Willits - Phoenix Bakery (moved from Hopland) - BBQ
Passing through Hopland (on 101 about 100 miles north of
SF) for the first time in a few years, I was saddened to find the
Phoenix Bakery gone.
Kept driving north and arrived hungry in Willits, never a good
place to be hungry. Right next to the Safeway at the main intersection
near the railroad tracks I spotted a small sign with the word "bbq"
and an arrow pointing in to the Safeway parking lot.
There's a bit of a strip mall there, and one of the shops, displaying a
big sign reading "BBQ" was the Phoenix Bakery! Yay!
The same hippy, crude, insanely delicious cookies as the old place.
And barbequed brisket and tri-tip roasted in the ovens. A "sandwich"
seemed a bit pricy at $9, but it was more than a pound of perfectly-
cooked brisket piled on a roll with potato salad and beans.
Technically, the only "barbeque" in this barbeque was the mildly
spicy sauce; the meat is roasted, not smoaked (and roasted with
onions, adding some extra action).
This was a very, very good meat sandwich that fed two of us. Meat
is available to take out by the pound ($12) but it may be cheaper to
buy it on a sandwich. The sauce could have been a tad spicier for
my taste, but it was a fine example of the sweet/sour style.
At last! A lunch in Willits that's not the 101 Drive-In!
You folks astonish me! The Phoenix Bakery is now gone from Willits and no longer with us. And it's no dang wonder. There they were, making THE BEST BREAD IN THE WHOLE FRICKEN WORLD, and Whoooosh! it when over your heads like a 747. Not one person commented on the bread. That was THE BEST BREAD IN THE WORLD. There it was right there in front of you. All you had to do was buy a loaf and taste it. I only had two loaves and I will never forget them. You could look at it and see that it was something very special - just by looking. But Nooooooo. You never tried it. It looked "funny" DUH! Pearls before swine as far as I am concerned... :(
Thanks for this tip. My parents live in Humboldt Co., so I've driven from the Bay Area many times. In fact, will be going through this month. If I can convince my two non-hound sisters, perhaps we'll stop in.
I highly recommend Jyun Kang, a Chinese veg place, in Ukiah on the grounds of City of 10,000 Buddhas. Can't wait to eat there again. Have also heard good things about Blue Bird Cafe in Hopland.
I lived in Willits for two years and there are a whole two good places to eat in Willits besides the Phoenix Bakery.
1)Ardellas on commercial street. Excellent berakfasts. Cinnamon rolls the size of your head and the best Joe's Special I've ever had anywhere, including the Origainal Joes. I think that they are in the process of moving to a new bigger location on Main street where they will be serving lunch which I'm pretty sure will include BBQ. I'm so excited!
2)Loose Caboose, around the corner from the country mall. It sort of a hippie deli/ sandwich shop. Their veggie sandwiches are absolutely loaded with artichoke hearts, peppers and lots of other good stuff. Good chocolate malts too.
Are you saying it's the old Phoenix Bakery people? I'd been devastated, too. Any chance they'll make bread? Turnovers?
Here's what I wrote about them a few years ago:
While piloting the rented chowmobile through California's northern nether reaches (up by Mendocino), I screeched a U-turn in Hopland upon whiffing the smoky yeasty aroma blasting out of Phoenix Bread Company (13325 S. Hwy 101; Hopland; 707-744-1944). They use an old-fashioned wood-fired stone oven, and their bread is drop-dead superb...actually worth the drive from SF, which is, of course, itself awash in great bread. I had the dark German rye, and it was everything you'd ever want bread to be; firm, yielding, and crunchy in all the right places, with that deep complexity that makes you swear the baker cheated and added 74 secret ingredients. He didn't; such is the magical effect of a few simple ingredients in optimal balance (and a great oven well-used).
They also bake the most expensive and best turnovers I've ever eaten: $5 each (a particularly startling price given that this boondock makes Mayberry seem cosmopolitan by comparison), but they're large and MAN are they good. Flaky, with exquisitely true fruit flavor (I tried raspberry, and it was pure essence of fresh raspberry), so crusty, so satisfying. I wish I could have tried the entire bakery (they make a number of interesting breads, but only in big loaves; no rolls or anything sample-sized).
Very very alarming: I just learned that the bakery is for sale (see ), so get up there soon! Or else get some mail order; this sturdy bread can certainly survive a journey. Give them a call. Also call before visiting; they're currently open Wednesdays thru Sundays, but their schedule changes seasonally.
They'll do mail order, but the postage is onerous (these are really heavy breads), and that's on top of the $5/loaf cost. But, you know what? Go for it. It's memorably great bread. They say it ships well, which I believe; these are mammothly hardy loaves.