by Barb B
Napa, CA and Hereford, AZ , Arizona
September 22, 2000
The town of Occidental has two attractions: two wonder restaurants, both serving almost identical Italian food (at basically the same prices)--yet, everyone has their favorite! Folks who prefer Union Hotel would seldom go to Negri's--and Negri people say they prefer Negri's, but have to try the Union Hotel from time to time. The debate will go on forever, we the customers, are the winners! MY preference is the Union Hotel.
As a kid growing up in San Francisco, I remember trips with my parents once or twice a year to Occidental--solely ot enjoy lunch at the Union Hotel.
It is a quaint unpretentious place, red & white checkered tablecloths, wood interior and really great OLD pictures on the walls (from the days when travellers took the railroad to Occidental and stayed overnight at the Union Hotel).
There is a lovely outdoor patio with grape vines, flowers and cinzano umbrellas--If the weather is good, definitely sit outside. In the background you will hear the music of Andrea Bocelli, Luciano Pavorotti and other Italian Tenors as you enjoy your meal.
The menu offers many items--something for everyone and all very good. BUT(!) 'THE' meal to have at either of the Occidental restaurants is the Roast Chicken Dinner!!
Order some wine to enjoy with your meal. Everything is served family style (large bowls brought to your table so you can help yourself to as much/little as you want) and starts with a hearty minestrone soup. A mixed lettuce and tomato salad (with a fantastic garlic vinegrette). Antipasto follows: salami, cheese, beans, olives, etc. accompanied by crusty Italian bread and unsalted butter. Pasta course (ravioli, spaghetti or 50/50--half of each) is next, the sauce is thick and the aroma of garlic is everywhere. Main course is of course, 1/2 roasted chichen--baked with Italian herbs.amd accompanied by fresh zucchini fritters (a tad greasy for my taste) and a melange of fresh vegetables.
The servers deliver your food from little wheeled carts and they are always very happy to pack up your leftovers to go.
Pack the leftovers, and -- definitely save room for some STRONG Italian coffee (or cappuchino) and spumoni ice cream. You will probably have enough leftovers for another meal and will not feel like eating again for perhaps a day and a half, but it will have been a thoroughly enjoyable experience and lunch will probably have lasted about 2 hours!
After your meal, stroll around the little town of Occidental and enjoy some of the arts craft shops which feature some remarkably lovely and well priced items by the local artists.
Current cost for the Roast Chicken Meal is $14.95.
From journal California's Mendocino Coast