Okay, change is inevitable, but when you have a craving for crab cakes and eggs with cheesy garlic grits and find that the old Ft. Bragg Grille is gone, that's a bit much.
Ft. Bragg, the next town up the coast from the artist colony of Mendocino, is the authentic working community of the north coast, with a working fishing harbor, lumber, and a quarry, and rustic beach motels. But between those old classic motels are several brand new, modern multi-story motels that look just like many you may see along the interstate near you. This past Memorial Day weekend, we stayed at the old Hi-Seas inn just north of Pudding Creek, a one-story classic short on frills (there is a TV and coffee maker in the rooms, but no phone), but with a terrific ocean view and a short walk to the bluff overlooking the beach. However, rooms on the south end may have their view partially blocked by the brand new two-story motel next door.
In Noyo Harbor, on the south end of town, Cap'n Flint's still serves delicious fresh fish and chips and shrimp creole, but the Old Dock Cafe is now an upscale eatery called Chapter and Moon. Also, Cheri's by the Sea, another old biscuits-and-gravy kind of place, is now Sharon's by the Sea, where we had a delicious, but definitely more upscale, lunch of crab cakes and fish tacos. Back in the downtown area, which is still great for walking, shopping, and people watching, we found that Eggheads still serves delicious breakfasts among the Wizard of Oz decor. Take a table under the large mural of Dorothy and company skipping down the yellow brick road and enjoy dishes such as flying monkey potatoes or red shoe scramble or my favorite: Glinda's crab-and-garlic omelet.
If you enjoy unpretentious, unspoiled coastal getaways, get here fast. The word is that the Hi-Seas has been sold and may be torn down in the next couple of years, and there aren’t many of these great old rustic retreats left. 6/2/05 update. We just returned from Memorial Day weekend in F.B. We stayed again at the Hi Seas which has'nt really changed and the manager says it looks like it will be around a while longer after all.