News and Reviews: This Is My Happiness

This Is My Happiness

How to Spend a Weekend in Half Moon Bay

Excerpted from August 17, 2018 article

For years I’ve been looking for the perfect Northern California coastal getaway. Some places are too far away, others are too remote or too cold, and still others are often too crowded. Then last year on the way to Año Nuevo State Park, we passed by the quaint seaside town of Half Moon Bay and knew we’d have to come back and explore. Fortunately we had the chance to spend two nights there this summer and found it to be the perfect coastal getaway for families in Northern California. As you’ll see below, there were many reasons we loved Half Moon Bay, but one thing especially struck me.

Half Moon Bay is a town of under 15,000 people on Highway 1, just south of San Francisco. Its location makes it an easy destination for families and couples from Sacramento (like us), or San Francisco, Napa Valley, and the Central Valley. We noticed that weekends can be busy, so if possible, book a visit on weekdays or expect lots of day trippers at the restaurants and beaches.


Where to eat in Half Moon Bay:

Sam’s Chowder House: 4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy

On our first day in Half Moon Bay, after the goat farm tour, we drove back up to Half Moon Bay to have lunch at the iconic Sam’s Chowder House. You can’t miss it because of all the cars and people outside; this is one of the most popular seaside restaurants in the region.

fresh seafood and ocean views at Sam's Chowder House in Half Moon Bay

Sam’s Chowder House serves fresh, sustainably sourced seafood following the Monterey Bay Aquarium guidelines. They’re especially known for their lobster rolls, oysters and, of course, their clam chowder, which I tried and loved. We also had calamari (my kids’ fave) and the seafood special, which always includes vegetables that are grown locally. This time the dish included early summer artichokes sourced from nearby farms. I appreciated the variety on the kids’ menu, so instead of chicken fingers or burgers, my kids were able to choose a small cut of salmon with fresh veggies. And bonus points for not using plastic: the straws and to-go packaging are 100% biodegradable and made of plants.

The restaurant is also known for the view of the water from the huge deck. It was a little cold for us to sit outside but the deck was bustling — there was even a live band playing!

Tip: Make a reservation and ask for a table with a view, especially if you plan to eat here on the weekends.


News and Reviews: The Mercury News

Red Tricycle

Lovin’ Spoonfuls: The Bay Area’s Best Spots for Tasty Soup

Excerpted from February 27, 2018 article by Zach Chouteau

Nothing hits the spot like a warm bowl of superb soup on a brisk winter or spring day, and luckily for Bay Area residents and visitors the region is filled to brim with tempting choices. We’ve explored all around for fantastic phos, compelling clam chowders and a bundle of other broths that are served in family-friendly settings that will bowl you over. Soup’s up!


San Francisco Bay Area's best New England clam chowder

Sam’s Chowder House
A slice of New England on the Half Moon Bay coast, this bustling seafood eatery offers all the expected treats from the ocean, including a raw bar. But it’s hard to beat their warm chowders while sitting on the deck and taking in the sweeping ocean views.

“We serve two kinds of clam chowder, ‘white’ and ‘red,’” says co-owner Julie Shenkman. “We serve them in both a cup or a bowl–note that our cup is huge and the size of most restaurants bowls! We serve them with traditional oyster crackers, as well as sourdough bread, baked fresh daily by a local baker. Both styles of chowders are extremely popular with our guests and we are making chowder constantly to keep up with the demand.”

4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy,
Half Moon Bay, CA



News and Reviews: The Mercury News

The Mercury News

Best Bay Area clam chowder? Readers raise a cup to 10 more faves (even the red kind)

Excerpted from January 27, 2018 article by Jackie Burrell

best bay area clam chowder at Sam's Chowder HouseClams, potatoes and other delicious ingredients fill a bowl of creamy New England-style chowder at Half Moon Bay's Sam's Chowder House. (Courtesy of Naseema Khan)

Last week, we delved into the topic of four fab Bay Area chowder spots, then asked readers to share their chowdah go-tos. Needless to say, they were happy as clams to dish on the delights of everything from Sam’s Chowder House to the Hog Island Oyster Company and more. So much more.

Some people sent just a line or two. Stuart Moore gave a chowder-shout-out to San Jose’s Siena Bistro. Janet Niklaus noted that Los Gatos’ Steamer’s Grillhouse has been her chowder go-to for more than 35 years. And one online commenter, KeenPlanner, simply said, “Nobody thought to try Hog Island? Pity.”

Others shared not only restaurant names but musings about ingredients, the merits (or lack thereof) of tomato-based chowder and tips on what else to enjoy with that bowl of soup. We’re very hungry now.

Here’s just a sampling of the responses. Enjoy!

Play it again, Sam

“Hands down the best clam chowder is at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. It is worth the drive just to have only the soup. You get a huge bowl — with bread — that will keep you full all afternoon. The quality and quantity are terrific. It is by far the best chowder I’ve ever had. A close second is a grocery store in Pacific Grove, the Grove Market.”

— Donna McArthur, Los Altos

best bay area manhattan clam chowder at Sam's Chowder HouseSam’s Chowder House offers both New England and Manhattan style chowders. (Courtesy of Naseema Khan)

“I have always been, and will always be, a great fan of Manhattan chowder, or ‘the red one’ as it is known. My mom cooked it often back in the day, and I still have her recipe. I finally found a restaurant that rivals — dare I say equals — mom’s red chowder. It’s Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay. It is really delicious and special, just the right spiciness, perfect consistency. Most restaurants have the white Boston chowder, so when I see a place that has the red, I always try it. Sam’s fits the bill perfectly.”

— Christine Khoury, Belmont

san jose mercury news bay area best clam chowder sams

Details: Sam’s Chowder House, 4210 Highway 1, Half Moon Bay;


News and Reviews: The Six Fifty

The Six Fifty

What? The Shuck: The Six Fifty’s guide to getting your oyster fix on the SF Peninsula

From seafood shacks to high-end hangouts, our list for eating bivalves by the Bay

Excerpted from January 17, 2018 article by Charles Russo

double dozen oyster platter at Sam's Chowder House
A double dozen at Sam’s Chowder House in Half Moon Bay.

Human beings have been eating oysters since forever. In modern times, these fleshy morsels of the sea have gone from a poor man’s staple to a pricey culinary delicacy, farmed to odd deliciousness and shipped live all over the world for consumption.

Here in the Bay Area, we are —thanks to the mollusk farmers of west Marin—a celebrated spot on the map when it comes to the who’s who of elite oyster-producing. As a food trend, however, oysters have gone in-and-out of popularity over the years, until finally evolving beyond raw bar specialty houses and when-in-Rome seaside fare. Here on the Peninsula, we’ve seen a rising tide of oyster-centric restaurants in the past few years, who like the shellfish themselves, each have their own nuances and characteristics.

So whether you, like us, can easily put away a dozen—or two (or three)—of the briny bivalves, or just want to get a sense for where to get initiated, we put together this handy guide of where to find great oysters at the best venues on the Peninsula.


Sam's Chowder House outdoor oceanfront seafood dining
Scenic is an understatement: the outdoor patio at Sam’s Chowder House on the coast.

Sam’s Chowder House

A Coastside institution, Sam’s offers up a top-notch raw bar which—according to co-owner Julie Shenkman—shucked over 150,000 oysters in 2017. Their list typically includes about a half-dozen quality varieties, and features a $1 oyster happy hour on Tuesday evenings that draws a large and ravenous crowd. Shenkman is quick to characterize Sam’s as a New England-style restaurant, so a hearty dozen arrives with proper old school accompaniments of fresh horseradish, red wine vinegar mignonette and cocktail sauce.

dozen oysters on the half shell platter
The New England-style setup at Sam’s: horseradish, cocktail sauce and red wine mignonette.

Beyond the bivalves, Sam’s boasts a huge seafood menu, from ceviche to seafood paella (not to mention their highly-touted lobster roll). Even still, the setting itself is most often the star of any visit, as Sam’s sits on a bluff along Highway 1 overlooking Pillar Point Harbor, with sprawling windows in every westward direction as well as ample outdoor seating.

When the Half Moon Bay weather is good, the setting at Sam’s is simply spectacular.

Sam’s Chowder House//11am to 9pm

4210 Cabrillo Hwy, Half Moon Bay//650–712–0245


News and Reviews: The Mercury News

The Mercury News

Dungeness crab 2017: Where to buy, eat in the Bay Area

Excerpted from November 17, 2017 article by Linda Zavoral

Sam's Chowder House Cioppino with Dungeness Crab
Sam's Chowder House – close to the source in Half Moon Bay – will offer cioppino with freshly caught Dungeness crab all season long, plus crab salad, crab with pasta and steamed or chile garlic crab.

It’s time to get cracking. California’s eagerly awaited Dungeness crab season is here.


Sam’s Chowder House: Starting Thanksgiving week and running through crab season, this Half Moon Bay restaurant will offer whole local Dungeness crab (steamed or chile garlic); cioppino with crab and other seafood; Dungeness crab salad with celery root, Fuji apple and lemon creme fraiche dressing; and Dungeness crab tagliatelle with Calabrian chile and herbs. 4210 North Cabrillo Highway;