Upper Lake, California
This little saloon-cafe, was just a lucky find!
Don and I were traveling in Northern California last summer, when we found this classy little place!
We followed our GPS into the small California town, last July.
The entrance looked pretty darn nice, for a town with only about 1,000 residents. I read that Upper Lake is the gateway to Mendocino National Forest. If we kept going straight, would we reach the forest?
Cute Main Street
I'm not sure if the town's main road led to the forest. We only went as far as the historic downtown. Very pretty on a blue day.
The old storefronts were cute and colorful. Some of the old buildings might have been around 1.5 centuries ago, when the town's economy revolved around canning beans, raising cattle and growing alfalfa. (Thanks Wikipedia)
Soon after driving under the town's sign. we spotted the sweet little saloon-cafe. We angle parked, right in front and headed towards the old metal chairs.
A sign on the door greeted us. It showed Benjamin Franklin wearing a face mask, announcing the latest face mask requirement. Even for those vaccinated. I was more than happy with that.
Cute and Clean
Don and I stepped inside wearing our masks. We were greeted by a friendly and masked staff.
After lots of wishy washy pandemic travel, it was suddenly a relief to be in a dining environment that just stated the rules. The place looked inviting and clean! It felt safe. And I loved those checkerboard tiles!
Don and I were the only inside diners for a while. The space felt charming and old, but I wasn't sure...
The bar had lots of old character, but the wood ceilings and paneling looked almost too perfect. If it's this hard to tell the age, then I'm impressed.
The old piano made me picture a saloon in the late 1800's.
Better yet, it made me picture this very place in 2021. The Blue Wing Saloon offers live music on weekends. (which may not include this piano) But, oh how I miss pre-pandemic days, when we could enjoy some live music on our travels.
The high ceilings felt even higher, with the redwood wainscoting and soaring, narrow windows.
The window near our table, gave us a view of the patio.
Porch & Yard Dining
I suddenly realized why there weren't many inside diners.
The outside was so inviting, even though it was nearly 100 degrees out there. The shade and breeze helped!
Burger and Salad
The food arrived! I couldn't have been happier with my cheeseburger and salad.
The burger was pretty heavenly, served on a powdery, homemade roll! The mixed greens tasted crisp and fresh and the dressing was just the right amount of sweet. Plus it was served by a very professional, yet relaxed server. A nice surprise during pandemic travel.
While dining, I kept peeking out the window. My eyes were drawn to an old hotel, on the other side of the patio.
The Tallman Hotel was built in 1895 and I'm dying to stay there, now. It was built to replace an even older hotel that had burned down.
History in the Bathroom
My trip to the restroom had me scratching my head once again. Is this old?
The small backroom looked like Grandma's farmhouse, with the painted bead-board. The hooks under the windows, held historic photos of Upper Lake.
The restroom doors felt very European with their "Toilet" signs. When I stepped inside, I was forced to take a bathroom photo.
Look at all that painted wood! How could this be new construction? I studied the old photos.
Hotel and Saloon
Here's the hotel after it changed names. The Riffe's Hotel.
I studied the old photo again. It sure looked like the Blue Wing Saloon, with the western facade!
When we finished our meal, we took another look outside before hitting the road. We learned that the hotel and saloon are under the same ownership. What a pair.
I loved our meal. I loved the tiny town and the wood plank walkway. I put Tallman Hotel on our list of historic hotels, to book for the future.
As we drove out, I imagined the wide street long ago, when it wasn't paved.
As we traveled on, I did some cellphone research. So the Blue Wing Saloon was constructed in recent years. I found my answer.
The Old Saloon
The current saloon is a recreation of the town's original saloon, that was demolished during prohibition. All those beautiful pieces of wood in the Blue Wing, were salvaged from the old hotel, when the current owners did some renovation.
I'm so glad we stumbled across this town and saloon. The Blue Wing wasn't old, but it ties in beautifully with the historic hotel. What a sweet town and what a lovely hotel & restaurant combo. I can't wait to come back.
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.