Bordered by redwood forests and dramatic shores, the North Coast ‘s Mendocino County is known for both its relaxed settings and its fantastic feasts. About three hours’ coastal drive north of San Francisco, it’s the perfect spot to slow down, unwind, and get your fill on the region’s delicious culinary bounty. Here are four ways to get started.
Mendocino County is home to more than 3,000 types of mushrooms, 500 of which are edible. While a hearty stroganoff or soup might first spring to mind, the breadth and scope of the forest fungi allow for an incredibly varied menu. At Café Beaujolais, executive chef Julian Lopez picks his own fresh candy cap mushrooms from the local forests to use in various desserts, like ice creams or banana cake. Mushrooms are so central to many of the meals around Mendocino that a number of restaurants and chefs offer foraging tours to let diners discover their food’s journey.
Get your fix of the freshest food at Fortunate Farm, a family-run farm that aims to feed the community and heal the land with rotational grazing and composting. Teaming up with North Coast Brewing Co., they share 40 acres of land, where they work toward zero waste by using the brewery’s spent grain (a byproduct of brewing beer) as compost for the heirloom vegetables. You can pick their fresh produce at their farmstand on Saturdays from 10 a.m.–5 p.m., and at the Farmers’ Market in Fort Bragg on Wednesdays from 3 p.m.–5 p.m. Tip: Have a meal at Café Beaujolais—the farm’s produce is featured on the menu.
Located right on the Noyo River in Fort Bragg is an all-female-run market and deli, Princess Seafood, offering an authentic taste of fresh seafood. Take a seat by the water and indulge in a healthy menu featuring some of the best fish on the North Coast. Everything is super fresh, as the all-women crew venture out every morning on their fishing boat, the F/V Princess. Known for their sustainably wild-caught sashimi grade seafood, you can’t go wrong with the Dungeness crab roll or rock fish tacos.
Fall in Mendocino signals the beginning of the North Coast’s astounding mushroom season. Celebrate the harvest of one of the region’s most loved bounties by taking part in the 10-day Feast Mendocino, held in early November. If you’re into the freshest mushrooms, delicious gourmet foods, epicurean cooking, and award-winning wines, beers, and distilled spirits, then you won’t want to miss out. During the festival, events take place throughout the county, from the inland valleys to the coast. Tuck into one of many mushroom-themed dinners at local restaurants, take a tour with a mushroom expert and find some fungi for yourself, or relax and enjoy special themed rides on the popular Skunk Train.