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Apr 24, 2008 06:31 PM

Sonoma County - Outdoor Dining and Patio recs

I've only recently returned to sonoma county and haven't had alot of opportunity to dine out because we have twin daughters.

We are looking to find some new places where we can take the girls out to lunch on a nice weekend like this one to eat outside. We've been to and love:

El Patio (Santa Rosa)
Willi's Wine Bar
Russian River Brewing
Taylor Refresher (St Helena)
The Red Grape (sonoma)
Bear Republic Brewing (Healdsburg)

Have also been to but haven't been impressed with:

Can anyone give any suggestions for things we may not have tried but should - any cuisine, any price but places where a kid can make a small amount of noise preferred.


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  1. Here's a few ideas for outdoor seating

    I haven't been to Rin's Thai yet, but hear it is good. Sunflower Cafe is supposed to be good too.

    1. Rin's Thai and La Salette both have nice outdoor seating. Between the two, La Salette has the advantage of having a shop nearby especially for kid's stuff (along that alleyway, tucked in the back). Both have great, lunchtime food.

      452 First Street East, Suite H, Sonoma, CA 95476

      Rin's Thai of Sonoma
      139 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

      1. Three things come to mind immediately for me: Willow Wood in Graton, the weekend Farmer's Markets (Santa Rosa and Healdsburg on Saturday, Sebastopol on Sunday), and a trip out to Bodega Head (with stops at Wild Flour bread for a giant sticky bun, scones, bread...and a stop at the Spud Point Crab Company for chowder/crab/fish sammiches to eat once you've hit the beach/coast).

        Willow Wood has a beautiful little patio in the back where the kid(s) can make a bit of noise if need be, and the food is scrumptious. The drive there can be pretty this time of year too, depending on where you are coming from.

        A drive out to the coast is a no brainer...gorgeous any time of year really (IMHO, heh), and as wonderous as the bread from Wild Flour is, something about the ocean air makes it even more delicious...especially paired with a big cup of chowder to dip the chunks of bread into.

        The Farmer's Market (I haven't been to Healdsburg yet, but visit Santa Rosa and Sebastopol often) is a great place for an early lunch...Santa Rosa's market is open til noon and there are lots of food dogs, a taco truck, oysters, pastries, indian food, the breakfasty/brunch options from Mateo Granados, etc. And depending on how old your girls are, it could be a good culinary learning experience for them. People watching is always fun too. Last week they had a "kids day" type thing going on, with a petting zoo and everything. Very kid friendly. Sebastopol's market runs a bit later than Santa Rosa...I think theirs is from 10-2ish...and is held in the small square downtown, so the kids can run around on the grass, and there is Screamin' Mimi's very nearby for after-lunch ice cream happiness.

        Spud Point Crab Company
        1860 Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay, CA 94923

        Screamin' Mimi's
        6902 Sebastopol Ave, Sebastopol, CA 95472

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

        Veterans Memorial Building & Community
        1351 Maple Ave, Santa Rosa, CA

        Wild Flour Bread
        140 Bohemian Hwy, Freestone, CA

        4 Replies
        1. re: chocolateninja

          Thanks for all of the suggestions. We gave the coastal loop a try today. It was a warm and sunny day so we headed out this morning via the Wildflour bakery. We purchased two loaves of bread - 1 loaf of country wheat - sour and 1 loaf of borguesse (with jack and chedder cheese, roasted garlic, rosemary and potato - for tomorrow) and had breakfast and coffee there. I had about 25% of a sticky bun which was perfectly cooked with ample amounts of raisins and walnuts The Taylor Maid farms coffee was a perfect compliment to the warm sticky bun. My wife had a strawberry, chocolate and ginger scone which was superb with fresh unsweetened strawberries and soft candied ginger. I had been to the wildflour a number of years ago and after this most recent visit, I'll be heading back more often.

          After a slow drive to the coast and some time trekking Hwy 1, we stopped in to the spud point crab company for lunch. We tried the crab cakes and chowder (with the bread from wildflour as recommended by chocolateninja). The chowder was rich but not too creamy with roasted garlic, very fresh tasting potatoes and a noticable thyme flavor. The clams were soft and not in the slightest bit fishy - great. The addition of the dense bread decisively put the experience to the top of my top 5 chowder list.

          The crab cakes were ok, soft and not fishy but not exciting either. I'm not sure they were worth the 9.95 price - as it took a healthy shake of tabasco to brighten them up. When I go back, it will be chowder ony for us.

          We then drove down Hwy 1 toward point reyes station. After a few stops and a stoll along the shops there, we visited the Cowgirl creamy to try some cheese and my wife had an ice cream. A nice looking shop but I wasn't impressed with the ice cream - vanilla bean fully textured but not memorable.

          We were well beyond stuffed after the trip, so there was no more room for any other food stops. However, the patio at The Station House looked fantastic and the place was quite busy for 3:30 in the afternoon. Can anyone tell me more about that place? is it worth a try in the future?

          Thanks for all the recs folks!

            1. re: voitage

              I found out about Spud Point seafood kind of randomly, since I hadn't planned on being around Bodega Bay, but I zeroed in on it looking at a listing of some seafood places from Jenner down to Bodega Bay, and made a beeline. Since I didn't have a computer handy, I didn't check CH until afterwards. Loved the chowder, and the crab sandwich was pretty phenomenal. I was just in southern Connecticut doing a lobster roll tasting trip (you can find my report on the Tri-state board), and I have to say that I'm a crab fan over lobsters any day, and this was a treat. I was also eating at Swan Oyster Depot a couple days before, and I even wondered why there wasn't a crab version of the lobster roll offered at many places (I haven't looked very hard, actually). Here are some photos.

            2. re: chocolateninja

              I miss Screamin' Mimi's so bad we had to get an ice cream maker and make our own since no one down here in San Diego County can compare.

            3. Just thought of two more places...both in Petaluma.

              Dempsey's has a nice patio out front with a nice view of the waterfront...nice selection of beer for the grownups, and housemade rootbeer for the kids. Great burgers, fries and homemade bread&butter pickles (and these onion string type things with chipotle ketchup...yum), among other things. Haven't had a bad meal there yet. You can take a nice stroll along the river's edge afterwards to digest.

              Also in Petaluma, a newish place, near the new theatre, the Walnut Park Grill. It's a walk-up type place, no inside can eat at the counter or tables out front, or grab food to go and walk across the street to the park (park has a kids playground area). They have burgers, hot dogs (all Nieman Ranch products), corn dogs that are hand dipped on the premises, sweet potato fries, shakes, salads, etc. I've eaten there twice now...had a corn dog (tasty...good batter consistency) and a cheeseburger (they got the caramelized onions down pretty good, need to remember to ask them for the meat medium rare next time though) with sweet potato fries (yum).

              Dempsey's Restaurant & Brewery
              50 E Washington St, Petaluma, CA 94952

              Walnut Park Grill
              310 D St, Petaluma, CA 94952

              1. Not outdoor dining, but very family-friendly is the Black Bear Diner in Sonoma, a couple blocks from the square. This is my go-to place for cheap and charming diner fare.

                Chiliburger, chicken pot pie, banana split anyone?