One of the most tiresome yet rewarding aspects of planning a well-deserved Northern California vacation is researching local restaurants. Most travelers spend hours reading reviews, viewing photos, and double-checking the walking distance from their vacation rental. To ensure that your upcoming visit to majestic Redwood National Park is nothing but flawless, we’ve compiled a handy list of our ten favorite Arcata restaurants. All ten of these North Coast staples are a short walk, drive, or bicycle ride from Redwood Coast Vacation Rentals’ Arcata properties.
Listing our ten favorite Arcata restaurants wouldn’t appeal to most travelers because there are so many factors that go into a decision, including cuisine nationality, atmosphere, location, price, and service. So, we decided to create ten categories that highlight a wide variety of dining options. In the end, we hope that this list helps you seamlessly discover the very best places to eat in Arcata, CA.
Best Authentic Gaucho-Style Grill: Campground
No, Campground isn’t an RV hang out in the dense Redwoods—this rustic yet sleek Latin American restaurant serves some of the tastiest wood-fired meats along the North Coast. The flavors are unrivaled, and the dimly-lit, gas-lantern atmosphere is exceptionally romantic.
Best Authentic Mexican: Carmela’s
While Carmela’s may seem like a run-of-the-mill Mexican restaurant, locals and travelers alike keep coming back for their authentic recipes, homemade guacamole, and monster burritos. Pair your hearty meal with a tall, refreshing, and undeniably delicious margarita.
Best Bar: The Griffin
The Griffin isn’t your average bar—it resembles a taproom or a new-age speakeasy. And yet, you still get that same down-to-earth, friendly ambiance you typically observe at a local watering hole. Each splendid craft cocktail dons a unique name, such as “Tiger’s Milk,” “Painkiller,” and “Corpse Reviver.”
Best Crepe: Renata’s Creperie
We dare you to look at Renata’s Facebook photos and not salivate. What’s unique about this bustling breakfast joint is that the crepe menu is always changing. This ever-popular, #1-rated restaurant serves three types of crepes: sweet, savory, and flaming—and you simply cannot go wrong with any selection!
Best Gyro: Kebab Cafe
Kebab Cafe is perhaps Arcata’s best dive (and Mediterranean restaurant), but we decided to focus on their specialty: those plump, mouthwatering gyros. We couldn’t think of a better, less expensive lunch option in the city, which is why this family-owned cafe is one of our favorite Arcata restaurants.
Best Pizza Joint: Arcata Pizza & Deli
The saying “I don’t care—pizza’s pizza” is common among travelers who’ve only munched on Dominos, Pizza Hut, or Papa Johns. While there is nothing inherently wrong with those chains, devouring an authentic slice of pizza pie at a Mom and Pop shop is a heavenly experience. This quaint deli slings some of the largest slices in Humboldt County!
Best Japanese-Style Soup: Japhy’s Soup and Noodles
We understand that you may not be in the mood for a bowl of soup in the heart of summer, but Japhy’s is actually one of the most popular year-round Arcata restaurants. Try the fully-customizable Japanese hot noodle bowl—trust us, it’s that good.
Best Pasta: Mazzotti’s
Seemingly everyone who’s ever visiting this particularly beautiful slice of California’s North Coast has spent an evening at Mazzotti’s, one of the more traditional Arcata restaurants. Mazzotti’s location on Arcata Plaza is a plus for shoppers and tourists. Don’t leave town without trying Mazzotti’s homemade ravioli, manicotti, or tiger prawn scampi. Oh, and their nine-ounce gorgonzola filet mignon is a thing of beauty.
Best Thai Cuisine: Bencharong Thai House
For those aimlessly searching for “Thai food in Arcata,” look no further than Bencharong. We’re partial to the medium-spicy Pad See-Ew and Drunken Noodles because their flat rice noodles are out of this world.
The Very Best Restaurant in Arcata: Folie Douce
Piecing together the ten best Arcata restaurants from memory wasn’t easy, but Folie Douce was a no-brainer for “Best Restaurant.” This compact, elegant bistro has everything that you’re looking for in a gourmet culinary experience: fine wine, vibrant plate presentation, incredible flavors, and a calming atmosphere. We recommend the Painted Hills filet mignon or the rotating “fish of the day.” You cannot go wrong with fresh-caught seafood, especially in this region.
Exquisite Arcata Vacation Rentals
All ten of these splendid Arcata restaurants are within walking distance or a short bicycle ride from a handful of our affordable, charming vacation rentals. We’ve hand-selected three of our best properties that match perfectly with an extended stay in Arcata and the nearby Redwood State Parks.
Spend an extended weekend in Arcata inside this newly remodeled 1860 home. Guests can not only enjoy convenient access to the town’s best restaurants, shops, and breweries, but this two-bedroom flat features a full kitchen, a fenced-in backyard, and a charming master bedroom.
The three-bedroom “Classy Craftsman” is located in the heart of downtown Arcata. Guests often choose this beautiful home because of the on-site sauna, gas fireplace, large porch, and modern interior. As you’ll notice in the photos, this home has pristine, newly-remodeled bathrooms, a fun game room, and a sensational backyard.
Redwood Coast Vacation Rentals has a variety of Northern California retreats located throughout the region, but very few are perfectly placed in-between a bustling downtown and the dense wilderness. This aptly-named Arcata townhouse rests along the northern edge of Humboldt State University and is just a short walk from the spectacular Arcata Community Forest (home to one of the North Coast’s prettiest hiking systems).