Restaurant Guide 2012
Wine Country is also Food Country and, as with wines, the dining options are endless. Herewith a comprehensive, but not necessarily complete, guide to eating in and around the Valley of the Moon.
599 Thai Café
Truly tiny, bursting with flavorful deliciousness, family-run in a cozy atmosphere. Particularly good is the Chicken Curry Noodle Soup and anything with their peanut sauce.
599 Broadway, 707.938.8477
Basque Boulangerie Café
“The Basque,” as most locals call it, is a Sonoma gem. The small bakery offers delectable pastries, scrumptious breads and a variety of sandwiches, with affordable prices and a family-friendly atmosphere.
basqueboulangerie.com, 460 1st St E, 707.935.7687
The Big 3 Diner at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
Located steps away from the Sonoma Mission Inn, The Big 3 Diner offers casual elegance, unique American cuisine, country-style breakfasts and a special menu for dietarily restricted diners. And there’s live music on Monday and Wednesday evenings.
100 Boyes Blvd., 707.938.9000, ext 2410.
Black Bear Diner
Nostalgia rules in this pleasantly quaint diner, just a block from the Plaza. All the classic comfort foods are here, from fluffy pancakes to BBQ burgers. Fuss-free, affordable family food.
blackbeardiner.com, 201 W Napa St,
Terrific food, full bar, breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner, fruit pancakes with sweetened crème fraîche, grass-fed beef burgers, bargain specials, collectible art and sometimes a singing waitress with the voice of an angel. What’s not to love.
breakawaycafe.com, 19101 Sonoma Hwy, 707.996.5949
A newer addition to Sonoma specializing in Californian cuisine with a comfortable, casual atmosphere. Try the roasted chicken breast followed by the “Cookies and Cream” dessert, and check out the all-Sonoma wine list.
cafe522.com, 522 Broadway, 707.938.7373
A trattoria-style restaurant in the heart of Kenwood, with views of vineyards on the Sonoma hills and the essence of Italian home-cooked meals, from colorful salads to traditional pastas and Italian desserts.
cafecitti.com, 9049 Sonoma Hwy, 707.833.2690
Café La Haye
One of Sonoma’s dining treasures, La Haye is a lovely and indulgent dining experience. Try the papardelle with portabella mushrooms, followed by the rich almond cake with pear and vanilla. There are no bad choices on the menu.
cafelahaye.com, 140 E Napa St
Carneros Bistro and Wine Bar
Located at The Lodge at Sonoma, this is the perfect place for anyone craving bold bistro food and excellent wine. The truffled quinoa or the grilled hanger steak are winners.
thelodgeatsonoma.com/Carneros-Bistro-WIne-Bar, 1325 Broadway
Cary’s Sports Grill
A casual, fun, energy-packed environment to enjoy chicken wings, burgers and big-screen sports in a family-friendly milieu, with affordable and takeout options and a driving range next door.
caryssportsgrill.com,18709 Arnold Dr
Centre du Vin at the Ledson Hotel
Picture an elegant French bistro located on the Plaza, offering delectable food and wine with live music that beckons on the evening air and sidewalk tables for people-watching while you nibble and sip. Ask for the prawns in garlic sauce with the 2010 Zina Hyde Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc.
ledsonhotel.com/centreduvin/, 480 1st St E
Fresh ingredients, generous and creative breakfast and lunch options and an impressive commitment to the community. Every month, they choose a charity and hold a benefit dinner.
ccsonoma.com, 875 W Napa St
Charming and comparatively little known, Creekside has a cozy location, friendly staff and satisfying breakfasts. A good place to start the day.
239 Boyes Blvd, 707.996.8062
Della Santina’s Trattoria
Italian to the core, Della Santina has gained critical acclaim not only from its customers, but from the New York Times, National Geographic Traveler, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Cannoli florentine on the lovely outdoor patio might convince you you’re actually in Italy.
dellasantinas.com, 133 E Napa St
Depot Hotel Restaurant and Garden
Beautiful stone building, lovely setting, dedicated service, delicious Italian and Mediterranean food, the perfect place or a romantic date. Go for the sautéed rainbow trout and the roasted corn salad, followed by the “Coffee and a Cigarette” dessert (It’s not what you think!).
depotsonoma.com, 241 1st St W
The Epicurean Connection
The perfect destination for a quick mocha or a colorful, Sonoma-style lunch, from cheeses to chocolate, impressive wines and craft beers, plus endless varieties of artisan foods, with an atmosphere catering to both the Sonoma locals and tourists.
122 W Napa St, 707.935.7960
E-Saan Thai House
A small, intimate Thai treasure in Boyes Hot Springs, with excellent service and food.
18629 Sonoma Hwy , 707.939.9077
El Dorado Kitchen
Most people just call it “EDK.” Top-notch American cuisine, an impressively creative cocktail menu, several novel nonalcoholic drinks and an appealing indoor and outdoor ambiance. Try the Alaskan halibut with a side of cauliflower.
eldoradosonoma.com/edk, 405 1st St W
El Molino Central
A high-end, authentic Mexican restaurant with a casual atmosphere, this is a hot spot for a burst of flavor. Stone-ground tortillas made fresh each day, soups, tacos, and unusual/traditional combinations you haven’t ever tried. The whole menu is available for takeout.
elmolinocentral.com, 11 Central Ave
Luxurious dining with gorgeous grounds and equally marvelous food. In particular, the seared arctic char is irresistible, as is the strozzapreti.
estate-sonoma.com, 400 W Spain St
The Fig Café & Wine Bar
One of Glen Ellen’s surprising attractions, with an array of artisanal delights, salads, pizzas, and various other entrees. We like the cafe pot roast or perhaps the baby artichoke pizza. Great wine list or bring your own – there’s no corkage fee.
thefigcafe.com, 13690 Arnold Dr, 707.938.2130
The Fremont Diner
Located in Schellville, a small roadside gem filled with authentic home-style country cooking, located conveniently between Napa and Sonoma, the perfect spot to drop in between wine tours and tastings.
2660 Fremont Dr, 707.938.7370
Glen Ellen Inn
California cuisine with a French twist, served American bistro style, from fresh seafood to homemade pastas, breads, and ice cream, showcasing food, wine, and some sophisticated California atmosphere. Cozy cabins in back to sleep it all off.
glenelleninn.com, 13670 Arnold Dr
Glen Ellen Star
Both rustic and refined, creating art with fresh, colorful Sonoma foods, an evolving menu cooked in the wood oven, from golden beets with harissa crumble and oxalis to baby carrots with orange flower honey and argan oil.
glenellenstar.com, 13648 Arnold Dr
Harvest Moon Café
At first glance, an unassuming café tucked into a Plaza storefront. Step inside and discover a very special restaurant with a Mediterranean menu renewed each day. Diners can always expect something delightfully different.
487 1st St W, 707.933.8160
Best known for a diverse array of beer, Hopmonk also has delicious Californian cuisine, including grilled portobello or cider braised salmon. There’s also a kids menu, so you can bring the tots while you chug.
hopmonk.com/sonoma/, 691 Broadway
Hot Box Grill
American cuisine in a refreshingly modern context in Agua Caliente, making maximum use of local produce and poultry for an impressive dining experience. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the Warm Octopus Salad.
18350 Sonoma Hwy, 707.939.8383
A quaint Mexican restaurant with authentic dishes, charming staff and long waits. The vegetarian nachos are delightfully filling, as is the very, very spicy chipotle plate.
juanitajuanita.com, 19114 Arnold Dr
Views of Sugarloaf ridge and Kunde Vineyards with tasty twists on typical California cuisine, from the crispy duck spring roles to the pan-fried calf liver. Offered in an elegant atmosphere with a lovely wine bar and rotating pieces of dynamic sculpture outside.
kenwoodrestaurant.com, 9900 Hwy 12
La Casa Restaurant
A favorite of both locals and tourists, offering rich and flavorful meals in humongous proportions. It’s tough choosing a favorite dish, but the Enchiladas Rancheras are amazing.
lacasarestaurant.com, 121 E Spain St
Richly flavorful Brazilian and Portuguese cuisine from chef Manuel Azevedo and his staff, combining cultural delights from Portugal with essential ingredients from Sonoma.
lasalette-restaurant.com, 452 1st St E, Ste H
Mamma Tanino’s Ristorante
There’s a reason lots of the patrons are regulars: The modest shopping center location belies an Italian treasure. This is the real stuff, and don’t be shy if the chef comes out to make sure you’re happy. Walk in the door and you’re family.
mammataninos.com, 500 W Napa St
Mary’s Pizza Shack
A home-grown legend, Mary’s celebrates the small-town feel of Sonoma by making diners feel as if they’ve stepped into their own grandmothers’ kitchen. If you’re tired of fussy dinners, stop by Mary’s for some no-nonsense, authentic Italian.
maryspizzashack.com, 18636 Sonoma Hwy, 707-938-3600 OR 8 W Spain St, 707-938-8300
Incredible Mayan food (differing slightly from traditional Mexican fare due to Caribbean and European influence) in an attractively modern Plaza venue. The ceviche is amazing, the drinks are well-crafted and the temple of tequila will astound you.
mayarestaurant.com, 101 E Napa St
Meritage Martini Oyster Bar and Grille
One word: seafood. Fresh oysters, lobster, crab—you name it, they have it, along with scrumptious salads, pastas, non-seafood entrees and a very popular bar.
sonomameritage.com, 165 W Napa St
Murphy’s Irish Pub
It’s what a pub should be: Great food, great beer, and great music. Live performances most nights, bluegrass to rock to punk to folk and more. Despite the “pub” moniker, Murphy’s is kid-friendly, especially on Tuesday Trivia nights.
sonomapub.com, 464 1st St E, 707.935.0660
Olive and Vine
Easy to miss in Glen Ellen’s Jack London Village, it offers masterful California-style, fresh, organic cuisine prepared from local products in an atmosphere both high-end and relaxed. Also offers catering services for Sonoma County events.
14301 Arnold Dr, 707.996.9151
Exactly what you would expect from the name—quaint, home style, all-American family food with ’50s style decorations and a motorcycle hanging on one wall. The breakfast food is perfect any time of day.
561 5th St W, 707.996.1783
Pizzeria Capri Ristorante
Fresh California pizza and Italian cuisine, the perfect stop after a day at the Plaza or at Train Town, which is right next door. Family-friendly and offers both dine-in and take-out choices.
1266 Broadway, 707.935.6805
The Plaza Bistro
Another sanctuary of fine Italian food, wildly popular, often crowded, frequent live music, with great house-made gnocchi and a beautiful butter leaf salad.
420 1st St E, 707.996.4466
A wide selection of traditional Mexican dishes, from burritos to seafood enchiladas, it combines taqueria food with a restaurant ambiance. Perfect for families and large groups.
19315 Sonoma Hwy, 707.933.9496
Rancho Viejo offers delectable Yucatan-style food for people who appreciate the unique and flavorful cooking. The margaritas, ceviche, and flan are some of the best around, and the service is always prompt and pleasant.
18976 Sonoma Hwy. 707.939.3663
The Red Grape
The menu stretches far and wide, but the unique, thin-crust pizzas are some of the best anywhere, with unexpected and fantastic toppings. The incredible service makes you feel cared for and right at home.
theredgrape.com, 529 1st St W
Rin’s Thai Restaurant
Uniquely located in a remodeled Victorian, consistently excellent Thai food with Western elements. While every dish is a winner, the Gang Dang red curry and the Pad Kee Mow are addictive, particularly with a Thai iced tea.
rinsthai.cm, 139 E Napa St, 707.938.1462
Saddles Steakhouse at MacArthur Place
Steaks, chops, fresh seafood, and a wide array of wines, with a hallway full of real saddles, this is a place to bring your big appetite. You can’t go wrong with the grass-fed filet.
29 E MacArthur Place, 707.933.3191
Santé Restaurant at the Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn
This is how you get a Michelin star, although Santé should really have two. Between the food, the service and the incredible location, Santé consistently knocks it out of the park. Trust the tasting menu with wine pairing—you can’t go wrong.
100 Boyes Blvd, 707.938.9000
The Schellville Grill
A no-frills grill, deceptively simple because the food is surprisingly good, with a sophisticated chef and the personal blessing of Guy Fieri. You’ll find it in (surprise) Schellville. When you get there order the Yahoo burger with a side of fries.
schellvillegrill.com, 22900 Broadway
Sunflower Caffe Espresso and Wine Bar
Combining wine, food and art, this charming Plaza café has a jewel of a patio in back, overflowing with gorgeous greenery and wooden wine barrels. You can get your wine, your fritatta, and your painting all in one stop.
sonomasunflower.com, 421 1st St W
A Sonoma hot spot, Shiso offers modern Asian cuisine with an artistic Sonoma twist. The sushi bar menu is sure to be a hit, while the chef’s off-menu items keep things fresh and exciting.
shisorestaurant.com, 19161 Sonoma Hwy
A fine-dining experience in a historic setting with creative cuisine, offering a modern take on the traditional Italian menu. From pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven to Sonoma’s finest wines, a neat balance of class and charm.
swisshotelsonoma.com, 18 W Spain St
Taste of the Himalayas
Unless you hang in the Himalayas, this menu will be all new, with dishes you’ve never heard of. But you don’t have to be a Sherpa to love the food, all flavored with an array of Himalayan spices, and served with special grace.
464 1st St E, Ste F, 707.996.1161
Taqueria La Hacienda
Colorful painted walls, authentic atmosphere, expansive menu, reasonable prices and quick service—a perfect place for a family meal or a low-key date.
17960 Sonoma Hwy, 707.939.8266
the girl & the fig
An oh-so-chic lowercase name and a menu filled with heavenly options, explain why tourists and locals alike are in love with the the fig. Seafood lovers should try the wild flounder meunière with the fig and arugula salad.
thegirlandthefig.com, 110 W Spain St
All the produce is harvested from the certified organic and biodynamic Rose Ranch in Kenwood, and the menu showcases all the influences defining Sonoma dining, from quesadillas to California beet and mozzarella salads.
vineyardsinn.com, 8445 Sonoma Hwy
An array of Nepalese, Indian, and Pakistani dishes, offering savory, spicy, flavorful food in Glen Ellen. With cozy indoor and outdoor seating and beautiful decorations.
yetirestaurantusa.com, 14301 Arnold Dr
From the 2012 summer issue of SONOMA