clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Golden Gate Saloon
Golden Gate Saloon
Ingrid Nelson

10 Destination Restaurants in Nevada City and Grass Valley

Where to find a great meal in these historic former mining towns

View as Map
Golden Gate Saloon
| Ingrid Nelson

Nevada City has long been a trusted, under-the-radar getaway from the Bay Area hustle — the type of place where you rent a quaint Airbnb and take pictures in front of historic buildings. Within a short drive is Grass Valley, with its rich gold mining history, which is similarly picturesque — think old-timey main streets, romantic alleys, and co-op bookstores you can get lost in for hours.

Recently, with the renovation of two longstanding hotels, and amid a modest, pandemic-inspired surge of Bay Area transplants to the area, the two cities have been upping their culinary game; the result is a delicious mix of old and new. While some time-tested institutions are not to be missed, a slew of relative newcomers have plenty to offer as well, from traditional English pasties to modern Californian cuisine. Whether you’re picking up food for a picnic, indulging in fine dining, or mingling with the locals, these two neighboring cities have you covered.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

Read More
Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Friar Tuck's Restaurant & Bar

Copy Link

A local classic for family gatherings and celebrations, this is a place to abandon dietary restrictions and live large like it’s 1985. In the lavish setting, brick walls and chandeliers abound and diners can feast on escargot and cheese fondue, blue Champagne steak, and chicken piccata (and don’t skip the over-the-top desserts). The cocktails here deliver — the OG Martini is a no-brainer — and the wine list is quite possibly the most comprehensive in town.

Heartwood Eatery

Copy Link

A popular lunch and coffee spot for locals, the health-oriented Heartwood Eatery is perfect for people-watching while plotting your next art-residency-meets-retreat in Nevada City. The menu has all the Bay Area classics covered, from loaded avocado toasts to veggie bowls and lavender lattes. At the Annex — a relatively recent addition to the business — things get a little more hearty, with a selection of pork or chicken ramen and pho, based on house-made bone broth, plus vegetarian options.

The renovated National Exchange hotel, the younger sister property to the neighboring Holbrooke, is filled with design eye candy and hosts the city’s newest fine dining restaurant. Lola has a French-Californian vibe — think cheesy onion soup and steak tartare served with a baguette — and a classy atmosphere accented by tufted velvet booths and intimate lighting. For brunch, a croque-madame or a quiche, paired with the day’s newspaper, will deliver proper vacation vibes.

Ingrid Nelson

Sushi In the Raw

Copy Link

A Nevada City institution, Sushi in the Raw has been feeding locals and tourists since 2002 — the chef and owner, Kaoru “RU” Suzuki, has been on the local culinary scene even longer, opening his first eatery in 1993. Through the years, Sushi in the Raw has remained a remarkably reliable destination for top-quality sushi, offering a dazzling, thick menu packed with rolls and raw fish, as well as rare Japanese standouts like soy-marinated fish heads. Fun gimmicks like spoons filled with uni and ikura, as well as the sneakily boozy cocktails, make any night here memorable.

The Ham Stand

Copy Link

Jason Jilson, who previously was the chef at San Francisco fine dining catering company Melons, opened this meat-curing business in 2018. Jilson’s passion is European-style salumi, and his specialties include coppa, salami, and pastrami, with a focus on local heritage meats. Located a few blocks away from Nevada City’s main street, the Stand is a great place to grab a sandwich. Options include a juicy Reuben and the ham standard, a cornucopia of cold cuts with olive salsa.

Golden Gate Saloon

Copy Link

Located at the freshly renovated, incredibly chic Holbrooke Hotel, the Golden Gate Saloon is a welcome addition to Grass Valley’s dining scene. On the menu, chef Zachary Ahrenholtz pays homage to California’s Mexican heritage with dishes like vegetarian lion’s mane barbacoa and vibrant tuna tostadas for dinner, plus chilaquiles and huevos rancheros for breakfast. The generous and succulent short rib birria is best consumed while sitting at the vintage bar, mezcal negroni in hand. And if drinks are your main focus, seek out the Iron Door — a speakeasy in the hotel’s basement.

Ingrid Nelson

Grass Valley Brewing Company

Copy Link

Conveniently located at Grass Valley Brewing Company, Roost does brewery food just right. Snacks include onion rings and spicy wings, and pasties filled with stout-braised beef and gravy, while mains like the Drive-Thru hamburger and the stuffed banh mi are perfect for lunch. While you’re there, sample the brewery’s hazy IPAs, stouts, and dark Mexican lager — and pick up some canned beers to take home.

Grass Valley Pasty Co.

Copy Link

During the Gold Rush, Grass Valley was home to many migrants from Cornwall, England and the Pasty Co. keeps that bit of history alive with a selection of authentic, flaky, Cornish pasties — savory, half-moon shaped hand pies made fresh daily. Options are limited, but there are pasties with skirt steak and veggies, pot roast, pulled pork, chicken, and ham and cheese to choose from, including an obligatory vegetarian pasty in the mix.

MeZe Eatery Grass Valley

Copy Link

Operated by Israelis Alon and Tal Greenstein, who previously ran a popular food tent in the area, Meze is an excellent destination for all things Mediterranean. Alongside shareable falafel and dip spreads or hummus bowls, the cafe serves on-point delights like the sabich sandwich — a delicious mash-up of eggplant, pickled and hard-boiled eggs, stuffed into a fluffy pita. The vegan malabi, a Mediterranean rose-infused take on panna cotta, is not to be missed.

Watershed at the Owl

Copy Link

In 2011, the Owl, a beloved bar and grill located at one of Grass Valley’s oldest buildings, shut down abruptly, with a hint of scandal. Three local partners came to the rescue and took over, keeping the interiors true to the building’s original charm, but reimagining the space with a kitchen revamp and a relaxed, welcoming vibe. On the menu, find oysters, shrimp cakes, and blistered scallops, among other offerings, all artfully plated and made from local ingredients.

Friar Tuck's Restaurant & Bar

A local classic for family gatherings and celebrations, this is a place to abandon dietary restrictions and live large like it’s 1985. In the lavish setting, brick walls and chandeliers abound and diners can feast on escargot and cheese fondue, blue Champagne steak, and chicken piccata (and don’t skip the over-the-top desserts). The cocktails here deliver — the OG Martini is a no-brainer — and the wine list is quite possibly the most comprehensive in town.

Heartwood Eatery

A popular lunch and coffee spot for locals, the health-oriented Heartwood Eatery is perfect for people-watching while plotting your next art-residency-meets-retreat in Nevada City. The menu has all the Bay Area classics covered, from loaded avocado toasts to veggie bowls and lavender lattes. At the Annex — a relatively recent addition to the business — things get a little more hearty, with a selection of pork or chicken ramen and pho, based on house-made bone broth, plus vegetarian options.

Lola

The renovated National Exchange hotel, the younger sister property to the neighboring Holbrooke, is filled with design eye candy and hosts the city’s newest fine dining restaurant. Lola has a French-Californian vibe — think cheesy onion soup and steak tartare served with a baguette — and a classy atmosphere accented by tufted velvet booths and intimate lighting. For brunch, a croque-madame or a quiche, paired with the day’s newspaper, will deliver proper vacation vibes.

Ingrid Nelson

Sushi In the Raw

A Nevada City institution, Sushi in the Raw has been feeding locals and tourists since 2002 — the chef and owner, Kaoru “RU” Suzuki, has been on the local culinary scene even longer, opening his first eatery in 1993. Through the years, Sushi in the Raw has remained a remarkably reliable destination for top-quality sushi, offering a dazzling, thick menu packed with rolls and raw fish, as well as rare Japanese standouts like soy-marinated fish heads. Fun gimmicks like spoons filled with uni and ikura, as well as the sneakily boozy cocktails, make any night here memorable.

The Ham Stand

Jason Jilson, who previously was the chef at San Francisco fine dining catering company Melons, opened this meat-curing business in 2018. Jilson’s passion is European-style salumi, and his specialties include coppa, salami, and pastrami, with a focus on local heritage meats. Located a few blocks away from Nevada City’s main street, the Stand is a great place to grab a sandwich. Options include a juicy Reuben and the ham standard, a cornucopia of cold cuts with olive salsa.

Golden Gate Saloon

Located at the freshly renovated, incredibly chic Holbrooke Hotel, the Golden Gate Saloon is a welcome addition to Grass Valley’s dining scene. On the menu, chef Zachary Ahrenholtz pays homage to California’s Mexican heritage with dishes like vegetarian lion’s mane barbacoa and vibrant tuna tostadas for dinner, plus chilaquiles and huevos rancheros for breakfast. The generous and succulent short rib birria is best consumed while sitting at the vintage bar, mezcal negroni in hand. And if drinks are your main focus, seek out the Iron Door — a speakeasy in the hotel’s basement.

Ingrid Nelson

Grass Valley Brewing Company

Conveniently located at Grass Valley Brewing Company, Roost does brewery food just right. Snacks include onion rings and spicy wings, and pasties filled with stout-braised beef and gravy, while mains like the Drive-Thru hamburger and the stuffed banh mi are perfect for lunch. While you’re there, sample the brewery’s hazy IPAs, stouts, and dark Mexican lager — and pick up some canned beers to take home.

Grass Valley Pasty Co.

During the Gold Rush, Grass Valley was home to many migrants from Cornwall, England and the Pasty Co. keeps that bit of history alive with a selection of authentic, flaky, Cornish pasties — savory, half-moon shaped hand pies made fresh daily. Options are limited, but there are pasties with skirt steak and veggies, pot roast, pulled pork, chicken, and ham and cheese to choose from, including an obligatory vegetarian pasty in the mix.

MeZe Eatery Grass Valley

Operated by Israelis Alon and Tal Greenstein, who previously ran a popular food tent in the area, Meze is an excellent destination for all things Mediterranean. Alongside shareable falafel and dip spreads or hummus bowls, the cafe serves on-point delights like the sabich sandwich — a delicious mash-up of eggplant, pickled and hard-boiled eggs, stuffed into a fluffy pita. The vegan malabi, a Mediterranean rose-infused take on panna cotta, is not to be missed.

Watershed at the Owl

In 2011, the Owl, a beloved bar and grill located at one of Grass Valley’s oldest buildings, shut down abruptly, with a hint of scandal. Three local partners came to the rescue and took over, keeping the interiors true to the building’s original charm, but reimagining the space with a kitchen revamp and a relaxed, welcoming vibe. On the menu, find oysters, shrimp cakes, and blistered scallops, among other offerings, all artfully plated and made from local ingredients.

Related Maps