We love good food with fresh local ingredients. If you are looking for a place to eat in the Mendocino California area, you might want to check out some of our favorite places. And you can tell, we return to our favorites time and time again.
Wild Fish is a short car ride outside of the Mendocino town. It is a small south coastal restaurant that is known for its straightforward preparation of super-fresh local seafood. While they can take some walk-ins, it is best to get reservations in advance. They also have another location in Pacific Grove California, although we like this one better.
- 2021 Dinner: We had another wonderful meal at this fresh wild seafood specialty restaurant. The pan-seared local king salmon with farro pilaf, shitake mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and fennel with an onion puree was very tasty. Our second equally tasty dish was pan-seared sea bass with uni butter, yukon gold smashed potatoes, shitakes, and seared salmon pesto. Our only negative was the limited Anderson Valley wine list this time. We ended up settling for a 2019 Toulouse Pinot Gris.
- 2015 Dinner: We began with grilled wild, salmon collar with Thai spice rub and coconut curry sauce, followed by two entrees. The wild king salmon came with morels, asparagus, roast Yukon Gold potatoes, and roasted garlic and basil vinaigrette. The seared halibut with roasted fingerling potatoes, green beans, onions, and white wine shallot emulsion. All of the dishes were delicious, the service was professional but casual and the wine (a 2011 Champs de Reves Anderson Valley Pinot Noir) was superb.
- 2014 Dinner: We shared two delicious dishes. The creamy coconut summer squash soup hit the spot. The roasted Alaskan halibut with fingerling potatoes, sautéed asparagus, and English pea puree made us vow to return. For wine, we chose a 2010 Philip’s Hill Pinot Noir.
This is another one of our favorite restaurants in Mendocino and has been one of the town’s best for over 40 years with its sophisticated, spot-on preparations of dishes based on the freshest ingredients.
- 2021 Dinner: We had 2 entrees for our dinner here. The pan-seared diver scallops included a cauliflower puree, crispy roasted cauliflower and pistachio brown butter with a garnish of microgreens, The large bowl of cioppino had huge meaty mussels, littleneck clams, diver scallops, and Alaskan halibut in a thick, tasty tomato broth with sourdough crostini. Our Anderson Valley wine was a big, extracted 2017 Estate Vineyard pinot noir with lovely notes of black cherry and tobacco from Toulouse Winery
- 2021 Lunch: Café Beaujolais also offer takeout lunch from the Brickery (which is alongside of the main restaurant). It mainly offers a variety of pizzas. But several days a week, it also offers a smash burger. Joyce has a single with mushrooms, lettuce, and tomatoes. Tom needed more substance and had a double with cheddar, avocado, lettuce, tomato, caramelized onions and chipotle aioli. Both were delicious and were made all the better when eaten in the Café’s lovely garden.
- 2019 Dinner: We shared two great fish-based entrees: Roasted Alaskan halibut (with sugar snap pea puree, fingerling potatoes, and basil pesto sauce) and fresh, wild, local, pan-fried local king salmon (with morel mushrooms, new potatoes, grilled asparagus, and lemon beurre blanc). A side dish of wild foraged mushrooms worked well with the entrees. We finished the meal with a dessert of Tahitian vanilla ice cream with espresso that perfectly complemented the dish. The extensive wine list gave us a chance to enjoy Lula’s Peterson Vineyard 2014 Pinot Noir.
- 2014 Dinner: We shared two fish-based entrees on this visit. The roasted alaskan halibut had sugar snap pea puree, fingerling potatoes, and basil pesto sauce. The fresh, wild, local, pan-fried local king salmon had morel mushrooms, new potatoes, grilled asparagus, and lemon beurre blanc sauce. We also had a side dish of wild foraged mushrooms and finished off our meal with a dessert of Tahitian vanilla ice cream with espresso. Everything was very good. The extensive wine list gave us a chance to taste a 2014 Lula’s Peterson Vineyard Pinot Noir.
- 2013 Dinner: Although our service was a bit spotty on this visit, our food did not disappoint us. We began with duck pâté, followed by sturgeon with truffle emulsion sauce, tagliatelle, and wild mushrooms, and a pork chop with mushroom risotto. All were very good. While most of our friends with whom we dined also enjoyed their dishes, one was less than thrilled with her crab cake.
The MacCallum House was completed in 1882. Today it is a boutique B&B that provides breakfast to its guests as well as offering dining options to visitors using fresh local ingredients. Although we haven’t eaten there in a while (too many other great places to eat), it continues to get good reviews.
- 2015: Although we had dinner reservations here, we were not very hungry and could only manage a tasty sausage and mushroom pizzetta.
- 2013 Breakfast: As we were staying there, we enjoyed two breakfasts on their outside wrap-around porch. The first morning, Joyce had a delicious cheddar cheese omelet with avocado and Tom had eggs benedict with alderwood-smoked bacon. The second day, Joyce had another omelet and Tom had banana pancakes. The food and the atmosphere provide a great way to start each morning.
- 2013 Dinner: We shared 4 main dishes with 4 other friends. The scallops with a light wasabi cream sauce (with braised bok choy and mashed potatoes) and the seared duck breast (with and potato hash and frisée) were both good. The other two dishes were not memorable. We also had an issue with the food served lukewarm versus hot.
The Mendocino Hotel on Main Street was established in 1878. It claims to be the only historic full-service hotel in town. The dinner menu never intrigued us but our lunch was worth a review.
- 2021: During our 2021 trip to the area, the restaurant was closed due to Covid. Check the web site for current conditions.
- 2013: We had lunch in the garden room where we shared two dishes. The grilled sea bass with fig cream sauce was a generous serving and was delicious. The creamy mushroom risotto and a crab melt sandwich with rock shrimp were a bit light on the crab.
Ravens is a vegan restaurant in the Stanford Inn, about a mile south of Mendocino.
- 2021 Dinner: We enjoyed all three dishes that we ordered. We began with a black bean dip and pepito crumble topping with corn chips. Then we had 2 entrees. The Hawaiian-inspired Kalua mushrooms with coconut rice, smokey Trumpet Royale mushrooms, pineapple, toasted coconut, tofu, red peppers, and scallions surprised Joyce as to how tasty it was. The sea palm and carrot strudel in sesame phyllo with ume fruit sauce was served with a stir fry of cashews and shitakes. Although we aren’t prepared for a steady vegan diet, we were pleased with our food, generally with the service and especially with the dark fruit, cacao, and expressive oak of the 2018 Black Kite River Turn Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley. If you are vegan, this is the place to go.
While this is not in Mendocino, it is close enough at the base of Fort Bragg’s Noya Harbor to mention here. It is worth a lunch stop for the food and view.
- 2021 Lunch: We shared 2 dishes. The bowl of steamed manila clams had a generous portion. The lightly breaded, pan-fried rock cod sandwich with lettuce, tomato, red onion, and chipotle tartar sauce on a soft bun with fries was also tasty. As before, it was a pleasant, casual meal.
- 2019 Lunch: We shared two, tasty dishes: deep-friend oysters (with tartar sauce, steamed vegetables, and rice) and a fried rockfish sandwich with lettuce, tomato, onion, tartar sauce, and French fries.
- 2015 Lunch: The fried oysters and onion strings were both very good. The pan-fried rock cod sandwich, although inherently limited by the nondescript taste of the just-off-the-boat fish, was bolstered by tarter sauce, red onion, lettuce, and tomato. While the service was merely acceptable, the food, the view and the selection of local beers (Tom had the Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale) made up for it.
- 2014 Lunch: We shared two, tasty dishes. The deep-friend oysters came with tartar sauce, steamed vegetables, and rice. The fried rockfish sandwich came with lettuce, tomato, onion, tartar sauce, and French fries. The service and food were very good.