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Jan 9, 2013 10:20 AM

Help narrowing down dinner around Sonoma?

Hi All,

My husband and I will be visiting the area in early February. We are staying in Rohnert Park, but don't mind traveling for food. I've picked a few places based on research and recommendations, but was hoping to get your help! We'll be staying for three nights, but one night we might already have dinner plans. I was thinking The Girl and The Fig, Zin, or Harvest Moon Cafe. Which two would you choose or any other great places I'm missing? I'm completely open to any type of cuisine and price isn't really an issue - just no French Laundry, please :)

Thanks a ton!

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  1. I would recommend Girl over Moon, definitely...

    Also, consider La Salette; amazing Portuguese on the square.

    Other favorites include Cafe La Haye and - if you want to drive a little further into Carneros - Boon Fly Cafe for brunch.

    2 Replies
    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Thank you so much for the suggestions! I just looked at LaSalette and it definitely looks amazing. I really appreciate it.

      1. re: kneuhart2

        We also love La Salette. I bought his big, gorgeous cookbook when we were there recently and am tonight fixing his tripe stew.

        We've only had breakfast at Boon Fly but liked it a lot also.

    2. We love Zin -- the food and the ambiance.

      1. Do sit down with your map before planning to drive from RP to the town of Sonoma. While it's short as the crow flies, there's a mountain (Sonoma Mountain) between the two towns. Dangerous night driving, even without alcohol. Likely rain decreases visibility further.

        If I were in RP I'd head up 101 to Santa Rosa or Healdsburg or up 116 to Sebastopol. Those are straight shots on well lit roads to some really wonderful food.

        Happy eating!

        15 Replies
        1. re: Columba

          This helps a ton. Thanks for the heads up, Columba!

          1. re: Columba

            That's a good suggestion to stick to a major highway (101) instead of winding over to Sonoma. I'd also suggest checking out eateries in Petaluma which is just to the south of Rohnert Park on 101. Here's a link to some discussions,

            1. re: Columba

              Would much appreciate it if you could please specify your favorite places in Santa Rosa and Healdsburg ?


              1. re: cometraveler

                In Healdsburg, you can do no better than Barn Diva.

                Santa Rosa isn't as much of a foodie town and many will drive to nearby Petaluma for Real Doner, the best Turkish food in the Bay Area.

                1. re: CarrieWas218

                  I would agree that Santa Rosa isn't a foodie town, but one of our favorite French bistros is in its downtown area: Bistro 29. We really like how Chef Brian Anderson handles seafood, an important element in Breton cuisine. His monkfish in armoricaine sauce is phenomenal: tremendous flavor without oversalting. Brian's wife is from Breton and he learned to cook their regional specialties from his MIL. And the crepes are wonderful, especially the orange sauce wheat crepe for dessert (a variant of Crepes Suzette).

                  We've eaten twice at Barndiva: had a perfect lunch and very imperfect dinner. Bistro 29 has not disappointed us any of the three times we've gone in the last year, since discovering them.

                  Le Bistro in Petaluma is also very good; a Continental menu. Both are small, great little French bistros of the type we search for, since where we live (Oakland) they don't exist.

                    1. re: jaiko

                      Thank you for the recommendations. Looking at menus, we have made reservations at Bistro 29, as we also enjoy small French bistros, and am still looking at the other places listed here.

                      However, since one can't eat big meals every night(at least we can't), do you also have any recommendations for more casual places around the area. i.e. mexican, burgers, small plates, pizza, whatever - good food being the most important thing.

                      We are staying in Rohnert Park, so anwhere around there, especially off of 101, from say Petaluma to Healdsburg, would be ok.

                      Thanks much for your help!

                      1. re: cometraveler

                        Rosso Pizzeria in Santa Rosa is a place I have always enjoyed; I offer the caveat that I haven't been since they opened their Petaluma location so I don't know if that's impacted quality. Maybe others on this board have been more recently.


                    2. re: CarrieWas218

                      Santa Rosa's not the biggest foodie town, but they have Spinster Sisters and Willi's Wine Bar.


                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Willi's Wine Bar is an excellent recommendation.
                        I've loved every dish I've ever had at Willi's. And I've had a lot. Excellent by-the-glass wine menu, also. Fun to sit at the bar. One of my favorite spots in Santa Rosa.

                        Also, wonderful Thai food: Khoom Lanna. The pumpkin curry
                        (I order it with duck) is one of my favorite dishes anywhere.
                        Anything they do with duck is good.
                        Location is Railroad Square.

                        107 4th St Santa Rosa, CA 95401
                        (707) 545-8424

                        1. re: maria lorraine

                          I am now a big fan of Willi's Santa Rosa. Ate here tonight after checking in for the "tour de fuzz" bicycle ride, GF checked out Y*lp and said we should eat here. I found a thread where RL said "Love willi's, there might be another restaurant in Santa Rosa, why bother?" or simlar.

                          Ate at the bar, its a scene (in a good way). Friendliest bartender ever. One of the local winemakers was sitting next to us, didn't finish the bottle he brought (two years older than what was on menu) and after he left the bartender saved half glasses for a bunch of the staff, and poured me a taste. Great to taste a wine like that in informal vertical form. Got a glass of a vinyard called Acorn (south side of healdsberg) that's a field blend of astonishing complexity, guy knew which grapes were field blended from which blocks and which were blended after fermentation. Good stuff.

                          Of the food, I'm just too stuffed and happy for a full writeup. Skillet bread. Local mushrooms, raw with fennel, as recommended by the local next to us. Gorgonzolla mac and cheese. Pulled duck, great dish, riffing off polish roast duck with cherry. Best lamb chop ever, not overly trimmed but with marrow-like fat all the way up the chop. Finally a selection of local raw milk cheeses and a _white truffle honey_ that I will remember, well, forever. Third best meal of the year.

                          $60/pp with extravagent tip. I love sonoma.

                          1. re: bbulkow

                            Great writeup. Captured the place perfectly. Made we want to be there at the bar, knocking back a couple. I've had that Acorn blend.

                      2. re: CarrieWas218

                        CarrieWas218, which dishes do you like the most at Real Doner, besides the Doner and Kebabs?

                        Do they make their dolma in house? I'm a stuffed grapeleaves lover (one of my favourite 10 foods,if I was to make a list), but I find a lot of the restaurant made- vegetarian stuffed grapeleaves tend to be the blandish, mushy type. How firm are their stuffed grapeleaves?

                        How is their spinach pie?


                        1. re: prima


                          For me, is was all about the meze platter so that I could get the most tastes.

                          Their borek and falafel were top-notch and I'm afraid I don't remember their dolmades very much.

                          I also don't recall having tried the spinach pie.

                          1. re: CarrieWas218

                            Thanks, CarrieWas218. I'm all about mezes, at any Turkish restaurant. Glad the borek and falafel were top-notch. I'm hoping I get to try this place, at least for a quick lunch.

                  1. Hana Japanese Restaurant is right in Rohnert Park. Excellent food!

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: jackiecat

                      Thank you so much everyone for all of the good information. Not being familiar with the area, all I see are miles and not terrain. This helps a ton with the planning!

                    2. Living in Sonoma County, it seems a lot easier to get to Santa Rosa and Healdsburg or down to Petaluma than to drive Highway 12 to Sonoma. The Girl & The Fig is very good if you decide to go. Rosso's is great for pizza in Santa Rosa and Willi's Wine Bar offers great small plates on the north side of Santa Rosa; perfect for sharing. West of town towards the coast, there is an excellent restaurant called Zazu. In Healdsburg, Willi's Seafood & Raw Bar is excellent, again also meant to be shared. Scopa is excellent authentic rustic Italian food and the chef has recently a new venue in town called Campo Fina which is excellent as well. I would go to any of these three before Zin, which is good but not something you can't find in lots of towns.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: Pammel

                        We ended up going to Bistro29 and to Hana Japanese. Both were excellent. The food at Bistro 29, besides just being good, was really French( a rarity, most places called bistros have nothing resembling French food) and turned out better than we hoped for. Hana Japanese had both excellent nigiri suishi and sashimi - different selections of fish than usual and very fresh, good quality. Their other courses, both main dishes, and small plates, were also quite good, and different than the usual that one always sees in most Japanese restaurants I have been to. On another note, some friends took us to Caffe Giostra in Petaluma, which I would not recommend. Dinner was edible, but I am not really a fan of American style Italian cuisine and in addition, the ingredients used(especially the veal) were pretty mediocre.

                        Thanks much for the recommendations.

                        1. re: cometraveler

                          So glad you reported back, and that you enjoyed Bistro 29. I wish you could have experienced what Chef Anderson used to do with foie gras! Bistro 29 was second only to La Folie in our mind, when we wanted an order (or two) of foie gras.