One of the best ways to experience the culinary bounty of California’s Mendocino County is to explore the wineries of the Anderson Valley during the day, and then head for the coast for a memorable meal.
Highway 128, which can be picked up just north of Cloverdale off Highway 101, serves as the “main drag” through Anderson Valley, and will take you all the way to the Mendocino Coast.
Head north on California Highway 1, and you’ll encounter the communities of Albion, Little River, Mendocino and Fort Bragg, each offering unique wining-and-dining experiences…
ALBION – Sunset magazine describes Albion River Inn as “one of the West’s best small inns.” The inspired menu includes such items as Lime & Ginger Grilled Prawns, marinated and basted on the grill with ginger, garlic and soy, then sauced with tangy cilantro/lime butter. And the wine list is a Wine Spectator magazine award winner.
LITTLE RIVER – The Restaurant at Stevenswood is part of the Stevenswood Spa Resort. The cuisine has been described as “as good as San Francisco’s finest,” and there’s an excellent selection of local wines.
MENDOCINO – For such a small town, Mendocino is one of the world’s great destinations for vegetarian fare, as well as restaurants that embrace sustainability. Here are four of the Vinesse staff’s faves…
* Cafe Beaujolais – Serves a global menu that features local organic produce, wild and sustainably cultured seafood, humanely raised meats and 50 wines by the glass.
* The Mendocino Cafe – Serves international cuisine with wild harvested seafood, grass-fed beef, free-range chicken and certified organic produce, beans, rice and pasta. And the beverage list includes organic espresso and sustainably produced wines.
* The Mendocino Hotel – The hotel’s Victorian Dining Room features a California menu spotlighting local sustainable and organic selections. The wine list, another Wine Spectator award winner, is heavy on Mendocino County selections.
* The Ravens – One of the highest-rated vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the country. Located at Stanford Inn By The Sea, its menu is packed with selections featuring produce from its own certified organic farm. And the wine list is specially selected to complement the menu – not always easy with vegetarian fare.
FORT BRAGG – Great food. Good wine list. Fabulous view. Cliff House Restaurant, situated at the entrance to Noyo Harbor, has it all. The “all-are-welcome” menu includes seafood, steaks, pasta and vegetarian fare.