Kathleen Hill: Trader Joe’s, outdoor dining and more

More outdoor dining in Sonoma

We missed some of our favorite outdoor dining spots listed in my column last week. I should say “I,” not “we.”

The morning I wrote the list for last Friday’s column started off with my rolodex falling upside down on the floor. Yes, the invaluable kind with hundreds of little paper cards in it. Horrors.

So please forgive me and enjoy these other spots many locals love, including me.

Some of you will see below the benefits of being left out of original lists.

Murphy’s Irish Pub: First to email was Dermot Coll of Murphy’s Irish Pub, down the alleyway in the Place des Pyrenées. Jerry and I were weekly customers of Rose and Larry Murphy from the start when they were helped by their best friends, Kathy and Al Mazza.

Enjoy Guinness battered fish & chips, leg of lamb, shepherd’s pie, mussels and tri tip steak are favorite entrées. Happy hour daily from 4 to 7 p.m. includes $5 Brussels sprouts, three pieces chili popcorn chicken, and $3 fries. 935-0660.

Depot Hotel: Always gentile Gia Ghilarducci has one of the most beautiful dining venues in Sonoma Valley overlooking a sparkling swimming pool (don’t even think of it) with cooling sunset views and an always tempting Italian menu. She says even with required 6-foot spacing the Depot Hotel can still seat 100 guests outdoors for lunch or dinner. The Ghilarduccis have provided continuous service for 35 years. Celebrate with them Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. at 241 First St. W., Sonoma. 938-2980.

The Red Grape: Megan Moll reminded me of one of my regular stops, her family’s Red Grape, home of healthy big salads, sandwiches and burgers, and seemingly guilt-free thin crust pizzas. The lovely patio is surrounded by tall walls covered with vines and trees, lots of umbrellas and shade, and polite and efficient service. Plus curbside pickup.

The Red Grape made and provided thousands of pizzas to both first responders and displaced residents during our 2017 fires. Owners Carol and Sam Morphy will be honored as the Sonoma Community Center’s Aug. 8th virtual annual fundraiser, “Amuse-athon,” for all they do for the Sonoma community. Red Grape has also won an Index-Tribune’s “People’s Choice Award” five years in a row, so far. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily for patio and pickup. 529 First St. W., Sonoma. 996-4103.

Oso: David Bush, former chef from St. Francis Winery, now has his dream spot on Sonoma Plaza. Ever since, his deviled eggs with Dungeness crab sprinkles on top have been on the menu every day. The rest of the menu changes according to Bush’s whim or what is available fresh and local. That might include fresh oysters on the half shell, shrimp cocktail, hummus or cheese plates, patatas bravas, pork shoulder tacos and a burger. Mostly small plates to share. Interesting cocktails too. Sheltered small patio in back. 9 E. Napa St., Sonoma. 931-6926.

Yeti: Enjoy Indian and Nepalese food on the deck and patio peacefully overlooking Sonoma Creek. All of your favorites are here: Naan, tikka masala, curries, saag paneer, tandoori sizzlers, biryani basmati rice with saffron, salads, prawn pakoras, samosas, and lots of vegetarian and gluten- free dishes. 14301 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen. 996-9930.

And more outdoor dining

Palms Grill added some tables and umbrellas in their entrance walkway.

EDK has one table on First Street West as well as its patio open.

Picazo Kitchen & Bar in Maxwell Village got its permit to construct a patio and the work has begun. Kina and Sal Chavez hope to open the patio Aug. 1 and will be able to seat 40 people outside.

Harvey’s Gourmet Donuts is now open Thursday through Saturday nights with hot made-before-your-eyes donuts, including some gluten-free, hot and iced coffee drinks, frozen lemonade frappe, and 18 craft root beers. 5:30 to 9 p.m. 19030 Railroad Ave., Sonoma. 246-5928.

Free food

Here are some places offering free food to the community:

Brown Baggers and Sonoma Overnight Support are now serving breakfast and lunch at Springs Community Hall on Monday through Friday.

St. Leo’s Catholic Church: Redwood Empire Food Bank distributes free food to about 200 families on Tuesdays from 9 a.m. at their drive-through pick-up in the parking lot. St. Vincent de Paul Society gives out basics such as butter, eggs and bread at St. Leo’s Wednesdays through Fridays.

Redwood Empire Food Bank also distributes “Groceries to go” at Hanna Boys Center on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Vintage House offers an extensive schedule of food for seniors including Council on Aging 5-packs of meals to reheat on Mondays; Redwood Empire Food Bank distributes Senior Food Baskets on Tuesdays, a single-portion meal cooked by local volunteers Mara Roche (Aunt Momo), Bruce Yelner and Scott Alexander on Wednesdays; and Soup to Go, the current form of their very popular soup gatherings on Fridays. Vintage House volunteers will also shop for people and deliver all of these meals. To sign up call 996-0311.

Food news with a twist

Never mind that businesses are struggling all over the United States, and around the world, and that Americans are waiting in long lines in their cars for free food and coronavirus tests.

The group Midwest Dairy is going ahead with its 67th annual Princess Kay of the Milky Way butter sculpting, even though the Minnesota State Fair has been canceled.

Linda Christensen, a Minnesota State Fair celebrity who actually lives in California, traditionally carves the butter images of the queen and her court of princesses, aka runners up. She will not go this year because of the virus and air travel.

All of these buttery images are carved from a 90-pound block of butter in a refrigerated butter booth, according to the New York Times.

Apparently some of the “royal court” members donate their butter likenesses to food pantries, while others keep theirs in freezers for decades.

Nibs & Sips

Kyle Kuklewski, Bryan Jones, Cristina Topham of Spread Catering, and Sunshine Radtke are all actively cooking and distributing chef-quality meals to your home or to be picked up.

Ross Cannard and Cannard Family Farm, which normally grows for Alice Waters’ Chez Panisse in Berkeley, now has the ability to take credit and debit cards at his Tuesday produce box sales at Baker & Cook. He can also take Venmo, cash, and checks. Order by Sunday at $25 per box.

Upcoming virtual events with and without food

All of Sonoma’s fabulous nonprofits that do so much for our community are trying to think of creative ways to raise the money they need to run their programs without the traditional gatherings loaded with food, wine and cocktails that have been temporarily eliminated due to the coronavirus. Next up will be Sonoma Community Center’s “aMuseathon.”

The Sonoma Community Center provides all sorts of community services from education in the arts, performances, events, classes of many sorts, school and office space, and a lot of recreation programs that would normally be offered by a city recreation department.

So it needs money to make all this happen.

For years it has raised these funds with its annual “Muse” events that have honored dead and very much alive members of the community including MFK Fisher, Robert Lynch, Jack London, Alma Spreckles, James D. Zellerbach, Nicholas Carriger, Count Agoston Harazthy, Chuck Williams, Mary Ellen Pleasant, Jack Lundgren, Holly and Steve Kyle, and Gary Edwards, all of whom have contributed substantially to Sonoma.

This year’s honored Muses are Carol and Sam Morphy, owners of the Red Grape, who have helped many organizations and fed thousands of locals during the fires.

While the Muse event is always loads of fun, it will be different and even funnier this year. No big bash in back of the Community Center, but lots of virtual fun and hilarity and a Live Variety Show led by Ellen Toscano, former cast member in “Beach Blanket Babylon,” in which role she followed another Sonoman, Val Diamond. Toscano and Eric Jackson, a former favorite Transcendence Theatre performer, will again co-host the “aMuseathon” on Saturday, Aug. 8 at 5 p.m. sharp. Register for free at

Corporate changes

Increased sensitivities to doing the right thing for others, with offenses that have built over hundreds of years, have brought Trader Joe’s to remove ethnic adaptations of Trader Joe’s labels on its products. Leaving will be Thai Joe’s, Trader José and Trader Joe San, to be replaced by just plain Trader Joe’s. Several years ago I did a poll of readers asking whether they preferred Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods to fill the marketplace grocery store space. The poll results were 15 to 1 for Trader Joe’s.

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