The Refuge

Tue-Thu, 11:30AM-8PM | Fri-Sat, 11:30AM - 9PM | Sun, 11:30AM-8PM
15 Begonia Street
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Quick Information
Price |
Meals |
Soups, Salads and Appetizers
ORIGINAL PASTRAMI CHOPPED SALAD Warm pastrami morsels, romaine, avocado, tomatoes, shredded swiss cheese, egg, pickled veggies, warm rye toast and honey mustard dressing served on the side (Veg Option) FRIED CHICKEN CAESAR SALAD (SAN CARLOS ONLY) Romaine lettuce, Parmesan cheese, Oregano garlic croutons, Cherry tomatoes & Anchovies Caesar dressing on the side POACHED PEAR SALAD (MENLO PARK ONLY) Arugula, Baby spinach, goat and parmesan cheese, candied pumpkin seeds and truffle oil TOMATO SOUP (Contains Dairy) CHICKEN SHAWARMA SALAD (SAN MATEO ONLY) A refreshing mix of couscous, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red peppers, wild arugula, cilantro, fried garbanzo beans, feta cheese, and lemon olive oil vinaigrette. Topped with roasted Mediterranean spiced chicken, warm pita triangles, and a side of hummus. ITALIAN SALAD Iceberg lettuce, diced tomatoes, diced red bell peppers, sliced pepperoncini, sliced shallots, shredded parmesan cheese, garlic croutons and Italian vinaigrette. SPINACH & ARTICHOKE DEEP Creamy parmesan and pepper jack bechamel sauce, gratineed golden brown with panko bread crumbs. Served with chips. GRILLED CHEESE & TOMATO SOUP (Served with fries only) KYIV STYLE CHOPPED CHICKEN LIVER Chopped chicken liver pate, toasted rye bread, White pickled pearl onions, pickled red onions, whole grain mustard, cornichons, & fried chicken skin. SHORT RIB BARBACOA NACHOS Tender-braised Short Rib, cheddar, queso fresco, tomatillo avocado sauce, sour cream, cilantro, pico de gallo POUTINE Legendary Canadian street food. French fries with cheese curd and brown gravy. (Add Bacon or Pastrami) TACOS DE CARNITAS (SAN CARLOS ONLY) Seared crispy carnitas, queso fresco, chipotle mayo, corn tortillas and pico de gallo. TACOS DE BARBACOA Tender Braised Short Rib, Diced Yellow Onions, Cilantro and Avocado Green Salsa.
Pastrami Pathos
Custom-trimmed, by hand, from the ‘heart of the navel’. Served seductively warm on toasted rye bread with pickles and pickled onions REFUGE FAMILY MEAL 2 Pounds of our famous Refuge navel pastrami [served hot and sliced or unsliced slab(Please specify)], Side of Russian Dressing and Gulden's Spicy Brown Mustard, Pint of Cole Slaw and Sour Kraut, One Whole loaf of Rye Bread, 6 slices of Swiss Cheese REFUGE COMBO MEAL (DINE IN ONLY) HALF pastrami sandwich of your choice (Half Plain, Half Reuben, Half Toasted Slaw #19, or Half Swiss & Mustard), fries, and an ice-cold pilsner! (40cl Pour) REUBEN Pastrami, sauerkraut, melted swiss, crazy russian dressing and toasted rye THE TOASTED SLAW #19 Pastrami, coleslaw, swiss (not melted), crazy russian dressing and toasted rye SWISS & MUSTARD Pastrami, swiss, toasted rye and Gulden’s mustard SOUP & SANDWICH HALF pastrami sandwich of your choice (Half Plain, Half Reuben, Half Toasted Slaw #19, or Half Swiss & Mustard,) and a cup of our tomato Soup. Sorry, no substitutions for soup.
Fresh Ground Chuck Burgers
Natural Certified Angus Beef, flattop-seared, (~7oz). Served with a side of fries. LETTUCE WRAP Cheddar cheese, beef patty, vine-ripened tomatoes, and red onions wrapped in iceberg lettuce. Served with side salad with side of balsamic vinaigrette. CHEDDAR BURGER Cheddar cheese, tomatoes, romaine, and red onions PASTRAMI BURGER Beef burger, sliced pastrami, melted swiss, sauerkraut and russian dressing served on a burger bun BRIE BURGER Brie cheese, mushrooms, tomatoes, oregano, and aioli. BACON & BLEU CHEESE BURGER (SAN CARLOS ONLY) Beef burger, crumbled bleu cheese, bacon, and ranch TURKEY BURGER (SAN CARLOS ONLY) Ground turkey thigh meat, smothered with caramelized onions, melted swiss. MOLE BURGER (MENLO PARK & SAN CARLOS ONLY) Authentic mole sauce (Contains Peanuts), bacon, cheddar, pickled jalapeños, red onions, cilantro, sliced pickles
Philly Cheesesteaks
Our steaks are custom-made, straight outta Philly. Served on the famous Liscio’s roll and served with a side of fries --CHOICE OF CHICKEN OR BEEF O.G. CHEESESTEAK Just provolone cheese and our delicious sliced rib-eye WESTERN CHEESESTEAK Bacon, fried onions, provolone cheese, BBQ sauce, cilantro, and ranch dressing WIT CHEESESTEAK WIT Caramelized onions, WIT cherry peppers, WIT Refuge cheese sauce THE CHAMP CHEESESTEAK Mushrooms, roasted red bell peppers, provolone CHEESESTEAK DE ARBOL Avocado sauce, de arbol extra spicy sauce, sour cream, red onion, lettuce, tomato, cilantro, and cheddar cheese.
Specialties & Favorites
IMPOSSIBLE BURGER (*CONTAINS NUTS, ROMESCO ONLY.) Seared plant-based burger, melted provolone, avocado, lettuce, tomato, onion and romesco sauce. Served with fries TUNA MELT Albacore Tuna, onion, celery, dill, mayo and cheddar served on sourdough bread. Served with fries. SEARED TILAPIA SANDWICH (SAN CARLOS AND SAN MATEO ONLY) Spiced seared Tilapia filet, tartar sauce, fried onions, romaine, vine-ripened tomatoes, cilantro, avocado sauce, and side of fries TEXIE’S WHEELGUN DOG (SAN CARLOS ONLY) Beef Hot Dog with Red Bell Peppers, Green Bell Peppers, Onions, Jalapenos, Bacon and Melted Cheddar Cheese. Server on Liscio’s roll and a side of fries. FRIED CHICKEN SANDWICH Marinated chicken thighs w/ flour-based breading, coated in our house-made wing sauce, and topped with provolone cheese and ranch. Served on a burger bun with lettuce, tomato, and pickles. Served with a side of fries. PULLED BBQ PORK SANDWICH On a burger bun with cole slaw, crispy fried onions, and cilantro. Served with fries.
Bites & Sides
FRENCH FRIES GARLIC FRIES Perplexingly Austere GOOFY FRIES Garlic fries with Refuge cheese sauce & pastrami CLASSIC COLESLAW AGED GOUDA MAC N CHEESE Garnished with finely diced parsley BRUSSEL SPROUTS Roasted with bacon SIDE OF CHICKEN LIVER
VANILLA ICE CREAM SUPERLATIVE BREAD PUDDING Bourbon caramel sauce, and whipped cream CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME UNDERBERG 44% ABV, Premium quality digestive, made with select herbs from over 43 countries, gluten free, kosher
Draught Beer A wide variety of domestic and imported beers of varying styles--suitable for any beer connoisseur's taste FILL IT WITH PREMIUM IPA-Imperial/Double New England/Hazy, 8% ABV BIGGIE'S BODACIOUS BLUEBERRY BRUNCH BONANZA Sour-Fruited, 8% ABV CITRAVEZA Larger-IPL (India Pale Lager), 4.8% ABV, 30 IBU VENGEFUL ANNIHILATOR IPA-Triple New England/Hazy, 10% ABV LAMINAR GLOW IPA-American, 6.5% ABV MONTEREY MOTEL Pilsner-Other, 5.7% ABV HOTEL PASTEQUE Sour-Fruited, 8% ABV KOKONATI Porter-Baltic, 8.1% ABV, 29 IBU PAUWEL KWAK Pale Ale-Belgian, 8.4% ABV, 20 IBU TRIPEL KARMELIET Belgian Tripel, 8.4% ABV, 16 IBU FRAMBOISE Lambic-Framboise, 2.5% ABV, 12 IBU AIKE Sour-FruitedGose, 8% ABV WESTMALLE TRAPPIST DUBBEL Belgian Dubbel, 7% ABV, 29 IBU ABT 12 Belgian Quadrupel, 10% ABV, 22 IBU A BEACON IN THE DARK Stout-Imperial/Double, 12% ABV, 40 IBU LA TRAPPE QUADRUPEL Belgian Quadrupel, 10% ABV, 22 IBU ALLAGASH WHITE Wheat Beer - Wibear/Blanche, 5.2% ABV, 13 IBU PRANQSTER Belgian Strong Golden Ale, 7.6% ABV, 20 IBU Bottled Beers DUVEL Belgian Strong Golden Ale, 8.5% ABV, 33 IBU OUDE MÛRE TILQUIN À L'ANCIENNE Lambic-Fruit, 6% ABV SOUR ROSÉ Wild Ale - American, 4.5% ABV GOSE AÑEJO (2022) Sour - Fruited Gose, 7.7% ABV THE UNSINKABLE TARTANIC Sour - Fruited, 6% ABV KEY LIME PIRATE Sour - Fruited, 5% ABV FROOOOT- KIWI, STRAWBERRY, CHERRY, CARA CARA ORANGE, VANILLA BEANS, & MILK SUGAR Sour - Smoothie / Pastry, 6% ABV OMEGA Sour - Other, 6% ABV FIRST CRUSH Sour - Traditional Gose, 6% ABV FROOOOT- BLUEBERRIES, RASPBERRIES, CHERRIES, VANILLA BEANS, & MILK SUGAR Sour - Fruited, 6% ABV CIPHER Sour - Fruited, 7.14% ABV, 5 IBU WINDLASS OF ERASMUS Sour - Fruited Gose, 6.5% ABV DUCHESSE DE BOURGOGNE Sour - Flanders Red Ale, 6.2% ABV, 11 IBU IT TAKES TWO TO MANGO Sour - Fruited Gose, 6.5% ABV HOW MUCH CHEESE IS EVEN MORE CHEESE? Sour - Smoothie / Pastry, 6% ABV BIGGIE'S BODACIOUS BLUEBERRY BRUNCH BONANZA Sour - Fruited, 8% ABV ENTERPRISE DRY-HOPPED LAGER Gluten-Free, 4.1% ABV, 18 IBU GINGER BEER Hard Ginger Beer, 4% ABV INCLUSION PALE ALE Gluten-Free, 5.7% ABV, 30 IBU
Catering Menu
San Mateo Only PASTRAMI FAMILY MEAL Serves 6 to 8 people 2 lbs. of our famous navel pastrami, loaf of rye bread, coleslaw, sauerkraut, Swiss, pickles, and Russian dressing. $125.00 CHEESEBURGERS 10 cheeseburgers Natural Certified Angus Gracie Creek chuck burger served with melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and onions on brioche bun. Served with fries. $140.00 PHILLY CHEESESTEAKS 10 Cheesesteaks Our steaks are custom-made from Ribeye, straight outta Philly, and provolone cheese. Served on the famous Liscio's roll. Choose steak or chicken. Served with fries. $145.00 CHOPPED SALAD For 10 people Warm pastrami morsels, romaine, avocado, tomatoes, shredded Swiss cheese, egg, pickled carrots & onions, warm rye toast and honey mustard dressing served on the side. $100.00 HOTDOGS 10 Hotdogs, bun, and fries $70.00 MAC N' CHEESE TRAY Feeds 10 people $70.00 TOMATO SOUP 10 soups $80.00 BREAD PUDDING TRAY Feeds 10 people $50.00 BRUSSELS SPROUTS For 10 people Roasted with bacon $60.00
Online Presence

The Refuge San Carlos with The Greatest Pastrami on the Planet

What is the Refuge San Carlos in Laurel Street?

You could be a hardcore New Yorker [and] nothing is gonna prepare you for that (pastrami).” -Guy Fieri (Diners, Drive-ins, & Dives, 2013)

The Refuge thrives in the quiet, unassuming towns of San Carlos, CA, Menlo Park, CA and San Mateo, CA where the hand-carved, ultra tender, boldly flavored navel pastrami sends shockwaves throughout the gastronomic consciousness of patrons who call it “the greatest this planet will see in some time.”

If that wasn’t enough, the REFUGE boasts the world’s best Belgian and Craft Beer on draught (18 in San Carlos, 24 in Menlo Park and 24 in San Mateo) in the Bay Area, with many more by bottle.

Since 2008, the REFUGE has been providing protection for many East Coast street food classics. But wait, just for good measure, we grind our own blend of hamburger on a daily basis as well as procure our own Ribeye Blend for our Authentic Cheese Steaks.

Not to mention, we also offer honest Old World wine, dazzling salads and eclectic appetizers, and an owner and staff crazy (and skilled) enough to pull it all off. Casual connoisseurs unite! This place is the real deal. Whether it’s a quick lunch or a raging evening, the REFUGE experience is unlike any other place at any one time.

The originality and pathos are immediately apparent. We care about every detail, and it means a lot to us when the REFUGE is chosen to spend a piece of precious time.

From The Refuge, San Carlos Official Website | Facebook

Top Reviews

Michelle W. | Yelp
I’ve been looking for a quality Reuben, without having to hightail it to a NY deli, and…this is it!! A well balanced sandwich with quality meat, sauerkraut, and dressing. The meat was so flavorful and tender. I was actually shocked by how much I enjoyed it at first bite. Drove all the way from the East Bay and I’d do it again. Only downside is that the sandwich was $23. Pretty pricey. So, likely won’t make the trip too often, but at least now I know this place exists. Plus we had the short rib barbacoa nachos which were also delicious! Very composed dish that I’d get again. I liked the vibe of the restaurant as well – clean, decent bar, booth seating, and cozy outdoor seating. There were other items on the menu I’d love to try – I see you cheesteak! – I’ll be back!


Vicki S. | Yelp
Refuge has the BEST pastrami in the Bay Area and such an amazing selection of beer! I don’t say that lightly! The managers are beer experts and are always excited and willing to help you choose a beer to go with your meal. Goofy fries are a must and if you’re feeling something a little lighter, the pastrami shopped salad is perfection!


Kay D. | Yelp
This place was delicious! I am obsessed with the short rib nachos and the chili de arbol cheesesteak was something I’ve never had and it was so flavorful and delicious. Definitely worth the drive from Hayward. The staff was also so friendly and attentive and just and all around great vibe.


Jack R. | Yelp
Okay, okay, okay, you’re going to ask me how in the world I can compare this pastrami to Katz Deli in New York, but here we go…. I was expecting a mediocre sandwich, after all everyone including my own grandma can cook pastrami, but when I took a bite of this pastrami sandwich my tastebuds were hit with a “wow” punch.

This pastrami sandwich was expensive and hyped up, but man, did it pack that Tyson Fury punch of goodness. A blend of fat, spices, and lean meat all at once. This sandwich was a knock out and we’ll worth it. It reminded me of those great New York delis like Katz that I tried and loved during my travels.

The fries were hot, the service was on point and that bread pudding was legit 5 stars delicious. This place literally won me over.


Lara C. | Yelp
I’ve always been a fan of world-class pastrami, so when I got a craving, I plugged “pastrami” into the Yelp app, and it led me straight to The Refuge!

I rounded up one of my friends, and we made a date to meet there for lunch. Arriving just as they opened, we pretty much had our choice multiple tables in either their indoor or outdoor seating areas. We opted for an outdoor table, got some menus and deliberated for a bit.

Here’s what I got: Pastrami Reuben – Pastrami, sauerkraut, melted swiss, Russian dressing, on toasted rye. I took one bite and I knew we had come to the right place – the Reuben’s here are made using the best pastrami to be found West of the Hudson River!

Peppered to perfection without overdoing it and full of flavor, The Refuge’s pastrami is unquestionably world-class. Served on New York rye that’s golden brown and perfectly toasted, a single bite made me blissfully happy! Garlic Fries – One of three types of fries available at the Refuge (the other two being “Goofy” and regular fries; the former are garlic fries with chunks of Pastrami mixed in). They are perfectly cooked to a light golden brown and medium cut, served at the optimal level of crunchiness.

It turned out that The Refuge not only has amazing pastrami, they also have lots of great beers on top – they even have multiple Belgian-style ales! I ordered one of the latter and sipped it while waiting for our lunch; I got another to keep my sandwich company after it arrived 😉

After a delicious and delightfully relaxing meal, I asked our helpful and unobtrusively attentive server for the check, paid it and went away a VERY happy camper. If world-class Pastrami and/or Belgian Beers are what you’re craving, then you can’t possible go wrong with a visit to The Refuge!


Dynaton T. | Yelp
Amazing Reuben sandwich. I would definitely say its comparable to the infamous Katz Deli Reuben in New York City. 5/5 for Reuben Sandwich Their tomato bisque was also amazing. Definitely recommend the soup and sandwich combo with the two items above. U will not be disappointed. 5/5 for tomato bisque. They also have a huge variety of beers and wine. Highly recommend this place for San Carlos.


Lessie J. | Yelp
Went here with kids because I wanted pastrami, a la NYC style. Ended up not even ordering the pastrami sandwich. Go figure. Actually was not that hungry. It was a mind craving not a stomach craving.

Instead, got the philly cheesesteak with grilled onions. a pastrami chopped salad (I never ever order salad as a meal. This show how really NOT hungry I was but had to feed the kids.) and goofy fries. Figured I’m getting the pastrami in the salad and fries.

As the waiter explained, the pastrami was moist and good. Now, I’m a bit biased as I hold NYC’s Katz’s deli pastrami as the gold standard and that’s pretty hard to beat. Refuge’s pastrami was close enough just by the virtue of the fact that it was tender and moist (chopped up). Regardless, the cheesesteak was also moist and chewy in the right way. The bread was right as well! Typically the bread makes or breaks the philly cheesesteak. The ‘refuge cheese sauce’ in the goofy fries was excellent.

The salad with the chopped up pastrami bits (i assume they use the end bits) was as good as any salad goes, but it was the dessert that makes it addictive. I like bread pudding and when I see it I almost always order it. It one of the ways I judge restaurants. If they have it on the menu, then they better do it well, or else! It was phenomenal! It was spectacular!

Remember I said i was not hungry when I went? Well, by the end of the meal the food was poking out of my throat, but I just had to order the bread pudding. My pan was just have a couple of bites and call it a night, but I just had to keep taking more bites. It was that good. Kudos to the chef and team at Refuge!


Christopher S. | Yelp
Really enjoyed this place for lunch. They have an extensive beer list and the food was also great. I had a Reuben and shared the pastrami (goofy) fries. The pastrami is really good here I definitely recommend it. I must have missed it on the menu but they had a big banner for tripel karmeliet but I didn’t see it on the menu. Didn’t see it until walking out of the restaurant so failed to ask.


Shirley A. | Yelp
Had lunch with two friends here this week and it was a great find! We had pastrami sandwiches and a ‘french onion dip’ sandwich and everything was fresh and delicious! They have a number of great offerings to eat, and a great selection of beers on tap including a number from Belgium. We didn’t try them but we will when we come back after work!


Michael Morrongiello | Google
Had heard about this place many times and decided to pay a visit to the San Carlos area. Their location in more towards one end of the business district and they have a nice outdoor parklet area as well. We ordered the Pastrami Salad which had a LOT of Pastrami to it along with a tangy lemon based dressing and of course a Pastrami Sandwich (with non-melted Swiss Cheese and their coleslaw).

You could tell their slaw and various dressings including their mole are all scratch made. The Sandwich was TREMENDOUS! – the right balance of bread, slaw and of course the STAR of the show; their fantastic Pastrami. Also enjoyed a nice imported Pilsner with the meal. Great Place, AWESOME Pastrami


Randal Pettyjohn |Google
Best pastrami sandwich ever, the slaw and mustard sauce just blends perfect. Also had the Garlic fries that were amazing as well as Barbacoa nachos. Service is top notch, never been checked on so many times ever to make sure everything is to your expectations. In town for a jujitsu tournament in Palo Alto and this place was recommended. They feature Belgian beers and have a huge selection. I’m very positive this place was featured on triple DDD. Enjoy the pics and out this on your bucket list of Places to eat! #refugesc


Chris | Google
Got myself their Ruben Sandwich, there is an option to get half. It was great! Really tasty, lots of meat and good sauce. Comes with a sliced pickle and onions(?). Food came quick and everyone was nice. They have a sheltered outdoors area for lunch. It’s priced at $21.45, so a bit steep for a lunch. I wouldn’t mind the price so much if it came with some fries. I also got myself a stout beer from Jamaica for $7, bottled. They have lots of Belgian beers but were just out of my price range for a lunch.I’d recommend this place for beer and Ruben lovers. I’d only come here for special “treat myself” days.


Kelly Hirano | Google
Pastrami isn’t one of my go to foods, but given what I had heard about the pastrami here, I had to get it. I ordered a Ruben and it was extraordinary. The pastrami was extremely tender, had the right balance of flavor, and the rye bread was mild and perfectly toasted. I’m not a pastrami, rye bread, or Ruben connoisseur to judge how well the sandwich ranks in those categories, but on my foods I enjoy rank, this sandwich is tops. Still something I think about. Service was excellent so the my glass of ice tea never empty and the wait staff was very friendly.


Ken Wong | Google
12-19-21:Love this place! First time trying this place and really enjoyed the pastrami sandwich! Served with a pickle and pickled onions. The pastrami was very tender and spiced perfectly! Will definitely come back for more pastrami!Completed my meal with an order of fries .Surprised by their extensive selection. Got a hoppy taster which included 4 oz of a Revision Brewing IPA, a Barebottle Brewing hazy IPA, and an Alvarado Brewery Double IPA . All were really great. Nice job of combining three great .Will definitely be back again for more delicious food!

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