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In Healdsburg for several days - food/wine recs?

We're more familiar with Napa Valley but have decided to shake things up and stay in Healdsburg right after Christmas.

I'd love some guidance on food and wineries.

1. For food, we're looking for something close (within 15 minutes of Healdsburg), but we'll drive even those windy dark roads for great food. Based on research here, this is what we're thinking of for food:

lunches - Bovolo, Mayo Family Vineyard Reserve Tasting Room
dinners - Dry Creek Kitchen, Barn Diva, and/or Santi
snack - The Cheese Shop

I'm very sad that Cyrus appears to be closed when we're there. Any good substitutes or other suggestions for dinner or lunch?

2. Re wineries, we've been around Dry Creek and enjoyed it, but we're not major Zin fans, so we may have exhausted that AVA. Husband leans towards Pinot, I lean towards Cabs & Meritages, and we both like sparking wine. What are our best bets for regions? (We're willing to drive further during the day than in the evening.)

Thanks much!

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  1. Your lunch suggestions are spot on. For dinner, I would avoid Dry Creek Kitchen like the plague, preferring Barn Diva, Charcouterie, or Farm House Inn.

    While it IS Zin country, all the wineries produce additional blends and I would put Selby on your list (great Pinot, Chard, and Syrah). It is right next to Barn Diva.

    1. Ramey is located in downtown Healdsburg and they have some really fabulous (although not cheap!) meritage blends.

      The Pinots in this area tend to be very big and almost Syrah-like. If you like that style, Russian Hill might be a good spot for you to visit.

      Siduri, also nearby, makes a lot of different Pinots -- you may want to drop in on them too.

      Willi's Seafood, on the main drag, is also a great lunch spot. The crabcakes and lobster roll are fantastic.

      1. Excellent suggestions--thanks so much! We're taking Dry Creek Kitchen off the list and will add in Charcouterie and/or Farm House Inn. And sounds like we'll be visiting Selby, Ramey, and Siduri.

        Any thoughts about good wineries in Alexander Valley AVA? I heard they might have some nice meritages and cabs. We're looking for delicious wine, probably under $40 a bottle on average, nice and largely unpretentious owners/pourers. We're happy to go off the beaten track.

        Is there any incredible food for one splurgish night within 30 minutes or so? We prefer to keep it to $200 or less for two people for three-ish courses, 1/2 bottle wine. We were hoping Cyrus would fit the bill, but our timing is bad.

        1. up dry creek rd. Some of our favs are: Amista Vineyards, Unti, Yoakim Bridge (all of these have great alternatives to the Zins)

          or into Alexander valley one of our all time favs is Stryker Sonoma.

          (also Santi is fantasic)

          1. In addition to the places mentioned, I would also check out Ravenous for dinner and Cena Luna, a great elegant Italian spot.

            Stryker Sonoma is good in the Alexander Valley as is Alexander Valley Vineyards. Their tasting room staff are always friendly (something you can't always say at other wineries) and their wines are very affordable

            2 Replies
            1. re: m29

              Madrona Manor for the upscale dinner.
              Zin for a very good dinner/lunch. The man makes his own ketchup...hear hear.

              Pinot: Rochioli, Lynmar, Arista
              Cab: Lancaster
              Zin: Bella, Talty
              I can't remember the riesling guy, but it was very good.

              1. re: Food Tyrant

                May I add one casual place to this list--- Sake-O is a "take" on Japanese food. It is a local place off the square. I can't remeber the name of the dish we had- appetizer- there was prawns served with chili aoili in a martini glass yummy. All fish fresh and so tasty.

            2. Thanks for all the great tips.

              I think we have our restaurant options set except for dinner. We're going to Santi one night, but I'm dithering between Farmhouse Inn, Madrona Manor, and Mirepoix for the second night. While we like a nice ambiance, our primary focus during an expensive dinner is the food. Value is also important--I've spent $100 per person and thought it totally worth it, although it's always nice to get $100 pp food at $50-75. ;-) On the other hand, I can't stand spending $75 PP for food that's ho hum or worse, mediocre. Any thoughts about which restaurant might best fit the bill?

              Re wineries, it's a bad time of year to go for some of the smaller wineries--right after the holidays, but I think we'll be able to catch some of them. We're thinking of driving up through Sonoma to hit the Mayo Family and some wineries around Kenwood on the first day, then spend the following day and a half near Healdsburg, through the Alexander Loop and Westside Road wineries (plus some Dry Creek if we can fit them in, although that may be optimistic).

              I can't wait!!!

              1 Reply
              1. re: gracie92108

                Farmhouse Inn, no question, for dinner. Elegant, exquisite, run by a few folks very knowledgeable about food and wine. Here's the 2003 review from the San Francisco Chronicle, and a few updated short reviews:
                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...
                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/listing...

                And, there were several fantastic threads this summer on Healdsburg with lots of info.
                Suggest you read them:
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/415833
                http://www.chowhound.com/topics/386481

              2. Farmhouse is definitely good, but the chairs aren't comforatable and it is a 30 minute drive from Healdsburg. My personal favorite for upscale in Healdsburg is Madrona Manor. Similar quality cuisine to Farmhouse, but more romantic, and the chairs are more comfy. Both are Michelin rated at one star, whereas Cyrus is two stars. You can dine at both Farmhouse and Madrona Manor for less than 100 per person.

                1. Here is Melanie Wong's write-up of Farmhouse Inn from her meal there on Monday night...

                  http://www.chowhound.com/topics/45400