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Jun 6, 2007 11:45 AM

Breakfast in Santa Rosa - early Saturday

Can anyone recommend a good breakfast place in the Santa Rosa area (within 20 mins north or south).

I did a search and found a few threads, this more recent one was pretty helpful:

but it'd be great to know if anyone can help me figure out which place would be best for:

A) Vegetarian breakfasts (maybe w/ a side of bacon) - but mainly eggs/pancakes/waffle type deal....homemade breads would be great. I'd particularly be interested in waffles or good omelettes.

B) Quickness. We'll be traveling and would like to be in and out in an hour or so.

C) Open early. We're hoping to eat at 8 AM.

D) Close to the 101. Again, hoping to make a fast stop.

E) Great food.

Thanks a lot, I'd appreciate any advice,

Dave MP

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  1. Not a lot of great American breakfasts in Santa Rosa, I would recommend:

    > Omelette Express (Railroad Square)
    > Hank's Creekside (Farmer's Lane & Sonoma Hwy)

    Both are solid... but neither is all that exciting. I've heard good things about a place in Petaluma.... Melanie would probably know.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Eat_Nopal

      Are you implying that there are good non-American breakfasts in Santa Rosa?

      If so, I'd be interested in those too.

      Also, that'd be great to find out about the place in Petaluma.

      1. re: Dave MP

        SR doesn't seem to be into hearty breakfasts... but I have enjoyed light breakfasts at the Croissant place on Chanate Rd near Mendocino, I am crazy for some of the donuts at Tam's (in the same shopping center as Oliver's), and Michelle Marie's usually has some decent Patisserie etc.,

    2. Parkside Cafe
      404 Santa Rosa Ave.
      Santa Rosa

      This place is small, so go early. Had a fantastic breakfast there--Chef cares---the eggs were perfect, bacon delicious and he was just pulling some sticky buns out of the oven (--open kitchen and there seems to always be one or two baked specials) which were fantastic. Try it out.

      5 Replies
      1. re: christinet

        Sounds like a good option! Thanks! I just called and they open at 7 AM every day.

        Dave MP

        1. re: Dave MP

          Also, easy to reach---take Santa Rosa Ave turn off from freeway---proceed north towards town--past Willie Bird Restaurant and just before town of Santa Rosa/Luther Burbank Gardens you will see the Parkside Cafe on right. There is small parking lot in front which is good---neighborhood a bit dicey, but Cafe couldn't be more immaculate or cuter! I was thrilled to find this spot. ENJOY.

        2. re: christinet

          Hey christinet, LTNS! I tried Parkside for the first time since the changeover on Memorial Day and I'm not sure what to think. Service was good, and when I couldn't decide what kind of hot sauce I wanted, my server brought me all of them.

          I ordered the chicken fried steak, which is one of the highest priced items on the menu. Knowing Mark's rep, I didn't do my usual inquisition about how it's prepped. Big mistake, as this turned out to be grayish, dry, ground meat patty instead of a pounded steak with breading. I would have been better off ordering a hamburger that could have been cooked to my liking. I asked for my hash browns "crispy", and while the golden brown photo looks like they should be good, they were strangely tough. I could not cut them with a fork! And after hacking at them a few times with a knife, I gave up. Gravy was pretty good, and my eggs were indeed cooked just the way I asked. Strawberry on the plate was sweet and ripe.

          Image of chicken fried steak breakfast -

          Oh, the "fresh" orange juice isn't frozen, but not what I'd call fresh, meaning fresh squeezed. I can't believe they don't squeeze their own here or at least be clear on the menu what it is.

          I think I might go back since I like Mark's cooking, but maybe not for breakfast standards.

          1. re: Melanie Wong

            This post was really timely because my husband and I had to be in Santa Rosa before 8AM yesterday to drop off my stepson at some more precollege testing. With several hours to kill, we decided breakfast was the best way to start the day and after a little debate headed to Parkside. We started with Grandma's Dierk's Pullapart, which is a fried lump of dough sprinkled heavily with cinnamon and sugar. It was steaming hot so we broke it apart to cool a bit and then dove in. It's described as a donut without a hole, but it's a bit more rustic and homey - think comfort food - than a donut. Made for dunking in coffee, even if you don't drink coffee. We quite liked it. The coffee was just better than average but nothing exceptional.
            I had the biscuits and gravy, with two eggs over easy. They nailed the eggs. The biscuits were light and a bit crumbly in texture, split and toasted. The gravy was delicious but not traditional sausage milk gravy. Instead it was brown with pan drippings and had a hint of rosemary and maybe some thyme, and wasn't pastey. I liked it very much. The hashbrowns were seasoned, which was nice, but a bit tough (though not as tough as yours Melanie).
            My husband had the huevos rancheros. The base was a quesadilla with La Tortilla Factory tortillas, topped with black beans that were firm and not mushy, salsa fresca and cotija. They nailed his over easy eggs as well. It was hearty and not too cluttered with all the things that *can* end up on huevos rancheros.
            Our server was adorable and mostly on top of things except for my eternally thirsty husband's ever empy water glass. I chatted quite a bit with Karen, who must be Mark's wife, and she was very friendly and concerned about her employees and her guests. We were stuffed when we left but longingly eyed the sticky buns and cookies on our way out. I'd go back again if I was in Santa Rosa that early ever again, but I'd ask for fruit instead of potatoes.

            1. re: Ruby Louise

              Thanks much for giving it a go. I'm hankering for the biscuits now. I'm an "over easy" egg person too, and I'm glad to hear the kitchen's consistent in this area, a rare thing.

        3. Parkside cafe ICK
          Omlette Express is great, and right off the 101 in Railroad Square
          Hank's Creekside is really really really good, but always packed in the morning and you will probably have to wait.

          19 Replies
          1. re: fyoulady

            By ICK do you mean that you don't like it? Why not?

            1. re: fyoulady

              Omlette Express & Hank's are just average at best in comparison to L.A. or S.F.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                My favorite breakfast place so far in SR has to be Hank's Creekside. I may be whacked out but I think I can taste when there is care involved in the preparation of food. At Hank's I can taste that care bit of soul and attention and in my opinon Omelette express is basically a feeding trough in comparison. Dish out the $11 (!) and we'll sure as heck throw food at you.

                I was seriously dissapointed by Omelette Express - what's with the huge portions? I felt like it was a breakfast version of Claim Jumpers. The omelette I had there was just a huge mass of egg - it had no finesse to it. Though their homefries are certainly better than the steamed red potatoes served at Hanks - they are not better than Hanks hash browns.

                By the way - you can ask for their "dark" roast at Hank's -which is better than the automatic light roast.

                They'll be on the food network on the 18th according to the waitress.

                1. re: kare_raisu

                  Hank's Creekside looks the best out of all the menus I've looked at. Do you guys think it would really be packed at 8 am on a Saturday? (i.e. so packed there'd be a wait for a table for 4?)

                  Also, how are their blintzes?

                  Dave MP

                  1. re: Dave MP

                    I think you will be fine at that hour -any later no way. I have not tried thier blintzes or seen them - maybe next time.

                      1. re: fyoulady

                        At 8 AM it never seems to be much more than 5 minutes.

                      2. re: Dave MP

                        Hank's biscuits are very good, but other than that, I wouldn't recommend it.


                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          Re: Bob's Roadhouse Grill -- is it in Sebastapol or in Windsor?

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Dave MP

                            Sorry, Rob's Roadhouse Grill closed a while ago, to much lamentations here.

                            Would also suggest Marvin's in Cotati,

                            But for more of a Sonoma wine country feeling, why not head up to Healdsburg? Can't promise you omelets, but the truffled eggs that Cynsa described at the Downtown Bakery sounded mighty fine, or you could try the breakfast offerings at Bovolo.
                            Both are set up for counter ordering and fast service. Note that Bovolo doesn't open until 9am, but remember that you'll be 25 minutes further north than Santa Rosa.

                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                              I really like Healdsburg, and it'd be great to make it there. We're planning to leave SF as early as possible to head north, so this "breakfast out" is a reward for the early rise on a's just a question of whether I am capable of making it all the way to Healdsburg before eating (and drinking coffee!) :)

                              1. re: Dave MP

                                Well, if you can hold out, I'd suggest making the Flying Goat your first stop in Healdsburg for coffee. Then you can fan out and pick the breakfast of your choice: Bovolo, Downtown Bakery, or head over to the farmers market and see what Mateo Granados is cooking.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Ooooh, farmer's market is a good idea. Are there several places to get breakfast at the Healdsburg farmer's market? What is Mateo Granados like?

                                  Dave MP

                                  1. re: Dave MP

                                    Found this thread:


                                    Banana leaf tamales sound amazing. Is this stand still there? This is a definite possibility...

                                    1. re: Dave MP

                                      You're a minute ahead of me!

                                      The advantage of Healdsburg is that the farmers market, Bovolo, Downtown, and Flying Goat are within a three-block radius so easy to check out all of them to see what suits you. Good to stretch your legs too.

                                      And per my other posts, Granados has a website so you can contact him to see what he'll be serving. The price of the tamales has gone up since that initial post.

                                    2. re: Dave MP

                                      The Healdsburg farmers market opening bell is 9am. I haven't been yet this season so can't say who's there or not.

                                      Here's the reference post for Chef Mateo Granados,
                                      and this one from Eat Nopal,

                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                        FYI... I plan to hit the SR Saturday farmer's market to get some of Mateo's tamales & search for other food. Will report back if I find anything compelling.

                                        Wait now that I think about it... does Mateo have multiple stands because I know I caught a glimpse of his at the Santa Rosa market last Saturday. Anyway... that might also be an option for you... as there other stands with speacialty coffees, pastries, chilaquiles, bbq oysters etc.,

                                        From the 101... take the 12 West take the exit before Farmer's Lane (where 12 ends momentarily)... and the Veteran's building is on your left.

                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                          Terrific, he might have more than one. Fwiw, a morning at the SR farmers market would be a good outing for the local chowhounds.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            From Hwy 101, take Hwy 12 EAST (towards Sonoma) and take the Brookwood Exit, turn left, and left again at the light. At this point you will see the Vet's Building to your left.
                                            I think you can get in and out quickly (if you don't get caught by too many interesting sights, smells, tastes) and also get the chance to enjoy H'burg's market.

                    1. I'll chime for Rohnert Park/Cotati, about 15 minutes south of Santa Rosa. Just off the highway at 8440 Old Redwood Highway in Cotati (East Cotati/West Sierra exit if you are travelling north on 101, Highway 116 exit if you are travelling south) is the Redwood Cafe. Lots of vegetarian options, almost everything that is made with eggs can also be ordered with tofu or seitan, but they also have meat. Everything is very fresh - they squeeze the juice to order. On weekends there is an expanded brunch menu with some very nice variations on benedict. Or, in Rohnert Park, there is North Light Books and Cafe (in the Oliver's center on East Cotati), which is my first choice for breakfast in the neighborhood. The menu isn't very big, but there are also many vegetarian options here. Whenever possible, they use local organic produce. The bookstore is fun to browse, too. Either of these would be within five minutes, at the most, of a freeway offramp.

                      1. Della Fattoria in Petaluma on Petaluma Blvd in the main part of town is great and they have egg etc breakfasts, with their great breads. Good espresso. They open at 7, I think. Certainly they are open by 8. The Water Stree Bistro also serves breakfast but not so much eggs etc, mostly pastries and maybe a quiche. Great waffles, I hear.

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: zenki

                          Petaluma is a great suggestion. My favorite breakfast spots are there, which you've named, and I'll also add Hallie's Diner.

                          1. re: zenki

                            I'm a big big fan of Della Fattoria--fab food, great service, friendly everything, but there are lots of times DF won't work for a quickie. If you get in line behind a couple of indecisives or a couple of regulars, you're in for a wait. So keep that in mind and get your espresso/baked goods to go if the line ahead of you moves slowly. (I'm a cheapskate and a reasonably good cook, so I mostly search out great ingredients to cook at home, but Della Fattoria's an exception because the food is soooooo good.) Just thought you ought to be warned since it sounds like you're on a road-trip mission.