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Aug 14, 2009 08:11 AM

Santa Rosa Weekend

I hope I'm not duplicating a post, but we'll be up in the bay area this weekend, staying in Santa Rosa and I wanted some tips on where to eat and drink. We dont like to drive to get to somewhere, so places in the town would be great. Dinner options in particular would be most welcome.

We love beer, wine and food that isnt too fussy, one of us is a vegetarian, a semi veggie, and two meat lovers!

Some of the highlights on a quick search seemed to be the Russian River Brewing Co, Zazu and Abysinnia, but any suggestions would be most welcome.

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  1. Willi's Wine Bar is one good option, right in Santa Rosa, with a very nice wine list, all available by-the-glass and even 2 oz pours. Menu consists of small plates, charcuterie, cheese, desserts. I suspect vegetarian options are limited - and nothing at all vegan - and I recall pancetta or guanciale flavoring most of the vegetable dishes I ordered. Casual atmosphere, and I'd recommend eating at the bar to lively it up a bit. I loved the sweet pea risotto, and I still recall how wonderfully that Rafanelli cab sauvignon paired with the Truffle Tremor. Given that I have a stash of the '06 Raf cab and Truffle Tremor is so easy to come by - even here in Boston - it's become one of my go-to wine/cheese pairings. Thanks, Willi's!

    For a bit more upscale dining, there's Restaurant Eloise in nearby Sebastopol. A very short drive, and a beautiful meal.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

      I would disagree that you wouldn't have to drive to Willi's, which was one of their criteria, it may be (??) IN the TOWN of Santa Rosa, but is not "in town" in the don't have to drive sense. Ditto Eloise. Not that they aren't WORTH driving to...but the OP said they didn't want to.

    2. I've only been to Santa Rosa once but can heartily vouch for Russian River Brewing Company if you like beer and casual pizza-y style food. The beers are some of the best in Northern California.

      I can also give a resounding Blech to Ace Wasabi's. Over-hyped mix of BBQ and sushi owned by Guy Fieri of "Diners, Drive-ins and Dives" fame.

      3 Replies
      1. re: skllwmn

        How about Tex Wasabi's. Ace is in the Marina SF.

        Tex Wasabi's
        515 4th St, Santa Rosa, CA 95401

        1. re: wolfe

          Thanks for the correction, I had a feeling I was getting the name a bit off.

          1. re: skllwmn

            A funny coincidence, my wife was trapped in San Francisco by traffic last night and called in the marina. She asked for a place to eat and because of my recent check I told her try Ace. She loved it and on top of that won an in house bingo game with a prize of a $20 dinner card. I now get to go on my next trip in.

      2. In Santa Rosa, my top pick would be Zazu. it's a bit of a drive into the country, but it's a good stop. Casual setting, nice food. The servers are really friendly, but service can be a little slow.

        I haven't been, but the other place on my list to try in Santa Rosa is Bistro 29. It's a block off of the square, and has gotten some good press & reviews.

        1 Reply
        1. re: cyberroo

          Stark's steakhouse, same owners as Willi's Wine Bar. In railroad square near downtown Santa Rosa. Has great seafood for steakhouse like arctic char. Also Tony and Jack's in railroad square is a fun place.

        2. Wow, no driving, really?

          I was in Santa Rosa today and one of the topics of conversation was that there
          were NO really good restaurants downtown. Sorry.

          Willi's Wine Bar is on Redwood Highway way north of town.
          (Ricardo was probably thinking of Healdsburg.)
          Zazu is good but pretty far out on Guerneville Road.

          4 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              "NO really good restaurants in downtown." Hummmmmm . . .

              Russian River Brewing Company for sure for a great choice of beers. The food is the usual bar food.

              Stark's Steakhouse gets very mixed reviews for both food prep and service.

              Following are places all walkable in the downtown core:

              In Railroad Square:
              Syrah - fine dining, inspired food
              Lo Coco's - wonderful homey Italian, great ambiance
              Jack & Tony's - very good food, reasonably priced, huge list of whiskeys
              Khoom Lanna - lovely, fresh Thai
              Josef's - Pretty quiet restaurant in an historic building

              Flavor Bistro - wide variety of menu items, outdoor dining, fun spot
              Bistro 29 - Both sweet and savory Brittany-style crepes plus other great bistro food
              Rendezvous Bistro - More traditional French bistro than Bistro 29, outdoor dining
              Gary Chu's - Upscale Chinese, very popular with locals
              Ca Bianca - Italian in a lovely old house
              Kabob & Curry House - Very good Indian food and fun cocktails

              A couple of cool lunch places: Max Deli on 4th is the downtown "meet and greet" place that's been in the same location for 50+ years; Culinary Cafe on 7th St run by Santa Rosa Junior College Culinary Dept. Only open for business when school is in session, but a great value and fun place.

              Might want to check out the Sonoma County Museum near the Culinary Cafe on 7th.

            2. re: maria lorraine

              No,no ... I mean Willi's Wine Bar in Santa Rosa (in SR, but not downtown). You must be thinking of their sister restaurant, Willi's Seafood and Raw Bar, up in Healdsburg. Also recommended, but a much longer drive.

              1. re: Ricardo Malocchio

                Not quite.

                I was just trying to clarify that Willi's Wine Bar on North Redwood Highway is
                5 miles north of downtown, and so doesn't meet the OP's request for a restaurant that is accessible without driving. That was the nature of my confusion about your post recommending Willi's in North Santa Rosa.

                Whereas, Willi's Raw Bar is right off the square in Downtown Healdsburg, and an easy stroll if you are staying in Healdsburg, which the OP is not. Since this Willi's is
                within walking distance and the other is not, I thought you might be confusing the two.

                I live not too far away and have been to both Willi restaurants many times. I prefer the North Santa Rosa location, and like just about everything on the menu.

            3. Thanks very much for the suggestions, we found that willis was too far out of town, as was zazu, so on the saturday night we strolled into town and enjoyed a wine flight at spectrum. That was fun, the other wine place wasnt so good.

              We then asked for a table at syrah, but we obviously werent their kind of people, as the wait went from 5 mins to an hour suddenly when they had a good look at us! We ended up in jack and tony's, which was ok, but no veggie food!

              The second night we had a fantastic meal at Abysinnia, it worked very well indeed for a mixture of meat eaters, who enjoyed a delicious lamb dish, and the veggies who really enjoyed the veggie sampler plate. The beer was super and I enjoyed the honey wine, which is just like mead.