- Sadie Jun 12, 2006 06:53 PM
My sweetie and I are going to Anderson Valley for this upcoming weekend- we are going mostly for wine tasting, but would love to get any tips on good food too. Does anyone know that area (Anderson Valley is on 128 on the way to Mendocino)?
Libby's (Mexican) in Philo, sometimes has fresh local seafood.
Try the jalapeño cheese rolls from Boont Berry Farm (a natural grocery store, not a farm) in Boonville.
Buy apples, cider, jam, etc. at the Philo Apple Farm (aka Bates & Schmitt) stand.
We had a nice dinner at the Boonville Hotel, though I felt the prices were a tad too high. If you're willing to drive, the Albion River Inn on the coast does a great dinner and has fabulous views. We went there when visiting Philo last year.
I second the rec for Libby's- very fresh and good Mexican food. On certain Friday nights they have "Libby's corn night" where they make fresh tortillas- yum. If you are doing wine tasting, Esterlina is amazing. Really top quality wines and a great tasting experience. You drive way, way up a dirt road to the top of a ridge and the tasting is out on a balcony looking over the valley. Make sure you eat beforehand- those pours are extremely generous. The folks are great as well- you must call ahead and reserve.
Yes, definitely go to Esterlina!! We weren't going to go cause we didn't have reservations, but we called and they told us to come right up. The view is amazing and the pours are extremely generous, as stated above. Also check out Handley Cellars - I love their sparkling wines especially. And sparkling wine at Roederer is a great way to start the day! We're going up in July - can't wait.
for me, the one must-stop location in Anderson Valley is the Navarro Winery. If you are tasting, time it to arrive at Navarro at lunch time, and with picnic supplies (perhaps from some of the places that Robert suggested, and for that matter the grocery store in Philo is remarkably well stocked for its size and location), and enjoy a lunch or afternoon snack at their picnic area, located in the vineyard right next to the tasting room...truly lovely! (good wines too!)
We had a good lunch Saturday at Mosswood Market Cafe and Bakery, a new place in Boonville. Good espresso, delicious hot pressed focaccia sandwiches, nice salad, good wine by the glass, great organic peanut butter cups, very friendly service. Tried to go back both Sunday and Monday to try more things but they were closed.
In interior Mendo. County (wine country), towns with highest per-capita restaurant population may be Boonville and Hopland though neither is a big town. Ukiah, the county seat which I know much too well, is notably weak. There are some cafés in Willits if you're that far north.
Boonville area: Second the suggestions here of Libby's, Mosswood Market deli, and Boonville Hotel's restaurant which has a colorful history.
Missing so far from this thread is Lauren's, charming friendly inventive casual restaurant in recent years down the street 100 yards or so from Hotel, opposite side of highway. Lauren was former innkeeper at the Hotel. Popular with Hotel staff and local wine-industry people, and there's music sometimes.
Stay if possible at the Boonville Hotel, classic country inn, eight rooms upstairs plus cottage. Rooms 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 have big tubs; #3 has a good skylight. Dining downstairs is well known, fresh, casual, often interesting, decent wine list or you're encouraged to visit any of the 34 local wineries and bring in your own. (Ownership includes the regionally well known Schmitt family, prior owners of French Laundry.) Friday nights, bit of a locals' hangout at the bar.
A few months ago a new restaurant and bar, Highpockety Ox, opened in a former site almost opposite the Hotel, still called by locals the "brewery." Haven't had good success with it in two recent visits but it's very new.
Next month the Anderson Valley Pinot Noir Conference and Festival occur thereabouts, aimed mainly at the trade. Registration around $100, difficulty is finding lodging nearer than Ukiah. For info:
More local info. (Years ago I was part-owner of a restaurant in the county.)
Libby's is at 8651 Hwy 128, Philo. Lauren's Cafe at 14081 Hwy 128, Boonville, near the Hwy 253 end of town. Highpockety Ox, 14211 Hwy 128, Boonville. These and other restaurants are linked on the site below.
Among wineries in Anderson Valley itself (several outside the valley use its grapes), Navarro is popular with visitors, Lazy Creek is a small operation with high esteem from fans of Burgundian varietals, a couple others had historic impact including Roederer Estate (owned by Champagne Louis Roederer in France) which helped elevate standards of California sparkling wines in the 1980s. Some newer wineries now operate including Breggo and Zina Hyde Cunningham (with tasting room opposite Boonville Hotel). Contiguous with the Valley on its southeastern end is the separate, hilly Yorkville Highlands AVA (Meyer Family Cellars etc).
Bruce Anderson no longer colorfully edits the Anderson Valley Advertiser (holding forth on behalf of the whole county, if not nation) but the paper still publishes and is available at the Hotel and elsewhere.
I want to second Lauren's in Boonville. Incredible food, great local wines - on a recent vacation we ate there 2 times and enjoyed corn cakes w/ fresh salsa, amazing spring rolls, the Asian big bowl (which changes weekly), the pasta w/ tomato, basil and some cheeses - I think brie and Asiago, the chicken tostada was huge and delicious. My partner's favorite is the grilled fontina & avocado sandwich with the best french fries we've ever had! Great kid's menu too. The peach & berry cobbler was also lovely I wish this place was in the Bay Area!
We've been to Libby's which was very good and also the Boonville Hotel, which I think used to be a lot better - but Lauren's is definitely our first choice in the area. It is not open for lunch though - which makes it tough if you are driving through to or from Mendocino.
Yes, amazing French fries. Lauren cuts the fresh potatoes fairly thick (like US "steak fries") then cooks them slowly in salted water before deep frying. The result can have a thick toasty almost crystalline exterior, phenomenally crunchy. I have seen French visitors marveling over these fries. Including a group brought there by Michel Salgues, founding director of Roederer Estate winery (mentioned upthread) and until recently a local resident and regular at Lauren's. I first met him there some years ago and expressed sincerely (in my imperfect French) esteem for his contributions, widely acknowledged, to the California sparkling-wine industry.
Lauren's is still going strong -- unique, casual, friendly, eclectic. Been there (I think) three times in the past year on wine tasting/buying trips. Recent visit, after a few unusually heavy meals and winery snacks (sausages, cheeses, etc.), it was refreshing to get a LIGHT but interesting vegetable salad for lunch, just what I needed.
For lunch in Boonville, Lauren's has competition. Two or three of the small storefront delis in the business cluster opposite the Hotel, as well as the couple of other nearby restaurants a short walk west, offer breakfasts and lunches, especially interesting unusual sandwiches, panini, etc. (For breakfast, the "Diner" a short walk west of the Hotel opens around 5AM and is soon busy with local farmer regulars getting early hearty traditional American breakfasts.)
This Winter I was able to be in Boonville for lunch and therefore try the tempting small pizzas offered, for lunch only, at the "General Store," one of the storefronts with deli products and some seating (closes around 3PM), and no corkage fee. The simple pizza with tomato sauce, cheese and herbs -- a Margherita type if I remember -- was remarkably good, someone put love into that tomato sauce (and maybe local tomatoes too). The General Store also, currently anyway, offers pizzas Friday evenings, otherwise only at lunch.
Another new downtown Boonville restaurant opened recently, Buckhorn Boonville (14081 Hwy 128, 707 895 3224), upstairs in a building east of the General Store. This was the old microbrewery, and reopened as the Highpockety Ox a few years ago (earnest but awkward operation in my couple of meals there in its early days; it didn't last long). The Buckhorn is different, it's a bunch of veteran pub and restaurant people. Barmaid, from England, has an enormous range of beer taps at hand. Tried one while waiting for a takeout pizza which was much larger and more US or New York style than at the Store, and very moderately priced -- casual food seems the order of the day at Buckhorn and several locals stopped to take out pizzas that early evening. I talked to other locals who evidently hang out there. I gather the bartender and her husband (whom I was able to pleasantly shock by identifying his Birmingham accent -- Canadians are much more shocked, by the way, when nailed by province, so it's worth practicing) ran a popular SF beer pub, no doubt discussed on the Bay Area board, and bailed out to be part of this new restaurant in Boonville. I hope Buckhorn continues to do as well as it did that random weekday night.
No Anderson Valley visit by anyone food-preoccupied is complete without weekend dinner at the Boonville Hotel where Johnny Schmitt, of the North Bay's regnant food family (they sold the French Laundry to Keller) and a crew that has barely changed in 20 years, turn out modest, seasonal, improvised, sometimes blow-you-away cooking. Reminds me a bit of Chez Panisse, before it became famous in the 1980s. I often encounter AV winemakers I deal with, who stop for dinner at the bar counter there. One, cosmopolitan man from a famous restaurant city, has been there on several visits. Last year, as we both enjoyed a simple exquisite round fresh-noodle asparagus and shiitake-mushroom lasagne (the night's main course, which I've yet to make as well at home and I've tried), I asked why he frequents the Hotel's restaurant. To get some of the best food of my life, he answered frankly. Amen.
14040 Highway 128, Boonville, CA 95415
If you’re in Anderson Valley I would definitely recommend Lauren’s restaurant right in Boonville. My wife and I were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the cuisine as we didn’t expect much from such a small town. It was a great respite from the wine tasting that day. Two thumbs up.
I went to a bunch of wineries this past weekend and locals were talking up Aquarelle in Boonville (small plates such as Moroccan meatballs and mac and cheese, tacos on Tuesdays) and Coq au Vin in Philo (but almost all the way out to Navarro).
A new wood-oven pizza place Stone & Embers is opening in that fancy The Madrones complex in Philo: