For this Thanksgiving, Hrishi and I decided to do a trip, popular amongst couples in the Bay Area – going to the beach town getaway of Mendocino. Its a small, quaint town on US-1 , about 4 hours drive from San Francisco.
It was a very relaxing trip -low energy, sleeping-in, no fuss, no planning, good food – and just generally being.
Some things we loved about it:
— Food: its a big gourmet food place. We tried 4 different casual to gourmet options and loved 3 of them.
- Check out the rice-n-curry and the mushroom appetizer at Highpockety OX. This is in the Anderson Valley on Route 128. This was a big pleasant surprise. And we thought we were stopping by for a mere lunch..
- 955 Ukiah – this is mid-range gourmet restaurant in Mendocino city. Strange name, but great place to dine in. We tried the vegetarian couscous dish and the roast chicken entree – and recommend both highly. The ingredients tasted so fresh and rich. Top it with a cocoa intensive, tiramisu. Would go back again, the next time we are in Mendocino!
- Sunday brunch at the MacCallum House – mimosa with a spicy burrito. I’d recommend substituting the sausage with the marinated tofu. This is not the typical chewy tofu – it almost tasted like paneer, very silky. On a sunny Sunday, you could sit outside on the porch for hours.
- Wine with every meal, all the time
— Biking – we rented a couple of bikes one day from the “Canoe and Bikes” rental at the Stanford Inn. That was a great activity – the terrain is not challenging, and you could easily ride from one state park to the other. We did the Fern Canyon waterfall trail in the Russian Gulch State park. You ride in a couple of miles, then park your bike and hike another 0.7 miles to get to the waterfall. I was surprised at how green the trail was. It kept reminding me of Singapore type lushness, quite atypical of California. Then we rode along the Big River for a couple of miles. We also rode along the beautiful California coast.
— Window shopping – lots of art galleries – glass sculptures, random geeky stuff, jewelery – yeah I said window shopping :). Also it was always easy to find parking in the town.
Some things that were not so thrilling:
- Everything dies at 9:00 in the evening or sometimes earlier. One of the shopkeepers explained that it was because there were no street light. There’s probably some history to this reason, but I found it hilarious.
- Our hotel, Mendocino Hotels and Suites was passable. Our room was small, the brass bed looked too old fashioned, and I really don’t like wall-papers. I know some people find it charming, but it wasn’t for us. Internet was free but there was no television in the room. And this room was almost $200 a night. Their bistro did not make things any better either.
Most importantly….I think Mendocino is a hippy town at its heart. It has retained its look and the look of many of its natives from the 60s. It was easier to find organic shops than finding fast food restaurants. More people had long hair than I had seen in a while. The shops had incense, tie and dye, old music band records, and owners who seemed to only care about a nice conversation than selling their stuff. Everyone looked relaxed. Oddly, the older folks or the teenagers dressed up like hippies. I am guessing its grand-parents and their grand-children getting inspired by the colorful decades of the past. We loved it all 🙂