As many people come to the Moss Beach Distillery (140 Beach Way, Moss Beach, 650/728-5595, www.mossbeachdistillery.com , brunch 11 a.m.–2 p.m., dinner daily $15–30) for the ghost stories  as for the hearty food and terrific ocean views. The Distillery operated as a speakeasy in the 1930s, with the basement rooms in the cliffside building storing cases of illegal alcohol.
The restaurant offers something of a cross between traditional American food and California cuisine. Portions tend to be large, and service is friendly if occasionally slow during peak crowd times. Folks who want to soak up the old-school speakeasy atmosphere like to sit in the bar, while visitors who want to stare out over the ocean prefer the terrace.
Cetrella (845 Main St., 650/726-4090, www.cetrella.com , Sun. and Tues.–Thurs. 5:30–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–10 p.m., $18–35) bills itself as a Mediterranean bistro. In truth, the menu includes a range of Mediterranean-themed California cuisine, and the big-beam construction looks like something out of the redwood forests up north. The chef uses local, often organic ingredients to create stunning fare that varies by season. Look for Dungeness crab in wintertime and artichokes in the spring.
Pasta Moon (315 Main St., 650/726-5125, www.pastamoon.com , lunch Mon.–Fri. 11:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Sat.–Sun. noon–3 p.m., dinner Sun.–Thurs. 5:30–9:30 p.m., Fri.–Sat. 5:30–10 p.m., $14–34) manages to be both casual and upscale all at once. The restaurant serves updated Italian cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, light dishes. The rustic dining room, with a view of the woods and creek, completes the experience.
When all you need is a quick bite or a casual lunch, the Moonside Bakery & Cafe (604 Main St., 650/726-9070, www.moonsidebakery.com , daily 7 a.m.–5 p.m.) can fix you up. Stop in the morning for breakfast pastries and espresso. In the afternoon and evening, expect sandwiches and hand-fired pizzas.