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We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

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We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

We would love for you to come to our Village!

I was raised to want all your visitors to Mendocino to leave in "awe" of the Village. Granny used to say if the Village did not tug at your heart strings when someone left, the Village dd not host that person very well. We wanted to, we wanted you back. Our survival depended on it. With welcomed newer energy in the Village and much to do I find myself almost yelling back to the posts regarding "Where do I stay", where do I eat, what do I do. It is only because I love the village and want you to have the best of times that I feel frustrated!

I can't help you decide where to stay if you don't tell me what kind of experience you are looking for. What is important to you? There are never to many questions you can ask of an Inn and yet now I think are fine. Each and every one has a different experience, different way. Tell us what you are looking for. Please don't say a B & B because that is what we have here and I am still in the same place. I do not work for anyone, just dedicted to the village. Let us know. We can help you. It is hard to be coming here for the first time, let alone from Chicago and be able to tell what you are seeing when looking at an Inn. I don't want to do all your research for you but I will help you or someone else will help you find the best mendo experience for you. Now that's hospitality. We recomend no one absolutely and encorage you to be your own investigator. I don't want to be sitting on the headlands, gazing at the wild flowers and the ocean and have you come up and start yelling at me because of an Inn. Yell at the Inn Keeper. I do know a lot and what I don't someone else will. Tell us all. We dont want to type alot about the Inn of no kids and dogs only to find out you have four of each. Mention the occasion and put it out there. What can you spend? I might suggest a place a little more if worth it and can steer you away from those rooms I feel not. It is Mendocino. You will be in your room. It is the pounding lull of the ocean and the fresh air. Plus our weather. It can change within minutes. No fog one minute, socked in the next. We live on the rugged northern California Coast. The weather is not ours to control or predict. The wise woman my Granny used to say, If you want a weather report in Mendocino or Little River, Ca open up the door and look out side. That will tell you the weather. We are wonderfully sunny but never hot. Bring layers. We are casual however. As long as you have pants and shoes on and leave your dog outside, we take you anywhere. We did not always have the requirement for shoes or no dogs. We tried to encourage the free spirits living amongst us to put their pants on however. Unless they were in the Landromat. That we understood, they were being washed. Our Village is wonderful. We want you to love it no matter the weather. The right lodging establishment for YOU is the biggest determinent in your weekend. That and you.

Forestville...
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1. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

I love reading your bloggish posts and can feel the Headlands wind as I read 'em! (That's a compliment!!) Glad you hooked up with the Forum. Question for you: have you dined at 955 Ukiah recently? I've rec'd rumblings about inconsistent food/service over the yrs., but have always wanted to dine there. The entry tucked back from the street intrigues me, too. My consistent favorite has been Cafe Beaujolais and was very pleased by my experience last month after the new ownership took over. Both food and service were perfect. Also love Moose Cafe, so that gives you a good idea of what I really enjoy. Anyway, let me know if you've gotten any recent feedback (no pun intended) on 955. I was planning on making reserv's and finally going there later this month when we're in town for the Garden Tour.

Forestville...
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2. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

MOOSSE Cafe that is!! I've been planning a trip to Jackson Hole, so must have those big guys on my mind!

ThePhantomInnkeeper
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3. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

Hi - I grew up in Mendocino, and agree with ilovemendo - it's one of the most beautiful spots you'll find! Also, I work at a Bed and Breakfast in Mendocino, and thought I could jump in with some helpful "Insider Tips from an Innkeeper" suggestions so that you will find exactly the right place for you to stay!

The most important thing is the right fit between guest and Inn. At the Inn where I work, we try very hard to make your stay wonderful, but as ilovemendo points out, everyone's tastes are different, and what's perfect for someone won't be for another! To help you get the most from your stay, here are some things to consider when looking for just the right B&B for you in Mendocino.

- The most important thing: research, research, research! Make a list of the things that are important to you, and then call the Inns and ask about them. Some things you may want to ask about: Ocean view, beach access, dog-friendly, kid-friendly, cottages vs. rooms, restaurant on the premises, pool, hot tub, full hot breakfasts, right in town or in a quieter area, etc. If it's very important to you to be right on the beach, for example, and you book at an Inn that is across the road from the ocean and says so on its web site and marketing materials, it's not entirely fair to complain about that when you arrive! Where I work, we try to give you all the info you need to make your decision, and we'd much rather you be happy elsewhere than unhappy with us!

- How big is the property, and how many units? Many B&Bs have one big guest-house building, with many rooms. This can be wonderful, but can be a bit less private. Others (like the one I work at) have a variety of rooms and private cottages. A room in the main building of an Inn can be great if you want to be around the other guests a lot and don't mind slightly less privacy. A cottage is wonderful for peace and quiet, romantic weekends, or just for time by yourself!

- If the B&B just has one main guest house, find out if the rooms have private baths, or will you have to share?

- Shower and tub in the bathrooms? If tub, is it a standard tub, clawfoot, or Jacuzzi-style?

- If an ocean view is important to you, ask whether the view is a direct view or an obstructed view. Find out where the Inn is in relationship to the ocean. If being right *on* the beach is important, find out before you book if the Inn is on the same side of the road as the ocean or across from it. Our Inn has gorgeous views from many of the cottages and rooms on the main property, and two cottages right on the cliff edge with 180-degree views - but occasionally, we have had people arrive only to be unhappy because we're not right smack on the beach.

- If you call an Inn and they don't answer your questions fully and promptly, or if they are saying things like "This is the perfect place for you" even though they haven't asked what your preferences are yet, beware! A good B&B cares about the right fit between guest and Inn. I know that at our Inn, if we have an opening but the prospective guest has preferences that don't match up, we'd much rather they go elsewhere and get exactly the right experience than stay with us and be unhappy! Believe me, unhappy guests are no fun at all for Innkeepers, so our policy is to be completely honest and open before the guest books.

- If the 'Breakfast' part of Bed and Breakfast is important to you, ask what kind of breakfast they serve - cold help-yourself buffet? Hot entrees brought to the table? If you have a dietary constraint, make sure you mention it when you book - where I work, we always have at least a vegetarian option, but extra constraints like wheat allergies or strict kosher food should be arranged ahead of time.

- One tip: Most Inns in the Mendocino area have to be very careful about water conservation. This isn't just green eco-consciousness; the water table here is very tricky and water can run out on us. Therefore, most Inns here will not replace towels on stayover nights, unless the guest puts them on the bathroom floor or in a hamper to indicate they want new ones. We have signs in all our bathrooms explaining this policy and are happy to replace the ones left on the floor.

- Very Important: If you don't like something at the Inn, COMPLAIN RIGHT AWAY! I can't tell you how many times we've had guests stay who said everything was fine while they were here, only to go home and write a negative review on TripAdvisor. Usually, it's something we would have LOVED to help with - they wanted firmer pillows, or a different breakfast option, or ice, etc. Please, if you have a quibble or a request, the Innkeeper is there to help you and we want you to be happy. Give us the chance and ask while you're on the property!

- Politeness isn't just a nice thing to do; it will pay off for you in perks like discounts, free wine, gifts, etc.! Innkeepers have a hard job, and we don't get tipped. Still, I love what I do, but I'm human, and when someone is rude to me from the moment they check in, I don't feel incredibly motivated to offer them any of the nice perks I can give out to nicer folks! Now, if you have asked for something and didn't get it, or if the Innkeeper was rude to you first, go right ahead and be rude back, but try to follow this guideline: Don't be rude just because something isn't exactly to your liking. We try to set things up to please the majority of people, but you may be an outlyer. You may not like the firmness of the pillows, but someone else does, and we'd be more than happy to change them for you! Here's an incentive for you: Recently, we had a cancellation in one of our two Cliffside cottages. They are our most expensive accommodations with spectacular ocean views, King feather beds, fireplaces, kitchens, and private hot tubs. The cheapest one goes for $349 per night. But - we had two nights available, and rather than let them go to waste, we called a previous guest who had been particularly nice, and gave them a free luxury ocean-side weekend. This could be you! On the other hand, we have a system of flagging guests who are over-the-top unpleasant (I've actually been hit and spit on, though this is very rare behavior, I'm happy to say), and we simply don't let them book again. And yes - there IS a network of Innkeepers and Inn owners, and we will share our "blacklists" with each other.

- Even in the summers in Mendocino, the coast will usually get marine-layer fog in the early morning and evening. This happens even on the hottest days! The hot months here are July and August, and early September. If you wake up and see gray fog, don't be discouraged - it will almost always burn off in the summer months, and turn into glorious sunshine. Plan on packing layers.

- If you are allergic to pets, you should definitely ask if the Inn is pet-friendly. Our Inn is very pet-friendly, and although we deep-clean (including rug shampooing and air ionization) after pets have been in a room, this won't be enough for extremely allergic folks. We say that we're pet-friendly on every marketing piece, our web site, and on the phone; but double-check if this is an issue, because more and more Inns are catching on to this trend.

- One final note: Mendocino is an 1800's village with the quaint, gorgeous, Nantucket-style architecture of that era. Most B&Bs are converted from old homes (ours was a ranch!). That means that when you choose a Mendocino B&B, you are NOT going to get the autoclaved-white-sterile experience of, say, a fancy hotel. Our rooms are very clean, but some floorboards squeak. Sometimes, windows swell in winter and can be sticky to open or close. Not all angles in Mendocino are 90-degree! Older buildings can settle. This is part of the charm, we think; there are billions of those sterile places to visit, if that's what you like. But - if you come to Mendo, you should know what to expect. And, as your friendly Innkeeper, I'll make sure your room is clean and inviting, but I'm just not paid enough to go rent a crane, jack up the building, and straighten out that slight floor-slope for the two nights you're here!

Good luck, and maybe I'll get the chance to take very good care of you, if you end up at our Inn!

- The Phantom Innkeeper

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4. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

Okay, since y'all offered to help....3 of us (all adults) will be out there later this month. We have 2 nights (a Tuesday and Wednesday) at Packard House in Mendo. I'd welcome any recommendations on where we have to eat (I know there are some above in this thread), what wineries we have to visit (I hear Navarro, Milano, and Pacific Star; but would love feedback on those and others), and anything else we simply can't miss. We'll be coming up from Forestville, planning to drive the costal route, then will go to Napa from Mendo. Thanks!

laguna beach, ca
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5. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

For breakfast and lunch you might try the Bay View Cafe on Main St. in Mendocino. It's located on a second story above the Big River Trading Co. (next to the old wooden water tower) affording great views of the ocean with either inside or outside on the deck dining. Great food and service. . . .

Enjoy!

ThePhantomInnkeeper
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6. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

It's the Phantom Innkeeper again, mwah ha haaah! (cue spooky music). Just got back from the Innkeeping gig, and thought I'd make a few restaurant recommendations, based on my own experience and on the hundreds of guests who've given me feedback on places I sent them.

First, though, a tiny sidebar suggestion to anyone who makes a reservation at any Inn: It's fine to ask for early check-in, but it is not always going to be possible. A woman came to the Inn today, two hours before check-in, and was angry because we couldn't do it. The kicker - she had requested a super, extra deep-cleaning of the cottage due to her son's allergies, so we had to send twice the number of housekeepers to that cottage and it took twice as long. I was very apologetic and friendly; gave her cookies and tea and lots of helpful suggestions, but she STILL was mean and grumpy at me. I really do understand the desire to check in early, but it is a favor, not a right - you're essentially asking the Inn to give you their services for nothing, and we don't go around asking guests for free twenty-dollar bills or anything. If the Innkeeper can do it, thank them and enjoy. If not, don't spend the rest of your stay acting like the Inn screwed you over. Okay. Whew. Thanks, I needed that. On to the recommendations:

BEST RESTAURANT IN MENDOCINO (OF THE MOMENT) - Moosse Cafe. 937-4323. A new chef took over a year ago, and he is fantastic. Simple, excellent food, super-fresh organic produce and the freshest meats and seafood. Great seafood dishes - any special he makes is going to be great. The prawn appetizer is to die for. Last time I was there, it was in a Thai ginger curry reduction with crispy basil wrapped around it... yum! Their roast chicken is the Essence of Roast Chicken - siimple, classic, dreamy. Great wine list with Anderson Valley wines, and for Friends of Bill like myself, the terrific Pinot and Gewurtztraminer Grape Juices from Navarro Vineyards. I'm not a cioppino fan, but their cioppino is famous; fresh local mussels, crab, and the usual suspects all muddled together in a saffron-infused broth. Wonderful desserts - the lavender creme brulee is addictive, as is the dense, semi-sweet chocolate pot de creme. Good service, a lovely garden to look out on, and all set in a beautifully decorated, modern-updated Edwardian building in the village of Mendocino. Call for reservations.

BEST RESTAURANT WITH A VIEW - The restaurant at the Albion River Inn. I'm going from memory here, but I believe the number is 937-4044 (though your friendly Innkeepers, like me, will happily make you reservations!). A big, open dining room with windows wrapping around, it's on the West side of Highway one, about six miles south of the village of Mendocino. A bar with a jazz piano player and (for a change) great local art (i am not a fan of the hippie-trippy, Goddess of Spring with hairy armpits art you get a lot of around here; forgive me if that's your favorite thing!). A comfortable, white-tablecloth place with great service, a fantastic menu (the quail! The scallops! The steak!!!). Award-winning wine list. Terrific salads and pasta dishes. Really wonderful staff (Doug, you rock!). And the view - sweeping vistas of the ocean, rock formations, waves, seabirds... really special.

BEST PLACE TO TEAR A PHEASANT IN A HUGE OLD MENDOCINO MANSION - The MacCallum House. Don't know the number off hand. The Mac House (as locals call it) is a huge old mansion, 1806 or so, which was built as a wedding gift for Daisy MacCallum, who was the daughter of the richest lumber baron around in the Olden Times. It is a rambling, gorgeous Victorian/Edwardian buillding, with the kind of virgin pure heart redwood wainscotting that you can't buy for money these days. If you want to really get the feeling for the history of Mendocino, this is the place to see. The dining room is of the dimly lit, white-tablecloth, hushed-clinking-of-fine-china variety; a very upscale ambience and prices to match. But -- the chef, Alan Kantor, is extremely talented. He makes a duck confit that my fiance and I have literally fought over, if that helps! He's wonderful with the more exotic meats: He's had ostrich, duck, venison, and the like on the menu. He does things like reductions of local wild huckleberries with pinot noir that will make you sit back and make little happy sounds. He makes a dessert that is a chocolate tasting, with various dessert wines and such to pair with each type of chocolate. A foodie's restaurant, for sure. The place to take your boss or a cute someone you want to impress and sit in a dimly lit corner with... award-winning wines, and a bar next door.

THE PLACE I SEND UNPRETENTIOUS, FUN PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO GET A QUICK BITE AND DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMBIENCE, PART ONE - Patterson's Pub on Lansing in Mendocino. This is where locals go to eat a lot, and have a nice beer. Great beer, cocktails and wines, and the food is really pretty great! Hamburgers, shepherd's pie, and most nights in the On Season (July/Aug) they'll be doing a barbecue.

THE PLACE I SEND UNPRETENTIOUS, FUN PEOPLE WHO JUST WANT TO GET A QUICK BITE AND DON'T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT AMBIENCE, PART TWO - Cap'n Flints, in Fort Bragg (ten miles north of Mendocino). This is one of those places that you will love if you appreciate the tongue-in-cheek hilarity of carved wooden Sea Captains and menu items prefaced by "Ye Olde..". They actually have a drink called "Captain's Cooler" which is white wine and SPRITE. So that gives you a fair warning. But - they have very good, very fresh, and relatively cheap fish and chips. Served in the time-honored plastic basket. Pour on some malt vinegar, salt and pepper away, and chow down on the freshest fish while sitting at the tables near the windows, so you can watch the boats coming into the harbor carrying the next fish you'll be eating! It's corny, it's cheap; but it's fun, and the fish and chips are honest and plentiful.

BEST PLACE TO TAKE KIDS, MENDOCINO: The Bayview Cafe, on Main street. Your Basic American Restaurant, Bayview is on the second floor, accessed up a set of stairs which climb up through the base of an old water tower. They have an outside deck with tables, or you can sit inside; unpretentious, less-expensive-than-Mendocino-usually-is food like hamburgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, etc. Breakfasts of the Bacon and Eggs, or Eggs Benedict variety; pancakes and french toast are OK but not great. Basically, this is a No Tablecloth, Easy to Order and Get Through with a Tired, Hungry Kid kind of place, and the views are great. They will have something your kids want to eat - grilled cheese, french fries, etc.

BEST PLACE TO TAKE KIDS (AND TRAIN FOAMERS), FORT BRAGG - The Laurel Cafe, on Laurel at Main in Fort Bragg. If you or someone you love likes trains, this is the place - they have an entire train engine in this restaurant, which has an effect on kids of rendering them immediately silent and awestruck. Good sandwiches, great breakfasts, espresso drinks, baked goods, etc. - it's a good, solid place to eat with lots to look at and enjoy, and even those little put-a-quarter-in-and-get-jostled rides for kids. Reasonable prices, no reservations needed, and filling. Close to the Skunk Train depot.

WINNER OF THE 'SUSHI?? IN FORT BRAGG???" COMPETITION - Off the Hook Sushi, in Fort Bragg. Their maguro sushi beats a lot of the stuff I've had in San Francisco- fresh as can be; butter-smooth and meltingly yummy big slabs of tuna with perfectly made sushi rice. They do the best, least-greasy tempura around. Great place, fair prices, and a terrific lighter-fare alternative, if you're tired of Ye Olde Clam Chowder in a Bowl or the more upscale dinner places.

BEST CHINESE: The Asian Buffet, on Franklin in Fort Bragg. This place opened recently and my fiance and I go there over and over. Wonton soup that's rich and fragrant, with bok choy, little shrimps, cubes of tofu and slices of barbecued pork. Very good. Also try the Teriyaki Chicken wings - you might have to go to rehab after these; they are that good. Paper-thin slices of hot pepper sparking a lovely, sweet/sour sauce made with honey and fermented black beans... mmmm! The family who runs it is very nice, funny and professional.

Other places I like:

- Egghead's, on Main in Fort Bragg - big, good breakfasts. Fresh blackberry waffles when in season.

- Jenny's Giant Burger on North Main, Fort Bragg - one of those little huts with two linoleum tables, harsh lighting, and greasy, grumpy people making terrific hamburgers. Definitely a To Go place.

- The Fort Bragg BrewPub restaurant on Main in Fort Bragg - big, fun, a good place for big groups. Good food - fantastic onion rings, burgers, upscale pub food. Great beers and ales on tap.

Alternatives to restaurants:

- Harvest Market in Fort Bragg has a large selection of hot-table foods, already prepared, with to go containers. Mexican, chinese, american, etc. Take some back to your room and watch a movie! It's fun! The historic grocery store in Mendocino - Mendosa's, which was opened long, long ago by one of Mendocino's most honorable Portuguese settler families - has, sadly, also been taken over by Harvest; the old-town ambience is gone but they also have a lot of good takeout foods, and all kinds of Extra Virgin Licorice Hand-Formed by Monks in the Hills of Peruggia yuppie-snack stuff. Can you tell I'm sad that it was sold? Sigh...

- Flying Pig BBQ, on Highway One, just south of Fort Bragg, BBQ chicken with great smokey flavor, GREAT ribs, 2 kinds of sauce, and wonderful sides - no greens, though.. or cornbread, but other than that, a great, quick take-out meal.

PLACES TO AVOID

Sorry, but there are a few places that are just not great.

- The Wharf in Fort Bragg. I had the worst meal of my life there - we came late, about 1/2 hour before they stopped seating, but that is no excuse; the kitchen basically threw some bottom-of-the-barrel scraps on the plate, slapped it on the table with nasty attitude, and it is EXPENSIVE. A real tourist trap. Great views, but you're better off at one of the other wharf restaurants - Chapter and Moon is interesting and good, and Cap't Flints is an experience (see above).

- The Mendocino Hotel Restaurant. Extremely pricey. The Hotel isn't even an historic building - was built, I believe, in the 70's - but it pretends to be, and the restaurant is self-conscious, snobby, and expensive. If you want the real, historic experience, with GREAT food, you're much better off at the MacCallum House.

- Lee's Chinese in Fort Bragg. I'm sad to say it, but this little place has gone completely downhill. It used to be great - a hole in the wall, plastic-menu-with-charming-misspellings type Chinese place owned by a great old Fort Bragg family. Now, it's a ripoff, and the kitchen does a lot of corner-cutting. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

That's the short list... there are many, many great places to eat in Mendocino but these are the ones that come to mind. I hope this helps!

Have a great trip!

- The Phantom Innkeeper

ThePhantomInnkeeper
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7. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

Winery Suggestions from Phantom Innkeeper - sorry, it's me again; had to jump in and recommend these wineries:

- Husch Vineyards. Right on Highway 128. A tasting room the size of a tool shed (I think it actually WAS a tool shed in a former incarnation). This means that you get lots of attention from the pourer, and great information; it's a lovely place with great, knowledgeable staff, and the wines are wonderful. Back in the day when I drank wines, I used to LOVE their Dry Harvest Gewurztraminer. This is a 'dessert wine', but it is to most dessert wines what a square of semi-sweet Valrhona chocolate is to a Ho-Ho. It is made from grapes that have been allowed to sit on the vine and sugar up, so it is a bit sweet; it also has flavors of fresh grass, apricots, flowers... it is like a mouthful of summer.

- Esterlina. You have to call ahead, and it is up a long-ish dirt road, but this small family-owned place is a real experience. It's up on a hill, and you can see the whole Anderson Valley up there... the vineyards spread themselves out on the slopes below, and you get great, intelligent attention from the Esterlina family with the pours. Fantastic wines.

That's it! Enjoy, and pick a designated driver...

Phantom

Atlanta
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8. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

Thanks! Great, helpful recommendations. Now I wish I had more than 2 nights in Mendo!!

California
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9. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

I would absolutely avoid Mendo Burger. Bad burger, worse service.

St. Helena...
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10. Re: We would love to help you, it's Mendocino!

Wow - even though this is an old post, it is very helpful for our upcoming getaway weekend and deserves bumping up. Thanks....and I hope the phantom innkeeper is where we are staying! Loved your posts.