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Oct 3, 2006 04:49 PM

Sonoma or Napa?

My husband and I want to burn through some of our Marriott points and plan to stay at either the Napa Marriott, which is on Hwy 29, near Trancas OR the The Lodge at Sonoma Renaissance Resort & Spa in Sonoma, which is in the town of Sonoma (not farther north like Healdsburg) off hwy 121.
The deciding factor of where to go is not the quality of the rooms, but rather, the restaurant choices in the area. By "in the area" i mean, within a 5-10 minute drive. As much as I would love to try Cyrus in Healdsburg, that's too far from the hotel in Sonoma.
Can any chowhounds weigh in on which restaurants are top choices near either of those locations to help me decide??


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  1. I have stayed at both and sweetly (but unfortunately since I was unable to research first) was suprised by both trips. We also had Mariott points to blow through.
    One thing I was suprised by is that the Napa Mariott is in downtown Napa, which despite its name, isn't really in the heart of the eating and drinking part of town. I felt like it took 10-15 minutes to get anywhere from there - though I did really like Fume Bistro which is nearby but more as a post port tasting break than for a pre-planned restaurant blow-out.

    The Lodge puts you very close to the Girl and the Fig and The General's Daughter (which is on my list for next time). I know you didn't care about the rooms, but the Lodge is a far nicer place to stay in my opinion, and one of the lovely features is that they will drop you off at your dinner destination and pick you up again so that neither of you needs to decline the after dinner drink, if you are so inclined.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Meredith

      I wasn't aware of the dinner drop off service -- I'm leaning towards Sonoma even though I'm also interested in trying Thomas Keller's temporary restaurant in Yountville, Ad hoc, which is closer to the napa location.

      Thanks for the tips.

      1. re: sfmags

        These are not un-doable driving distances. Go to Sonoma. It is the more charming town. The General's Daughter, girl and the fig, the new fig pantry, Vella Cheese, La Salette, The Cheeemaker's Daughter. It is what you imagine wine country to be. Napa ... meh. The drive from where you are staying to ad hoc is not that big a deal. And, you know, from what I'm reading about ad hoc, it doesn't personally appeal to me because it sounds like stuff I can pick up and put together from the great local farmers markets.

        1. re: rworange

          Oooh the girl and the fig and La Salette! Two of my favorites. I'm positively drooling over the memories of meals eaten there...

          I suppose everyone's got to do the Napa thing at some point, but to me, Sonoma is, as sfmags said, what many of us really imagine wine country to be. God knows I never imagined wine country to include outlet Napa manages to stay so snotty despite its commercialism is beyond me.

        2. re: sfmags

          It isn't really billed as a dinner drop-off, just that the shuttle will take you/pick you up anywhere near the square. I just remember it as the dinner shuttle - shows you where my priorities are.

      2. I love both, and you all have mentioned TWO great Sonoma restaurants, but I think Napa has more range. I am talking about just the City of, not the Valley. Angele, NV, Celadon, Zinsvalley, Bistro don Giovanni, Julia's Kitchen at Copia, Coles Chop House, and Zuzu just to name a FEW. The Bounty Hunter has a BBQ on Thurs to Sun nights with a beer can chicken that will knock your socks off. Pairing it with a flight of top notch Zins makes it Heaven. All of these restaurants are before you leave the City limits- nevermind the rest of the Valley, and all the great casual places , Red Rock and Taqueria Rosita anyone?

        1. Thanks for all the great input, chowhounds. We've decided to stay in Sonoma since we've never stayed there before and we stayed in Napa last year during the same time of year. I love napa but I'm looking forward to something different.

          Reservations so far are at girl and fig on Friday night and General's Daughter on Saturday night. I also want to try the fig pantry for lunch stuff, so I might skip girl & fig restaurant on Friday night and go somewhere totally different. we'll see.

          2 Replies
          1. re: sfmags

            The fig pantry is totally different from the girl and the fig, so I wouldn't pass up one for the other thinking it is a duplicate experience. La Salette makes some nice breakfast items. Nothing big deal, but a few crepes and some nice pastries from their wood-fired oven.


            1. re: rworange

              And, to complete the view of the Fig empire, check out Fig Cafe in Glen Ellen. No res's, local place, not expensive, free corkage.

          2. Skip the girl & the fig!?! I stayed @ The Lodge last year and had plans to eat @ 3 different restaurants (tg&tf, General's Daughter, and Della Santina). I enjoyed the girl & the fig so much that I ate there twice!

            1 Reply
            1. re: OCAnn

              Yeah, I'm a fan of the girl and the fig too, but don't quite share that enthusiasm. It can be great and it can be average. However, it is highly worth at least one visit.

            2. I like many of the Sonoma places mentioned -- also want to recommend El Dorado Kitchen, right on the plaza. Great space and atmosphere, and excellent food. I enjoyed it just as much as The Girl & The Fig and The General's Daughter (though all are very different, I hasten to add).