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May 10, 2009 07:31 AM

Humboldt-Ferndale and Trinidad need recs

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  1. You didn't tell us what kind of food and setting you are interested in, nor price range. Are you looking for anything in particular?

    None of our recs are in Ferndale or Trinidad proper - but they are on the way between the two.

    We can't go to the Eureka area without hitting Lost Coast Brewery and Cafe at least once (often multiple times). We've been going there for years - pre-kids, with young kids and now with young teens. Quite family friendly in addition to having wonderful beer. Their tangerine wheat beer is wonderful on a summer day (not that it gets hot in Eureka, but we like to get it on tap over here in Redding too - and it does get hot here!). Big baskets of fried calamari, french dips, burgers, hot wings - pretty standard pub fare, but extremely satisfying. Plenty of vegetarian options too. Also, they make their own root beer for the kids - they used to make their own orange soda too, but I think they discontinued that.

    Breakfasts and lunches at the Big Blue Cafe in Arcata are another not-to-miss. It's a diner-style menu, but everything just seems to have a twist that makes it more appealing. Their milkshakes are very yummy.

    I'm interested to hear what other places locals recommend.

    Lost Coast Brewery & Cafe
    617 4th St, Eureka, CA 95501

    Big Blue Cafe
    846 G St, Arcata, CA 95521

    1. Just returned from a weekend in the Eureka area - the wife ran the Ave of the Giants 1/2 Marathon - and pickings were pretty slim...
      Despite good reviews here and on Yelp, the 2 highly-touted breweries (Lost Coast Brewery and Eel River Brewery) offered little in the food department that wasn't fried or packed with cheese or cream. Both served up pretty good burgers that have the claim of being made with "organic", grass-fed cattle, but, otherwise, even the salads contained fried components (ex. Buffalo Chicken Salad, ugh). Beers were very tasty though - especially liked the Tangerine Wheat at Lost Coast and the Acai Berry lager at Eel River was especially refreshing after many miles of driving the Lost Coast Highway.
      The one outstanding exception was La Trattoria in Arcata. This is a truly independent, family-owned business with big heart and good food. Staffed by a husband and wife team, plus a couple of part-timers, they serve up simple, hearty, homemade Italian meals. I am a true sucker for freshly made pasta and the offerings here were prime examples of why I love it so much - light, delicious and, despite monstrous portions, doesn't fill you up.
      We dined here Saturday night and enjoyed it so much that we returned the following evening (note: most restaurants in the Eureka/Arcata area were closed on Sunday, but I would have gone back regardless).
      Over the two dinners we had: simple house salad, Spaghetti Carbonara, Orecchiette with garlic and spinach(? can't remember the green), Braised Beef with Polenta Square, and a wonderful, fresh Spumoni ice cream. One large chalkboard in the restaurant displays the daily food menu and a smaller one, the wines available by the glass that day (there is also a wine list available for whole bottles).
      Sorry to go on and on, but we were really captivated by this small eatery that reminded my wife and I of the small family restaurants that we loved so much in Montreal's Little Italy - right down to the wine served in glass tumblers. Jim, the husband, mans the front of the restaurant with one other server. Meanwhile, Patricia, the other half, keeps the kitchen rolling with one other helper who sometimes served when it was busy. The first night, Jim was so friendly with us, wishing good luck to my wife for the next day's race and offering some history on the times he ran The Ave. On our return visit, the restaurant was close to closing and we came without reservations after a LONG, but very rewarding drive down the Lost Coast Highway loop. They graciously accepted us with no qualms and, as we were worrying about being the last diners, the whole crew sat down to a family-style dinner ~10pm at the table next to us (a nightly ritual, apparently). Without reservation, they included us in their conversation, offering decaf coffee to accompany our dessert, and I felt like I was in a neighborhood restaurant where I had been a regular for years (a feeling I have yet to sense in my 4 years since moving to San Diego).
      This is not the French Laundry or Chez Panisse, but if you go in expecting, fresh pasta with simple, well-prepared flavours, I am confident you will not be disappointed.

      1. The Larrupin Cafe, 1658 Patricks Point Dr, Trinidad, CA 95570, open for dinner only (but call ahead, as they might be closed for private parties, and you'll almost certainly need a reservation - it's that popular). BBQ oysters, BBQ game hen, grilled local fish, spanikopita, spicy tri-tip - desserts include panna cotta. Wine & beer only. Figure around $30 per person.

        Also the Seascape at the pier in Trinidad - good breakfasts & lunch, dinner is OK. Gets very crowded. On nice days you can eat outside.

        3 Replies
        1. re: ultravox

          Great suggestions
          I'm mostly a veggie and fish eater-the GF is into chicken.

          1. re: BobBarnett

            The Larrupin always has at least one fish/veg option so you'd be provided for. The entire North Coast area is vey veg-friendly. Have a great trip!

          2. re: ultravox

            I am so glad to know that the Larrupin Cafe lives on. My husband and I had one of the most memorable meals there about five summers ago. We'll be returning in July. Just checked their website and apparently they just reopened in April. Can anyone comment on updated restaurant?

          3. Moonstone Grill, just south of Trinidad in Westhaven, is probably the best place for seafood, and I find it better all around than Larrupin.
            Curley's Grill in Ferndale is certainly worth a visit.

            1. Some places I've enjoyed there have not been mentioned yet.

              (1) One you might enjoy, BobBarnett, is a luncheon soup and salad bar within the store called "Moonrise Herbs" in the town sqaure area of Arcata. Fresh, organic, vegetarian.
              Monday-Saturday, 10am-6pm, and Sunday, 11am-5pm
              826 G Street, Arcata CA 95521 | (707) 822-5296 phone

              NOTE: Arcata and Eureka are between Ferndale and Trinidad

              (2) Also right around there in Arcata is Crosswinds. We like breakfast there because they have buckwheat pancakes and know how to poach eggs, but their menu is pretty extensive for breakfast ! Very friendly service. Some good lunch items too. (I'm thinking it is still open? call first?)
              Open Wednesay to Sunday, 7:30PM - 02:00PM
              860 10th St, Arcata, CA 95521 (707) 826-2133

              (3) Also, the co-op stores are really good, market or deli within. One is in Arcata (on the way to Trinidad) Wildberries Marketplace. Open 8 am to 10 pm.
              747 13th Street · Arcata, CA 95521 · (707) 822-0095
              You can find local goods there (as well as in other co-op grocery stores) that are in 5-star restaruants; Chevre cheeses like "Humbolt Fog" from Cypress Grove (also an Arcata address


              (4) In Eureka, in old downtown, is a nice little quick breakfast or healthy lunch place called Old Town Coffee & Chocolates (it also offers free wireless Internet). Suops are freshly homemade and some are really good. Good ingredients for salads, but not fancy schmancy. Delicious all around. Open every day at 7 am until at least 9 pm (see site) 211 F Street, Eureka CA 95501 707-445-8600

              (5) For Asian influence, we like Gonsea Restaurant. Nice house salad, fresh ingredients. Good standard Chinese selection (Americanized menu). Again, not Los Angeles, blow-you-away-cuisine, but very good.
              2335 4th St, Eureka, CA 95501 (707) 444-8899‎

              (6) Back to your exact requests, Ferndale.
              While not Los Angeles top notch, very good dining at The Ivanhoe. They had a halibut entree on special, but of course, that is seasonal. Their prime rib is good, all pretty much acceptable that we had; enough to recommend it. Really good clam chowder and minnestrone soup. Basically Italian fare, but some just plain good fresh, unadorned America (fresh brocolli, potatoes with halibut of prime rib entrees
              )Open Wednesay to Sunday for dinner.
              315 Main Street • Ferndale, CA 95536-0096 (707) 786-9000

              (7) Trinidad - all I know there that's good is the beautiful Wedding Rock area inside the Patrick's Point National Park. Take a picnic (from home and/or Wildberries) or truck in your bbq and grill on! We had a fine gourmet meal there that way and a very picturesque walk along the trail and cliffs beneath the tall redwoods.

              (8) Then, near Trinidad, inland a litle in Blue Lake, is a place called Red Radish. Organic, heath food (lunch only sometimes) in a funky place - sometimes music jams at night. (I think they are stil open, very small town, but pretty good place; maybe call first, it's been a few years)
              Red Radish, 140 H St, Blue Lake, CA 95525 (707) 668-5994

              1 Reply
              1. re: kc girl

                Is the place in Trinidad still there where you can buy smoked oysters? Years ago, I remember having a great picnic at a table under the redwood trees with lovely smoked oyster, baguette and cheese.