We returned last night from hiking for five days around the Lost Coast only to find out that the Chron did an article on the Lost Coast. We must be at the cutting edge of adventure :)
LC is a big, big area. We stayed around Shelter Cove which has three restaurants but only one was open, Mario's. We ate there one night and were very pleasantly surprised. It's a simple place with a drop-dead view of the Cove. We had ling code ($16) and wild salmon ($18) dinners. The dinners had a choice of clam chowder or salad but they ran out of the chowder. The salads were simple but had excellent dressings. The (locally caught) fish entrees were very good, especially the salmon, prepared blackened/Cajun style. They had a pedestrian, but reasonably priced oral wine list (kind of weird: the waiter had to recite it at every table; why not print it?) but there is no corkage fee if you bring your own wine. Portions are large and we were stuffed by desert time so we didn't try their home-made pecan pie.
Shelter Cove is a strange little town with no apparent downtown area. There is a lot of new-homes construction and houses seem to be sprouting randomly around the airstrip that is right in the middle of town. Next to the strip is an RV park and its convenience store makes a tasty fish and chip basket.
After a few days in the King Range (highly recommended for hiking and camping) we went off to decompress to Eureka. On the way there we stopped at the Benbow Inn because it was recommended on this board. It was an in-between-meals time and we did not eat there but looked around. Very cozy and relaxing lobby with lots of relics, memorabilia and photos to look at. The restaurant looks very nice. The menu is quite expensive (entrees in the upper twenties) and the wine list looked good but overpriced.
We wanted to eat at the Larrupin Cafe in Trinidad but unfortunately it was totally booked. We even drove out there but would have to wait a long time. The restaurant looked very enticing. The menu was expensive but looked interesting; they seem to use lots of local ingredients. The wine list contained many local wine and unlike Benbow had many fairly reasonably priced choices.
We stayed one night in Eureka and by the time we went out for dinner it was late and they seem to shut down early in Eureka. So, influenced by several positive mentions on this board, we settled for the Lost Coast Brewery. It turned out to be a decent, but not great, choice. The menu is totally boring with nothing of great interest, so, on the advice of our very enthusiastic waitress, we went for the burgers. Turned out to be a good choice. The burgers were very well made with some thin-cut french fries sprinkled with some sort of garlic/oregano dust. It went very well with the beer. We had a sampler, which is a set of 10 4-oz glasses of all the beers they make ($7.50). I liked their India Pale Ale and the porter stout the best. In general, I was not too impressed with their beer. The flavors seem to be muted, compared with, say, the Fort Bragg brewery, where the beers are more intense. Also, the Fort Bragg food menu is more interesting.
We also drove out to Samoa (a small town on the peninsula just north of Eureka) just to look at the famous Samoa Cookhouse. One hundred plus years ago it was a cookhouse to feed all the loggers and now it's an institution. People drive out in busloads just to eat there. It seems to be one of those self-perpetuating legendary places that become famous *despite* the quality of food. To be fair, we did not eat there so maybe it's good, but it looked awful. There is no menu, just one entree a night. The night we checked it out they had ham and fried chicken for dinner (all you can eat for $14 for adults). You eat at big communal tables, sort of Basque style. We did buy a loaf of their (also famous, of course) white bread which turned out to be OK.
On the way back home, we stopped in Fortuna (about 15 miles south of Eureka) for lunch. They had their yearly rodeo event and had a gigantic barbeque going. We each got a platter with cross-rib beef (wherever on the cow that is; looked like brisket to me) that had been smoked and cooked for 18 hours over oak wood, potato salad, bread, and ice-cream. All that for $8 each and there was a lot of flavorful meat -- I was still eating it for lunch today. All this to the sounds of a very good country & western band.