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Aug 3, 2007 10:29 AM

Guerneville weekend - tips?

hello all,

My boyfriend and are spending the weekend in Guerneville next weekend to explore. Neither of us have been in the area, although we have explored Healdsburg wineries some. (We are Zinfadel, Cabernet, Merlot drinkers; haven't found a Syrah we really like).

We'll be having dinner at Zazu Friday night.

Other than that, any tips for:

1) Another good dinner? I know Healdsburg has lots of great restaurants, but if something interesting outside of there, I'd love to hear about it. Otherwise, will search there.

2) Lunch stops?

3) Good coffee stop?

4) Interesting or "must try"s while we're there? Favorite wineries? I did find a good website on here to help us.

thanks for any ideas!!

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  1. I haven't been in a few years, but the last time I was in Guerneville I went and got a taco at the truck parked in the Safeway parking lot... went back an hour later and had 2 more... then went back an hour after that and had 3 more. I remember all of them being amazing, but the lengua was especially fantastic.

    Haven't seen any recent reports, so I don't know if it's still as good - but it's not much of an investment in terms of time/money/calories/stomach space, so definitely worth checking out. And please report back!

    3 Replies
    1. re: daveena

      At our paella chowdown in neighboring Occidental last friday, , I asked Guerneville resident, ellenm, about the truck. It's been a few years since I was last there too. She still recommends it highly.

      1. re: daveena

        Yes, that's La Tapatia. They now have a restaurant too, although it doesn't seem as good as the truck. Agreed; the lengua is great. For those who don't do the tongue thing, the al pastor is good as well.

        1. re: Hunicsz

          I've heard that the truck and restaurant are divorced now.

      2. Definately go to The RRR Resort That's Russion River Resort The Food is excellent! The pool is a great place to relax and have livations! Scott the owner is a gracious host and the servers are wonderful, curtious, and efficient in there restaurant .Very classy! The mermaid gives it 4 stars Cheers

        1. We stayed up there for a few days on July 4th, and after strolling the town our chow tastebuds weren't tantalized by anything; that said, we didn't go by the RRR so that could be an option as thecaliforniamermaid reports below.

          We ended up having lunch at the Willowwood Cafe in Graton and liked it so much we went there for lunch the next day. It's a bit out of town, but if you're headed for wine country it's not too far out of the way. We also had dinner at the Underwood Bistro run by the same people across the way; all the meals were pretty good. We didn't get points for adventure, but we were already throwing caution to the wind with some of the wineries we were stopping at and wanted to ensure some average chow quality to the trip!

          Another evening we ate at the Farmhouse Inn, which is far more upscale and a bit closer to Guerneville; the highlight for the night was the sommelier, who understood us perfectly when we asked for a dry low alcohol Riesling to give our palates a break after the berry bomb zinfandels we'd mistakenly subjected our mouths to all day long. The Riesling was well aged, very reasonable, and so delicious that it cried out for the Foie Gras on the menu which we hadn't already ordered but did in a hot second. Berkshire pork medallions were wonderful, the softshell crab (now out of season) was good but should have been better, and composed salads with local halibut/tuna were good but also should have been better. The chef has a source in Maryland for the softshell crab, a dairy farmer with a side business in crabs who ships them overnight to the restaurant.

          1. That's my neighborhood! Although Willowwood Cafe in Graton is good, I don't think there is really any reason to leave the Guerneville area (in which I'd include Guerneville, Monte Rio and Occidental) to get great chow. Among fairly high-end places, I've reported in detail on my incredible meal at Farmhouse Inn in June, I would say that you absolutely can't go wrong there. Another upscale choice right in Guerneville is Applewood Inn. I last ate there about a year ago, and I had the best duck breast I have ever had, and the blood orange creme brulee was amazing. Menu changes seasonally, so I don't know what I'd recommend right now, but I'm sure it will be good.

            I also reported recently on my birthday dinner at Bistro des Copains in Occidental. It's much more casual than Farmhouse Inn or Applewood, but the food was very good especially at the price, the oysters are fresh and delicious, and the atmosphere and service are friendly and warm.

            For inexpensive to moderate chow in the area, in Guerneville, I like the Garden Grill on Hwy 116 for salads and sandwiches. It's simple food, but good quality. In Monte Rio, you really have to check out Cafe des Jumelles, also on Hwy 116. Service is very friendly but sometimes a bit haphazard (although I recommended it to friends recently and they said the service was spot on for them) but the food is really something. The cook is really a chef, with experience at some of Sonoma County's best restaurants, who wanted to start his own place on a smaller scale. You can get burgers, sandwiches and such, but watch for the specials and the more interesting menu items - you will be surprised by what good food you can get there! They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner; I'd recommend it for any of those.

            I really like the Village Inn, in Monte Rio on River Blvd for music and appetizers on Sunday afternoon. This is not destination food by any means, but it's good, not too expensive, the setting is absolutely lovely, and the music is usually very good too.

            I had a burrito just recently at the taco truck in the Safeway parking lot, and found it completely bland and uninteresting, but I may well have chosen too conservatively.

            A very fun wine and cheese shop is Sophie's Cellars on Hwy 116 in Monte Rio. Get John talking about wine or David about cheese, and you will learn a great deal about what is good, local, and relatively unknown outside this area.

            As you can see, I do like to go on and on about my neighborhood, but I'll just add one more. For a quirky, completely local experience, try Jonathan's on Hwy 116. Again, this is not by any means destination food (although if lobster is the special, I do consider that destination worthy!) but it's really old school Russian River. The floor slants, the waitresses call you "hon", if you order wine the glass is filled to the brim (I know, I know, but you see they want to give you your money's worth) and it's just such a local hang-out! OK, I'll stop, but please do report back! I always watch for news of places close to my home.

            3 Replies
            1. re: Kathleen M

              Cafe les Jumelles sounds like something that the River area has needed for a long time, can't wait to try it. Could you say more about the type of food at Jonathan's? And, I've heard that Applewood Inn has a reduced price "locals" menu, but I don't see anything about it on its website. If you learn more about it, please let us know!

              Edited to add: Sophie's has a short list of local restaurants on its site, , that allow you to bring in one bottle purchased from the shop with no corkage fee.

              Underwood Bar & Bistro
              9113 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444

              Willow Wood Market Cafe
              9020 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444

              Farmhouse Inn
              7871 River Rd, Forestville, CA 95436

              Bistrot Des Copains - duplicate
              Bohemian Hwy, Occidental, CA 95465

              Applewood Inn & Restaurant
              13555 HWY 116, Guerneville, CA 95446

              Les Jumelles
              15025 River Rd., Guerneville, CA 95446

              Village Inn
              20822 River Boulevard, Monte Rio, CA 95462

              Sophie's Cellars
              20293 Bohemian Hwy, Monte Rio, CA 95462

              Jonathan's Grill
              Hwy-116 Ext, Forestville, CA 95436

              1. re: Melanie Wong

                I am so excited. Thank you for all the info, and I will definitely report back!

                This no corkage option is a treat!

                1. re: rln

                  You might want to confirm with the restaurant of your choice about this corkage policy. Some times things don't always work out the way they should. I just scanned the shop's stock of local Pinot Noir and you have many fine bottles to choose from that would be lovely with just about any meal.

            2. if you like beer and bbq, try Stumptown Brewery. They have a huge deck overlooking the russian river and excellent beers on tap (they brew their own -Rat Bastard Ale). They also have great tunes on the jukebox.

              1 Reply