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Restaurants & Bars 2

Weekend Roundup in Mendocino

Cyrus J. Farivar | Oct 1, 200208:23 PM

Alright, so I made it up to Mendocino and back in one piece. This post, for those of you interested, will not be the Café Beaujolais and haute cuisine type of deal. I'm much too poor to afford something like that, but I'll tell you where I did eat, and what I thought of it, in the true houding spirit.


First stop en route to Mendocino, was Gowan's Oak Tree [], on Highway 128, near Boonville. This was a small independent fruit stand, which boasted everything from fresh fruit, to dried fruit, corn (in the husk), cider, and some vegetables. We (my girlfriend, Rachel, and I) bought some dried peaches in a small plastic bag, and a small bottle of apple cider. The peaches were fresh, and had a good flavor, and weren't too sweet. Rachel remarked that you could tell that they hadn't added any sugar, which I agreed with. They also weren't too chewy or too tough, and they made for a great mid-morning snack.

The cider, I thought, was superb. It was smooth, and very flavorful. It wasn't spiced with anything, just some serious apple flavor, like a cider should be. Most excellent indeed.

After arriving in Mendocino and setting up camp at Van Damme State Park (just south), we headed into town to explore. One of my primary reasons for coming to Mendocino were to indulge myself in the wild blackberry bushes which are all over the area, and also an amazing ice cream shop (3rd best in the world, from my experience) on Main St. I have fond memories of those two things when I went with my family 10 years ago.

Walking around town, and after popping into a few of the shops, I asked around and was dismayed to find out that my ice cream shop no longer existed. However, the blackberry bushes did. Along the south end of town, lining one side of Main St. are just massive amounts of blackberries. When I was younger, Dad and I filled two large coffee cups with blackberries. Rachel and I just meandered through, picking them everywhere we could find them. As we walked further down the trail which takes you to the beach, the bushes grow higher, nearly six feet tall which is how I remember them as a child.

The blackberries were just perfect, full of juiciness, and so succulent -- and free! (And we ate as many as we could.) []

The only other thing that I ate in town was from a cafe that I forget the name of, but is right next door to Red Rooster Records on Ukiah St. I bought a Peach frozen yogurt for $1.50. Very good, light, with small bits of frozen peaches spread throughout. Not too sweet, but quite tasty.


We decided to venture further up Highway 1, and we explored the bustling metropolis (by comparison) of Ft. Bragg.

As far as eating went, I decided to get a taco al pastor from La Bamba Taqueria [La Bamba Imports
124 North Franklin Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
(707) 964-7747], which is a small Mexican supermarket with a taqueria in the back.

After seeing the sign [], burritos as big as your head!, I knew we had to give it a try.

There was a small bar, where some guys were watching Telemundo above the bar, and enjoying their lunch. I just ordered my taco, and Rachel and I took in the scene.

The taco was very smooth and had a full flavor. The salsa verde was good, but personally I like it a little spicier (then again I seem to tolerate it better than most people). It had a slight spiced tinge to it, but nothing too loud.

You could tell it was a quality joint as looking past the side of the bar, there was a small butcher shop/counter. I bet if you knew who to ask, you could get meat directly from them, but it wasn't integrated into the store.

That night, we decided to take advantage of our campfire pit, and to grill some fish. Again, being cheap college students with limited supplies (we had a lot of apples and pistachios), we bought some red snapper in Mendocino for $4 for less than a pound. A good deal, I thought.

Rachel had the idea of cutting up the pistachios and putting them in with some chopped garlic with the fish [], and then nestled between slices of apples, then all of that wrapped in foil and thrown on an open fire. It was very very good, suprisingly so. Not that I would expect anything less from her, but the combination of soft warm apples with crunchy nuts and the light fish made for a suprisingly good combination. I can't remember the last time I had a dish with pistachios in it. Most excellent indeed.


For our last day, I wanted to go to a place I spotted called Jenny's Giant Burgers, on Highway 1, on the north end of Ft. Bragg []. We hit them up for lunch, just before leaving the area. I got the namesake of the place, the Giant Burger (= 1/3 lb.), along with a regular burger for Rachel, a couple sodas, and some fries for a little over $10. Cheap.

The burger was tasty, cooked well, and pretty flavorful. Hard to beat Thai-American Express in Silver Lake, CA , or Bartley's in Cambridge, MA...but all in all a pretty good burger. Rachel liked the fries, I thought they were ok, but could have been crispier (again forgetting to order them well-done like Boyk does), and I don't believe that they were handmade.

Our last food stop was at Cowlick's [Cowlicks Ice Cream Cafe 250 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
(707) 962-9271], which is where I got my scoop of ice cream. You have to support local ice cream, as the sign outside tells you []. After asking what the behind-the-counter girl recommended, I got black cherry, which she said was one of their most popular flavors.

It was subtlely sweet, and was thick enough to allow me to eat it for a few minutes, and wasn't runny at all. Clearly a sign of a good ice cream.

Total: about $26

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