Fiery End: Manka’s Inverness Lodge, West Marin County, CA

Sad news… One of the best restaurants in Marin County, north of San Francisco, burned to the ground last week following a storm-induced incident. Now the world famous Manka’s Inverness Lodge along the Bolinas Lagoon is just a pile of ashes. Luckily, the cabins, annex with conference rooms and boat house are still open and available.

This 80-year-old wooden hunting lodge with stuffed animal heads on the walls was known as “One of America’s 50th best hotel restaurants” by Food and Wine Magazine and it earned 25 points out of 30 in the 2007 Zagat Guide to Bay Area Restaurants. Meals at Manka’s were the embodiment of locally grown and raised ingredients, as she paid tribute to her friend and idol, Alice Waters, of Berkeley’s Chez Panisse fame.

Manka and Milan Prokupek were Czech refugees who built and expanded the property in this bucolic town. They ran it for almost 40 years, before selling in 1992 to Margaret Grade, who “created a setting that would have fit right into one of the 1930s Hollywood movies that celebrated the mythical kingdom of Ruritania.”

In 1999, she hired chef Daniel DeLong of Bix and Stars restaurants in San Francisco. With his cooking, Manka’s became an internationally culinary star.

Corporate groups flocked here. But the most famous diners were Prince Charles of England and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, in early 2006. They enjoyed a typical locally harvested feast, including “Bolinas-grown fennel soup, king salmon from Chimney Rock, frisee salad from Star Route Farms, slow-braised duck from Penngrove in Sonoma County, fresh-shelled beans with Nicasio rabbit sausage, wild chanterelle mushrooms foraged in Inverness and sauteed in scotch from St. George spirits of Alameda with house-smoked pork belly from Devil’s Gulch Ranch in Nicasio. The cheese course was from Andante Dairy on the Marin/Sonoma border.”

A: 30 Callendar Way, Inverness, CA
T: 800.585-6343 or 415.669.1034.

Read “80 Years of History in Ashes at Manka’s” at

Posted by Gil Zeimer on January 07, 2007 in Food

Comments (2)

  1. sher
    sher says:

    I was so sad to hear about the fire. Years ago, my husband and I visited Manka’s and had the best roast duck I’ve ever eaten. I was so impressed with the work they were doing there–and it continued to become even more wonderful as the years went by. And now this. I do hope they are able to recover.

  2. Gil
    Gil says:

    Thanks very much for comment. According to local sources, Manka’s plans to rebuild. When they do, I vow to dine there in the near future. It built too much of a following to disappear.

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