Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Sep 25, 2001 01:06 PM

Healdsburg - One nite/One meal??

  • m

Im heading out west for a Sunday wedding and just realized that Saturday nite is an "open-chow" nite. Im elated to have a chance to dine in one of the culinary meccas of the US but equally panicked that I did not plan - and really have no time to research.

I've never been to Sanoma or Napa so Im hoping to get the most out of my one meal - price is not a factor.

Please, help a NY'er in need.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. z
    Zach Georgopoulos

    Healdsburg is full of hoity-toidy places nowadays, which irks us who "remember it when..." Since my tastes run to the more pedestrian, I haven't tried any of these places (plus, I generally eat at the family homestead when I'm there). But, in Napa you could try: Mustard's (for good Californiacized American food), Don Giovanni (excellent Italian), The General's Daughter (in the town of Napa), Trevigne (can't remember exactly where), or -- best of all, I think -- the CIA (Culinary Institute of America) restaurant in St. Helena. The CIA runs a continuing education program there for their graduates, and the menu shows the diversity. Also it's in an absolutely stunning old winery and has great views.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Zach Georgopoulos

      I would agree with everything but the CIA--the room (on a lower level--basement feel) is not very elegant, and they are between chefs right now. Take a tour of the gardens, walk around and enjoy the property, but skip the food. Tra Vigne, which is right on rt.29 (main Napa-Valley highway) near Napa, has a new chef, who's supposedly very good--they have a fairly extensive menu of interesting Italian food, with lots of things from the wood-burning oven and grill. Plus, the restaurant is built like an Italian country inn and is very pretty. Terra, in St. Helena, is very renowned for its French/Cal cuisine with Asian accents. You can call any of these places and ask for a menu. In Healdsburg, Manzanita is the new hot spot, although I think the food is rather uneven. Ravenous, a small place in Healdsburg, is also getting a lot of good reviews. Happy eating!

      1. re: dixieday

        Thanks Zach and Dixie for the input. So far, a friend on the case has made a reservation at Mustards. Im going to look into all these other choices - Ill let you know about my dinner upon my return. Thanks again.

        1. re: Mark M

          I always considered Mustard's more of a roadhouse, casual, and kind of eclectric. The food I've sampled has been somewhat irregular, and the restaurant loud and crowded. Good beer list, and wines by the glass. Good people watching and efficient staff for the crowds.
          I have thoroughly enjoyed the ambieance at Tra Vigne, and had a wonderful meal served by the old chef. It was last Fall, and the meal was a Slow roasted short rib in a luscious ruby port sauce. Garlic mashed potatoes and fresh crusty Italian style bread, european butter, real white tablecloth service. Either the patio or indoors, both are lovely.

          1. re: Ginger Wolf

            A special thanks to all the Bay Area Chowhounds for their help. After much deliberation, I've decided on Mariposa in Windsor. Ill be sure to post a report on my meal. Thanks again.

            1. re: Mark M

              Smart choice and less than 15 mins drive from Healdsburg. Have a great time and we're looking forward to your report!

    2. Mark, if you're indeed staying overnight in Healdsburg, I'd be loathe to send you all the way over to Mustards or Tra Vigne in the other valley. Do you really want to drive an hour each way to have dinner? Haven't been to Tra Vigne under the new chef, but based on my dinner at Mustards a couple months ago, it isn't worth that kind of hassle.

      Maybe you'd feel more comfortable with another NYer's recommendation. Marion Burros proclaimed Ravenous the best place to eat in Sonoma County. We don't agree with her, but that's another data point for you. It's right in town, maybe even a nice stroll from where you're staying. You can enjoy our local wine to your heart's content and not worry about negotiating the mountainous roads to get back to your room. It's just expanded to new quarters taking more reservations and has a bar for drop-ins.

      For breakfast in the morning, get your coffee at the Goat, then head to Downtown Bakery for pastries. Both of these are off the plaza in Healdsburg.

      To correct Zach's post, The General's Daughter is in the town of Sonoma (about 40 mins from Healdsburg) and not in Napa.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I totally agree with melanie. Why come over to the Napa area if staying near Healdsburg? There are plenty of places as good as Mustards if not better.

        We eat at the Healdsburg Chacuterie and it is always, always great. Look around the town. You will enjoy it.
        It is no more "yuppified & changed" than any small town up here in the valley. Napa is the place that could use some help in quality dining for the cost and I don't think too many folks can argue that. Stay in Healdsburg ! Bon Appetit!

      2. b
        Brandon Nelson


        None of the places you mention are in the same county as Healdsburg. They are scattered around Napa county. Healdsburg is in Sonoma county. Some of those places will require 3 hours of driving round trip. If your game, thats houndy of you. If not follow Melanie and Lucy's advice. Enjoy yourself whatever your choice.


        1. Just went to Healdsburg last weekend. I would recommend Zin and Ravenous in Healdsburg and Taverna Santi in Geyserville. I would NOT drive to Napa Valley just to eat. Bistro Ralph was a big letdown last Saturday- first time ever but may be on a downslide? Santa Rosa has quite a few good spots, too.