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Casual Wine Country Dining and Food Shopping with Kids

We are taking a two day trip to Sonoma/Napa area and have planned a couple meals for my wife and I and two kids (4 and 2).

We like Sonoma but had to stay in Napa because of a great deal. We eat early dinners around 5:30 - 6:00 and right now we just planned on going to Bistro Sabor and Gott's. Is there anything that is closer to fine dining type food but in a casual environment? I'm talking about a true family restaurant that serves good fresh food.

Also for lunch we'd like to go to Russian River Brewery or Lagunita's since I'm an avid beer drinker/homebrewer. Any opinions on these two for lunch with kids? Bad idea? Also any other great lunch ideas around Napa/Sonoma?

Lastly are there any great local products to keep an eye out for like honey, oil, cheese, etc? I know about the Rancho Gordo but what else should I keep my eyes open for? The more specific the better and also a great market that carries a bunch of them in one place would be perfect.

Thanks

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  1. Wine Forest is a company run by Connie Green, the woman who forages for French Laundry. She has dried mushrooms and powders, Also, Katz Vinegar is great and now they have honey as well. There's a good company called Napa Cakes that makes the panforte they serve at Perbacco with cheese and port. It's very good and easy to travel with. I think you can find most of this at the Fatted Calf in Oxbow or the Rancho Gordo store on Yajome.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Earl Grey

      Thanks, this was exactly the type of food product info I was looking for. We are heading to Fatted Calf on our way out. Any idea if their selection of Rancho Gordo product is extensive enough to skip a trip to Ranco Gordo store?

    2. I live in Petaluma, and regularly go to Lagunitas. They don't have much for the way of food, though. Sometimes sandwiches, but its more of a chips & pretzels type scene. Russian River for lunch with kids shouldn't be a problem at all.

      7 Replies
      1. re: meli229

        Russian River Brewing Co does have a bigger menu, but unfortunately, the food is not very good and some is downright bad. I was there yesterday with some friends sitting outside on the patio. At one point we noticed another table playing with their food. It was some stick-like thing with huge clumps of melted cheese stained with tomato sauce dripping off. They were holding it up to admire its badness and passing it around the table to see who was willing to eat it. Finally they threw it back in the basket and went hungry, I guess.

        I would head over to Rosso for wood-fired pizza instead. It's pretty close and they love kids. You can get a sense of fresh wine country cuisine with sourcing from local farms as well. Some previous reports:
        http://www.chow.com/search?query=ross...

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          That is sad to hear about Russian River since they make some of the best beer in the world and Lagunitas doesn't sound like it would be appetizing to my kids even though my youngest has an obsession with pretzel sticks. Regardless we are going to stop by RR to at least pick up some beer!

          1. re: BobMack

            Definitely go to Russian River, the beers are superb. But have a snack beforehand and go elsewhere to eat afterwards. Also, be aware that the place is a mob scene on weekends starting early afternoon (or earlier) with lines of people waiting to be allowed over the threshold. So go early in the day.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Thanks, we are going to fit it in somehow. It looks like we will be in Santa Rosa on a Monday so (if they are open on Monday's) that might be a perfect time for a quick stop.

              1. re: BobMack

                On Saturday I had RRB's Erudition, Saison pale. Refreshing on the warm patio.

          2. re: meli229

            more than chips here:
            http://lagunitas.com/taproom/images/T...
            We'll be at the Lagunitas Tap Room at 3 o'clock on Saturday August 4 - the Rivereens are performing.

            We had a good family breakfast for eight at Hallie's when family came from Chicago.
            Hallie's Diner
            125 Keller St
            Petaluma, CA 94952
            http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/26215

            for Santa Rosa:
            breakfast or lunch at Jeffery's Hillside Cafe
            http://www.jeffreyshillsidecafe.com/
            http://www.jeffreyshillsidecafe.com/p...

          3. For finer dining but casual environment, consider Grace's Table. It really is a true family restaurant and the food can't be beat (hint: all the locals eat there).

            If you go between 3:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., you can order all their appetizers for half-price which easily makes a substantial meal on their own, if you like small plates. Their roast chicken, fish tacos, and steak frittes are also wonderful.

            Probably the best market for you to go to for local products would be Vallargas. It is a "standard" grocery store, but carries lots and lots of locals' goodies. Oxbow is a favorite, but only for specific items.

            Lastly, being a brew fan, you might also want to consider Downtown Joe's in downtown Napa. Not the best food, but (again) a place that locals hang out; kid-friendly cuisine (i.e., big plates) and housemade beer.

            2 Replies
            1. re: CarrieWas218

              Thanks for the tip on Grace's Table, I looked it up on the board after your suggestion and it looks like the sort of place we'd like. We eat dinner early so the half price apps would be great too! I'm guessing there's no wait around 5-5:30.

              1. re: BobMack

                Correct - before I started working in the city (and now don't get home to Napa until 7:00ish), I would go there right after work in downtown (or the Brix happy hour)!

                Recent recommendations: Fish tacos, "frickles," and the poached egg salad.

            2. Also forgot to mention, if you are in Healdsburg the Bear Republic is another great, local brewery that is family friendly & has lunch.