Champagne Dining Views, Without the Beer Budget Blues
by Wendy Andary
August 2012— Whether you’re a visitor to the Coastside or call this stretch of Highway 1 home, dining with an ocean view is always a treat. And while postcard-worthy sunsets are readily available at numerous waterfront restaurants, the thrill of ordering up dinner — or even just enjoying drinks — with a side of spectacular oceanfront can translate to spectacular sticker shock when the check arrives. With the current economy forcing most everyone to cut back, a night of ocean-view dining can seem like more of an occasional splurge than a viable option for a night out in the middle of the week. The truth is, however, that there are views to be had and bargains to be found, all without sacrificing great food or the “to die for“ location.
Hoping to leave no diner behind, some Coastside restaurants have become quite creative about doing their part to keep the local economy going. Theme nights with fixed-priced menus, recurring weekly specials and discounts that accommodate tightened belts promise a great meal without a bill that’ll leave a bad taste in your mouth. Friday nights and weekends still tend to be the bread and butter of most destination restaurants, and this is still true here. However, with a little flexibility in scheduling and some willingness to dine at more off-peak times or mid week, anyone can score a fabulous deal for an incredible meal and have enough money left over to stash in the piggy.
For a divine view and superb food, two restaurants really stand out from the crowd in this department and definitely deserve a visit. Leading the way in offering diners the most daily and monthly specials, the Miramar Beach Restaurant is hard to beat. This coastal mainstay offers a menu for those fond of both surf and turf and a truly tempting happy hour every weekday from 5-7 p.m., featuring half-price drinks in the lounge, on the patio, or at the bar. Fridays offer even more benefits for the ladies: half-price appetizers from 4 p.m. until close. In addition, the Miramar amps up the midweek by offering Chowder Mondays, Roadhouse Tuesdays and Cantina Wednesdays. Depending on the day of the week, $10.95 to $13.95 will provide diners with a special menu that includes not just supper but a beverage to boot. Getting change back from a twenty feels even better when it can be enjoyed around a cozy fire pit, watching the sunset. And for diners who want the whole shebang, the Miramar’s Thursday night dinners from 5-9 p.m. are a sure bet. Every week, the menu features a different gourmet selection and for only $19.95, diners can feast on an appetizer, main entrée and a dessert. As an added bonus, you’ll also enjoy live music Thursday nights from 5-9 p.m. Dinner and a show for under $20? Who knew?
Another standout for some great deals during the earlier side of the midweek — along with some of the finest views around — is Sam’s Chowder House. Since Sam’s opening just a few years back, it has become wildly popular with locals and visitors alike. Rave reviews and countless kudos from the Bay Area media, as well as national acclaim from the likes of NBC’s Today Show, keep Sam’s parking lot full most days of the week. On weekends or any sun-soaked day on the coast, diners arriving by car may even have to settle for the shoulder of Highway 1 for their parking needs, as this seafood favorite will likely be packed to the gills.
For this reason, Sam’s can often feel like a special-occasion destination as the pricing tends to reflect its tremendous popularity. But a trip to Sam’s Chowder House on a Monday or Tuesday night will yield some pleasant surprises. Taco Monday offers two fish tacos with sides for under $10 — and on Tuesdays, during Sam’s Happy Hour, fresh oysters are only a buck apiece. Both specials are only available in the bar, but the space is big enough that table seating is offered, too. Happy Hour runs from 4-7 p.m. on weekdays and offers select beer, wine and specialty cocktails at 50 percent off when ordered at the bar. Friendly bartenders and servers, a menu that focuses on local and sustainable, and the most comfortable Adirondack chairs in town make these deals at Sam’s Chowder House a win-win for every diner – whether the bottom line is a concern or not!
As with many restaurants, the two listed here may vary their hours, discounts and specials with the seasons. It’s always best to check their websites or call ahead to find the most current offerings. But with just a little planning, a waterfront dining experience can cost little more than cooking at home. All this great food just may lead to people breaking their diets, but at least it won’t mean breaking the bank. Bon appétit!
The Miramar Beach Restaurant is at 131 Mirada Road in Half Moon Bay; you can call the restaurant at 650-726-9053. Sam’s Chowder House is at 4210 North Cabrillo Highway, also in Half Moon Bay; call 650-712-0245 for more information.