Mendocino County: A Visit to Hopland
The town of Hopland is much like the towns of Philo and Boonville in Anderson Valley. There is no stoplight—or stop sign, for that matter—and only a handful of restaurants, shops and markets. Although, still being Northern California, even this limited offering still brings lots of quality.
There is a coffee shop that opened its doors in May 2015, Steep, which provides organic, locally roasted coffee and fresh pastries from Roland’s Bakery and French Costeaux Bakery. Steep landed above my expectations. Also in town is an old-school diner called the Bluebird Café that remains open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I popped in for breakfast one morning and enjoyed a hearty scramble, served with bottomless coffee and a basket of pastries. This is the kind of place that fills up quickly in the morning with the local farmers. The atmosphere is homey and inviting, the energy is friendly and the plates are plentiful. Robin works the back of house while his partner, Sharon, works the front. Together, they have run the Bluebird for 24 years.
There’s also the Hopland Tap House, which Jennifer Sullivan opened up about four years ago, and it’s housed in the historic building that was once home to California’s first post-Prohibition brewpub, The Hopland Brewery—so the building itself has a lot of character and history. Jennifer’s love for quality cuisine and craft beer is evident in her tap selection, mostly featuring California brew, and the tasty menu she’s got lined up for hungry diners is sure to please. There’s something about this tap house that feels all-American, so I ordered a classic burger—made with John Ford local grass-fed beef—and topped with just the basics: lettuce, tomatoes and cheese. It hit the spot after a long morning of wine tasting.
Piazza di Campovida, which is an all-encompassing property that offers a taverna, inn and pizzeria, is owned by Gary and Anna of Campovida winery. Piazza di Campovida was poised to become a great success upon opening in 2012, because Hopland needed a destination like this. And judging by my visit on a Saturday night, locals packed into the tables of the taverna and pizzeria to enjoy the upscale, but down-to-earth cuisine. Delectable seasonal crab crakes provided an excellent start to the meal and the mac n’ cheese with bacon was a downright hearty offering. Following that, the manager recommended the sausage pizza,which was utterly crisp around its edges in the classic Napolitano style, and filled with decadent cheese and sausage, wood-fired to perfection then topped with fresh arugula.
Although not in Hopland, I have to mention Patrona in Ukiah, as it is one of Mendocino County’s dining highlights. Patrona’s space is inviting and the food is very tasty. Calamari dressed in a fresh orange chili glaze makes for a nice starter, and paired with a refreshing Sauvignon Blanc makes it even better! There’s also the croquettes, whose flavors and filling rotate given the season; on a winter night, they were deliciously filled with poblano and Swiss cheese. The entrée of trout was tender and fresh, the tarragon mustard lending nice flavor with textural complexity from the potato and vegetable hash.
Coming Soon to Hopland
While spending the weekend in Hopland, it didn’t take long before I heard several people buzz about the new things to come for this tiny town. Campovida owners Gary and Anna have purchased the historic Hopland Inn and are currently restoring it to create more accommodations for wine country visitors. The inn has been closed since the economic downturn in 2008 and has unfortunately been sitting in disrepair ever since. The renovations are expected to be done in the near future with a tentative opening in May 2017.
In addition to the soon to be back in business Hopland Inn (though I’m not sure if the inn will keep its name), Mendocino County championer and long-time member of the community Julie Golden is set to open a restaurant called The Golden Pig, just around the corner from her Sip Mendocino wine shop. Julie, along with her husband Joe, also own their namesake winery Golden Vineyards, as well as a farm. The restaurant will feature a seasonal, farm-to-table style menu—supplied as much as possible by the produce from their farm—and provide opportunities for local wineries to offer their wines in a restaurant setting. I look forward to visiting Hopland again sometime after the (tentative) opening in February to see what it’s all about.
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Celebrate National Doughnut Day at City Garden
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If you’re a wine-country foodie, Santa Rosa’s new City Garden Doughnuts & Coffee is sure to have popped up on your radar. With its grand opening today on National Doughnut Day—June 2—City Garden is primed to bring locals and visitors the highest quality doughnuts they’re ever tasted.