Dining in the Shadow of Shasta, restaurant reviews for anglers

Featured in “The Foraging Angler”, California Fly Fisher Magazine, October 2008

Ten years ago after a satisfying summer day chasing rainbows and trophy browns on the McCloud, I enjoyed one of the finest meals of my life.  The local restaurant was known for it’s fresh ingredients, generous portions and friendly service.  I must admit that I don’t recall if I ordered my favorite pasta dish or their grilled chicken Caesar salad.  Perhaps I sampled one of their wine offerings or ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale?  I do clearly recall that the setting was intoxicating.  Sitting on the patio, gazing over the garden and white picket fence with pink alpine glow working it’s way up the snowy side of Mt. Shasta sealed the deal.  That fall I moved to town and now enjoy dining with a view of Mount Shasta that to this day leaves me in awe.

Since my move to Mt. Shasta I’ve managed to dine out a time or two a week with family, friends, visitors and fellow anglers to sample the local fare. Following is a brief review of the local restaurants we most enjoy.   Several restaurants I visited prior to moving to town have retained their charm and are popular with tourists and locals alike.  A few restaurants since I moved to town have changed their operations with a new look or new location. Some new restaurants have opened recently and have become instant favorites. I’ll review the old standbys first, then those featuring a new look, concluding with those that most recently opened their doors.

Old Favorites:

Black Bear Diner
401 W. Lake Street. 530-926-4669

The Black Bear features classic diner fare and has been successful to the tune of 36 franchised locations. Bruce Dean and Bob Manley opened in 1995 in this original location in Mt. Shasta just off I5.  They feature fresh ingredients, friendly service and huge portions.  You can get your bacon and eggs cooked the way you like them as early as 5:30 am but plan on drip coffee, you’ll have to go elsewhere for your double latte.   Open everyday until 10 pm, summer eves until 11 so you can grab a bite long after your drive back from an evening hatch session on the McCloud.  For dinner I favor their comfort offerings, old fashioned meatloaf, pot roast, Swiss steak, chicken pot pie, while my wife Jerri likes their liver and onions cooked the way her mother made it.  My thirteen year old ops for a burger and fries but what he really comes for are the old fashioned milkshakes.  When the blackberries are in season I can’t resist one either.  I’ll sometimes opt for a sirloin steak and baked potato and would normally order a glass of red wine or a beer but they do not serve alcohol.  Meals run $9 to $19 with beverage extra.  We’ll often wait to sit in a booth to enjoy a view of The Mountain.

Casa Ramos
1136 South Mount Shasta Blvd. 530-926-0250
Hours: Open for lunch and dinner 11am to 10pm

Another local franchise, Casa Ramos, was opened in 1997 by Yreka local Marco Ramos.  The restaurant features a full bar and in summer an outside patio with a sunset view.  This is a popular place for groups so can get crowded during peak season but the service is quick and tables turn fast.  They offer standard Mexican fare, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas, and combinations but the “Mexican Favorites”, Ramos family recipes, are the real deal. Try the Molcajete, sautéed chicken and beef strips with vegetables in an outstanding spicy sauce that can be eaten like stew or fajita style with tortillas, avocado and sourcream.  Their Carnitas Uruapan a marinated pork dish is another favorite.  Portions are sizable so try not to fill up on the complimentary all you can eat chips and salsa with your beer or margarita. Meals are typically $8 to $16 dollars plus bevy.  They are located on the south end of town on the main drag.

Mike and Tony’s
501 Mt. Shasta Blvd. 530-926-4792
Hours: 5pm to 9pm, ‘til 10 Friday and Saturday, closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays

Not destined to franchise, this local favorite has been serving Italian American family style dinners since 1945.  Their offerings are served family style in courses beginning with their homemade minestrone and antipasto plate, followed my entrees including a variety of pastas, veal, steaks and seafood.  Our favorites include Veal Piccata, Eggplant Parmesan or the Stuffed Portabello Mushroom.  Entrees are also served ala carte.  $11-$22.  Mike and Tony’s features a full bar, with modest wine and beer offerings.

Favorites revisited:

Wayside Grill
2217 South Mt. Shasta Blvd. 530-918-9234
Hours: Dinner 4pm-1am Thursday through Saturday

Formerly named the Wayside Inn, the Grill has had a complete renovation and reopened in the summer of ’07.   If you have a group and want to party this is the place!  They have plenty of room for dancing with a jukebox and weekly live music, fireplace,  shuffleboard and big screen T.V.  They also feature a full bar, wine and a dozen beers on tap.  They offer up a spicy faire including a Jamaican Jerk Chicken that will leave your ears ringing.  The Spicy Red Coconut Curry is a favorite but don’t miss the Grilled Prawns served with sticky rice and a carrot/jicama salad.  You likely won’t need a take home container so if you have a hearty appetite, order one of their great appetizers, soup or a salad, $3 to $9.  A dozen entrees to choose from run $11 to $17.  They have a great patio to catch the sunset.  They are on the far end of town just before highway 89, turn left just as the I5 overpass comes into view.

305 S. Mt. Shasta Blvd. 530-926-3536
Weekdays 8:30am to 7pm (grill closes at 4:00), Weekends until 3pm

A long time Natural Foods Grocery, Berryvale recently opened a deli style café.    They feature Burritos, Wraps, Salads, Sandwiches & Burgers for lunch.  We will occasional opt to stop in the morning on the way to the river for an Espresso, muffin, pastry or quiche.

Trinity Cafe
622 North Mount Shasta Blvd. 530-926-6200
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 5pm to 9:30pm
Reservations are recommended

This local bistro has for years been the best choice in Mt. Shasta for fine dining. This summer the restaurant sold to new owner and chef Norman Henry who previously owned the Salt Water Café in Dunsmuir.   He describes the new menu as Seafood and International fare with Tapas appetizers.  Time will tell if the Trinity’s reputation for service and exceptional dining will be preserved.  The setting is intimate but seating is limited so it’s best to make a reservation particularly in peak season. The Trinity is located on the north end of the downtown area and can be a bit tricky to find, particularly with cars parked in front of their sign.  They are one block north of the Alma street stop light (one of only three in town).  Appetizers run $3 to $15, entrees $14 to $40 and include a salad or side.

Poncho & Lefkowitz
401 S. Mount Shasta Blvd. 530-926-1505
Hours: Tuesday through Saturday 11am to 4pm

Opening in 1992 as a Taco Wagon, Poncho’s moved downtown to become a full service Mexican Restaurant and Blues Bar.  They have returned to their roots and reopened as a grab and go Taco Wagon with Burritos, Tacos, Tostadas, Tamales, Sausages & Hot Dogs. My favorites include the plain rice & bean burrito, and the Big Kahuna.  They have an outside patio so no need to take your waders off to order or eat.

New Favorites:

Billy Goats
107 Chestnut Street, 530-926-0209
Hours: Daily 11am to 9pm

Opening in fall of 2006 and located at the “Y” in downtown Mount Shasta where a number of restaurants have come and gone, this is our favorite local dining option.  Their website advertises “The Goat” as a “Watering hole for Bohemians, Mountaineers, Fishermen, Skiers, Snowboarders, Rich Weekend Bikers with no felonies (Misdemeanors Overlooked), and Chimney Sweeps.  You should fit right in.”  Not everyone does but we do, and locals pack the place nightly with patio seating open from the end of March until mid October.  In winter inside seating is very limited so it’s best to arrive early and stay late to catch up on the local gossip, including the latest on the area’s fishing from the guides and fly fishers who have bellied up to trade lies with the friendly and entertaining bar staff.  Bill Truby, former owner of the Trinity Café has created a menu he describes as upscale pub grub, finger foods, salads, sandwiches, burgers and specials.  Our favorites include “Possibly the best burger in the world (a kobe beef burger), grilled portabella and pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, and a grilled chicken spinach salad.  They often have specials including grilled steak or seafood.  Specials and sandwiches come with a salad, fries or onion rings (with chipolte mayo) priced at $7-$12  A dozen taps and over 100 international and microbrews to choose from along with a small but adequate wine list.

531 Chestnut Street. 530-926-1345
Hours: 5:30pm to 9pm, closed Tuesday

Chef Sachio Kojima and his wife opened an organic Japanese restaurant in the spring of 2006 after twenty-three years of success at Kabuto on Geary Steet in San Francisco. Vivify has become our choice for special occasions particularly if it’s just my wife and I. We’ll order an appetizer, soup, entrée, perhaps a side and share. They feature Sushi, Sashimi, Makimono rolls, sampler plates and “Relaxation” plates which include the best grilled fish dishes you can imagine.  Their miso and soup specials should not be missed.  Inside dining is simply appointed with elegant hardwood floors and open seating.  An outside patio provides dining with a view of The Mountain during summer.  While the food is exceptional count on a relaxed evening as the service does not allow planning a quick affair. They have a serviceable beer and wine list but their sake selections are extensive and exceptional. The wine list includes several offerings by the glass but we’ll sometimes bring a special bottle as the corking fee is quite reasonable as well. Entrees $11-$20.

316 N. Mt. Shasta Blvd. 530-926-5433
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11am to 9pm, Friday & Saturday 11am to 10pm.

An Italian café that opened in June of 2006 by local owners Lisa and Dennis Faust.  Their downtown location, ample seating, décor and attentive, friendly service would leave you to believe they are a local restaurant rather than part of a franchise.  As you might expect of a franchise their menu is extensive with appetizers, pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, salads, pasta, seafood, pork, veal and poultry dishes.  Their wine bar features affordable wines by the glass including local award winning Shasta View wines, as well as beer on tap and in the bottle.  My wife most enjoys their soup and salad special while I have sampled a good portion of the fare with my favorites being the artichoke ravioli marinara, stuffed mushrooms with bruschetta and their “award winning combo” of Lasagna Pastry, Tortellini All Panna and Stuffed Mushrooms. Entrees $9-$15.

Stage Door Cabaret/Coffeehouse
414 Mount Shasta Blvd. 530-926-1050
Hours: M-Sa 7am to 10pm, Su 7am-7pm

The Stage Door is best known for it’s weekend evening live music featuring outstanding traveling acts. It also serves as a casual local hang for the morning espresso and coffee crowd, with newspapers and laptops decorating tabletops.  They offer espresso and fresh baked pastries in the morning but we most often opt for their Breakfast Wrap filled with scrambled eggs, cheese, tomato, avocado and salsa served with a side of fruit.   The breakfast menu also features Frittatas, Bagels, Quiche, Oatmeal and Granola.  The evening entertainment menu includes Salads, Sandwiches, Wraps, and Soups including a fine Minestrone.  My wife most often will have a soup or salad with a glass of wine while I opt for a Portobello Reuben or a Prather Ranch Patty Melt to pair with my Kilt Lifter.  Entrees $7 to $14.

Some other dining options are available in Dunsmuir and McCloud about 10 minutes down the highway from Mt. Shasta but I’ll save those secrets for a future foraging angler.

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