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Jun 10, 2013 10:42 AM

One dinner and one breakfast in Napa or Sonoma

Dear Hound friends,

I'll start by asking your forgiveness, because I know this subject is a popular one on CH. But after months of research here and elsewhere, I'd still like to ask Hounds for their definitive answers. Here's my dilemma: My husband and I driving from Monterey, CA to Portland, OR in the first week of July. Our plans allow us one Wednesday night dinner and one (Thursday morning) breakfast in either Napa or Sonoma.

We haven't yet decided on our driving route--meaning that we're open to going to either Napa or Sonoma--and we haven't yet booked a hotel room for that one night because we'd like to stay somewhere near our dinner venue (ideally so that we can stumble, in post-prandial euphoria, back to our hotel).

We've never been to the area before, and we'd like to eat one fantastic, memorable dinner that's not more than $120 a head. We're not interested in matching wine courses, since we're not oenophiles. Here are the caveats: my husband doesn't do seafood (I know, I know) or fruit. I eat pretty much anything (and adore foie, truffles, and dessert). Expense is a big factor (we ruled out TFL, Manresa, and Etoile). After looking at menus, prices, and everyone's recommendations, we've narrowed our list down to:

Angele, Goose & Gander, La Toque, Bistro Jeanty, Brix, and Farm.

SO.... where to eat one amazing, memorable dinner, given our preferences? Please tell me which of these places you'd choose, and why.

And, since you've read this far, might you have any breakfast suggestions for the next morning, please? (We can drive there, but don't want to wait forever for breakfast, since we then have to continue on to Eureka.)


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  1. I think you have to decide your driving route first. If you are going to Eureka, then you are probably driving CA-101, which means that Napa is a detour.

    Sonoma County is a good option and Healdsburg is a nice little town right on highway 101 with lots of options for dining within your budget.

    How many days are you allowing for the drive?

    2 Replies
    1. re: pamf

      We're leaving Monterey on Wednesday morning, driving straight to either Napa or Sonoma, dining and spending the night in one of those places, having breakfast nearby and then continuing on up to Eureka on Thursday itself.

      1. re: freelancer77

        What Pam said - although many will decide upon their route based on the restaurant...

        If you go via Healdsburg, I would heartily recommend Barn Diva and the whole Healdsburg town square is a lovely stop.

        I think the restaurants in Napa are better overall, but it would be more of a detour and for only a one-night stay, you won't do it or the restaurant-of-choice much justice. It will make just wish you could stay longer...

        I would choose the Healdsburg route for ease and enjoyment of the drive and lack of stress...

    2. I love Angele; not sure I would say it's a hugely memorable experience, but I have never been let down and it's possibly my favorite spot in Napa, besides Ubuntu which is no longer open.

      For breakfast - head to Sonoma and go to the Fremont Diner. That's on your way out of town, heading North, and there's no place that can compare imo.

      1. I'd focus on Healdsburg, a nexus of food and wine, just off 101 in northern Sonoma County.

        Very beautiful small town, charming town square, good for strolling.

        Breakfast at the Downtown Bakery and Creamery on the Square, and check this search list for dinner options: