Penngrove has changed substantially since its days as a railroad post, but it maintains a small-town charm that is easy to fall in love with. Although it is tiny, with a population just over 2,500, it is packed with places to eat and drink that are definitely worth the short drive north from Petaluma. Most of these spots are so down-home, they don’t even have websites.
Twin Oaks Roadhouse
This long-standing roadhouse, built in 1924, had more of a rough-and-tumble vibe before Dean Biersch brought his Midas touch to the Old Redwood Highway site. Biersch is best known for his namesake brewery and restaurant chain, Gordon Biersch, which he sold in 1999. Upon moving to Sonoma County, he launched the HopMonk Tavern chain, which began in Sebastopol but now includes locations in Sonoma and Novato. When he scooped up Twin Oaks Tavern in 2016, he came at it with the same approach: preserve the history while enhancing the food and beer menu. He renamed it Twin Oaks Roadhouse and made sure it was packed with live music performances three or four days a week. In addition to bringing a fuller selection of craft beers to the location, he added a menu of elevated bar bites like jalapeno poppers stuffed with gruyere cheese, along with hearty sandwiches like the beer-battered fried chicken and pulled pork.
Where: 5745 Old Redwood Highway
More info: twinoaksroadhouse.com
Yai Yai’s The Grateful Greek
Also new on the block is this taste of the Mediterranean. The former Yanni’s Sausage Grill has been remade into a tiny shop of big flavors. Owners Tom Adams and Dr. Thea Robb aren’t messing around with anything bland. Chef Chris Adams-Albrecht’s adept use of classic Greek spices like mint, dill and oregano, paired with plenty of fresh lemon juice and olive oil, means you can smell it before you walk in the door. Expect classics like gyros, greek salads and lentil soup, all made with a slight Wine Country twist. And don’t worry, Yanni’s lovers, the sausages are still available by request.
Where: 10007 Main St.
More info: 664-5442
The weekend is the best time to visit this Penngrove café, because that’s when big, bold breakfasts of fluffy pancakes, eggs Florentine and unusual omelets are served up piping hot and ready to be devoured. Midweek, you’ll find a traditional café menu with crisp salads, bagels and cups of soup. They are also known for their slightly unusual sandwich offerings, like brie and apple, or turkey, cranberry and avocado. Of course, no French-inspired café would be complete without a robust menu of coffee and tea drinks, along with a few smoothie options for those who prefer their beverages frosty. They also offer catering for business events or parties.
Where: 10101 Main St., suite A
More info: javamorecafe.com
With a name this Italian, it’s no wonder why this pizza joint has been a popular Penngrove place since 1998. It was opened by the Caprara family, who still operate the restaurant to this day, with Joe and his youngest daughter Teressa at the helm. The chewy dough can be topped with almost anything you can imagine, from the classics to specialty items like bacon, feta and eggplant. Try the Penngrove pizza with alfredo sauce, chicken, onions and fresh garlic. For those with a big appetite, the rib plate comes with a half or full slab. Then there’s the traditional Italian sandwiches like salami and meatball. Pair that with an array of sides and appetizers, including breadsticks, salads and chicken wings.