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Mendocino area report

I live half-time in the Mendocino area and have noticed a dearth of good and recent reports on the area! While the whole north coast is still a bit recession-y, there's lots of good stuff going on!

This is by no means a comprehensive report - mostly just top of mind!

***My favorites***

Wild Fish in Little River is easily the best restaurant around. Two years-ish old, in the spot where Le Petite Rive was, they've found their footing and their fresh-fresh-fresh take on fish and vegetables is fantastic.

Piaci's in Fort Bragg for pizza and beer.

Circa 62 in Little River (at the Inn at Schoolhouse Creek) is making great, unusual breakfasts weekends only.

***Totally solid***

MacCallum House restaurant in Mendocino. Some real hits on the menu and a gorgeous dining room. I love Thanksgiving there, in particular.

Patterson's Pub in Mendocino...okay, so the food is hit and miss, but if you stick with the solid pub fare, you'll be happy!

Ledford House...Oysters with pastis, the pate, a glass of wine and a kickass sunset will do just fine.

The Restaurant in Fort Bragg...is a total kick. Like eating dinner in 1978. But that's the charm! And the food is very well-prepared.

***Further afield favorites***

Coq Au Vin in Philo is amazing and worth the out-of-the-way trip.

We've had two memorable meals at Table 128/Boonville Hotel in the past year or so. Can't wait to go back.

Stone and Embers in Philo is knock your socks off amazing. Soooooooooo good. You must go there.

***Not good***
Ummm, I've decided not to say. There are more than a few. Sigh.

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  1. Thanks for the timely updates DM and a couple of new additions to add to our list.

    Please let us know which places are "not good", it's very helpful to have downhill alerts as well.



    1. Thanks so much for filling us in, DottieMay!

      What are your recs for lunch in the Philo and Boonville areas?

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        Hi, not Dottie, but a couple of recs for lunch are Buckhorn and Stone and Embers.

        Buckhorn has basic pub food but they usually have a venison (or other game meat) burger special that the SO loves. It's reasonably priced. They also have a nice selection of local wines and beers.

        We tried Stone and Embers for pizza. It's a beautiful location, in a little courtyard surrounding an inn, tasting rooms and shops. They have a pizza with turducken on the menu, so course we had to try that. I was not overly impressed by the pizza, but we had just had one from Diavola a day or two before so that's a pretty high bar. I would try it again though. Looks like they are only serving lunch on the weekend now though.

        Both places have dog-friendly outdoor seating.


        I also recommend the lovely cottage we stayed at.


        It had a beautifully equipped little kitchen and a basic charcoal grill out back. When we go again we will definitely plan to cook a meal or two.

      2. How is 5200 at heritage house?

        1 Reply
        1. re: keena

          5200 at Heritage House...is still finding its way. I can't recommend it. But, the view is still lovely and the remodel has maintained *some* of the charm of the old Heritage House. Go have a glass of wine!

        2. How is Little River Inn doing? With competition right across the street I'd think they'd have to be on their toes. John was doing well with wines a few years ago and Sue in the bar was always fun. I've not been in a few years, though.

          2 Replies
          1. re: hazelhurst

            Little River Inn is still a local favorite! Sue is at the bar and Johnny has wine covered. Food is usually fine, and occasionally more than fine. Wild Fish and Little River Inn are very different places - the former is more refined and modern and the latter is more raucous and pub-like. Competition? Maybe. More like complementary!

            1. re: DottieMay

              I'm very pleased to hear all is well in those delightful precincts. Tell Sue her friends in Louisiana send regards. Thanks for the info.

          2. I'm going to put in a plug for The Ravens, a vegan restaurant at the Stanford Inn. While I didn't like the sea palm dish I had there (I'll try anything once, now I don't have to again) that was due more to my personal tastes than the preparation: everything else we had was great! Plus, they have a good beer list.

            1. I'll also recommend Piaci's for their thin-crust pizza and micro-brews on tap.

              I went last week and the place is packed! Small place so it can get cramped.

              I ordered the "Farmers" pizza which had sausage and caramelized onions. Tasted good as lunch leftovers the next day too.

              1. Just got back from first trip to Mendocino as a longtime Bay Area native (!) and have to report that many prior reports are very true. When comparing to Sonoma/Napa to Mendocino...well it's disappointing.

                Absolutely in agreement on Circa '62 for breakfast. Holy cow! I don't normally eat breakfast but I would every day at that place. Highlight was the eggs benedict with sweet corn cakes and avocado hollandaise.

                Unfortunately, less of a fan of MacCallum House, 955 Ukiah, and Trillium Cafe. For Trillium, terribly small portions. I never complain about that but it was too noticeable...

                Both MacCallum and 955 seem stuck in the time warp many report on Cafe Beaujolais. They're very 1985-- rustic California before Wolfgang Puck, Thomas Keller, et al did their thing to liven things up. The food is "gourmet" but not "interesting" if you will. Case in point, take 2 entrees. Duck at MacCallum is nicely medium rare but not tender, then served with a routine Syrah reduction, fine and not spectacular spaetzle. Then on the other side of a plate is a totally unrelated, harmless bed of arugula with grilled peach, prosciutto and a huge wedge of Humboldt Fog, for $37. At 955, moist chicken thighs are fine but drizzled with ho-hum soy mustard sauce that was fusion before fusion was a cuisine and about a pound of matchstick cut carrots. This is why people nationwide grew tired of expensive large plates and want 3 vibrant small plates for the same price. Service at 955 is particularly sluggish but Macallum wasn't far beyond but at least the room has much charm.

                Not complaining...just could be better, especially for such a beautiful location with lots of tourists. Wish I tried Wild Fish. Was staying in town and wanted to walk to dinners ;)

                Great pastries at Good Life, MacCallum has some excellent wines to enjoy. And can't skip tasting the brews at North Coast...not all are perfect but the great ones like Old Rasputin compete with CA's best.

                And 2 thumbs up to Stone & Embers and Table 128 (wish both could be in Mendocino too)...and Boonville General Store for lunch.

                1. Thanks for this helpful thread. Wife and I will be in town for first time (from Florida!) Dec 23 thru Dec 26.

                  I'm making notes from here and the other recent Mendo / Bragg thread...

                  Restaurant suggestions in Mendocino and Fort Bragg area

                  And soon I'll have specific questions.

                  We'll be interested in great local bites, local / West Coast seafood and interesting produce, spectacular craft beer (me), and of course nice water views will be a big plus.

                  And I guess I should also start looking for a place specifically open for Christmas dinner. Although since we're going to be "on the road", a comfy warm brewpub or something might end up being just fine.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: CFByrne

                    I'll keep saying this forever: for seafood, you must must must reserve at Wild Fish. They are the *only* place around that serves ONLY fresh/northern california fish and produce. It is wonderful. They are often open on christmas too!

                    As for the rest of your requests:

                    Christmas: Lots of the hotels/inns that have restaurants will be open on christmas as well. I'd go for cozy and sit near the fire at MacCallum House. In the bar. Eat snacks and have seasonal cocktails and aim for ambience over stellar food - it will be fine, though! (That's probably where you'll find me come to think of it).

                    Beers/local gems: Oh Piaci's in Fort Bragg for sure. It's really good, super local, and the beer list is the bomb.

                    Water views: The bar at either Ledford House (Albion) or Little River Inn (Little River). These are both for dinner only! Go right at five before the sun sets and sit at the bar. At Little River Inn, have a burger if you eat meat. Or clam chowder. They sometimes have Pliny on tap there! And at Ledford, have a glass of wine and oysters. Sublime.

                    Daytime water view restaurants - Flow (Mendocino) has the best/only views around. It's often comfortable to sit on the deck even in winter. HOWEVER: service and food are both uneven. Be assertive to get the service you need and choose your food thoughtfully.

                    Last words: go to Harvest market and pack a picnic. Great wine, beer, prepared food, cheeses, etc right there. Go to the headlands or any of the many many many insanely beautiful spots along the coast. You won't be sorry.

                    People reading this - please feel free to ask me anything. I live in this small north coast community and desperately want to support our (few but growing) good food venues. Because I'm in the hospitality industry, I do know the latest on what's up and pledge truth to chowhounders!

                    1. re: DottieMay

                      So far, Wild Fish menu looks awesome. That will def be one dinner.


                      MacCallum House, when you say bar, is that what they call "the café"?


                      Pliny - oh yes please tell me any secret spots.

                      And yes a visit to North Coast will be a must too...

                      More soon - thanks so far!

                      1. re: DottieMay

                        Get up there about once a year. Love Piaci's and if beer is on the list, this place does it.


                        Harvest Market is also a must if for no other reason to hit their wine section. A good variety of wines from the area with out driving allover to hit them.

                      2. re: CFByrne

                        I'm sure you already have North Coast on your radar, but for spectacular craft beer that's my top choice. Very good food as well (their fish & chips are favorites of mine).

                        1. re: CFByrne

                          OK so here's the latest plan...

                          12/23 Arrive in town appx noon (from Calistoga)
                          Lunch at Harvest Market (Take out and eat ?)
                          2:00 Check in to Stanford Inn
                          3:00 Christmas Skunk Train (90 mins)
                          5:00ish Early dinner and drinks at North Coast

                          Day - open - whale watching?
                          Drive north?
                          Lunch at Piaci's
                          6:30 Dinner res at Wild Fish

                          Day - open.
                          7:00 Dinner res at MacCallum House

                          Drive south to Berkeley with stops in Bodega Bay and Pt Reyes

                          I know this isn't TripAdvisor but I'll be glad for suggestions on restaurants as well as other "must do's".

                          (I love seafood, fishing, fish markets... if it is wet and salty, well, you get the idea). My wife is more interested in history and culture esp native culture.