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Grossman’s Noshery & Bar

12 Essential Restaurants in Santa Rosa

A craving for classics, both modern and traditional, drives the dining scene in the heart of Sonoma County

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With new hot spots muscling in, a burgeoning bakery scene, and a revival of French cuisine and technique, Santa Rosa’s restaurant scene is rapidly evolving, adding intrigue and interest to Sonoma’s most urban-feeling town. Farm-to-table is woven into the fabric of the community, and a focus on local fare helps define the region’s culinary identity. While a single list cannot capture the entirety of the Santa Rosa food scene, this roster of 12 restaurants attempts to showcase a bit of the culinary adventurism coursing through the town.

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Eater maps are curated by editors and aim to reflect a diversity of neighborhoods, cuisines, and prices. Learn more about our editorial process.

Pascaline French Bistro & Patisserie

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Though this Santa Rosa bistro has only been open since July, the original in Sebastopol carried pastry chef Lito Morin’s reputation for flaky croissants and breakfast brioche 12 miles east. Chef Didier Ageorges, who hails from Burgundy, pulled together a lunch menu that blends French and American standards. The signature soup, a l’oignon gratine, can be matched with a tuna salad panini zhuzhed up with Old Bay aioli. The French Dip panini au jus? “That’s 100 percent American,” Ageorges says. The bigger kitchen in Santa Rosa means everything is made fresh onsite in the morning, pop-up dinners will soon transition to regular service, and gateau Basque and cheesecakes will be available soon.

John Ash & Co.

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John Ash & Co. has been serving bowls of Estate winter squash and curry soup, and beef tenderloin with mushrooms a la crème since 1980. Much of the produce, fruit, and herbs come from the gardens onsite (the restaurant is on the grounds of the Vintner’s Resort) and the kitchen leans into French technique, a reminder that butter is a verb and chocolate cremeaux is what we should all eat for dessert. Enjoy a classic Bee’s Knees cocktail in the adjoining bar, The Front Room. It’s suitably dark and as classic as Santa Rosa gets.

Flamingo Lazeaway Club

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Flavors of the Pacific are the name of the game at this restaurant inside the revamped Flamingo Resort. You want to be here for brunch — poolside — with a Coconut Espresso Martini in one hand and a plate lunch of loco moco or spicy chicken bao in the other. The campy vibe escalates to astonishing heights during the holiday season’s Sippin’ Santa, when the guy with the red clothes and white beard dons board shorts and sunglasses with food and drinks to match. The Mele Kalikimaka — Hawaiian sweet bread stuffing croquettes with mezcal cranberry sauce and sage — pairs beautifully with a Ho Ho Hot Buttered Rum in a classic tiki cup.

Flamingo Lazeaway Club

SEA Thai Bistro

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Chef Tony Ounpamornchai’s restaurant devoted to the cooking of his heritage regularly earns accolades for its fresh seafood and keen approach to Thai flavors. Many guests visit just for the decor. Enhanced by moody lighting, creatures of the sea float in schools and individually over the tables, encouraging you to try the Monterey squid with ginger, tomato, and cream, or the pan-seared scallops in garlic butter. A second restaurant at Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village dives more deeply into the noodles and rice dishes of the region.

Bird & The Bottle

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Bird & The Bottle is both a tavern with an ample wine, beer, and cocktail list and a restaurant with globe-spanning flavors that define modern comfort. There’s a plentiful array of snacks and small plates; barbecued bone marrow with nduja, fried oyster lettuce cups with shiso, and Korean fried mushrooms work well together and apart. Comfortable seating abounds and warm lighting from strings of Edison bulbs invites lounging on the patio at night while colorful umbrellas soften  Sonoma’s daytime brightness. Plus, you haven’t lived until you’ve shared a Dirty Dilbert cocktail with four or five of your closest friends.

Bird & The Bottle

Rosso Pizzeria

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Perhaps best known for its no-corkage policy, this restaurant dedicated to pizza, wine, and piadini invites guests to explore an extensive list by creating wine flights of their choosing. While chatting with your server about your selections, your Castelvetrano olive and Caggiano sausage-topped pizza, its crust made with Caputo double-zero flour, spends its minute inside the 800-degree Mugnaini oven, emerging blistered and glistening. The mozzarella and burrata are made in-house and gluten-free options are available. Don’t miss the balsamic roasted fig pizza with caramelized onions and mozzarella — the juicy fruit’s moment in the sun will end soon.

Augie’s French

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Brought to you by the same team behind nearby Stark’s Seafood and Steaks, this little French restaurant in the former Portofino building knows its way around escargot, delivering five versions of the Burgundian classic in a tres chic French-style bistro setting. Start with black truffle butter snails, then sate your Taillevent-driven cravings with Dover sole Grenobloise or beef cheek Bourguignon. And for dessert? Three French cheeses, mai oui. A short list of French wines and Frenchified cocktails (think, French 75 or vesper) seems curated to match the vibe.

Augie’s French

La Rosa

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Santa Rosa’s somewhat rowdier side comes to life at downtown’s Mexican hot spot, La Rosa. The margarita menu is as long as your arm, matched by the beer and cocktail lists. Grab a seat in one of the cowhide chairs to gaze upon posters promoting Mexican wrestling matches and old Pedro Infante movies. Keen on a skinny margarita? We suggest the Cholita Linda, which swaps earthier mezcal for tequila. Big combination plates of everything from fajitas and tamales to birria and chimichangas seem designed for groups. And that’s ok because there is plenty of room inside and out for parties of all sizes.

This throwback European diner that highlights a range of European comfort food — Portuguese fish stew, pork schnitzel, chuleton — is already creating a buzz about town. Chef Jeremey Whitcomb helms the stoves, in partnership with co-owners Julia Hsieh and Lowell Sheldon, who previously faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault; Sheldon denies all allegations and has not been charged with a crime. The library room, originally intended as staff space, is the go-to reservation, and dinner is available nightly until 11 p.m., a rarity in town. Old school touches like beef tallow to cook French fries or pink pickled eggs and pan de mie to accompany a plate of lox reinforce the traditional approach.

Dawn Heumann

Grossman’s Noshery & Bar

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There’s plentiful evidence that this is a Jewish deli: white fish salad on a bagel, chicken kreplach, and brisket with sweet and sour tomato sauce, all served in a whitewashed diner-like setting. But that classification would do a disservice to the broader Mediterranean offerings including cinnamon babka French toast, crispy baby artichokes with labneh, and quinoa tabbouleh. No matter what you call it, the latkes are gluten-free, the breads are made in-house,  and there’s a vegan menu for those days when kippered salmon is a bridge too far.

Grossman’s Noshery and Bar

Marla Bakery

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Though this bakery-café’s departure from San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood was much mourned, Marla’s new home in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square neighborhood brings owners Amy Brown and Joe Wolf’s Crebble (a croissant-muffin hybrid) to the North Bay. Here’s your reminder of the flaky loft achieved by pastry chef Brown’s croissant dough, the chewy crumb of the bagels, and the lusciousness of the much-written-about sticky buns, plus all the coffee and fresh bread you can handle. Wolf handles the savory side, which at lunch means chicories and pickled persimmons in a seasonal salad, grilled cheese with garlic confit and roast mushrooms, and a baguette sandwich with Marla ham and marinated peppers on Pugliese.

Marla Bakery

Spinster Sisters

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Chef Liza Hinman can’t pin the success of her restaurant on any one thing. It could be the focus on highlighting the best of Sonoma on its seasonally adjusting menu, which offers plates of winter squash gnocchi and mushroom crispelle. Or perhaps it’s the cozy vibe with fresh flowers, candles, and a more refined dinner service. Though it’s closed until spring, the sail-bedecked patio is a big draw, too. Maybe it’s the Wednesday burger special? Hinman recently featured a kimchi burger with black garlic aioli and another with Carolina barbecue. We’re guessing it’s all of these things and a dash of je nais se quois.

Spinster Sisters

Pascaline French Bistro & Patisserie

Though this Santa Rosa bistro has only been open since July, the original in Sebastopol carried pastry chef Lito Morin’s reputation for flaky croissants and breakfast brioche 12 miles east. Chef Didier Ageorges, who hails from Burgundy, pulled together a lunch menu that blends French and American standards. The signature soup, a l’oignon gratine, can be matched with a tuna salad panini zhuzhed up with Old Bay aioli. The French Dip panini au jus? “That’s 100 percent American,” Ageorges says. The bigger kitchen in Santa Rosa means everything is made fresh onsite in the morning, pop-up dinners will soon transition to regular service, and gateau Basque and cheesecakes will be available soon.

John Ash & Co.

John Ash & Co. has been serving bowls of Estate winter squash and curry soup, and beef tenderloin with mushrooms a la crème since 1980. Much of the produce, fruit, and herbs come from the gardens onsite (the restaurant is on the grounds of the Vintner’s Resort) and the kitchen leans into French technique, a reminder that butter is a verb and chocolate cremeaux is what we should all eat for dessert. Enjoy a classic Bee’s Knees cocktail in the adjoining bar, The Front Room. It’s suitably dark and as classic as Santa Rosa gets.

Flamingo Lazeaway Club

Flavors of the Pacific are the name of the game at this restaurant inside the revamped Flamingo Resort. You want to be here for brunch — poolside — with a Coconut Espresso Martini in one hand and a plate lunch of loco moco or spicy chicken bao in the other. The campy vibe escalates to astonishing heights during the holiday season’s Sippin’ Santa, when the guy with the red clothes and white beard dons board shorts and sunglasses with food and drinks to match. The Mele Kalikimaka — Hawaiian sweet bread stuffing croquettes with mezcal cranberry sauce and sage — pairs beautifully with a Ho Ho Hot Buttered Rum in a classic tiki cup.

Flamingo Lazeaway Club

SEA Thai Bistro

Chef Tony Ounpamornchai’s restaurant devoted to the cooking of his heritage regularly earns accolades for its fresh seafood and keen approach to Thai flavors. Many guests visit just for the decor. Enhanced by moody lighting, creatures of the sea float in schools and individually over the tables, encouraging you to try the Monterey squid with ginger, tomato, and cream, or the pan-seared scallops in garlic butter. A second restaurant at Santa Rosa’s Montgomery Village dives more deeply into the noodles and rice dishes of the region.

Bird & The Bottle

Bird & The Bottle is both a tavern with an ample wine, beer, and cocktail list and a restaurant with globe-spanning flavors that define modern comfort. There’s a plentiful array of snacks and small plates; barbecued bone marrow with nduja, fried oyster lettuce cups with shiso, and Korean fried mushrooms work well together and apart. Comfortable seating abounds and warm lighting from strings of Edison bulbs invites lounging on the patio at night while colorful umbrellas soften  Sonoma’s daytime brightness. Plus, you haven’t lived until you’ve shared a Dirty Dilbert cocktail with four or five of your closest friends.

Bird & The Bottle

Rosso Pizzeria

Perhaps best known for its no-corkage policy, this restaurant dedicated to pizza, wine, and piadini invites guests to explore an extensive list by creating wine flights of their choosing. While chatting with your server about your selections, your Castelvetrano olive and Caggiano sausage-topped pizza, its crust made with Caputo double-zero flour, spends its minute inside the 800-degree Mugnaini oven, emerging blistered and glistening. The mozzarella and burrata are made in-house and gluten-free options are available. Don’t miss the balsamic roasted fig pizza with caramelized onions and mozzarella — the juicy fruit’s moment in the sun will end soon.

Augie’s French

Brought to you by the same team behind nearby Stark’s Seafood and Steaks, this little French restaurant in the former Portofino building knows its way around escargot, delivering five versions of the Burgundian classic in a tres chic French-style bistro setting. Start with black truffle butter snails, then sate your Taillevent-driven cravings with Dover sole Grenobloise or beef cheek Bourguignon. And for dessert? Three French cheeses, mai oui. A short list of French wines and Frenchified cocktails (think, French 75 or vesper) seems curated to match the vibe.

Augie’s French

La Rosa

Santa Rosa’s somewhat rowdier side comes to life at downtown’s Mexican hot spot, La Rosa. The margarita menu is as long as your arm, matched by the beer and cocktail lists. Grab a seat in one of the cowhide chairs to gaze upon posters promoting Mexican wrestling matches and old Pedro Infante movies. Keen on a skinny margarita? We suggest the Cholita Linda, which swaps earthier mezcal for tequila. Big combination plates of everything from fajitas and tamales to birria and chimichangas seem designed for groups. And that’s ok because there is plenty of room inside and out for parties of all sizes.

Townes

This throwback European diner that highlights a range of European comfort food — Portuguese fish stew, pork schnitzel, chuleton — is already creating a buzz about town. Chef Jeremey Whitcomb helms the stoves, in partnership with co-owners Julia Hsieh and Lowell Sheldon, who previously faced allegations of sexual harassment and assault; Sheldon denies all allegations and has not been charged with a crime. The library room, originally intended as staff space, is the go-to reservation, and dinner is available nightly until 11 p.m., a rarity in town. Old school touches like beef tallow to cook French fries or pink pickled eggs and pan de mie to accompany a plate of lox reinforce the traditional approach.

Dawn Heumann

Grossman’s Noshery & Bar

There’s plentiful evidence that this is a Jewish deli: white fish salad on a bagel, chicken kreplach, and brisket with sweet and sour tomato sauce, all served in a whitewashed diner-like setting. But that classification would do a disservice to the broader Mediterranean offerings including cinnamon babka French toast, crispy baby artichokes with labneh, and quinoa tabbouleh. No matter what you call it, the latkes are gluten-free, the breads are made in-house,  and there’s a vegan menu for those days when kippered salmon is a bridge too far.

Grossman’s Noshery and Bar

Marla Bakery

Though this bakery-café’s departure from San Francisco’s Outer Richmond neighborhood was much mourned, Marla’s new home in Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square neighborhood brings owners Amy Brown and Joe Wolf’s Crebble (a croissant-muffin hybrid) to the North Bay. Here’s your reminder of the flaky loft achieved by pastry chef Brown’s croissant dough, the chewy crumb of the bagels, and the lusciousness of the much-written-about sticky buns, plus all the coffee and fresh bread you can handle. Wolf handles the savory side, which at lunch means chicories and pickled persimmons in a seasonal salad, grilled cheese with garlic confit and roast mushrooms, and a baguette sandwich with Marla ham and marinated peppers on Pugliese.

Marla Bakery

Spinster Sisters

Chef Liza Hinman can’t pin the success of her restaurant on any one thing. It could be the focus on highlighting the best of Sonoma on its seasonally adjusting menu, which offers plates of winter squash gnocchi and mushroom crispelle. Or perhaps it’s the cozy vibe with fresh flowers, candles, and a more refined dinner service. Though it’s closed until spring, the sail-bedecked patio is a big draw, too. Maybe it’s the Wednesday burger special? Hinman recently featured a kimchi burger with black garlic aioli and another with Carolina barbecue. We’re guessing it’s all of these things and a dash of je nais se quois.

Spinster Sisters

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