It would be hugely upsetting to travel to the town some consider the northernmost point of the Bay Area without working through at least one Gravenstein apple. It’s sort of Sebastopol’s mascot; the highway that runs through town shares its name, and there’s an annual festival in the apple’s honor each year. It should come as no surprise then that the modest wine country hamlet sports a powerful dining scene. Yes, the Barlow showcases everything from sushi restaurants to olive oil outlets to the Golden State Cider taproom, but there are heaps of wonderful businesses all throughout town. Bring your Retrograde coffee on a lavender farm tour, within minutes of Florence Avenue, or hit one of the numerous farmers markets throughout the area before heading out to eat. Here are 10 of Sebastopol’s most well-loved restaurants, cafes, and shops.Read More
Where to Eat and Drink in Sebastopol
The Sonoma County town is home to some of wine country’s best food
This petite patisserie earned a Slow Food Snail badge for its French specialties like frangipane and gateau Basque, a dense cake loaded with butter and eggs that hails from Southwest France. Angelica’s many fans also love the cream scones, gluten-free goodies like flourless chocolate cake, and high tea that includes your choice of Mariage Freres Tea, macarons, mini scones, and finger sandwiches (reservations are recommended).
The Farmer's Wife
The sandwich initially may have been invented to make multitasking easier, but the cheesy melted sandwiches from the Farmer’s Wife definitely require both hands. Kendra Kolling, who’s also a regular at a couple of Bay Area farmers markets, loves stuffing a couple of cheeses, sustainable meat, jam, and eggs in her creations. She got into the sandwich business after she married an apple farmer and needed to boost their margins. Start slowly with the patty melt, which features grass-fed beef, caramelized onions, cheddar, and secret sauce. Or go whole hog on the Belly & Jelly, a substantial mashup of honey lavender bacon, apricot preserves, wildflower honey, and melted cheddar.
Blue Ridge Kitchen
Some of the most delicious fried chicken in the Bay Area can be found here. Chef Matthew D’Ambrosi says it took him 287 batches to perfect the batter, and its deep golden hue is like a cross between tempura and a beer-battered fish fillet. The batter is crunchy, savory, and light with caramelized notes reminiscent of a perfect apple fritter. And the meat is tender and juicy, even without the spicy beurre blanc that comes on the side. The chef brings the same level of intensity to the rest of the menu, but especially his cioppino, hardwood smoked prime rib, shrimp and grits, and burger.
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Two Dog Night Creamery
Two Dog Night Creamery tempts customers in the summer with its seasonal flavors, such as the signature Blackberry Pie (vanilla ice cream with sweet organic blackberries). But the shop’s regulars also dally with the Caramelized Apple Pie flavor, which is studded with warm spices, and have a steady thing with the Bananas Foster. They’ve also got vegan peanut butter ice cream, and you can get a couple of free toppings on your cone.
Infusions Tea House & Sonoma Chocolatiers
Everything is thoughtfully done at this chocolate and tea shop near Whole Foods, repeatedly named the best chocolate shop in Sonoma County. They only work with dark chocolates from Valrhona, Guittard, and organic maker Pacari, crafting them into satiny bittersweet truffles infused with ingredients like olive oil, local honey cacao nibs. The standout is the dark salted caramel, which has just the right balance of bitterness and salt to make you want another one. The coconut black tea is a local favorite, but the rose matcha latte, which starts with gently steeped organic rose petals, is the stuff of dreams.
The shoyu broth at Ramen Gaijin is a thing of beauty: deep, dark, and intensely flavored. Even though chef-owners Matthew Williams and Moishe Hahn-Schuman aren’t from Japan, they’ve lovingly translated the flavors they found there, including ramen, fried chicken karaage donburi, and a satisfying wintry curry.
Retrograde Coffee Roasters
Though their Milky Way Nitro Cold Coffee has star power on its own (it’s brewed hot over ice and then hit with nitrogen for texture), Retrograde is also notable for being the first Certified Green coffee roaster and cafe in Sonoma County. So besides having recyclable or compostable packaging, they donate chaff from the roasting process to a chicken farm to use as bedding and turn coffee grounds into compost. And they pay more than the Fair Trade price for their coffee beans sourced from places like Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and Chiapas, Mexico. Pop in for a to-go pour over, a Yama Japanese cold brew jasmine tea, or a latte flavored with matcha, beets, or charcoal and rose syrup.
Viva Mexicana has been a Sebastopol institution since 1986; in the past 10 years owner Sima Mohamadian has added more organic and local produce to the menu. The flavors are clean and direct, from the mole negro made in-house for the chicken Holy Mole Burrito to the marinated grilled rock cod from Bodega Bay. Popular comfort dishes include organic chicken pozole and beef birria stew with tomatillo salsa. Carnivores and vegans are equally fond of the Gratitude Burrito: yam and potato hash browns, jalapeño salsa, and corn-studded guacamole in a big gluten-free tortilla. Mohamadian has recently added a mini Persian market to the restaurant, in tribute to her parents who both passed away last year.
Handlining is an intimate style of fishing with just a line, a hook, and your hands. At Handline, an old Foster Freeze with a woodsy makeover, you’ll find sublimely fresh seafood, like fried fish tacos, ceviche, and grilled Hog Island oysters in season, alongside burgers made with organic beef. The menu is also filled with local wine, brews, and produce. Sao Jorge, a Portuguese white cheese from Matos Cheese Factory, is served as a zesty sauce that’s good on anything, including your finger. Say yes when they ask if you want fries with that: they’re double-fried, Belgian-style, in rice oil, so they’re supremely light with a crunchy outside and creamy inside.
Himalayan Tandoori and Curry House
In a squat parking lot off of the main highway in town, this Nepalese restaurant dishes out some of the best, reasonably-priced food in Sebastopol. The vegetable biryani is $19, but is a veritable wealth of rice, and sides like the pakora run just $7. The aloo tiki comes in a cheerleader pyramid-esque temple of fried deliciousness, perfect for any road-weary traveler.