Culinary Delights Abound in Sonoma County
Sonoma County is a foodie paradise located just an hour north of San Francisco. Here you’ll find farm-fresh organic fruits and vegetables, delicious fresh-baked delights, handcrafted cheeses, meadow-fresh honey, specialty oils, gourmet sauces and dressings, and just about every imaginable farm-to-fork foodstuff.
You’ll also find a multitude of eateries and restaurants, including the nation’s first sustainable and vegetarian drive-thru fast food joint, fresh-off-the-boat seafood shacks, and gourmet dining establishments that have earned accolades, including three that have each garnered a Michelin Star.
Here’s a quick summary of how to nibble your way through Sonoma County’s delicious abundance.
Cheeses and Artisan Products
Sonoma County’s soil, geography and micro-climates are great not only for growing premium wine grapes but also for nourishing a wide array of delicious fruits and veggies, giving rise to flourishing food products industries. Watch for local handcrafted cheeses, specialty oils and other goodies on menus and on local store shelves.
Or, follow the Cheese Trail to meet with the cheesemakers and sample their wares, and the Sonoma County Farm Trails map to visit farms and ranches throughout Sonoma County. And you can always find an array of local produce and food products at the weekly farmers markets held countywide.
Dedicated fans are known to drive long distances to savor fresh-baked bread and other goodies from the wood-fired oven at Wild Flour Bread in tiny Freestone, from Raymond’s Bakery tucked away in Cazadero in the hills above the Russian River, and at Gold Coast Coffee and Bakery in Duncans Mills, just four miles inland from the Pacific Coast.
But there are so many more Sonoma County places to nibble on delicious and innovative baked goods, including Asian and American treats at East Wind Bakery in Santa Rosa, New Zealand goodies at BurtoNZ Bakery in Windsor, and Portuguese bread and other treats at 9 Islands Bakery Café in Rohnert Park. Read more about Sonoma County Bakeries and Patisseries.
And don’t forget the pie. In addition to pies sold at bakeries and restaurants, Sonoma County offers a number of places that focus on pies (sweet or savory). This includes the home-baked goodies at Chile Pies Baking Co. in an old bank building in Guerneville; Mom’s Apple Pie on the edge of an eight-acre apple orchard outside Healdsburg; Petaluma Pie Company in historic downtown Petaluma; and the newest of this group, The Whole Pie in downtown Santa Rosa.
If your style is more casual than upscale, there are so many delicious possibilities countywide.
Start with Amy’s Drive Thru in Rohnert Park, the nation’s first and only sustainable, vegetarian, non-GMO drive-thru that highlights lovingly hand-crafted traditional American fast food like burgers, fries and mac n’ cheese, but sans meat (everything is vegetarian) and with vegan and gluten-free options.
Of course, if you want something other than fast food, there are any number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Sonoma County.
And on the coast, fans rave about the clam chowder and crab sandwiches at the family-owned Spud Point Crab Shack; you know it’s fresh because the family also owns two fishing boats. Inland, Rocker Oysterfellers in Valley Ford and Negri’s Original Italian Restaurant and the Union Hotel in Occidental are local favorites.
Of course, everywhere you go you’ll find wonderful local pizzerias, burger joints, taquerias, barbecue restaurants and other delicious neighborhood hangouts.
In 2017 three Sonoma County dining establishments were awarded a Michelin Star: Madrona Manor Wine Country Inn & Restaurant, an elegant 1881 Victorian manor offering seasonal, farm-fresh, contemporary California cuisine of the highest order in an old-world setting in Healdsburg; the beloved Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville, where an on-staff Master Sommelier artfully pairs wines with the chef’s luxurious and seasonal Cal-Mediterranean creations, in a humble but elegantly rustic atmosphere; and charming, slow-food style Terrapin Creek Café, offering the finest ingredients in inventive pairings in a relaxed but stunningly chic space along the Pacific Coast in Bodega Bay.
Michelin also awarded its 2017 Bib Gourmand honors — for remarkable restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (not including tip or gratuity) — to 10 Sonoma County eateries: Diavolo Pizzeria in Geyserville; Backyard in Forestville; Bistro 29 in Santa Rosa; Bravas Bar de Tapas and Chalkboard in Healdsburg; Glen Ellen Star in Glen Ellen; Monti’s Rotisserie & Bar in Santa Rosa; Risibisi in Petaluma; SHED Café in Healdsburg, and Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.
And the Zagat Guide listed its “Best Restaurants in Sonoma County” for 2018: Della Fattoria Downtown Café, The Drawing Board, and Thistle Meats in Petaluma; Journeyman Meat Co., Single Thread, Bravas Bar de Tapas, SHED Café, Dry Creek Kitchen, Valette, Chalkboard, and The Brass Rabbit in Healdsburg; The Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa; Wild Flour Bread in Freestone; Gold Coast Coffee & Bakery in Duncans Mills; Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant in Forestville; Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park; Diavolo Pizzeria + Salumi in Geyserville; El Molino Central and Café La Haye in Sonoma; and Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol.
However, that’s just the beginning of the many, many possibilities for locally sourced, innovative, farm-to-fork cuisine in Sonoma County. Along the coast enjoy equally amazing food and views at Drakes Sonoma Coast Kitchen in Bodega Bay, River’s End in Jenner, and the Black Point Grill at The Sea Ranch.
In western Sonoma County, there’s Hazel in Occidental; Underwood Bar & Bistro in Graton; and Fork Roadhouse, K & L Bistro and Zazu Kitchen + Farm in Sebastopol. In the Sonoma Valley in eastern Sonoma County, there’s the girl & the fig, the fig café & winebar, Harvest Moon Café, Oso Sonoma, and Santé.
And in central and northern Sonoma County, consider Trading Post Restaurant & Bakery in Cloverdale; Catelli’s and Rustic in Geyserville; Barndiva and Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar in Healdsburg; The Bird & The Bottle, Bistro 29, Ca’Bianca Italian Restaurant, John Ash & Co. Restaurant, La Gare French Restaurant, Stark’s Steak & Seafood, and Willi’s Wine Bar in Santa Rosa; and Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park.
For even more dining options, check the listings of all Sonoma County restaurants. The possibilities are seemingly endless.
And to find money-saving offers on restaurants, lodging, and more, check our listings of special Sonoma County deals.