Am I Forgetting Anything in Sonoma?
Hey, so I get so wrapped up in what I *normally* do that I may be overlooking some things.
After a day of hardcore wine tasting in Sonoma I always go to Zazu. I've also been to The Girl and the Fig and The Fig Cafe with good results. (And other restaurants, too, such as Farmhouse Inn, but that was for a dfferent purpose.) Anyway, I'm looking for something in Healdsburg or south, not too far off the road (will make a significant detour, but within reason -- I don't want to drive to Napa nor to the water) and very casual but with good food. The non-drivers in the car are sure to be a little tipsy, this is about good food in a casual setting like Zazu, we're just willing to try out somewhere else if there is a place we don't know about. Appetizers up to the low teens, main courses up to the mid twenties is fine.
If you can think of anywhere...
If you're going to be in Healdsburg, you could go to Zazu's sister Bovolo. It's more casual, but could be fun. Other places on my list are Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa, and a few places in Sebastopol, but that might be too much of a detour (Cafe Saint Rose has good reviews but a very small menu).
In Sonoma, I also like Cafe La Haye and El Dorado Kitchen.
Just below Healdsburg is Winsor, and my favorite, Mirepoix...same menu for lunch and dinner...very reasonable for excellent food.
I was going to suggest Willi's Wine Bar also. In Healdsburg, I really like Ravenous. I think it would be exactly what you are looking for. It's very casual yet the service is excellent and friendly. The food is excellent and creative, and I think it may come in under your budget! Are you interested in good, less expensive ethnic or would you like to keep to places in the style of those you mention? 'Cuz there are several good, much more casual, places close to the highway in Santa Rosa and Cotati.
Go to the original Willy's Wine Bar on the Old Redwood Hwy. It has a huge menu of small dishes and there is something to please everyone. They have local wines and friendly service. It's just off HWY 101 north of Santa Rosa. 4404 Old Redwood Hwy. 707 526-3096.
Good gravy! There are so many --- just search for Petaluma, Cotati, Graton, Rohnert Park, Glen Ellen, Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Forestville, Geyserville (10 mins north of H'burg), Healdsburg, Occidental, Windsor, and every other little town in Sonoma County and you'll find hundreds of reports on good, casual spots. Mostly it depends on what your route home will be. No need to drive to Napa, there's so much more available in Sonoma County.
There's so much meat in the archives. As good as the suggestions above are, doing some research on your own instead of relying just on who happens to chime in on an individual thread will produce a wealth of info past and present. The Places database currently has 667 spots tagged with Sonoma County as a neighborhood, of those 160 are wineries. The rest are mostly restaurants, plus farms, cheesemakers, breweries, markets, and other places to find deliciousness.
Ravenous in healdsburg has a great casual atmosphere including an nice outdoor patio; the food is tasty, fresh and creative with some good veggie options. Bistro Ralph on the square is a bit more upscale but still very comfortable.