The wonderful lack of commerce and development in Sea Ranch preserves its tranquility, allowing nature to take center stage. So, where do you go out to eat in this secluded natural paradise?

While you won’t find many restaurants in Sea Ranch itself (the grill at the lodge is your only choice in town), you’ll find a few local gems on California Highway 1 between Sea Ranch and Mendocino—which, as luck would have it, is also one of the most scenic drives in the state.

Upper Crust Pizzeria – Gualala

5.5 miles from Sea Ranch

Two pizzas in boxes from Upper Crust in Gualala.
Upper Crust’s pizza pies | Photo courtesy of Elsa M.

If you were lucky enough to grow up in Northern California in the ‘80s or ‘90s, you fondly remember the crisp cheese crust of Round Table Pizza as a cornerstone of your childhood. This thin-crust style of pie is alive and well at Upper Crust Pizzeria in Gualala, an unassuming local hangout on the east side of Shoreline Highway. Opt for the savory house combo or build your own custom creation—the taste will transport you back to a simpler time and place.

Surf Market Barbecue – Gualala

5.5 miles from Sea Ranch

Goat cheese, prosciutto, and salmon plate at the Surf Market in Gualala
Meat and cheese selection at the Surf Market | Photo courtesy of Grace C.

In 1956, the Surf Market was founded as a mom-and-pop operation to serve the logging, hunting, and fishing community in downtown Gualala. Fast forward six decades to find the shelves stocked with local cheeses, artisan foods, organic produce, and quality meats. But the best-kept secret of this charming market is its summer weekend barbecues, when the local grillmasters sell tri-tip, whole chickens, and slabs of baby back ribs to those wise enough to show up early.

Trinks Cafe & Bakery

5.7 miles from Sea Ranch

Trinks cafe in Gualala
Lunch with a view at Trinks | Photo courtesy of Cam C.

Opened in 2003 by Kathleen “Trink” Woodward as a place to serve coffee and dessert, Trinks has since become one of Gualala’s favorite restaurants. This laid-back coffee shop along Highway 1 does a lot of things well—from coffee to dinner three nights a week—but its main star is lunch every day of the week. Bite into a lamb burger or seafood and chips with house-made tarter sauce while you sit outside and enjoy the view and pet-friendly vibe.

Cove Azul Bar & Grill – Gualala

5.8 miles from Sea Ranch

Seafood platter at Cove Azul in Gualala
Cove Azul’s seafood platter | Photo courtesy of Xochiti G.

If you’re looking for a sit-down night out near Sea Ranch, Cove Azul Bar & Grill is a great choice for cocktails and seafood. Specialties include salmon fish and chips, seafood linguini, and delicious, melt-in-your-mouth calamari. Sit out on the patio for a gorgeous view of the ocean, and bring your pup—the patio is dog friendly!

Antonio’s Tacos – Gualala

6 miles from Sea Ranch

Mexican takeout from Antonio's
Antonio’s takeout spread | Photo courtesy of Grace C.

This relaxed, roadside Mexican restaurant in Gualala is a great local joint for bottomless chips and oh-so-fresh salsa and your choice of delicious entrees, from huevos rancheros to carnitas tostada. Antonio’s is undoubtedly casual, but it’s also probably one of the most authentic places for Mexican food on the North Coast. Eat in and enjoy some killer margaritas, or take your meal back to Sea Ranch to go.

St. Orres Restaurant – Gualala

8.1 miles from Sea Ranch

st orres gualala ca
St. Orres from the highway | Photo courtesy of Aryn C.

If you’re celebrating an anniversary, honeymoon, or other special occasion, this romantic space surrounded by redwoods and swaying vines is one of the best date night spots you’ll find in the area for inventive North Coast-inspired small plates and local wine. While it’s easy to stop into the bar for a drink and a bite, you’ll want to make reservations for the main dining room. St. Orres also serves a Sunday brunch that visitors rave about.

Queenie’s Roadhouse Cafe – Elk

38.2 miles from Sea Ranch

elk california restaurants
Pork chops and eggs at Queenies | Photo courtesy of Paul H.

Take a morning drive north of Gualala to Elk, where Queenie’s Roadhouse Cafe has served some of the best breakfast dishes on the Mendocino Coast since 2001. Located just steps from Greenwood State Beach, this former livery stable and Studebaker showroom is now an inviting spot for homemade corned beef hash, scrambles and omelets, and old-fashioned waffles—all of which come with a view of the mighty Pacific Ocean.

Ledford House Restaurant – Albion

47.4 miles from Sea Ranch

view from ledford house restaurant
Dinner view from Ledford House | Photo courtesy of Janine K.

Perched on an ocean bluff just eight miles south of Mendocino, Ledford House Restaurant is the domain of husband-and-wife, maître d’-and-executive chef Tony and Lisa Geer. The Geers’ culinary inspirations range from their home herb garden to the distant Mediterranean—but their food is always casually elegant and Californian in style. Best of all? You’ll be treated to nightly jazz performances in two dining rooms with awe-inspiring sunset views.

Cafe Beaujolais – Mendocino

54.8 miles from Sea Ranch

dinner at cafe beaujolais mendocino
Duck two ways at Cafe Beaujolais | Photo courtesy of Vi L.

The artistic community of Mendocino is just over an hour north of Sea Ranch, but savvy motorists know that these 55 miles are some of California’s most beautiful. Make a pit stop at the Point Arena Lighthouse and a dinner reservation at Cafe Beaujolais, an institution of downtown Mendocino since 1968. This California-style French bistro is the perfect place for seared foie gras, duck two ways, and Dungeness crab—all served in the rustic comfort of an 1893 Victorian farmhouse.

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Author: Maura O'Brien

Born and raised in Northern California and now based in Portland, Maura credits her mom with her sense of adventure. Maura has a special affinity for national parks, the Greek island of Folegandros, and a three-month trip across Europe with her sister that opened her eyes to the magic of travel.