Unveiling the Brewery Gulch Inn – 2023 Travel Editor’s Top Pick

Brewery Gulch Inn from Highway 1
Recipient of the SW Newsmagazine '2023 Travel Editor's Pick': Stunning Surroundings, Impeccable Service, Delicious Food.

By Anna Zivian, Food Editor, and Anne Howard, Travel Editor.

As you approach the redwood and stone facade of the Brewery Gulch Inn & Spa, nestled within the coastal forest of Mendocino County, you instantly feel a sense of escape from the everyday. This boutique inn, recently awarded the prestigious Tripadvisor Travelers’ Choice Award for 2023, offers an unparalleled fusion of stunning surroundings and impeccable service. The moment you enter the lobby with its soaring ceilings, massive fireplace, and walls of windows overlooking the inn’s gardens and forest beyond, you know you’ve discovered a hidden gem. During your stay, you’ll enjoy luxurious amenities, curated activities, farm-to-table dining, and an eco-friendly spa, all within a peaceful, private setting. For a romantic getaway or wellness retreat where solitude and natural beauty are complemented by world-class hospitality, the Brewery Gulch Inn is an experience not to be missed, making it the SW Newsmagazine ‘2023 Travel Editor’s Pick’.

An Idyllic Setting on California’s Rugged Coast

The Brewery Gulch Inn is situated on three acres of stunning surroundings in Mendocino, California. Overlooking a picturesque cove, the Inn provides an ideal base to explore the area’s rugged natural beauty.

Mendocino’s dramatic coastline resembles the landscapes of Big Sur and the Italian coast, with waves crashing against jagged sea cliffs and secluded beaches between rocky headlands. Just 30 minutes inland, the Anderson Valley is home to renowned wineries crafting crisp Alsatian whites and complex Pinot Noirs.

At the Inn itself, guests can start their day on the deck with the complimentary breakfast, enjoying fresh pastries and the inn’s signature chilaquiles while gazing at the Pacific Ocean from dining room and deck. In the evening, unwind by the fireplace in your room or the cozy lobby. A casual “petite portion”dinner with local wines is served every night.

The Inn’s 11 rooms are each individually decorated, with luxury amenities like soaking tubs, showers, and fireplaces. The flower-filled gardens provide a splash of color and fragrance. For recreation, the concierge can arrange activities from whale watching to mushroom foraging.

If you’re looking for a romantic escape or a break from the hustle and bustle of city life, the Brewery Gulch Inn could be the perfect place for you. With its breathtaking natural surroundings, stunning ocean views, and outstanding yet relaxed service, this secluded retreat promises a travel experience that you’ll cherish forever. It’s no surprise that the Brewery Gulch Inn & Spa has received numerous awards, including the 2023 Travelers’ Choice award from Tripadvisor.

Cozy, Well-Appointed Rooms

The 11 luxury rooms at the Brewery Gulch Inn provide a comfortable respite after exploring the stunning surroundings.

Meadowview suite
Meadowview suite

During our recent trip, we stayed at the Meadowview Suite. The spacious suite featured two separate rooms with a king-size bed and a queen-sized bed, a small area with a fridge and microwave, a working fireplace, plush bedding, and contemporary furnishings inviting relaxation. We were also provided with luxurious bathrobes and high-quality hair and body products. We wanted to leave a special note regarding the bedding provided during our stay. It was incredibly comfortable and provided an ultimate sleeping experience on a Serta “Perfect Sleeper” mattress. The comforters were filled with poly-fill to avoid any allergy conflicts for guests. The overall experience was so comfortable and enjoyable that we even joked about moving in permanently!


With a keen eye for detail and superb design, the rooms at the Brewery Gulch Inn surround guests in comfort while never detracting from the natural splendor just outside. Wake up to salty sea breezes, fall asleep to the sound of crashing waves, and feel blissfully secluded from the cares of everyday life during your stay on the Mendocino coast.

Some rooms offer panoramic vistas of the rugged coastline, sea cliffs, or wooded areas. In the evening, guests can watch the sunset over the Pacific from the deck.

Farm-to-Table Dining Showcases Local Ingredients

Chef Stephen Smith

The Brewery Gulch Inn provides an exceptional farm-to-table dining experience highlighting fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Under the leadership of culinary mastermind Chef Stephen Smith, the Inn sources organic produce, artisanal cheeses, and sustainable seafood from regional farmers and fishermen.  His cooking philosophy is simple: using fresh produce and letting the original flavor shine. As he told the SW Newsmagazine,

I believe in elevating flavors, not concealing them. Enhance flavor, don’t mask.”said Chef Stephen Smith to SW news.

Breakfast offerings include hearty omelets with cheese from local creameries and greens from nearby organic farms. The Inn’s famed chilaquiles feature farm-fresh eggs, tortillas, and tangy Mendocino salsa. The Inn serves creative bento boxes for dinner with soup, salad, and a small dessert. Recent options have included jambalaya with regional sausage and cioppino seafood stew.

The Inn’s beverage program showcases local craft beers and an array of wines from Mendocino and Anderson Valley wineries within a 30-minute drive. Happy Hour offers the opportunity to sample various regional wines, perfectly paired with the Inn’s bento boxes.

Brewery Gulch Food Review

The Brewery Gulch offers guests light dinners and hearty breakfasts; both are expertly prepared in the small kitchen by chef Stephen Smith and his sous-chef, Tori Menna, using local and fresh ingredients. Dinners are also accompanied by local beers or wine, with a selection of two whites and two reds to try every evening.

Before the pandemic, dinner was served buffet-style, but the pandemic brought out the kitchen’s creativity, which responded by creating “Mendo boxes” – bento-box-like meals with a main course, a salad, and a dessert for each guest. Each room is assigned a box with one or two meals; the boxes are created from lacquered, reclaimed wood, bringing together the concept of the Japanese bento box with the elegant rusticity evident throughout the inn. Dinner is available from 5:30 to 6:30 pm, but it is wise to come early, as the food is prepared fresh.

Lifting the lid of the Mendo box feels like opening a present with jewel-like meals inside. The set menu each night draws on the chef and sous chef’s appreciation of fresh flavors. The spices do not overpower the meals, allowing individual ingredients to shine, but the Inn also has a large selection of hot sauces that will be much appreciated by guests who enjoy spice.

southwestern-inspired, chili-rubbed chicken
Southwestern-inspired, chili-rubbed chicken, coleslaw, and fruit custard.

One night, the bento box featured pork tenderloin with a cherry and port reduction served with roasted fingerling potatoes and accompanied by a roasted beet, spinach, and feta salad with a raspberry vinaigrette that complemented, rather than overpowered, the sweet, earthy beets, creamy feta, and young spinach. The kitchen is well-versed in preparing meals for guests with food preferences or allergies, all with the same quality and style as the dishes on the menu. That night, the pescatarian alternative was perfectly cooked shrimp with citrus butter. The dessert showed off the region’s fall flavors with a light apple crisp with tart, cinnamon-spiced apples, a crisp crust, and a healthy dollop of whipped cream.

The next night, it offered southwestern-inspired, chili-rubbed chicken with perfectly creamy pepper jack and green chili polenta, merging two of Chef Smith’s favorite influences, Mediterranean and southwestern. A lime and cilantro slaw with cabbage, carrot, and jicama accompanied it. The pescatarian option was a local rock cod with a delicious fish broth reduction. The dessert, a trifle, matched the sunny day with its bright, fresh berries, sunny vanilla custard, and cubed ginger pound cake.

French Toast as prepared by Chef Smith.

Breakfasts are served from 8 am and are made to order, with a small but diverse menu that features creative takes on breakfast classics, like a breakfast burrito with carnitas and hashbrowns, served with a fresh tomato salsa and perfect guacamole; blueberry and custard stuffed French toast, perfectly griddled and not at all soggy, drizzled with glaze and served with maple syrup (perfect for those with a sweet tooth); a Florentine frittata (between a frittata and an omelet) with red peppers and spinach served with delicious, crispy hashbrowns; and a warm protein bowl with tofu, edamame, and carrots served in lightly-sweetened cilantro, lime, coconut broth and topped with cilantro microgreens. The coffee – a special roast for the Inn – and a selection of teas are available for earlier risers, and the Inn also serves freshly squeezed orange or grapefruit juice as well as other juices and a flavorful mango-peach “lassi” with yogurt and coconut milk.

The eight local wines served over the two nights of this stay included a 2019 Bliss Pinot Noir, a 2022 Nelson Family Vineyards Pinot Grigio; the 2021 Anyhow Blanc from Pennyroyal Farm (a Chardonnay-Sauvignon Blanc blend), a Cesar Toxqui Cellars Ruthless Red; a Nelson Family Vineyards 2019 Cabernet Sauvignon; and a 2022 Enotria Arneis. The standouts were an Anderson Valley Toulouse Riesling, tangy with apple-peach flavors, slightly off-dry, and the 2018 Enotria Barbera with blackberry and spiced plum notes.

Attentive, Dedicated Staff Provide Outstanding Service

Under the watchful eye and expert care of Sarah Rowe, General Manager, Brewery Gulch Inn & Spa, the Inn employs an attentive, dedicated staff focused on providing outstanding service to all guests. Upon arriving at the Inn, guests are greeted by welcoming front desk staff ready to check them in and ensure their room is prepared. The staff are highly knowledgeable about the property and surrounding area, and able to provide recommendations for nearby dining, activities, and attractions.

Housekeeping staff meticulously clean each of the 11 guest rooms upon request, refreshing linens and towels as needed. The grounds of the Inn, including the gardens and patios, are impeccably maintained.

A complimentary breakfast and light dinner are served daily, prepared by the Inn’s skilled chef using the freshest local ingredients. The chef and kitchen staff aim to provide healthy, delicious fare for guests, adapting menus based on dietary needs and restrictions when notified in advance. The Inn employs dedicated servers to assist guests during mealtimes, refill beverages, and clear dishes with care and professionalism.

Knowledgeable food and beverages staff are on hand to describe the wines and make recommendations to guests. The lobby, deck, and gardens offer comfortable seating ideal for enjoying the views, along with board games, a catalogue of movies on DVDs, magazines and newspapers curated by staff.

The Brewery Gulch Inn’s team provides unparalleled personalized service and a truly memorable experience for all visitors. From the attentive front desk staff to the skilled kitchen and grounds crews, each employee is dedicated to ensuring guests feel welcomed, comfortable, and cared for during their stay at this picturesque coastal retreat. Overall, the staff’s friendly professionalism and ability to anticipate guests’ needs set the Brewery Gulch Inn apart.

Nearby Attractions for Exploring the Northern California Coast

An ideal location complements the stunning surroundings and impeccable service of the Brewery Gulch Inn to explore the natural wonders of the Northern California coast. Within a 30-minute drive of the inn, you’ll find scenic beaches, coastal trails, and redwood forests to experience.

Mendocino Headlands State Park

Only a 5-minute walk from the Brewery Gulch Inn, the Mendocino Headlands State Park offers miles of trails with panoramic coastline views. The park encompasses 47 acres of shoreline, dunes, meadows, and woodlands. Walk along the bluffs and spot gray whales during their migration season. The park is also home to tide pools, seabirds, and wildflowers.

Russian Gulch State Park

Just 2 miles north of Mendocino, Russian Gulch State Park protects one of the most picturesque spots on the coast. The park’s crown jewel is a 36-foot waterfall that cascades onto a rocky beach. Several hiking trails lead through coastal forests and headlands, with the opportunity to spot wildlife and wildflowers. The park also offers opportunities for fishing, kayaking, and sunbathing.

Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve

Head 16 miles inland to Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve for a glimpse of old-growth redwood forest. A 2-mile loop trail winds through a grove of coast redwoods over 300 feet tall. The reserve protects five of the tallest known redwood trees in a cathedral-like setting. Early morning or late afternoon visits during the week will encounter the fewest crowds.

Whether you seek the power and beauty of nature at the ocean’s edge or in the solitude of an ancient forest, the Brewery Gulch Inn provides an ideal base to explore the Northern California coast at your own pace. The inn’s amenities and services ensure you return from each day’s adventures refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to discover more of the stunning surroundings.

As you wander around the stunning grounds and gardens of the Brewery Gulch Inn, it becomes evident why this Mendocino hideaway has been the recipient of so many awards. The staff members provide impeccable service with a warm and genuine smile, starting from the personalized welcome at check-in to the farewell at departure. The luxurious accommodations, award-winning restaurant, and rejuvenating spa ensure that you will be well-pampered during your stay. Whether you are traveling for a romantic getaway or a restorative retreat, Brewery Gulch Inn offers an experience that nurtures both the body and soul. As you bid farewell to the fog-shrouded redwoods and dramatic sea cliffs, the memories of complete tranquility in this coastal paradise will remain with you. Brewery Gulch Inn is a place that you will long to return to again and again.

Book today!



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