Need Recs for my foodie parents travelling for a week in Sonoma
Hi Wine Country Chowhounders,
My parents are going to be vacationing in Sonoma and are looking for some good dining recs. They'd like a few bistro-style suggestions and a couple of splurge suggestions, ideally. They'll have a car, so travelling about an hour max from where they are staying -- Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn. They'll be there mid-May for 7 days. I'd really appreciate any suggestions that I can pass on to them. Cheers from BC Wine Country! Jennifer
If your parents decide to take at trip to the Sonoma Coast State Beach area (which I highly recommend to anyone visiting the Sonoma county area...it's just gorgeous, especially this time of the year) they should stop at the new Cafe St. Rose location (off of Hwy 12/Bodega Hwy, in the building that used to house Two Crows Roadhouse). Focus is on local ingredients (I think the chef shops at the local farmers markets at least twice a week), menu is prix fix (usually around $30 I think, without wine) and changes daily. Food is scrumptious and beautifully presented. Ambiance is relaxing, and not too fancypants,...I'm coining the term "quirky casual" for it, *gryn*. By the time your parents are here, Cafe St. Rose should be up and running in their new location. (They moved from their old spot in downtown Santa Rosa.)
It's not a restaurant, but if they do take a trip to the coast, they can't miss a stop at Wild Flour Bread, in Freestone. Amazing, drool-worthy bread (and scones and sticky buns the size of your head!) from a wood-fired brick oven. I feel like there is something unique to their bread that you don't get from other bakeries in the area...as lovely as they are.
Also, in the West County area, and well worth the trip from the town of Sonoma, IMOHO, would be Willow Wood in Graton for their addicting breakfast/brunch selections, (their "Monte Cristo", which is french toast made with challah bread, filled with Black Forest Ham and Jarlsberg cheese, with real maple syrup, is something I have drool-filled dreams about) and across the street, Underwood Bar and Bistro for a bit more fancy dinner fare (and I've heard their bar has a pretty good selection of spirits). I'd put Underwood between bistro and splurge, but it really depends on your definitions of what each costs. (: Both places make a great start and end to a trip out to the coastal areas of Sonoma county.
In the town of Sonoma itself, I've never gone wrong with Thai food from Rin's, which is in a cute house just off of the square.
More info on all these places can be found if you click on the place links below, including links to websites, etc. (: Hope this helps!
Underwood Bar & Bistro
9113 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444
Willow Wood Market Cafe
9020 Graton Rd, Graton, CA 95444
Cafe Saint Rose
9890 Bodega Hwy, Sebastopol, CA 95472
Wild Flour Bread
140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA
Rin's Thai of Sonoma
139 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476
I second the recommendation of Nick's Cove. For out of towners as well as locals, the location on Tomales Bay is unique. You can see your oysters growing in the beds near Hog Island. Also, the road from Petaluma to Marshall makes you forget you're so close to SF -- very rural.
For me, I like to reserve for lunch at 11:30 which assures you'll be at or near the window. Service is fine because you're the first one there. Start with a dozen oysters, a comparative bargain at $20 and incomparably fresh. Then, a crab louis showcasing local crab on bibb lettuce. For wine, I go with a simple, crisp Muscadet -- perfect with oysters.
For the return to Petaluma, I drive via Point Reyes Station so as to see the town and pick up cheese at Cowgirl and beef at SunMarin.
A perfect chowhound afternoon.
Wow, thanks all. Chowhounders are amazing. I wish this had been around when I was first in San Francisco in my early 20s. Can you believe we had 1 great meal out of two weeks of eating...just because we didn't know where to go and had no "insiders" information. Thank goodness those days are GONE thanks to Chowhounders. I look forward to living vicariously through their meals and I'll post a recap when they return. Cheers all.
(But that doesn't mean that you need to stop posting new recs!! They still have a month before they leave:)
I like Harvest Moon on the plaza in Sonoma - more a California style cuisine but in a small casual bistro setting. Need to reserve as it's small
Cyrus in healsburg is a good choice for a splurge and it's nto too far a drive over the Oakville grade to get to Yountville or St helena, though the road is very twisty, probably takes about 30min from their hotel
I always love Bistro Jeanty for real french bistro food
I second choice of La Salette in Sonoma for nice meal espp their grilled sardines if you like sardines
There are some really great restaurants in and around Sonoma, here are a couple off the top of my head.
In and around downtown Sonoma square:
There is always the Girl and the Fig, probably lots of posts related to people’s experience. It is a bistro with lots of activity; it sits right on a very busy corner. I personally find it a zoo during peak hours but the food has always been good. http://www.thegirlandthefig.com/html-sonoma/index.html
The General’s Daughter is between the Fairmont and downtown. It is more intimate than the Girl and the Fig bistro atmosphere, a beautiful old house with a lovely patio. It is more expensive than Girl and the Fig and it is american comfort food. http://www.thegeneralsdaughter.com/index.php
La Salette is right off the Sonoma square in a small but cute space with an outdoor patio. They specialize in seafood and Portuguese Cuisine. I have been there several times and have always had good food, service and unique wines.
To the west of Sonoma:
I love Zazu, it is a funky roadhouse style restaurant with amazing northern Italian inspired food. It is run by a young husband/wife team who are obsessed with food. They are receiving lots of positive media attention and deserve every bit of it. FYI- it can be noisy during peak hours.
One of my favorites is Nick’s Cove on the coast. It is probably an hour drive from the Fairmont but on a clear day, the view and setting is unbelievable. It is a casual place and the food is good, my only complaint is the service is not consistent. Given that, I still love to go and take my chances b/c you can’t beat the view of Tamales Bay. I usually try to get there at the end of lunch or for an early dinner to improve my odds of getting good service. They also have a wildly popular patio but it feels up quickly. http://www.nickscove.com/
Another favorite for a splurge is Farmhouse Restaurant on the Russian river. A fabulous French/California inspired menu and a wonderful sommelier. They have a large selection of wines by the glass selection with old world wines (unusual in California wine country). It is more elegant than the others and it feels like a special treat to have dinner in their dining room.
There are many others but these are the ones I always go back to. Hope it helps. Kelley
re: Robert Lauriston
I know it has pros and cons. I’m not saying it scores perfectly in all areas. I’ve posted my complaints before but the view and setting are outstanding. The food is simple and fresh. It isn’t anything more than you’d get at a good SF restaurant but it is better food and a larger selection than you get at any other bayside restaurant on the northern Marin or Sonoma coast. Unless somebody knows of a place that I don’t? The inconsistent service is my biggest peeve but sometimes it is good. I drive an hour to get there and try to go once a month, I like the adventure and experience of sharing good food while enjoying the spectacular view. IMHO, the pros outweigh the cons.
Seaweed Cafe's food is fabulous, as good as the best in SF.
I wouldn't call Nick's Cove's menu a large selection: oysters, seven appetizers, seven entrees. Not that there's anything wrong with that in principle, it's better to do a few dishes well than a lot of dishes badly.
1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923
23240 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 95450