde, Coastal Canine Magazine

“This trip feeds my soul,” my friend Marilyn commented as we drove up Highway 1 to Half Moon Bay. Time zips by on the 50-mile drive north from Santa Cruz. On our right are rolling hills, redwood groves, marshlands, brussel sprouts, berries and farm stands (delicious pie at Swanton Berry farm!). To the left are beautiful beaches, rocky cliffs, windsurfers, and if we are lucky, whales.

Today, 18 dogs and 14 humans from Woofers & Walkers are taking a day trip to Half Moon Bay. Come along with us on our one-day vacation.

World famous surf spot, Mavericks, is my favorite place to walk. One winter, the roar of 40-foot waves vibrated my whole body. Starting in a small parking lot, walk along the Pillar Point Marsh (keep your eye out for the fallen tree carved with whales, dolphins, and fish), past the mouth of the harbor (and the memorial to surfers who have died here), to the beach. There are soooo many seashells here! Opalescent turban snails, cowries and rare sea urchin shells! This is an on-leash beach, but don’t be surprised to see dogs running free.

You might also want to check out the Half Moon Bay Dog Park at the end of Wavecrest Avenue adjacent to Smith Field. It is a local’s favorite. This is a 16,000 square foot fenced-in, off-leash park run by volunteers. It is a great place to bring lunch then watch your dog romp across the well maintained bark surface.

After a day at the beach, there is no better place than Moss Beach Distillery to watch the sunset and get some good grub. Originally a speakeasy during Prohibition, the dog-friendly patio has fabulous fireplaces overlooking the ocean (but be sure to go inside and check out the beautiful stained glass windows). The Distillery has a dog menu, priced in bones, and the burger patties (5 bones) were a huge hit with all our pups. The crab & avocado quesadilla was heavenly and made me want to go back again and again. No complaints from any humans or dogs. As the sun set over the ocean, we sat around the many fireplaces, wrapped in warm wool blankets provided by the restaurant. The dogs settled all around us, tired from a day of running the beach. A perfect end to a perfect day – our bellies and our souls were full.

This was just a day trip and a small sample of what Half Moon Bay offers dogs and their people. Spend the weekend at one of the dog-friendly hotels and take advantage of all the many restaurants with your pooch in Half Moon Bay.

Top Scenic View Restaurants in America by OpenTable Diners
OpenTable winner top scenic view restaurants in America
Moss Beach Distillery Named One of the Top Scenic View Restaurants in America by OpenTable Diners

[Moss Beach, CA]   August 08, 2014 — The Moss Beach Distillery announced today that it has been named a winner of OpenTable Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants in America.  The list of winners is derived from more than five million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for more than 19,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

“We are thrilled to honor the 2014 Diners’ Choice winners for Top 100 Scenic View Restaurants in America,” said Caroline Potter, OpenTable Chief Dining Officer. “These restaurants represent the best in destination dining, highlighting the best vistas of the cities in which they are located.”

Based on feedback collected from OpenTable diners between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, the 100 award-winning restaurants received the highest scores.  For more information about all of the restaurants on this list, please visit

Thanks to all of our patrons and many fans who have helped the Moss Beach Distillery earn this accolade!

About The Moss Beach Distillery
This historic restaurant dates back to the 1920’s and has been a favorite ocean view restaurant for many people worldwide. Guests marvel at the view of the Pacific Ocean while enjoying the Distillery’s excellent cuisine including fabulous prime steaks and fresh seafood favorites. Relax by the patio firepits and enjoy the ocean view. Bring your furry friend along because the heated patio is very dog friendly. The restaurant even provides a doggie menu that is specifically designed for dogs featuring mini burgers and grilled hot dogs. The resident “Blue Lady” ghost, as featured on Unsolved Mysteries, may even decide to enhance your Distillery Experience! Open seven days a week – Mon-Thu: 12-8pm, Fri-Sat: 12-8:30pm, Sun 11am-8pm. Located at 140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, California, (650) 728-5595.

VIA Magazine Member Favorite Destination Restaurant
VIA Magazine Features the Moss Beach Distillery as a Member Favorite Destination Restaurant
Excerpt from March/April 2014, Your Favorite Restaurants

“California’s Moss Beach Distillery has a gorgeous ocean view!”

“… catch Pacific views from inside the Moss Beach Distillery near Half Moon Bay, Calif., or on its dog-friendly deck.”

“Visitors come for fresh local seafood, spectacular ocean views, and one very special guest. ‘You might catch a glimpse of the resident ghost, the Blue Lady, walking along the seashore.'”

Cover photo taken at the Moss Beach Distillery.

Restaurants that the Whole Family Can Enjoy
Half Moon Bay, California:
Restaurants that the Whole Family Can Enjoy
excerpt from April 8, 2011 post by The Mom Jen, The Mom Reviews blog

With spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean, an impressive kids menu, a dog-friendly patio and an infamous ghost story, this renowned local spot is sure to entertain the entire family. The kids menu offers seven kid-approved entrees, veggies or fries, a place to color, and a spin of the Distillery winner’s wheel with a chance to win some cool prizes. The patio gives families a place to eat with the family dog who can order from the special doggie menu with delectable dog bowls that include tasty bacon slices and mini hot dogs. While enjoying the expansive view of the Pacific from the patio, families can read about the renowned ghost, “The Blue Lady” who supposedly haunts the restaurant to this very day. In addition to the Blue Lady, Moss Beach Distillery is also historical landmark dating back to 1927 during prohibition when the San Mateo Coast was a hot spot for rum-running, bootleggers and “speakeasies.”

VIA Magazine’s Best Pet Destinations in the West
Via Magazine's Best Pet Destinations in the West
VIA Magazine Lists the Moss Beach Distillery Among 16 Best Pet Destinations in the West
Best Pet Destinations
excerpt from March/April 2011

Moss Beach Distillery Moss Beach, Calif. “Enjoy a cocktail on the patio with your furry friend in front of a nightly bonfire,” says Katriona Seevers of San Mateo, Calif. “You won’t be able to discern whether it’s the humans or the canines whose smiles are bigger.” (650) 728-5595,

Tide Pools of the West Coast
excerpt from article by Christopher Hall, March/April 2011

Fitzgerald Marine Reserve
Off Highway 1 in Moss Beach, about seven miles north of Half Moon Bay, Calif.
You might think “garden of the sea,” on first seeing Fitzgerald’s water-filled furrows full of urchins, anemones, and iridescent algae. But tide pools, like gardens, can be too loved. Before it became a protected reserve in 1969, visitors had long gathered food and souvenirs here. “Some people would collect an entire shopping bag of sea stars to decorate a house,” says Bob Breen, the reserve’s former naturalist. “The problem now is the huge number of visitors.” To stem wear and tear, docents accompany groups, and signs remind people of intertidal dos and don’ts. A new stairway allows you to visit tide pools along the beach and return by coastal bluffs. The nearby Moss Beach Distillery makes a fine perch for a sunset drink.

Restaurants Where Dogs are Served
10 Restaurants Where Dogs are Served Steak, Beer, and Ice Cream
Excerpt from article by Dan Gentile, 6/18/2014

Moss Beach Distillery
Moss Beach, CA
What your dog is eating: Mini burger patties with bacon slices
What you’re eating: Coastal crab cake Benedict and bottomless mimosas
Formerly a Prohibition-era speakeasy supplied by Canadian rum runners, Moss Beach Distillery is now a seaside destination restaurant known for a spectacular brunch and hallways that are haunted by the spectre of a woman supposedly killed on the seashore near the restaurant. The place is also haunted by the ghosts of hundreds of dogs’ appetites.

Phoenix Beer & Wine Guide travels to HMB
Phoenix Beer & Wine Guide review
San Francisco and Half Moon Bay
Excerpt from Phoenix Beer & Wine Guide, October 2012

From Prohibition haunts to beach-side horseback-riding, plus a host of cultural and viticultural activities, this Bay Area duo serves up a bevy of traveling gems.
You could drive past it a thousand times and never know it was there. For years, Mavericks was kept secret, and then as the rumors leaked, it was dismissed as myth by the very people who discovered it. This fall, a movie about the Mt. Everest of surfing, Chasing Mavericks, will put Half Moon Bay on the map for more than just big wave riders.

Located about 25 miles south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay lies along a crenellated coastline where emerald cliffs plunge into a seething sapphire sea. It’s the kind of semi-secret place favored by rum-runners during Prohibition and modern sightseers seeking the unlikely confluence of sleepy seaside burg with big-city amenities like fabulous food and wine. Add a splash of arts and culture and a streak of outdoor activities, and it all comes together like the waters at Mavericks that it holds in one of its coastal folds.

Taking full advantage of HaIf Moon Bay’s fog-shrouded coves, Moss Beach Distillery(140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, 650-728-5595, was once Frank’s Place, a Prohibition-era speakeasy supplied by seafaring bootleggers. Dashiell Hammett was a habitué and appropriated the setting into his suspense short story The Girl with the Silver Eyes. Today, you can chase crab cakes Benedict with a horseradish-rich Bloody Mary and keep your eyes peeled for another colorful gal, the Blue Lady. The resident cobalt-clad ghost was allegedly a scarlet woman who had an affair with a prurient piano player and was murdered while strolling with her lover on the beach.

CNN Travel’s Fido-Friendly Getaways
CNN Travel reviews dog friendly getaways
“Five Fido-friendly getaways”
Excerpt from article by Jessica DuLong, March 21, 2012

Dog-friendly activities abound in Half Moon Bay . . . grab a nightcap in a comfy chair beside a fire pit and take in the ocean sunset at the Moss Beach Distillery’s Seal Cove Patio, which features a doggie menu of grilled hot dogs, mini burger patties and skirt steak. Ask the hostess to take your pooch’s photo for the annual contest and you might just win a prize.

happy dog with owner on dog-friendly restaurant patio

Dining at its Best
Gilroy Dispatch
Dining at its Best
Excerpt from Half Moon Bay: A relaxing Staycation by Camilla Bounds, The Gilroy Dispatch, March 2, 2011

For ambiance, view, service and great food, the Moss Beach Distillery is a must (a rumrunner’s drop off point in the probation days). Make a reservation to coincide with the glorious pink, yellow and orange pastel sunset, sit back and relax with your favorite pre-dinner drink and enjoy. A comfortable heated and pet-friendly patio awaits you. The varied menu includes fresh local fish and vegetables. The salmon and crab cakes are recommended, and the coffee is special. Sunday afternoons offer the best brunch anywhere, and if you look and listen, you might see and hear the beautiful resident ghost running on the beach. That’s another story. Visit The Moss Beach Distillery and they will give you the details.


  • “I love love this place it’s truly a GEM! Great food great service great views! I’ll never get tired of coming here, everyone I have brought here has had a great experience and has returned!! Keep doing what your doing.”

    Mary M.
  • “Phenomenal service, delicious food, great views…what else do you need?!”

    – Steve
  • “LOVE this place! …. Awesome staff and food and cocktails. There isn’t a place ON the ocean like it! Worth the easy drive from SF down the 1 too! …. Dog friendly on the patio … even if it’s foggy they have a super cool fire pit. Support your LOCALS!”

    –Felicia F.
  • “Definitely worth a 5 star rating! Their panko-crusted halibut with that delicious apricot couscous and that creamy sauce is absolutely to die for! Delicious food in perfect size portions, presented beautifully. Absolutely no complaints, would definitely recommend!”

    – Abbie S.
  • “Tourists and couples on dates fill window-side tables, gawking at the stunning view of the rocky coast, while gracious servers deliver seared, sugar-crusted filet mignon, grilled wild Pacific salmon and more New American favorites. On pleasant days, the sun-drenched patio is the place to be for drinks and light bites….”

    – Editorial Review
  • “Beautiful historic point of interest. Great food and service! Ocean views tucked away in Moss Beach area in Half Moon Bay. Will definitely return! Thank you to Susan for her wonderful service and great recommendations on the menu!”

    Lori W.
  • “Excellent food in a most beautiful atmosphere. Seriously, what’s not to like?! Thank you, always lovely.”

    Laura K.
  • “The place is great to get away. Service is excellent and the bartender will take care of you. There is a fireplace that you can relax after dinner.”

    –Willie W.
  • “The Premier seafood and steak restaurant in San Mateo County. Panoramic ocean views, fabulous food, historic site, romantic ambience, outdoor patio and famous ghost legend.”

    –San Jose Magazine
  • “We bring all out of area guests to the Distillery.”

  • “Our entire family will never forget what a wonderful time they had overlooking the Pacific at Moss Beach.”

  • “There is no better place on the Coast to listen to the surf, watch the sunset, or simply enjoy people watching”

    –SF Independent, Dining Out With the Habits
  • “We went here for the first time tonight. Had the prime rib -it was Excellent!!!! Love the dog friendly patio! She had the chicken and loved it! We met so many friendly people!!! Will be back soon!!!!”

  • “Sip chilled champagne as you watch the sunlight dance on waves. Their Famous Sunday Brunch is a traditional with visitors and locals alike”

    –Coastal Dining Reviews
  • “Awesome! Ive been going here since I was young and always enjoy it. The distillery steamers are the way to go for food. Bottomless mimosas on Sundays. The view is incredible and if you have a dog bring them –the most dog friendly place ever!”

  • “World class views, the chicken dish was to die for. Affordable. Did I mention the views? Reserve ahead for the best tables.”

    Eric W.
  • “A cozy romantic eatery perched on a bluff with a spectacular view of the Pacific. Fine food with an upscale menu”

    –Pacifica Tribune, Pacifica, CA
  • “The food and service were excellent… The foggy view, the elegant dinner, the fire pits – the evening was all we had hoped for.”

    –Lori E. and Steve W., Dublin, CA
  • “The Distillery is a romantic restaurant with beautiful views….”

    –SF Travel Magazine
  • “My husband and I enjoyed a romantic and very memorable wedding anniversary – exquisite food & service”

    –Sage M., Citrus Heights, CA
  • “Sitting outside by fire pit with a glass of wine looking at and hearing the ocean. Doesn’t get better than that!”

    –Kathy S.
  • My niece took me here….We had a great lunch! Best Crab cakes, calamari and clam chowder. Delicious! Heard all about the ghost of the Blue Lady, very interesting story.

  • “GREAT service and food! We were there for Valentine’s Day and had a wonderful time. Our server was in black shirt with a purple tie (didn’t get her name!). She was fantastic!! She served us in July when we had a wedding rehearsal there and made the experience so lovely. Can’t wait to go back!”

    – Faye U.
  • “Thank you for the lovely evening we had at the Moss Beach Distillery. All the out of town guests thought the Distillery was fantastic and the meal was great. Thanks again for everything you did to make it a special night.”

    –Jackie C.
  • “Amazing food and beautiful scenery! Will be going back every week!”

  • “A very magical place with a lot of history right on the edge of the beach! Excellent food, with friendly and attentive service staff with a view to die for! 5 out of 5 stars! Must Go! Experience the mystery for yourself and bring a friend ;)”

  • “We sat outside with our lovely dog, Makena, with friends watching the tide roll in and out. We had delicious appetizers and drinks and it was so much fun to have new people sit with us around the firepit. We will definitely go back.”

    –Pam H.