Eat Nopal's Santa Rosa+ Summary
As my final week in Northern California draws near I thought I would summarize my favorite Chow spots in Wine Country... adding to the thread over the next few days.
I love your reports, reviews and your depth of knowledge but you'rrre reminding me of Harry Lauder.* We will miss you. Aloha.
*And if Lauder created the pattern for every subsequent pop star to follow, he also came up with the perfect way to end it: by degrees. Did you think Sinatra invented the farewell tour? Think again. Sir Harry teased his public with a series of Farewell Tours before finally throwing in his tartan towel in 1935.
But even then he could always be lured out for a final, not to be repeated, last public appearance.
Outstanding Cheap Eats - $
> Ethiopian food fairly comparable to places in L.A's Little Africa neighborhood. The $19 Vegetarian Set for two is an unparalleled deal here in Wine Country.
> The Shiro (Garbanzo puree) & the Collard Greens are simply outstanding.
Antojitos La Mixteca (Napa)
> Excellent Oaxacan Mixtec eatery... the Chileajo (Pork Spareribs in a Dried Chile - Sesame sauce is outstanding) as is the Cucumber Agua Fresca, Saudero Taco & Duritos (Puffed Wheat "cracker" topped with pickled pork skins, avocado, crema, dried cheese, salsa & pickled vegetables)>
Antojitos La Texanita
> Excellent Pozole full of fall apart tender pork feet, cheeks & leg meat.
> Delicious Tacos with handmade tortillas.
> Superb Sazon & execution of a fairly standard Cal-Mex menu.
Beto's Tamales Carts
> The Queso with Jalapenos... paired with thick, cultured crema & a guajillo salsa for $1.50 is outstanding.
> One cart parks on Sebastopol Rd. near Delicias Elenita's... the other parks across the street from DMV on Corby
> Lot's of solid casual diner items like sandwiches & burgers... the Country Fried Steak is outstanding for California... fried to a crispy exterior & juicy interior with nice "sausage" herbs & spices, black peppery gravy, Soup made from scratch, smashed potatoes, nicely sweated vegetables, homemade garlic toast.... all for $9.
> Thin Crust Pizza by the Slice in the vein of anonymous NY corner pizza joints... it may be not be comparable to the best in NY... but it is comparable to the typical.
Phyllis Giant Burgers
> It took me a few trips to warm up to them (and learn what to order)... the Mushroom Giant cooked Medium Rare with Bleu Cheese & Grilled Onions (no mustard, lettuce, onions or pickles) is a serious candidate for best burger in Wine Country... but you have to be very explicit when you order it because they will drop in the condiments that destroy the burger.
> Great Pho, Spring Rolls, Chile Sauce as well as the Meatballs, Sizzling Beef etc.,
Antojitos La Texanita
1667 Sebastopol Rd, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
2032 Santa Rosa Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95407
1880 Mendocino Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
966 N Dutton Ave, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
2580 Jefferson St, Napa, CA 94558
Phyllis' Giant Burgers
4910 Sonoma Hwy, Santa Rosa, CA 95409
913 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Outstanding Casual / Traditional / Neighborhood Eateries - $$
> Not sure what the status is here... as there was a temporary close down and haven't been back but its best.. the uncommonly fresh, well executed $9 buffet has arguably been the best deal in town.
> Solid Brooklyn style Italian Deli... the Calamari Steak sandwich is absolutely excellent... they have nice homemade dressing & some very good pastas.
> The Molcajete, Camarones Borrachos, Shrimp Wrapped Bacon, Michoacan style Enchiladas Placeras, Beans, Salsas, Handmade Tortillas are all stand outs. Not cheap for a "ghetto" eatery (Shrimp dishes are about $15)... but the ingredient quality, superb execution & the loads of lower income families willing to shell out the $ guarantees the food is worth every dime.
> Standard Thai / Laotian cuisine... the Green Curry is excellent, in general upgrade to Duck... most things are very good at reasonable prices.
Outstanding Mid Level Restaurants - $$$
> This restaurant is by the same people as Willie's Wine Bar (I have not been to yet)... its quite similar (in menu, concept, style, service etc.,) to dozens of restaurants here in Wine Country... the food is kind of eclectic, generally has strong roots in Classic European dishes and utilizes Local Ingredients... the recipes aren't particularly creative or distinguished withing Wine Country... but I find this exciting because its evidence that Wine Country actually has a cohesive local cuisine that is taking deeper & deeper roots with every new generation of cooks.
> Monti's isn't particularly inexpensive, its in a shopping center, and doesn't do Tasting Menus... but execution is consistently excellent.... I think its a great mid level place. My favorite dishes are the daily Rotisserie specials... particularly anything involving Quail or Duck... they also do a Frito Misto with excellent baby octopus, okay Calamari rings, intriguing deep fried lemon slices & fennel root.
Kabab & Curry
> This place is more expensive ( also nicer) than your typical California Indian restaurant... and the one time we went here... the flavors popped, and ingredients were very high quality... comparable to restaurants I have been taken to by Indian chowish co-workers.
Monti's Rotisserie & Bar
714 Village Ct, Santa Rosa, CA 95404
Kabab & Curry House
507 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401
I forgot to add Graffiti... I haven't been back since it was sold to the Lagunitas Brewing people (whose beer I don't like)... and I hope it hasn't gone downhill. Nice atmosphere... particularly the riverfront patio... and excellently executed Wine Country dishes...I think a notch above Monti's
101 2nd St Ste 190, Petaluma, CA 94952
Outstanding Fine Dining - $$$$
I haven't had a chance to try a bulk of the local fine dining restaurants, so my perspective is limited but nonetheless the one place I would go back to is Cyrus. I have both praised it & criticized it.... but there is no doubt it far outclasses popular restaurants like The Girl & The Fig, The General's Daughter & John Ash.
I also think its quite a bit overrated and can't conceive its among the very best on the West Coast as many have postulated. Certainly if you go spend $300 to $400 a person like we did its way overrated (ugly dining room, poor atmosphere, most of the food is not life changing as it should be at this level etc.,).... but I would definitely go back... I would do the 3 Course instead of the Tasting Menu (who needs the stupid chocolate milk - seltzer drink & gift boxes filled with cookies?), stick to the dishes with strong Asian roots, stay away from savory courses with sweet ingredients / themes, stay away from the wine pairings etc.,
I would definitely NOT go back to Girl and the Fig, General's Daughter or John Ash