Mendocino County's Happy Snack Spots for the Short Set
One friend says her son is obsessed with Oco Time in Ukiah. We are too! What is not to love about exquisitely crafted sushi and edamame, not to mention the namesake-noodly Oco.
At Poleeko Roadhouse in Philo, you will never leave hungry. But the most kid-fun thing about this place is that when you snack on the complimentary peanuts, you throw the shells right onto the floor! This is common in many Texan or east coast bars, but it is a revelation of harmless rule-breaking for many munchkins.
Just down the road at Lauren’s, all tables have a stockpile of white paper and a little bucket of colored pencils, so eaters of all ages can be creatively engaged while they wait. If you have a particularly squirrelly little person with you, head over to the kids’ corner, where books, toys, and games can keep them busy until food arrives.
On the other side of Philo, turn onto Philo Greenwood Road and you'll soon come across the self-serve farm stand at The Apple Farm. When the apple season is in full swing, you can often sample a variety of their heirloom apples before grabbing a bag of your favorites, or reach into the cooler for a sweet, crisp apple juice for the road.
Princess Seafood Fish Market in Noyo Harbor is the perfect combo of quick food that does not skimp on quality and a warm, family-friendly space. The all-female fishing crew can often be found taking turns at the grill. Kids can watch the crustaceans in the crab tank or scamper around the heated outdoor seating. Dog-friends are welcome outside as well.
Also in Noyo Harbor, Sea Pal Cove is hands-down the most satisfying meal after a long day playing at the beach or hiking the hills. A contender for best fish 'n' chips in town, this tiny spot has an enormous outdoor deck. Sit by the giant fire pit and watch the boat traffic. Young ones can spot sea lions or even a river otter. Keep an eye on your meal, though, or the super quick gulls will help themselves.
On summer weekends in Fort Bragg, the line for Cowlick's Ice Cream can stretch out the door, but there is a reason for that. The ice cream is crazy good! It's made in-house with wonderful, seasonal flavors like peach sorbet or black cherry. Be brave and try the ice cream made with local candy cap mushrooms. It tastes like creamy, vaguely apple pie-chai-ness. Surprisingly kid-approved!
If you're looking for a quick bite or a slice of well made pizza (or more Cowlick's Ice Cream), look no further than Frankie's in Mendocino. Indoor and outdoor seating and a locally inspired menu with vegetarian, gluten free, and vegan options make this a great stop for eaters of all stripes.
If you're in the mood for Cajun fare, The Big Chief in Laytonville has a welcoming, enclosed garden patio where kids and furry companions can soak up the sun while enjoying the best po' boys around. Grownups can take advantage of the top notch beer selection at the Draft Punk bar, and the littles will appreciate the kombucha on tap.
Top left — Sisters Katherine and Clara Barcelo enjoying their Cowlick's ice cream.
Top right — Apple options at The Apple Farm
Bottom left — Art from a young diner at Lauren's
Bottom right — Fresh salad, fries, and battered fish at The Chief