The Mendocino Coast is expansive and unforgettable. Its stunning coastal scenery includes looming jagged cliffs; crashing waves; expansive views of the ocean; and more. Just a few minutes inland and you’ll find windswept hillsides dotted with cows; overgrown misty forest groves and their ancient redwoods. Both create an unparalleled destination when it comes to vistas and natural beauty.
Mendocino County also happens to be a treasure trove of culinary delights. From the bounty of the sea to the bounty of the earth, it’s a place that offers a plethora of locally sourced ingredients that make dining in the area exceptional.
For your next getaway, check out these spots worth your time and your appetite.
A 48-Hour Culinary Tour Of Mendocino County
Located in the heart of Anderson Valley, the 203-acre Lichen Estate takes inspiration from the Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy and Champagne to produce its own unique selection of sparkling wines and more. Organically produced, Lichen Estate specializes in sparkling wines that include its Blanc de Gris and Blanc de Noir, as will as still wines Pinot noir and Pinot gris. It offers a relaxing setting to enjoy a few glasses of wine before making your way towards the coast.
Gowan’s Heirloom Cider
For the ultimate apple orchard experience you need to make a stop at the sustainable, sixth generation, and family-owned Gowan’s Heirloom Cider, California’s first ever cider tasting orchard. Gowan’s ciders are award-winning and world class. They’re made exclusively with the apples grown on-property from their ancient apple trees that date back to 1876
If you’re a fan of wine pairings, you will absolutely love experiencing cider pairings in which you’ll learn more about the origins of these stunning apple trees; each cider’s unique tasting profile; and what types of foods go with which type of cider. The property is absolutely gorgeous, particularly in the Fall when all the leaves are changing color. Be sure to try the fresh apple pie while you’re there — apple pie will never be the same!
Noyo Harbor Inn
Located overlooking the historic Noyo Harbor, the flowing river bank and nearby forest is the rustic Noyo Harbor Inn. For an overnight stay in Fort Bragg, check in to this luxe inn that’s conveniently located right along the scenic coastline complete with sea caves, hidden coves, forests and more. Nearby is Glass Beach, the Mendocino Botanical Gardens, and other attractions, including beautiful places to hike, kayak, whale watch and part take in a variety of other activities. On property is a spa that offers massages and aromatherapy treatments as well as an upscale restaurant.
HarborView Bistro & Bar offers guests an elegant place to enjoy brunch or dinner in a nautical setting. Dinner entrees include specials such as the local petrale sole sauteed and served with capers, lemon juice, white wine and butter; surf & turf with a 7oz. baked lobster tail, 8oz. and a grilled filet mignon with a red wine, mushroom demi glaze sauce; the HarborView bistro house pasta with a spicy marinara with fire-roasted chile sausage, roasted garlic, sun-dried tomatoes and fresh goat cheese; and the rack of lamb served with a fried sage pesto.
The Noyo Harbor itself is a destination to explore and is a place to spot lots of sea critters including river otters and sea lions. The working harbor is home to a variety of seafood processors include Ocean Fresh Seafood Products, the main sea urchin producer in the area. Owner Bob Juntz is a pioneer in the uni industry and is certainly someone to meet if you’re a lover of this delicacy. If you’re lucky you’ll be able to witness a fresh uni catch, something that unfortunately is less common than it’s been in previous years due to changing conditions of the Fort Bragg waters.
Nearby is Princess Seafood, the woman-owned and ran seafood market and deli that serves the freshest bounty caught by their own badass team fisherwomen on their boat, The Princess. At the market are fresh daily selections include Dungeness crab meat, sablefish, bay shrimp, spot prawns, scallops and Humboldt Bay oysters. Moreover they feature a selection of grab and go items like the smoked fish and fresh fish along with sashimi grade options. Specials range daily and include plates like the crab melt; crab cakes; oysters with local uni butter; and more. This iconic spot offers live music every Saturday & Sunday along with 12 beers on tap.
Interested in the history of this harbor? Take an educational tour of the harbor with Captain Dan Platt, Proprietor of Noyo Harbor Tours. Learn more about the fisheries and businesses in the harbor and see some wildlife up-close-and-personal while on a relaxing cruise through the harbor.
Pacific Star Winery
For an unbelievable wine tasting experience, book a tasting at Pacific Star Winery, the only winery located right on the edge of the Mendocino coast. Situated on rocks that are over 130,000 years old of which are a part of the San Andreas Fault, it truly feels like you’re at the edge of the earth. Crashing waves, rugged coast line and unparalleled views make it a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience.
Skunk Train Railbikes
For a unique experience that takes you through the redwoods, check out the Skunk Train’s Railbike experience. These bikes are electric-powered, custom-built, two-person railbikes that you ride through their newest Redwood Route which runs along the Noyo River and into the old red wood groves. It includes a picnic lunch and refreshments.
Little River Inn
For a dinner to remember, book a table at the Little River Inn’s fine dining restaurant which offers both ocean and garden views. This family friendly restaurant offers a menu crafted by chef de cuisine, Chef Jason Azevedo, previously Executive Chef of Alaro’ Craft brewery, Chef de Cuisine of the Citizen hotel, and chef/owner of Testa Duro Salumi, his own underground butcher shop, and catering company.
Specialties include Fresh Steamed Clam Chowder with fresh steamed clams in the shell, smoked bacon, potatoes, onion, celery and a touch of cream; petrale Sole Américaine with Local Petrale sole, creamed spinach with artichoke, foraged Chanterelles, lobster with Americaine Sauce; Thai Inspired Rock Cod with Fried whole and crispy, sweet chile glaze, basmati, pumpkin curry, pickled onion, sesame, cilantro, lime and more.