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Restaurants in Sonoma Area

Dear Hounds,
I'm looking for some restaurant recommendations in the Sonoma area. I'll be there for 3-4 mid-week days in late June. I have found plenty of recommendations for Napa, but relatively few for Sonoma. I prefer "good cookin'" to "fine dining," if that helps you narrow your recommendations. Thanks in advance!

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  1. Don't know is this sort of place is your cuppa tea, but we really enjoy it. Try to sit in the bar or at the sidewalk tables for a bit of local color. The place, at least when we've been there, has a large local clientele.

    http://www.swisshotelsonoma.com/dinin...

    1 Reply
    1. re: Gail

      Well, I'll soon find out! the setting looks nice and I like the low corkage fee. Thanks for the tip, Gail!

    2. For good cooking lunch spot, try Taylor Made.

      1 Reply
      1. re: cstr

        Where is Taylor Made? Are you thinking of Taylor's drive-in in St Helena?

      2. Sonoma, the city or the county which expands the area?

        3 Replies
        1. re: wally

          I'm staying in Sonoma proper, but I'm game to get out into the country a bit. I'm not terribly familiar with the area, so opportunities to explore are welcome!

          1. re: Foodielicious

            The margaritas at Maya are potent and will knock your butt if you have a couple - really tasty. They have some pretty good food there too . . . I like to just order snacks to go with the drinks. They're located on the Southeast corner of the square in Sonoma. If you like something a little more upscale without being too fussy, try Cafe La Haye for dinner (just East of Maya). I'd call it more fine dining, but in a relaxed atmosphere.

            1. re: vday

              I just had dinner there last night. The carnitas (not what they are called there) were AMAZING! The chips and salsa were good too!

        2. Zazu, Zin, The Girl and the Fig

          even better:

          Farmhouse Inn

          apparently, even better than that:

          Cyrus

          5 Replies
          1. re: whiner

            Mmmm, Zin looks right up my alley: thanks for the recs!

            1. re: whiner

              New York hound here, just returned from a few blissful days in the area. I'll second the recommendation for the Girl & The Fig, but will also add the El Dorado Kitchen, in the El Dorado Hotel. Really nice modern setting, and fabulous small plates as well as really good "cooked" dishes. You can really have whatever experience you want here (call it fine dining, call it cookin'), the menu's varied enough and the atmosphere is great.

              We also loved Bistro Le Copains in Occidental, it's something to consider if you want to spend any time in that part of the county. The $35 bistro menu was really terrific, and the town of Occidental itself was really charming, lovely Friday evening farmer's market. (Was hard not to eat dinner in the market itself - but our reservations beckoned.)

              1. re: Mrs.Sean

                Here's my post on the Occidental farmers market, anything you'd like to add?
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/4255...

                1. re: Melanie Wong

                  The paella was the biggest temptation - i stood gawping at the gigantic vats for quite some time before the Husband dragged me to Copains! All I have to add is that the chocolate stall is WELL worth a stop. The tea flavored ones in particular were a fascinating combination of delicate and ridiculously rich, all at once.

                  1. re: Mrs.Sean

                    Getting to the market early and watching the assembly of Gerard's paella is a good show too. But then you have to wait 2 hours to eat!

            2. La Salette, Portuguese, in town.
              http://www.lasalette-restaurant.com/

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

              1 Reply
              1. re: wolfe

                I quite enjoyed that two weeks ago; creative menu, not overpriced at all...

              2. Cafe La Haye in the town of Sonoma should definitely be on your list. It has a casual atmosphere, great food and a well-selected wine list.

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                Cafe La Haye
                140 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

                2 Replies
                1. re: SFDude

                  OK, that's 2 votes for Cafe La Haye -- will definitely be eating there! Thanks!!

                  1. re: Foodielicious

                    Recommend getting reservations now for your late June visit:-)

                    I've heard good things too about La Salette mentioned above . . . haven't had a chance to try yet though.

                2. La Salette is definintely worht a try. Friday we had dinner at Estate, formerly, The General's Daughter. We enjoyed it. We also enjoy Meritage.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Otts

                    Thanks, what did you order at Estate?

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                    Estate
                    400 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476

                  2. Don't know if it will be good or not, but Fremont Diner opens this week. Keep an eye on the board for reports. They were due to open Saturday, but didn't. They have breakfast and sandwiches, burgers milkshakes. It is really a cute place and I hope the food matches the ambiance. When I drove by Saturday, the menu had a Kentucky chicken sandwich, Fremont burger with fries and whole hog sandwich written on the chalk menu. VERY casual.

                    Mondo is another place I keep meaning to try in Sonomoa ... beer and burgers
                    http://www.chow.com/places/33581

                    While you mentioned "good cookin'" to "fine dining,", your enthusiasm about zin makes me wonder. Do you really mean upscale?

                    In the city of Sonoma proper there are the places mentioned ... Estate, La Salette, Cafe de La Haye, Girl & the Fig, El Dorado Kitchen, Harvest Moon Cafe (was that mentioned?)

                    Some of the recs you are getting are in Sonoma COUNTY and are major drives. You would be better off driving to the nearby city of Napa and giving a place like Ubuntu a try. There's a really pleasant driven along 12/121 from Sonoma to Napa. On that route is Boon Fly Cafe which has good breakfasts

                    I have had limited eats there, but I thought Sage Fine Foods, a deli, was very nice.

                    Rin's is supposed to have good Thai food but I haven't tried it.

                    Haven't read much good about Meritage, so I'd skip that.

                    Basque Boulangerie - a much lauded bakery I just don't get. I think it is just average.

                    Downscale but really swell food in the city of Sonoma
                    - Torillaria Jalisco - great posozle on saturdays and good tacos during the week.
                    - Rocket Cafe
                    - Sunflower Cafe
                    - really pleasant Tuesday night farmers market on the green
                    - Sonoma Market - great for picnic supplies
                    - Scandia Bakery - nothing to go out of your way, but some nice pastries especially the princess cake
                    - Angelo's Wine Country deli - good jerkey
                    - Taste of the Himalays
                    - Homegrown bakery - good bagels and local ambiance

                    Sorry ... and though I PERSONALLY don't need to apoligize ... search on this site is currently broken as of this post and the best I can do is give you everything (I hope) with Sonoma in it. What this will give you is ever restaurant record with linked reports and websites.
                    http://search.chow.com/search?search_...

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: rworange

                      As for my preferences - I live in LA and am a very good home cook, even if I do say so myself. Fancy atmosphere and excessive "white space" on my plate are of little importance to me. I'd rather eat a fine burger-n-fries than an overpriced filet of some unspellable baitfish served 6 inches away from a "light, interesting sauce." I've found that when I travel, I rarely just luck into a place that serves exceptional food. Hence, I call upon my noble CH pals to help me sort the sheep from the goats. And yes, I'll eat both with a smile, provided the goat ain't too boney. All that said, I will happily dine up-scale if the experience comes with a decent meal and I don't risk going home hungry because the $85 tasting menu only ammounts to 428 calories of tangerine foams, nasturtium, and butter-poached dorsal fin. OK - enough ranting about the hubris of foodville. Thanks so much for the great variety of recommendations! I really appreciate having options from which to choose: up-scale, down-scale, get-off-the-scale, and pehaps even butter-poached-scale.

                    2. Had a great trip! Here are the places we tried:
                      Sunflower Cafe - excellent omelets and the best latte I've had in years: proper Italian proportions, great crema, nice and bitter, sweet microfoam and seriously capable barista girl behind the machine.
                      Basque Boulangerie - good bread, not-so-good coffee
                      Yeti (in Glen Ellen) - surprisingly good Indian/Nepali
                      Cafe LaHaye - excellent goat cheese flan appetizer, good service, but the rest of the food was a bit of a let-down.
                      Mondo - loved it - by far the best quality food we had in Sonoma
                      Tra Vigne Pizzaria in Napa - tasty pizza, meatball sandwich was sub-par
                      Swiss Hotel - nice patio, helpful waiter, food OK, but not great
                      Maya - good cocktails, good service, food only so-so

                      Thanks again to everyone who made recommendations!!

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Foodielicious

                        Glad you had a good trip. Thanks for reporting back. If you are ever out this way again, be sure to try the Fremont Diner which just opened.

                        What did you have at Mondo?

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                        Maya Restaurant
                        101 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        Cafe La Haye
                        140 E Napa St, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        Basque Boulangerie Cafe
                        460 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        Pizzeria Tra Vigne
                        1016 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

                        Sunflower Caffe
                        421 1st St W, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        Swiss Hotel & Restaurant
                        18 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        Yeti
                        14301 Arnold Dr Ste 19, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

                        Mondo
                        875 West Napa Street, Sonoma, CA 95476

                        1. re: rworange

                          At Mondo - we shared an order of onion rings (I think they were fried in Panko rather than batter, which made them good-n-crunchy), a turkey burger which was flavorful and moist (unlike most which tend to by dry and tough), the grilled asparagus with prosciutto, the wedge/iceberg salad, 3 kinds of beer (love that they offer them in 1/2-pints!), and the buttermilk creme fraiche and coffee ice creams. The ice creams had good flavors, but the texture was off -- I think they may have used gelatin as a thickener, but didn't get it appropriately dissolved in the custard, so there were these strange little balls of goo scattered throughout the scoops. Service was friendly and quick, pricetag was pretty cheap for Sonoma.

                      2. I'm a Sonoma local and an expat from Paris and San Francisco who loves to cook and has years of eating - i'm with you on its the quality not the star factor or the rarity of the ingredients that count
                        my personal favorites are
                        El Dorado, La Salette, girl & Fig and harvest moon
                        i'm not big on Cafe la Haye - it's good but not great
                        Estate I found unimpressive the couple of times i tried it
                        Rocket is good value, food is appealing
                        for a relaly authentic experience try some of the taco trucks - especially La bamba which parks and serves after about 7pm on highway 12 about 1/2 mile beyond the fairmont o left at mexican grocery store called la Morenita - I think its la morenita 2 or 3 there are several !
                        Sonoma Market has some nice picnic food
                        try Vella cheese on i think 1st or 2nd st east about a block off the square - NOT the one on the square - for some local cheese mainly cows milk cheeses
                        try oak hill farm about 3 miles outside town for local organic fruit and veg - supplies depend on what's in season
                        coffee at Barking Dog opposite the Fairmont is best in town - roasted on site!
                        there is a smoothie stand just opened opposite the barking dog - havent tried it yet , another variant on the taco trucks
                        sunflower cafe on square is good for casual lunch in patio at back

                        I liked Yeti in Jack London villag ein Glen Ellen Dont particularlu like Blue Grass there but bar is nice for a drink and watch the water wheel

                        Chocolate shop there - also a branch in one of the alleys off the sqare in Sonoma - name escapes me now - has AMAZING chocoloates - wine country chocolates might be the name

                        I've eaten at Mondo - it's fine . burgers, casual food nicely done and lots of beer choices

                        Where is Fremont Diner? I havent noticed htat yet

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: sonomajom

                          It's where Babe's burgers was

                          Sonoma: Fremont Diner - Ham w/red-eye gravy, organic drip coffee, white grits, griddlecakes, cheerwine float, sweet tea and house-made fresh plum popsicles
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/631446

                          The smoothie truck is only there on weekends. They also sell bags of cut fruit with chili.

                          Have you tried Hardin Garden for produce?

                          How about the weekened pizza at Homegrown?
                          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/627807

                          1. re: rworange

                            Dont have time to get on the board so often so just saw this now. My problem is when I get on 2 hours later I realise it's an addiction!
                            Don't know where Babe's burgers was but looks like it's beyond Schelleville going towards Ramal Rd maybe? I'll get round to finding it soon. It's the other side of Sonoma to me so I need to make an excursion
                            Where is Hardin Garden? I usually buy produce at Farmers Mkt or directly from Oak Hill

                            Just read your post on Howngrown - will have to tell my husband. I never got into bagels too chewy for me. I still yearn for a real French cruissant
                            He's also a big home pizza maker so gets offended if I buy pizza. Maybe when he's out of town sometime ...:)

                            1. re: sonomajom

                              Here are the links for both that have a map

                              Hardin Gardens is nearish Schelleville
                              http://www.chow.com/places/18049

                              Fremont Diner is beyond Schelleville on 12/121 heading toward Napa
                              http://www.chow.com/places/54726

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                              Hardin Gardens
                              22656 Broadway, Sonoma, CA 95476

                              Fremont Diner
                              2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA