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Friday Slide Show: Grabbing A Bite Share This on LinkedIn   Share This on Google   Tweet This   Forward This

15 May 2015

We'd finished our Saturday morning errands and were getting hungry. So we flipped through the saved locations in our mind for a place to grab a bite. Nothing, however, appealed to us.

Surf Spot. Even on a foggy day.

We were in the car, driving south, thinking about one place or another as we passed through their neighborhoods. The ones we would have liked to go to weren't open for lunch on Saturday, just dinner.

So we kept driving.

And then it hit us. How about the Surf Spot in Pacifica?

We'd been there a couple of times and always found the food surprisingly good. We wouldn't have to settle. It would be fun.

That's because chef and owner Derek Burns has come up with an inspired kitchen at his unique restaurant where you can just hang out, eat great food and enjoy the "fun-and-funky beach vibe" indoors or out at the fire pits, rolling lawns or volleyball court while listening to live music.

It's just off Highway 1, hidden in the hills, in the corner of a huge parking lot for the Sea Bowl bowling alley. We turned off, rolled in and wondered if they'd have room for us. The lot was almost full.

Lightroom Map Module. And iPhone 6 Plus GPS data.

People were streaming in as we got out of the car and joined the parade. It wasn't looking good.

But we were seated right away. And that was just the beginning of the magic.

We picked an outdoor table, with a blue wavy iron pattern, that was sitting right next to a heat lamp. Our waitress Veronica introduced herself with a smile right away. By the time she came back we had been through the unusual menu and were looking forward to a couple of dishes we'd never had.

For example, Joyce picked the Greek burger, which is a house-made falafel patty, tzatziki, lettuce, tomato and red onion sandwiched in a brioche bun. It's a pretty extravagant version of a veggie burger. And she loved it.

The bartender made a small mistake, though. He'd mistaken our order of a bottle of Wente Zinfandel (which we would have fought over) for a glass. But Veronica took care of it before she returned to our table. And brought us both the glass and the bottle.

Magic, man.

We leaned back (closer to the heater) and took it all in. Just a concrete patio with some tables and chairs spread around, like any back yard. Except there were tulips on the tables. And little snail shells in the transparent tulip vases.

It paid to look around.

It also paid to listen because the Surf Spot features live music, too. When we were there The Mile band was playing. They worked in a little Sinatra along with Bob Dylan and a few other things we thought we recognized.

Here are their liner notes:

Doyle Sahara (Vox/harp), Scott Porter (Vox/keys/rhythm guitar), Shawn Ridley (Vox/lead and rhythm guitar), Vinnie Fornesi (Vox/bass) and Scott Griffin (Vox/drums) are journeymen musicians who have more than 150 years of combined experience bringing their signature brand of roots, rock-n-roll, soul, blues and twang to audiences all over the western United States.

They were also playing for the private party that was the reason the lot was full and so many patrons were streaming in when we arrived.

It was hard not to feel like part of the party.

We joked with Ridley about sharing our pizza, taking out our imaginary violin when he started whining for a piece on stage. And Joyce recognized a fellow she used to work with who came over a couple of times to catch up on old friends.

There would be dessert, too.

Veronica recommended the butterscotch pudding for sharing. Burns serves it in a curvy olive dish, which made it even more fun.

And then the check arrived, tucked into a discarded library book titled The One Who Is Not Busy.

Turns out it's a self-help book (a discarded one, remember) not our autobiography. It intends to address a modern problem:

The intense pressure of daily life gets to everyone eventually -- we are all just too stressed out. The demands of modern lives -- job, relationships, children, housework, exercise, meals, even spiritual fulfillment -- combine to overwhelm and weigh us down. We seem to get through this struggle day by day, week by week, praying that we have the fortitude to survive until the next weekend, the next vacation, when we can totally crash.

As you can see, there is poetry in the air in Pacifica. And, take our word for it, the food is pretty good, too.

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