Victorian Ghost town with Bikers, Coffee & Pizza (Port Costa, CA)
Ghosts, pizza, coffee, biker bar — how could you NOT check out the tiny town of Port Costa, California?
I’ll cover the ghosts at the end (teaser: there WERE arrests!).
To get to Port Costa, use this address: 5 Canyon Lake Dr, Port Costa, CA 94569 (that takes you to a biker bar called the Warehouse Cafe where there’s a bunch of free parking).
Things to do in Port Costa
Part of the mystery of Port Costa is that you never quite know what you’ll find — or even what or when things are open.
But that’s part of Port Costa’s charm.
If you’re looking for predictable, try a town with a Starbucks.
We’ve been to Port Costa 3 times now. Some highlights:
- A Pop-Up Trailer Market (aka Vintage Trailer Vendor Village)
- The Warehouse Cafe (a biker bar/restaurant)
- Bull Valley Roadhouse
- Quintessence Sorbet & Grain Bill Bottle Shop (1 door down from Bull Valley Roadhouse
- The Burlington Hotel (with Honey House Cafe)
Port Costa Trailer Park Pop-Up
The latest awesome Port Costa offering is this pop-up trailer park of vendors.
It’s open on Saturdays and Sundays at 11am to 4pm or so. If you want to be a vendor at the trailer park pop-up, ping https://www.instagram.com/trailerpark_treasures/. The whole thing seems to be run by Sparky, the owner of Port Costa Mercantile at 17 Canyon Lake Dr, Port Costa, CA 94569 (510 691–8038)). Some also call Sparky “the mayor” of Port Costa.
The vendors we saw at the pop-up included:
Dog Willing Pizza
This Margherita pizza (I asked for mozzarella only (they normally add pecorino) was the best ‘za we’ve eaten in for as long as we can remember. The Crust with a dash of sea salt on it was super-yummy!
The Coffee Trailer Lady had yummy coffee, Italian sodas and treats like brownies, mudpies et al. The lady in the trailer was super-nice and drinks were tasty.
And then there a handful of other crafts vendors including 2 selling jewelry as well as one selling fresh flowers and another selling succulents.
There was also a cute couple donating their proceeds to these cool/local causes:
Our son loved her jewelry so we bought this:
The most reliably-open eatery/drinkery in Port Costa is The Warehouse Cafe at the end of the road by the water.
The sign (below) and use of “Cafe” in the name is a bit of a misnomar because “The Warehouse” (as locals call it) is clearly…
…a biker bar.
It’s got an eclectic outside:
…and seems built for bikers. There were fun characters outside…
…and more characters inside:
There were hundreds of funny/weird things on the wall inside the Warehouse including this cute sign here:
Bull Valley Roadhouse
The other restaurant/bar in Port Costa is Bull Valley Roadhouse. They are open Wednesday through Saturday from 5pm to 9pm and have indoor and outdoor seating.
Bull Valley got rave review before the Pandemic but definitely check out more recent reviews (such as these on Yelp) as there are some low ratings on recent visits (I’m writing this as of August 23, 2021).
I”m guessing that this is where the outdoor seating for Bull Valley would be:
Quintessence Sorbet (Small-Batch)
There’s also a small-batch sorbet pop-up next to the Burlington called Quintessence Sorbet & Grain Bill Bottle Shop (source).
Artisan Kramer Collins is using Bull Valley’s walk-in freezer until Bull Valley needs it again. (source: https://edibleeastbay.com/2020/07/19/port-perks-pop-up-market/).
And if Quintessence doesn’t remain in Port Costa, you can find them at https://www.instagram.com/quintessencesorbet/.
Burlington Hotel (in Port Costa)
The Burlington Hotel is charming to look at but currently closed to the public. The word is that the owners closed things down around April 2020 (beginning of the pandemic) and rented it out to friends.
Burlington hotel port Costa CA (20); Burlington Hotel Port Costa Haunted (20)
There’s a coffee place on the ground floor of the Burlington Hotel that we loved visiting pre-Pandemic but for the moment it is also closed:
Here’s a shot of the inside of the Honey House Cafe (I snapped it through the window (sorry for the reflection).
Shopping & Antiques
There are a few fun antique stores & other shops in Port Costa:
Port Costa Mercantile
This feels like a hub of Port Costa (right in the middle with a pirate to greet you). It’s run by Sparky who may or may not be Port Costa’s mayor. Nice guy with tons of fun stuff:
The Compulsive Peddler
This is my wife’s favorite store to visit in Port Costa. I think we’ve bought something each time we visited. Nice owner named JJ.
Theatre of Dreams
A fun store full of spooky/creative nick-nacks and tchotchkes from owner Wendy Addison.
Take a walk to the water and train tracks
If you want to stretch your legs, walk out towards the water. You can even walk along the train tracks.
While by the train tracks, you’ll see that fishing seems popular. We saw this nice family:
And this fisher folk told us he catches striped bass with this “plant shrimp” that he bought at https://www.yelp.com/biz/phu-quy-live-bait-shop-oakland:
Port Costa — Is it haunted?
Ok, so I’m no ghost guru but here’s some chatter about whether Port Costa is haunted:
- A Ghost in the Burlington Hotel — “The Port Costa ghost likes to tap guests of the Burlington Hotel on the shoulder.” — Kim Wheeler via https://www.roadsideamerica.com/tip/39592. “In its heyday, the [Burlington Hotel] building was known for the parties that were thrown on its grounds and is said to have been used as a brothel. Some of the guests who used to frequent it may still be here.” source: https://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/the-burlington-hotel/
- Mc Ewen Rd — Many deaths have occurred on this stretch of road. One of the deaths is said to be that of a lady who wears red. Some have reported her as a woman in a red hoodie, others as a reddish shadow, but usually, she is seen in the same span of 3 to 5 in the morning. https://www.hauntedplaces.org/item/mc-ewen-rd/
- Screams are heard around 3am at the historic Port Costa School one early morning in April 2007. Neighbors call the police — and 7 people were found in the school but would not come out. The police sent in a dog which found each of the 7, including one that tried to escape and fell through the floor 12 feet. 3 people were jailed and 4 others charged with trespassing. The intruders had heard that there was a ghost in the school. source.
- 3 venues in nearby Benicia, California are said to be haunted. source: https://www.hauntedplaces.org/port-costa-ca/
Would we go back?
The ultimate test for the greatness of a town is whether you’ll go back. We’d go back to Port Costa in a heartbeat.