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Fort Bragg & Mendocino in July

Looking for some lunch and dinner suggestions for an upcoming trip to Mendocino. Open to just about everything...just want a few good meals.

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  1. For breakfast/brunch: 1.Stanford Inn (organic..really lovely food...scones a must) check out their organic gardens. 2. Little River Inn (Ole's swedish pancakes) and sunken garden viewable during the day in the dining room.
    Dinner: 1. Albion Inn Albion. a few miles south of Mendocino. Probably my pick for the best dinner menu. Beautiful setting. arrive at sunset for a beautiful view from the cliffs
    2. Little River Bar ..casual dinner with a great sunset view from the bar. Order simply...they have some great seafood. and olallieberry cobbler!

    2 Replies
    1. re: cakebaker

      Ps. Little River Bar is located at the front of the entrance to the Little River Inn dining room. The food is the same but the setting is more casual and has the great view of the ocean at sunset.

      1. re: cakebaker

        Love the Albion Inn as well. Just great food and a beautiful setting. The quaint area of downtown Mendocino also has some decent spots, Cafe Beaujolais, being one, and quite popular. We go up to the area around the same time, actually a few days after the fourth. We also enjoy the Mendocino Hotel, it's good with kids.

      2. If you're in Ft. Bragg over the 4th of July weekend, there used to be a salmon BBQ that was immensely popular and pretty good, too. It's a local fundraiser (I don't recall for whom) that gets the entire community mobilized. It's been several years since we went, but we've gone twice and enjoyed it both times.

        1 Reply
        1. re: ricepad

          The 2008 and 2009 Salmon BBQ uses non-local salmon due to the restrictions placed on the local fishermen. It is still a fund raiser for a good cause, but the salmon won't be local this year.

        2. Consider La Petite Rive in Little River, just across from the hotel. This is a real find. Cafe Beaujolais in Mendo is excellent for dinner, and the Little River Hotel is also quite good. For lunch, go to Cafe Moosse in Mendo. Their mac 'n cheese, and chocolate pudding are to die for!

          1 Reply
          1. re: josephnl

            Followup to my post above. Really La Petite Rive should not be missed. See: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant...

            We know this area very well, have been going there for years, ant LPR is the best. You will also have very good dinners at the Cafe Beaujolais and although it's a more casual spot, the Little River Hotel. As mentioned above...do have lunch at Cafe Moosse in town.

            And lastly...if you need someplace to stay...the Joshua Grindle Inn in Mendo is the very best you can find! You will not find a better run B & B with more gracious hosts anywhere!

          2. Thanks everyone! Great tips. Much appreciated.

            7 Replies
            1. re: alexa52

              If you are going up highway 128 depending on the time a day...a really great place for lunch or dinner in Philo is "Libby's Mexican" the food is really good and filled with locals. It's easy to miss as it's a tiny place on the highway. re: restaurant suggestions once you are in town...I think Mendocino has certain things to offer we can't get in the crowded Bay area. Having spent a lot of time there; I think the best meals are those that highlight what is best of the north coast rather than try to recreate a bay area meal. Therefore, finding places that use mendo's products best will give your great meal memories...seafood, berries, wine...not to mention amazing ocean views at sunset. I am not a fan of LPR previously mentioned for the reason I just stated. It once was a restaurant named Little River Restaurant (not connected to the hotel) and then it was amazing but that type of place comes along few and far between and in my opinion does not exist on the coast now. The closest to a more formal meal is Albion Inn with it's beautiful setting and otherwise try to stick with simple fresh offerings that the north coast can do best. hope this helps. Last but not least...while in town...stop at Papa Bear Chocolate Haus at the end of S Main St. (the st that faces the ocean) and have some fresh raspberry bark with white chocolate! Robert the candymaker is a master at really fresh confections but the fresh raspberry bark just seems like Mendocino to me! Have fun.

              1. re: cakebaker

                Right on cakebaker - I love Libby's too for good home cooked mexican food. It's in Philo on the North side of the road next to the post office. I've stopped there regularly for a number of years on frequent trips to Mendocino and have had wonderful carnitas, carne asada, al pastor, seafood specials, and lots of other good stuff. Recommended to get off the usual taco, burrito choices here and venture into the more creative areas of the menu. Only downside is that the service can be quite variable . . . don't stop if you're in a hurry.

                1. re: cakebaker

                  I really can't understand your dissing LPR. We too loved the original LR Restaurant, now long gone. We have only been o LPR once, and had an absolutely delightful meal there...good food, good service and good ambiance and view. Were we extraordinarily lucky, or did you have a different experience.

                  1. re: josephnl

                    Libby's closes for several weeks in Jan-Feb, but the rest of the year serves lunch from 11:30 - 2 p.m and dinner from 5:00 - 8:30 p.m., Tuesday - Saturday. Great food and a good local wine list. This is not fast food, so plan to wait a while for a wonderful meal - worth the wait.

                  2. re: cakebaker

                    I've always heard about Libby's In Philo and we drive right past it every year. It was closed, I think, last year. Do you happen to know their hours? I would love to stop there. TIA!!

                    1. re: cakebaker

                      Would love to hear back from cakebaker or others who have dined recently at La Petite Rive. We have only eaten there once (last November) and all four in our party thought it was terrific. Has it changed...or, were we wrong? I believe it is owned by the same family who ran the original Little River Restaurant which was wonderful; it's their son and daughter-in-law, or vice-versa.

                      1. re: josephnl

                        I should say that when Jeri owned Little River Restaurant it was truly one of my favorite places in the world. I know her son owns LPR and is very talented. While many of Mendo's destination restaurants of that quality in years past are history or have changed dramatically (the Beaujolais for one) I think LPR is worth a try to continue her legacy but I still feel he is a different chef. I still think Albion Inn's restaurant is more consistent and has remained so for many years (something you don't see on the coast) and has a beautiful setting. I have had some wildly inconsistent meals at LPR which led me to my original post. Many people feel that LPR is wonderful so it certainly should be considered but it just is not my choice. It was really hard for me to say that since I feel such admiration for his mom but I had to be honest about my experience but again it's only my experience. Go and try it for yourself.

                  3. Thanks for all the suggestions. I have some good ideas for Mendocino.
                    What about Fort Bragg? Are there any restaurants in the actual town worth visiting?

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: alexa52

                      I like the Headlands Coffeehouse - just east of the main road through town - live Jazz or other music most evenings and decent breakfast and lunch. Also for dinner, Mendo Bistro - upstairs is one of the more upscale places in town. Also have enjoyed Sharon's - drive down to Noyo harbor to check out this area of Fort Bragg. Probably slow at the harbor now since no Salmon season . . .

                      1. re: vday

                        Just an FYI. Sharon's in the harbor is gone. Under a new name. Wasn't able to get any info on the new owners or food.

                        1. re: alexa52

                          Someone on Yelp is reporting it is now called "Herons" restaurant and is still good . . .
                          I hope to try it in August.

                      2. re: alexa52

                        I really liked Mendo Bistro, too. And Piaci Pub and Pizzeria is wonderful, though tiny. You can see it from the window of the bistro! I highly recommend both. http://www.piacipizza.com/

                        1. re: alexa52

                          If you are a beer drinker, try the North Coast Brewing Company http://www.northcoastbrewing.com/food...

                          1. re: alexa52

                            We ate an Nit's Cafe and we loved it. It is a small place and it is not inexpensive (~$22.00/plate ish). HUGE portions so plan on taking some home or sharing. Sis in law got green curry and it was the best curry I've ever had hands down. Very spicy. Brother in law got a steak that was the special. I can't remeber which cut. He asked for medium rare and it was cooked perfectly. A nice thick cut too with mashed potatoes and roasted asparagus. Too much for him to finish and he let us try some too. I had a lamb brochette with polenta and roasted asparagus. Also cooked perfectly and it was delicious. I finished mine. I can't remember exactly what my wife had, but I know it involved chicken and some mushrooms, but I do remember that I liked it (I had her leftovers too for lunch). And the wine was very good too.

                            We called ahead to get a table because it is a very small place. This night Nit took our order and from what I could see did all of the cooking as well. She was all over that kitchen like a Tazmanian devil. And cooked it all perfectly. Worth a try. Call ahead.

                            Nit's Cafe, 322 N Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
                            (707) 964-7187

                          2. Thanks for the brewing company idea. Might be fun and casual.
                            I've been doing a bit more research on Fort Bragg. I'll be there 2 nights. Think I am choosing from Headland's coffeehouse, Sharon's by the Sea and North Coast Brewing.

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: alexa52

                              Fort Bragg is a little lacking, I don't remember much more than what has been listed above. Best options will be to your south.

                              1. re: alexa52

                                North Coast is not just another brewery. It is rated as the best micro brewery in the country. Their beers are spectacular. try the Brother Thelonius, an Abbey Style Belgian that is absolute heaven.

                                Or the Old Rasputin Imperial Stout that is incredible beer (but unless you are staying next door, they will only serve you two)..

                                North Coasts beers are the best in the country, have won all the medals etc.

                                The food is pretty good there too.

                                1. re: bennyboy1

                                  the beers really are terrific. However, after a fairly recent visit, I've decided that I will eat elsewhere. Can't even remember what I had, but it was mediocre at best. However, they have an ice cream, made with (IIRC) that Old Rasputin stout and topped with some beer brittle. The ice cream was made by Cowlicks for the brewery, I believe. It was delicious. So, yeah, I'd go back for dessert also. Unfortunately, the day I was there it was quite a nip in the night air (as there often is on the North Coast, any time of year) and beer and ice cream without good, hot food in the middle, somehow did not hit the spot.

                                  By the way, we had first tried to go Piaci, mentioned above, but it was packed to the gills with a wait. Next time, I intend to be patient and try it.

                                2. re: alexa52

                                  my husband is a real craft beer lover, so we tried North Coast Brewing. The beer was great. For pub food- we thought it was really good.

                                3. I go to Fort Bragg fairly often and would suggest the following:

                                  Egg Heads for breakfast. Very good but very small place so get their early.

                                  North Coast Brewing Company for the cask-conditioned Red Seal ale. Their other beers are also good, but that beer is amazing (much like English real beers) and not to be missed. They mainly serve pub food which, while good, is not what memorable. They do have good burgers and fresh oysters (try them with a porter--a match made in Scottish or Irish heaven). They are sometimes closed when I would expect them to be open so check their hours of operation. And be prepared for a decent wait in the bar if you arrive right at dinner time.

                                  Mendo Bistro. Inventive meals using local ingredients.

                                  Colleen's Creamery. Very good ice-cream (including mushroom which is very good) and a great brownie sundae made with home-made brownies.

                                  The berry sundae on the Skunk Train.

                                  Carine's in Noyo Harbor has not changed in 40 years and is a good place to get a burger, fish and chips, clam chowder, etc. They only take cash and check though.

                                  The Wharf is one of the better places to get fish in the area.

                                  8 Replies
                                  1. re: tnilsson

                                    We enthusiastically second the recommendation for Egg Heads. When we were there about a year ago, they had some wonderful fresh blackberry pancakes on the menu (with blackberry syrup) that were heavenly. Since blackberries are back in season, perhaps this item is back on the menu.

                                    The admonishment in the previous post is correct. It is a small place, so it does tend to fill up quickly. And, the Wizard of Oz theme is way overdone inside the restaurant. But, the food is worth the wait and the overdone decor.

                                    1. re: tnilsson

                                      I've had some really great breakfasts at Eggheads too . . . be aware that the food and service has had some ups and downs over the years. Hopefully they are in a good phase currently. I'm planning to try them again in August myself:-)

                                      1. re: vday

                                        Stay away - they must currently be in a "bad period." My fiancee and I ate there on July 30, 2009, largely because of comments here on Chowhound. While service was good (the place was dead early on a Thursday morning), the food ranged from barely servicable (my omlette) to downright bad (her eggs benedict). The "hollandaise" on the benedict more resembled a lemon pudding, and was scooped on in disgusting amounts. While I understand that to the un-cultured Fort Braggers, Eggheads might be the best game in town, but I'm shocked to see so many Bay Area-types singing its praises. Y'all would do much better to head down to the Little River Inn for breakfast...

                                        1. re: zjereb

                                          Thanks for the (egg) heads up zjereb . . . maybe I'll just skip it this trip:-)

                                          1. re: vday

                                            Has anyone tried the Rendezvous Inn in Fort Bragg? (just north of North Coast Brewing, on the left). Great upscale food (similar to Cafe Beauj or La Petite Rive), in a quaint old B&B.

                                            Rendezvous Inn & Restaurant
                                            647 N Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

                                            1. re: garlicgal

                                              I must reply to your recommendation of the Rendezvous in Fr. Bragg. We had a rather unpleasant evening there last week...and it was as much the attitude projected by the restaurant as it was the food.

                                              First impressions definitely count, and upon being seated, we were handed menus, some of which were soiled,...and the tablecloth was obviously not fresh...not a good sign.

                                              One member of our party is basically a vegetarian, but he will sometimes eat fish. When we reviewed the restaurant's menu prior to dining, we noted that they had both halibut and petrale sole on the menu, both of which would be acceptable to this person. Unfortunately neither were available that evening because they "didn't look good at the market"...strange in that they were available in other restaurants in the area where we ate earlier in the week. They did have a simple pasta dish on the menu with a marinara sauce and chicken sausage. When our friend who was disappointed by the unavailability of fish asked if he could have pasta primavera...prepared either with the obviously available marinara sauce, or simply with olive oil, and whatever vegetables were available rather than with the chicken sausage, he was told "this could not be done". He had to accept a very mediocre plate of vegetables (for $27!) as his entree. There seemed to be no reason other than stubbornness, not to be willing to serve a simple pasta with vegetables to our friend.

                                              I ordered a steak, which was ok, but wished to start with a wild mushroom soup that was available on the prix fixe menu. I told the server that price was not a concern, but the soup sounded good to me. I was told that this was not possible. Now I do realize that on occasion, when a restaurant has a prix fixe menu, they sometimes only make enough of each course to accompany the other dishes. The restaurant was not busy that evening, and I doubt very much that there was any risk of "selling out", but no explanation or apology was offered. I was just told that this choice was "not possible".

                                              The food served was just ok, but the unwillingness to try to accommodate us was totally unacceptable. Needless to say, we will not return, and cannot reasonably recommend this restaurant.

                                              In our opionion, the best restaurants on the Mendocino coast are the Cafe Beaujolais in Mendo, and the Little River Inn and La Petite Rive in Little River.

                                              1. re: josephnl

                                                I have had very mixed experiences at Rendezvous: one excellent visit, one mch less so. On the visit I had problems, service was a major issue, and they seemed to be very short staffed and seemed to be operating on a very thin margin. That would explain the tablecloth on your visit, and I wonder if the chef didn't want to take time or felt he didn't have time, to make a vegetarian pasta dish?

                                                the restaurant is very interested in local, fresh ingredients, and it could well be true they didn't find fish they wanted (they probably shopped that am for just that dinner, so the fact that you had good fish earlier in the week may not mean much).

                                                It would really turn me off also to have no vegetarian dish available other than a plate of vegetables, particularly if there was a wild mushroom soup that might have helped fill the bill (I wonder if it had meat in it?). OTOH, I could well believe that they didn't actually have any of the prix fixed menu items available.(they might have said 'not possible' if you had tried to order that too.

                                                to sum up, IMO the folks here really do know food., and the chef can cook when he wants to. I am not convinced they understand much about running a restaurant, however.

                                      2. re: tnilsson

                                        I went to Egg Heads in August and I liked it a lot. I got a chicken fried steak with two fried eggs on it and sausage gravy and home fries. The CFS was not greasy, cooked perfectly. The home fries were great, crispy on the outside, soft inside, seasoned well. The gravy was serviceable. Not great, but not bad in any way. Good coffee, nothing fancy. I'd go back because I like a substantial breakfast and they did a good job.

                                        When I'm in town I also like to go to Chapter and Moon for breakfast too. They are down at the Noyo Harbor, kind of out of the way, but worth looking for. They have great coffee and they make their own bread. Simple breakfast with a great view. Worth finding. I've only been there for breakfast, but I've heard they do a good job for lunch and dinner too.

                                        Chapter and Moon, 32150 N Harbor Dr, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
                                        (707) 962-1643

                                      3. Where would you nice folks recommend for a great seafood dinner in the area? We'll be staying in Fort Bragg later this month.