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Jul 12, 2014 03:14 PM

Restaurant suggestions in Mendocino and Fort Bragg area?

My wife and I will be going to Mendocino/Fort Bragg this October and are looking for good restaurants in the area.

In brief, we are not necessarily looking for anything fancy or upscale (unless it is worth it), just something good and hopefully memorable. I have been going to the "North Coast" for a long time so am aware that the area does not have a well developed food scene, but given the emphasis on local, organic, and sustainable products I am hoping things have picked up.

I know Cafe Beaujolais (ate there frequently when Margaret Fox and Christopher Kump were cooking), but do not know much about the food with the new chef (David LaMonica).

Any thoughts about Cafe Beaujolais or other area restaurants? Again, just looking for a "dining experience" and do not care if it is a hole in the whole, a pop up, or an upscale restaurant. Any food type, ambience and location are good for us.

Thanks Chowhounders!


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    1. We've been going to Mendocino annually for the past 20+ years and sadly what was once a pretty good restaurant town has suffered greatly in the past several years. The economic downturn which began 6 years ago, has seriously hurt this picturesque little town…fewer good b&b's, fewer nice art galleries and shops, and fewer good restaurants. I would not recommend setting your expectations too high for food in the Mendo area.

      Cafe Beaujolais which was at one time one of Julia Child's favorite spots has become extremely mediocre, and when we last ate there about 8 months ago it was so poor that we vowed not to return. You mention a new chef…if he arrived since we were last there, perhaps it's worth another try, but I wouldn't be too optimistic.

      We've found that the most consistently good food is at the Ledford House in Albion, about 20 minutes south of Mendo. Indeed, this is probably the only restaurant in the area that we can seriously recommend for CH's. Other friends of ours have enjoyed dinner at the Albion River Inn near there.

      Pretty good meals are also available at the Little River Inn in Little River (5 minutes south of Mendo), and at the Mendo Bistro in Ft. Bragg.

      We used to enjoy the Moosse Cafe at the Little Heron Inn in Mendo, but this closed last Thanksgiving. Don't know if anything replaced it.

      Good luck…and please report back with any new finds in Mendo. And if you're wanting to buy some good wine, cheese and other snacks for lunch, the Harvest Market in Ft. Bragg, and their branch at Mendoza's in Mendo are both quite good.

      5 Replies
      1. re: josephnl

        Thanks! Yeah, my expectations aren't too high, but there is always hope ;-)

        Wow, that is sad to hear about was such a gem when Margaret and Christopher cooked there. I know about the Little River Inn and Mendo Bistro, so may try those. Will check out Ledford House too. Thanks for the tip about Harvest Market...definitely will hit that place up.

        Any thoughts about Bistro 150?

        1. re: dabo40777

          Have not been to Bistro 150. I believe it's at the Glendeven Hotel and is new there. Their previous restaurant was not great.

          1. re: josephnl

            Ahh, thanks. Was curious about Bistro 150. I liked the concept and the menu seemed interesting...I wonder if others know anything about it.

        2. re: josephnl

          Hi again. I forgot to ask what you did not like about Beaujolais. The menu looked interesting, but of course, execution must follow.

          1. re: dabo40777

            There was nothing to like when we were last at the Cafe Beauj in November 2013, The food was awful…not just our opinion, but other friends of ours who went there on different evenings!

        3. I second Cafe Beaujolais and will add that there are not many other good dining options in Mendocino. We actually ate there twice as a result of disappointing meals elsewhere and we tried many places.

          2 Replies
          1. re: OliverB

            What places did you try and what did you like about Beaujolais? It was such a gem when Margaret and Christopher owned the cafe.

            1. re: dabo40777

              Margaret Fox has not owned Cafe B in ages. Most recently she worked at Harvest Market in their catering department. Recent meals at Cafe Beauj have been bordering on dreadful. Unless they've hired a new chef since November of 2013, I'd avoid it…it was not good.

          2. My husband and I spent 2 nights in Mendocino after 4 nights in Sonoma County last summer and it was a huge step down in terms of food. Huge. But what it lacks in food it more than makes up for in gorgeous scenery. (Although we found the town a bit odd: for example, my first impression was a scruffy vagabond giving me the finger when I smiled at his dog, and we had to sit through a painful dinner listening to a woman talk about her various reincarnations.... but I digress!)

            That said, we had a very nice dinner at the Maccullum House's Grey Whale Bar, their downscale option. We sat on their porch and enjoyed a quiet and romantic meal there.

            We also had some great pizza and calzones at Piaci in Fort Bragg. Not the most welcoming place, but definitely worth a trip in terms of food.

            North Coast Brewing was a much more friendly spot, though we didn't eat there so I can't vouch for the food. The beer is quite good.

            Have fun!

            14 Replies
            1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

              Thanks! Yeah, Mendo is an interesting mix of folks...guess that is part of its charm. Have not eaten at the Macullum House but have seen it mentioned on a few blogs. Will look into that. Haven't heard of Piaci, but I do love pizza. North Coast Brewery does have great beer and the food is pretty good too. Was going to hit that after milling around glass beach. Thanks for the tips!

              1. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                Yes, MacCallum House is ok, but definitely not great. The best food around is definitely at the Ledford House in Albion.

                1. re: josephnl

                  Josephnl - I have agreed with about every word in your various replies. However, the meal my wife and I had at Ledford House was not memorable, mediocre yes. Additionally, at the mentioned restaurants I've tried, the wine lists are dreadfully reduced from their former quality, but you're in luck if you want a local Mendocino selection.

                  1. re: BN1

                    We last ate at the Ledford House last November (2013) and had a very nice meal there. We've eaten there annually for the past several years and it's generally been very good (not great, but nothing in Mendo has been great since Margaret Fox left the Cafe Beauj). When were you there last? Perhaps you hit it on an off night...or perhaps it's changed hands. The owner we've known over the years has been Tony, and his wife has always run the kitchen, so it's been pretty consistent. I'd be interested to know when you had your obviously very mediocre experience.

                    1. re: josephnl

                      I believe it was August 2013 maybe. It wasn't "very mediocre", just kind of mediocre. It's a good looking restaurant in a beautiful location that gave me high hopes. I was just disappointed; it seemed like a lack of effort. It's strange but I feel like the area restaurants have sort of given up and lost their enthusiasm. We go over to the coast to escape the heat in the Sacramento Valley often in the summer, so we get to try many of the restaurants.

                      1. re: BN1

                        We're really probably not too far apart in our evaluation of the Ledford House. We've been going for years, and perhaps Tony tries a bit harder to please us...he's always very nice to us. I guess we've always had dependably good meals there...certainly not great, and we've always enjoyed it. Unfortunately if you're looking for great food, you're in the wrong locale!

                  2. re: josephnl

                    I was referring to the grey whale which has a more moderately priced menu and while it is not spectacular it is definitely a good option among very limited choices,_plus, they are about as into local as the OP will find in the area.

                    1. re: josephnl

                      Summer of 2013 four of us had dinner at Ledford House. One thought it was ok, two really enjoyed it, I was extremely disappointed. Of the several things which I found inexcusable, I clearly remember only two. (Hey, it was a year ago.) One was a pizza app which came soggy and undercooked and which I thought would not even be served in a better place. The other was my salmon which came with a sauce of some kind the flavor of which completely overwhelmed the salmon, and after scraping it to the side I found the salmon was overcooked. But good service and great view.

                      1. re: alfairfax

                        Obviously, the Ledford House is very inconsistent. I have pretty much always enjoyed it and had good to very good food there, but never anything truly outstanding. I think maybe the variable is whether or not Tony, the owner, is present. He seems to keep a reasonably keen eye on things...and his wife is in the kitchen. But then again, unfortunately since Margaret Fox (and Chef Christopher...I think was his name) left Cafe Beaujolais, there has never been anything really great in the area.

                    2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                      The food is very good at North Coast. Outstanding fish & chips, and everything else I've had there was excellent. Plus, you get to drink their beer.

                      (We always eat in the bar area rather than the dining room, by the way.)

                      1. re: TVHilton

                        Thanks! It has been awhile but yes, the food and beer are good at North Coast. Definitely enjoyed my last visit there, about 8 years ago.

                        1. re: travelprof

                          Yes...I particularly like their belgian style ales. And the food ain't bad either.

                        2. re: i_eat_a_lot_of_ice_cream

                          My husband and I recently were in the Fort Bragg area...wish I could have seen this post while we were there.
                          We had a late lunch at Silver's by the Wharf. The Perri Frito was good...local nightfish battered and fried. The fish in the fish and chips are also locally caught and was good. Chips were garlic fries. The coastal salad was nice...Bibb lettuce, roasted beets, Feta cheese, some sort of tangy house dressing. Not a bad meal, but not blow your mind good either.

                        3. Have just looked at TripAdvisor and it appears that the now closed Moosse Cafe which was pretty good, has now been replaced by the Trillium Cafe. The TA reviews sound generally favorable. I would check it out. Also, if you feel like a decent burger and beer for lunch, Patterson's Pub is pretty dependable.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: josephnl

                            Wow, thanks! Hadn't heard of Trillium Cafe, but did know about Patterson's...who can resist a decent burger and beer. We are staying in town (in one of the water towers) so that could be a nice place for lunch one day.

                            1. re: dabo40777

                              Staying in a water tower sounds great. For more than 20 years we've stayed in Mendo at what was perhaps the best B & B ever...and stayed in their water tower. The Joshua Grindle Inn was a Mendocino institution...a truly fabulous B & B. The main house built in the 1800's remains on Little Lake Road. Unfortunately the economy forced the closing of this wonderful place about a year ago. Very sad indeed.

                              Have fun in Mendo, and do report back on your dining experiences!