Where to eat in Mendocino? – Purple Thistle, Willits, California (Restaurant review)

Along with my husband’s grad school friend and his family, we vacationed at Mendocino during Memorial day long weekend, 2011. Mendocino is one of the most beautiful town to visit for a short vacation.  There is beautiful sea on one side and more so beautiful Victorian homes on the other side and when you walk along the coast, you will be pulled into the world of beauty and nature. As I strolled through the narrow roads of Mendocino, there was nip in the air and gentle breeze with mist kissed my face. The drizzle, wind and cloudy gloomy days reminded me of England. This was a trip to Great Britain without the expensive flight and hotel fares. It is so close to San Francisco that people living here can plan a trip for the weekend. A laid back simple town to enjoy with your loved ones.
To me, a vacation defines little travel with lots of eating. We like to venture out the streets and dine in every possible restaurant found on the way. We stayed at Willits and visited places around Mendocino and Fort Bragg.  On the day we arrived, we walked through the so called down town, don’t expect a happening Santana Row like streets but this place was quiet and deserted. I think the shops close pretty early here, around 6 or 7 pm. When we were discussing about a restaurant to dine that night, S’s friend M found “Purple Thistle” through yelp reviews. Since it had decent 3+ stars and importantly since it was closest to our hotel, we finalized on this place.
We arrived as a group of four adults, one toddler and two infants in hand and I thought that we wouldn’t be able to fit in the tiny restaurant with our huge strollers. But the owners (mom-daughter duo) accommodated us close to a huge window. I think the waitress was the daughter who was friendly and pleasant. Since M’s wife and I were choosing dishes with less calories, the lady was very good at suggesting dishes and options.
The menu was short and limited. I think they print it on a daily basis and dishes are created with seasonal ingredients. The ambiance was rustic and simple. We felt warm, cozy and welcomed. 
Coming to the food, I ordered garden salad with candied pecans and champagne vinaigrette . The salad was crispy and super delicious. For the appetizers we ordered mussels cooked in white wine, it was perfectly seasoned and incredibly delicious. For the entree, I ordered grilled chicken breast with steamed veggies and mashed potatoes. The garlic mashed potatoes were very good. I have never enjoyed steamed vegetables this much. They were fresh and organic and tasted so good. My husband ordered fish and chips with coleslaw. The fish was tender – crispy and soft. The coleslaw was well coated with the dressing and we  were glad that it was not soaked in mayonnaise. M ordered Cajun spiced shrimp with rice and his wife, A ordered steak with veggies and mashed potatoes. We ate till the last piece and just loved the way each dish was prepared and served. The wine list was decent and the guys ordered Pinot.
I would definitely stop by this place next time we drive to Mendocino. Since the place is little small and campy, I would definitely call for reservation before I show up. For the food and service, I would give it 4 stars on 5. We liked it so much that I insisted to dine again on Monday but unfortunately it was closed. I would love to go back to Willits just to dine at Purple Thistle again. I am sure you will enjoy the food as much as we did.

Purple Thistle
50 S Main St
Willits, CA 95490 

(707) 459-4750

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