The Bounty of Local Artisanal Food in Nevada County

Nevada County is a bountiful region of majestic nature, historic quaintness, and vibrant culture.  It’s a wonderful place to enjoy a variety of activities such as hiking at the Yuba river, wine tasting at local vineyards, wandering antique shops, and enjoying artisan and organic food at the farmer’s markets.  Locals and visitors celebrate Nevada County’s food culture, which is deeply rooted in farming and small businesses.   Here are a few of the region’s food gems that will help visitors and locals discover the bounty of local artisan food in Nevada County.

Polly’s Paladar


Polly’s Paladar is a thriving underground dining experience in beautiful downtown Nevada City.  The private supper club celebrates and nurtures the food and talent of Nevada County by collaborating with regional organic farms, chefs, and artists to create a uniquely local experience.    Food themes and chefs are rotated each month and feature all local staff, from the cooks to the floor.  Polly’s Paladar creates an atmosphere of companionship through food, providing the space for the Nevada City community (and beyond) to connect and share the delicious bounty of our land.  Polly’s Paladar plays a crucial part in sustaining Nevada County’s local economy and cottage industries by giving them the chance to shine.

Cello Chocolate

Cello Chocolate is a truly artisan company that handcrafts their chocolate from “bean to bar” in Nevada City, Ca.  They are among only 25 artisan chocolate makers in the United States, meaning that they not only produce their own chocolate bars, but do the whole process from scratch.  They purchase the cocoa beans, roast and grind them, and then mix in sugar and cocoa butter to produce a divine concoction.  Their chocolate bars are made from single origin cocoa beans that are Certified Fair Trade and organic when possible.  Cello Chocolate takes advantage of the California Homemade Food Act, which allows small-scale cottage industries to legally produce food in their home kitchens.

Farms and Farmer’s Markets

in the kitchen

Nevada County is rich in agriculture and locals are proud to say that this is still a place where you can know who grows your food.  Not only fruits and vegetables are raised in the region, but also meats of the highest quality.  One example, Nevada County Free Range Beef, raises grass fed and finished beef for customers and local markets.  One of the best ways to celebrate locally grown food, is to wander the many farmer’s markets that Nevada County has to offer.  The Nevada City Farmer’s Market, features 100% organic produce.   This lively market runs from June until the end of November.  Aside from produce, one can find everything from baked goods from Flour Garden Bakery to local olive oil from Sierra D’Oro.  The Nevada County Grower’s Market runs from around April through October in three locations – Grass Valley, Nevada City, and Penn Valley.  The Saturday market is located at the historic Northstar House.  Look for Calolea olive oil, which also does tours and tastings at the olive farm.

If you’re interested in tours, the Nevada County Farm Bureau organizes a tour every year to several local farms.  Other farms occasionally offer tours, and can be found in the The Nevada County Farm Guide, which lists local farms and their products.  Several restaurants, like Ike’s Quarter Cafe and New Moon Cafe, take advantage of the local bounty and source their ingredients from Nevada County farms.

An Honest Pie and Nana’s Bakery

An Honest Pie and Nana’s Bakery are two small-scale bakery businesses that have sprouted up in Nevada County.  An Honest Pie is a food truck started by Brenda Janssen.  It offers customers delicious mini pies at several locations around town, including the Ol Republic Brewery in Nevada City.  Their adorable renovated food truck dons their motto “If you don’t eat em, we will.”  They offer such flavors as buttermilk, “oh my gosh” chocolate ganache, blackberrypalooza, plus some savory options.  Nana’s Bakery, owned by Susan Meagher, is a cottage industry artisan bakery that offers delicious cookies, pies, cakes, scones, and more to customers at the Northstar Grower’s Market and at local events such as the Cornish and Victorian Christmas celebrations.  Susan uses local organic fruit in her baked goods.  She also teaches classes on baking technique, helping students to become successful bakers themselves.

Wendy Van Wagner is the owner of In the Kitchen cooking school and community kitchen in Nevada City, Ca.  In The Kitchen strives to bring the community together through cooking, eating, and education.  The hands-on classes focus on organic, local, seasonal, and healthful cooking in a casual and encouraging environment.  In the Kitchen also serves an incubator for local artisan food businesses.