Noyo Harbor is one of the last small working ports on the west coast. You might think you’re on a movie set, or a theme park’s “seaport adventure.” Docks and piers with weathered pilings, fishing vessels, Coast Guard trainees, seafood markets, and packing sheds, fuse with historical lodging, outfitters, and charter boats. And this scene would not be complete without some of the finest Fort Bragg, CA seafood restaurants.
A day in Noyo Harbor, located on the Mendocino Coast, places you in the center of a working wharf, and a way-of-life that is threatened by a shrinking catch. Noyo Harbor is a destination for sea-foodies, water sports fans, boaters, nature lovers, and commercial fishing folk. It’s authentic.
Fort Bragg became a California boomtown in the late 1800s. Fishing and logging ruled the region. A deep, natural harbor formed where the Noyo River enters the Pacific.
A lumber mill once stood on the river beside fishing boats. Fish, lumber, and passengers loaded on to steam and sailing ships headed south to San Francisco.
The lumber industry has closed. Fishing has been in steady decline since the 70s. Noyo Harbor has seen boom and bust, but the Mendocino Coast is recharging economically.
Noyo Harbor is at the center of growth. Fish markets, lodging, local artists and musicians, fishing, kayaking, and best of all, restaurants are flourishing in Fort Bragg, California’s Noyo Harbor.
There are eight outstanding restaurants in the harbor. All serve seafood, but each has its own style, flavor, and atmosphere. All eight are in perfect locations to soak up the hustle of boats off-loading their catch after a good fishing day. Mother Nature’s tenants, seals, otters, ravens, osprey, and gulls provide unending entertainment in the sky and water.
Evenings are meant for sipping the sundown. Most harbor eateries have decks or windows overlooking the Noyo River and the Pacific. Sunsets are spectacular, even on a foggy day.
The following eight restaurants in Fort Bragg are arranged in geographic order from the first to the last you will encounter as you head down North Harbor Drive, the only street in the waterfront.
8 Best Fort Bragg, CA Restaurants
500 Casa Del Noyo Drive, Off North Harbor Drive // 707-961-8000
Closed for over 10-years with a 6-year renovation and restoration, the 150-year old inn, sitting high above Noyo Harbor, has opened its doors.
The inn, restaurant, and tavern were meticulously renovated. Two redwood buildings house 15-rooms, each with panoramic views. No matter where you eat, sit, or sleep, the Pacific, Noyo River, Noyo Harbor, and South Harbor Marina views are unmatchable. This is the place to go for a long lazy lunch.
The restaurant is comfortable with a multi-leveled, wrap-around deck overlooking the marina and Noyo River. Open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, everything is made from locally-sourced ingredients. The tavern serves local wine, beer, and spirits.
A garden sits below the restaurant deck outside the kitchen. Herbs, greens, and flowers are used in the kitchen and tavern. The chef works with Mendocino County farmers for fruit, vegetables, dairy, meat, and fish. The seasonal menu often changes, making the most of local produce.
Noyo Harbor Inn is the epitome of California casual luxury. The menu reflects that mood. Go for the seafood chowder. It’s luxurious, buttery, and filled with oysters, clams, scallops, and fish. It’s perfect paired with a parmesan-crusted cod sandwich and Blood Orange Mimosa.
NHI has a daily happy hour with drink and appetizer specials. The deck is comfy year-round with umbrellas or heaters as needed. NHI is open 7-days a week from 8 AM—2 PM, and 5—9 PM. You’ll find the blend of restored history and food make this where to eat in Fort Bragg.
32440 N Harbor Drive // 707-962-0204
The new kids on the harbor eatery scene, Noyo Fish Company, is an authentic “seafood shack.” They opened in 2019 to rave reviews from locals declaring it the best fish ‘n’ chips in town.
Served on paper in a basket, fish ‘n’ chips, prawns ‘n’ chips, or a mix of both are the top-sellers. Baja-style fish or shrimp tacos are served with crunchy fish or shrimp, spicy slaw, and house-made chips and salsa.
Seafood sandwich fillets and shrimp are crispy on the outside with a moist, tender inside. I vote their double crunch fries as “best in the harbor.” They are lightly coated with a secret crunch and soft and velvety inside.
Deep-fried pickles are the perfect side to add a little tang. Check the specials board for irresistible sides like shrimp quesadillas, crunchy panko calamari strips, or a grilled shrimp Caesar.
Grab a cold one from the selection of local and imported bottled beer. More local brews are on tap. Plenty of non-alcoholic beverages can also be found in the cooler.
Sit outside at an umbrellaed picnic table, with a VIP seat for boat traffic and harbor seals. Fishing and party boats tie-up to the Noyo Fish Company dock. The US Coast Guard Station is across the river.
If it’s raining, have a seat inside where the view is just as good as outside. Just make sure you have a seat – this is one of Fort Bragg’s best restaurants.
Noyo Fish is open for lunch and dinner. Check their Facebook page for changing seasonal days and hours.
32410 North Harbor Drive // 707-962-3123
The Princess, as locals call it, is always busy. Captain Heather from the FV Princess took a huge risk and reopened a long-closed harbor fish market, so she had a place to sell her catch locally. Soon she was buying from other small catch boats to keep her fish case filled.
It wasn’t long, and they began to keep a pot of chowder simmering. Then came sandwiches. Today, much of the deli’s hot food comes off the grill. Each day is different, depending on the previous day’s catch.
The demand grew for hot seafood, and a bigger grill was added. NOTE there is no fried food here. Salmon burgers with a grilled fillet, pickled onions, and sriracha mayo are unforgettable. Fish tacos come with a choice of grilled fish.
How about a grilled salmon taco salad or a Dungeness crab cocktail?
Try oysters on the half shell or a bagel with house-smoked salmon.
Beer, wine, and beautiful sandwiches and a kid’s menu round out a list of options that has something for all taste, even a Harris Ranch Angus burger.
Princess has outside seating only. But don’t worry, they add a comfy tent and heaters when our mild winter sets in. Live music makes for toe-tapping on weekend afternoons and holidays.
The Princess Deli and Seafood Market is open for lunch and dinner. Check their website for changing seasonal days and hours. For fresh, grilled seafood, this is one of the best places to eat in Fort Bragg.
32351 North Harbor Drive // 707-409-5095
Casa del Sol’s seafood is served with a Latin beat. The family-owned and operated café serves Latin dishes like Enchiladas Suizas, Fajitas, California Burritos, and tacos. Not surprising, most Latin dishes are offered with fish or shrimp.
The Chef’s Clam Chowder will warm you on a rainy winter day. Pair it with a Surf ‘n’ Turf Nacho and a glass of wine; you’ll stay warm and cozy.
My favorite soup and salad combo are Cajun Shrimp Stew with a half house salad. The shrimp stew broth is spicy, but not so hot it overpowers the shrimp.
All the salads at Casa del Sol have fresh greens from local farms. The house salad is a kitchen-sink style with tomatoes, cucumbers, garbanzo beans, carrots, olives, cheese, house-made croutons, and a marvelous vinaigrette.
Casa del Sol has a big menu with lots of dishes made for sharing. Come in with a group and order several appetizers to pass around.
One of the dishes I hear raves about is the Carne Asada Fries. A plate of crunchy homemade fries is smothered in tender Carne Asada, melted Monterey and cheddar cheeses, Pico de Gallo, and guacamole. Great as a shared appetizer or an entrée.
Beer and wine pair nicely with most dishes. The selection is local and imported.
Casa del Sol doesn’t have a deck or a water view. Instead, you are dazzled with changing art and photography exhibits. The small café is relaxed and warm. Decorated in bright colors and traditional art, you feel at home immediately.
Casa is open for lunch and dinner. Check their Facebook page for changing seasonal days and hours. This is a must-try Fort Bragg restaurant.
32390 N Harbor Drive // 707- 964-1300
Sea Pal Cove is in the middle of a commercial fishing wharf. From their huge deck, you can watch fishing vessels preparing to go out to sea, unload the days catch, and clean and bag party boaters catch. You might notice the cook leaving the kitchen to get freshly caught fish from the shed next door.
When fishing vessels are out, harbor seals will entertain you with water acrobatics. This area has wharf-cats that hang around, waiting for scraps when the fishing boats are in. They have wars with seagulls and each other. It’s usually a tie.
The menu is small and made up of chowder, fish ‘n’ chips, shrimp ‘n’ chips, and well-liked grass-fed beef burgers. Made from scratch daily, the gluten-free clam chowder is a forty-year old family recipe. Try a cup with your fish, shrimp, or burger.
Sea Pal has eighteen draft beers on their menu. While the number and origin changes, most are California beers, of which several are local. Wine is chilled in the cooler along with soft drinks.
The service is casual. Order inside, get a number, and your food is delivered to your seat. It’s served in paper-lined baskets. There is seating inside the tiny café, but the best places are on the deck.
There are picnic tables, old “hippie spool” tables, and a natural-edged wooden bar that borders the railing. All outdoor seats overlook Noyo River, the harbor, and the Noyo River Bridge.
After dark or on a blustery day, a fire pit is kept ablaze. Sea Pal is a friendly place; order a pitcher of beer and share it with your neighbors. For an authentic feeling of the old days in the harbor, you should really try this Fort Bragg seafood restaurant.
Sea Pal is open for lunch and dinner. Call for changing seasonal days and hours.
32260 North Harbor Drive // 707-964-5049
Silver’s at The Wharf is one of the oldest continuously operating seafood restaurants on the Mendocino Coast. Silver’s is a classic American seafood house with a lovely touch of Mayan influence.
The restaurant, bar, and deck are on the second floor of a waterfront building. The indoor dining areas have picture windows framing Noyo Inlet, Noyo River Bridge, and the Pacific Ocean. I love the view on a stormy day.
The menu has traditional fish-house classics like fish ‘n’ chips, Captain’s Platter, Calamari, Salmon, Petrale Sole, Scampi, and Clam Chowder.
My absolute favorite classic dish is Shrimp Louie. The Bay Shrimp are fresh, plump, pink, and perfectly chilled. The Louie dressing is authentic, not the often-substituted Thousand Island. The ingredients are fresh and lively, but the jewels of the salad are the house-roasted beets. I always ask for extra.
A beloved seasonal appetizer is flash-fried Night Fish—similar to anchovies. Locally netted each day when in season, they are crunchy, tender and addictive. Top your Caesar Salad with flash-fried Night Fish for a local twist on a classic.
Flavors of the Chef/Owner’s Mayan heritage are at home with the traditional American fare. The smoked chipotle slaw is crisp, creamy, and just a little bit zippy. The Mayan Burrito is enormous; it’s more than enough for two. There’s a veggie burrito option.
Silver’s at the Wharf serves lunch and dinner seven days a week from 11 AM to 9 PM. See a virtual tour and gorgeous views HERE. It’s combination of locale and food make it one of the best restaurants in Fort Bragg.
32150 North Harbor Drive // 707-962-9050
“Come to our house, our food is about family.”, says Guillermo Medina, the Chef at Noyo River Grill.
NRG has 4-Yelp-Stars for food, a dog-friendly sunset deck, an unbeatable harbor view, live entertainment, and top-shelf staff.
Fresh and locally sourced, the menu changes regularly. Seasonal fish and shellfish are always available as starters and entrees. Fish ‘n’ chips, soups, salads, and sandwiches join daily specials and freshly baked bread. Check Facebook for featured menus like Soup Saturdays and Sunday Fundays.
House-cured salmon (in season) is a “must-try” starter, accompanied by pickled red onions, and crème Fraiche and capers, it’s colorful, light, vibrant, and decadent. This must-try starter alone makes this a must-try Fort Bragg restaurant.
If crab cakes are on the menu, order them! Guillermo makes the best on the coast. Dungeness Crab has just enough extra ingredients to hold the tasty, light cakes together. Add a salad and glass of bubbly, and you have a perfect lunch or light dinner.
Local musicians play and sing while you sip the sundown on the deck overlooking the harbor, bridge, and Pacific. Domestic and imported beer and wine are available from the bar.
Enjoy Happy Hour from 3—6 PM seven days a week with special prices for apps and drinks. Noyo River Grill is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner from 11 AM—9 PM.
32096 North Harbor Drive // 707.962.0100
Not rough or tough, no rowdy customers and no fights breaking out in this casual harbor seafood-shack.
D’Jango’s Rough Bar Cafe is known for its seafood chowder. The bowls of deliciousness aren’t the usual New England style, but seafood is always the star. The cod chowder with corn is sweet and creamy and a personal favorite. Soups of all varieties are available. The ingredients are the chef’s whim.
The menu can change daily based on the seasonal catch. Seafood entrees are served grilled or fried.
Fish sandwiches like the oyster or shrimp Po-Boys come with house-made potato chips. Upgrade your chips with Blue Cheese, it’s sinful.
My favorite is a bucket of steamed shrimp and a bottle of bubbly to share with a friend or two.
Local wine and regional craft beer paired with those menu selections make D’Jango’s a real locavore experience. Wine is offered by the glass or bottle.
You may enjoy a seat at the inside bar and tables, but the deck is the place to be. Covered with sun sails and surrounded by glass walls, the view is the best in the harbor.
Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoons, local musicians perform on the outdoor stage. The atmosphere is congenial, and the audience sociable. D’jango’s is open Thurs—Sun from 11 AM until 8 PM. Call for changing seasonal days and hours.
Spoiled for choice
You won’t be disappointed by any of the eateries in Noyo Harbor, your problem will be making a choice. If you’re only in town for a day, try a progressive dinner. Stop at one of these best of Fort Bragg restaurants for an appetizer and cocktail, another Fort Bragg seafood restaurant for an entrée, then move on for dessert.
Fort Bragg is my hometown. I hope to see you at sunset on a Noyo Harbor deck enjoying the bounty of the sea from hook-to-mouth in one of our eight Fort Bragg seafood restaurants.
Which of these Ft. Bragg, CA restaurants do you most want to try? Let me know in the comments section below!
Mary Charlebois is a freelance journalist, photographer, videographer, and editor. Her home base is the wild, remote, and fragile Mendocino Coast of Northern California.
Her travels include domestic and international destinations. No matter where Mary wanders, she digs in, getting to know people, history, food, and art. She is always drawn to the ‘path-less-taken.’
See more of Mary’s work at MaryGo.