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Trout crudo on a white plate with scalloped edges. Nicola Parisi

26 Drive-Worthy Restaurants in Sonoma County

From little wine bars and bistros to bagels and momos, taste the laid-back side of wine country

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As far as wine country goes, some might say that Sonoma is Napa’s more low-key, down-to-earth little sister — dotted with small, charming, family-run wineries, relatively few of which command the tour-bus crowds and baller prices you’ll find in the Napa Valley proper. So it goes with the food scene as well: Sure, there are a couple of blowout, fine-dining tasting menu destinations in the region — which is starting to attract some big-name chefs, too — but for the most part, Sonoma County is defined by restaurants that tend to be more low-key than that — little wine bars, hole-in-the-wall bistros, and all-day cafes.

There’s also more culinary diversity here than you might expect, so if visitors aren’t in the mood for straight-ahead Cal-French or Cal-Italian, they can also snag some great tacos, a plate of momos or shawarma, or an unpretentious deli sandwich. Here are 26 of Sonoma County’s most delicious destinations.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID transmission.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

Catelli's Restaurant

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It could be easy to discount Catelli’s as an old-school red-sauce joint, but that would be a mistake. First opened in 1936, Catelli’s is now under the firm guidance of third-generation chef Domenica Catelli, who is cooking the heck out of the dishes first brought to the menu by her grandparents (Nonnie’s minestrone soup is still a must-order). It’s the kind of spot that satisfies those seeking modern California-Italian hybrids as much as those dreaming of a nice piece of chicken parm. Fresh pastas and sauces are hallmarks. A full bar, an outstanding selection of northern Sonoma County wines, and a lovely back patio round out the experience. 

Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria

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The original pizzas from the wood-burning ovens at Diavola are excellent (like the Dictator, topped with marinated short rib, Korean barbecue sauce, garlic, serrano chiles, green onions, kimchi, and kewpie), but you can still have the meal of your life without them. Chef-owner Dino Bugica, who spent 10 years in Italy mastering the art of butchery, is a salad savant, and the main courses — which might feature sea urchin or offal cuts — reward trust.

SingleThread

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Even just a few years in, SingleThread’s reputation precedes it — for its tough-to-secure reservations, its lofty $300-plus per diner price tag (especially if customers are also booking a night at the on-site inn), and its hyper-hyper-seasonal approach. (Famously, owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton speak in terms of 72 “microseasons.”) The restaurant has its own farm and three glittering Michelin stars, and chef Kyle’s elegant, Japanese-inflected tasting menu is a thing of beauty that’s almost too pretty to eat.

Valette

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Right off the main square in Healdsburg is Valette, a cozy, stylish, family-run restaurant offering a menu of dishes filled with local ingredients. The famous day scallops en croute is a rite of passage here, and chef Dustin Valette is a savant at vegetable-based dishes, for instance, the roasted carrot soup and Cognac-infused mushrooms. Save room for an original dessert, like the ItsNotA “Snickers Bar.” If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the “Trust Me” chef tasting menu and let Valette do his thing.

Valette

Little Saint

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Little Saint is an ambitious project from Kyle and Katina Connaughton of SingleThread, taking over the former SHED space in Healdsburg with a plant-based restaurant at its center. The menu at the restaurant features seasonal vegetables grown at SingleThread and Little Saint’s farms with dishes that will change based on what’s brought in that day, such as the mujadara with kohlrabi and sprouted lentils that was served in early spring. Little Saint is labelled as ambitious because there is much more to explore beyond the restaurant; there’s a coffee bar, cafe, wine shop, and a provisions area to pick up produce and food items to go, which would be perfect for a picnic.

Little Saint

Campo Fina

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Carbo-load on all things comfort food at Campo Fina, from panini to pizza to pasta — the Lady & the Tramp is Campo Fina’s spicy take on spaghetti and meatballs — all of which will pair masterfully with a bottle of Italian vino. The massive patio and bocce court of this iconic Healdsburg joint makes this spot great for groups and celebrations.

Restaurant at The Madrona

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Although most may know boutique hotel The Madrona by its previous incarnation, Madrona Manor, the restaurant within continues to remain an attraction in its own right. Although it has since shifted from its prix-fixe menu to a more casual version with shareable plates, the restaurant remains under the helm of chef Jesse Mallgren so expect the good food to continue. The restaurant will also be more of an all-day affair, so expect everything from a brunch featuring a salmon gravlax pizza, to a crudo plate with puffed rice and daikon or a dry aged Liberty Farms duck dish for dinner.

The covered Palm Terrace with low tables and banquettes. Matthew Millman

Willi's Wine Bar

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Burned to the ground in the 2017 Tubbs Fire that ravaged the North Bay, Willi’s Wine Bar rose from the ashes and reopened two years later at a new location at the Town & Country Center. The menu is mostly unchanged, categorized by small plates sourced from “surf, earth, and turf,” which include oysters, crab tacos, roasted beets, pork belly potstickers, and filet mignon sliders. The new incarnation of Willi’s is just like the original in that it inspires a feeling that the afternoon has barely started and the night has just begun.

Courtesy of Willi’s Wine Bar

Spinster Sisters

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Tucked away in the South A Street artists’ district, Spinster Sisters chef Liza Hinmann’s menu covers all things ocean, pasture, and dirt. Whether you opt for the lobster roll or chicken and dumplings, don’t skimp on the legendary Kennebec fries. Pair your meal with wine selections from boutique producers like Donkey and Goat or Folk Machine. Spinster Sisters also has a daily family meal for two, which might feature pork milanese or pecan-crusted Mt. Lassen trout.

Spinster Sisters

Blue Ridge Kitchen

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This 2020 addition to Sebastopol’s the Barlow (set in the space that formerly held Zazu), serves mouthwatering mashups of California fresh and Southern comfort. The result: a wood-grilled portobello muffaletta, shrimp and grits with cauliflower florets, smoked bacon, and sweet peppers, and even a Mississippi Mud Pie (Kinda). Blue Ridge, which also offers one of the best brunches in town, manages to strike the perfect balance between classic Nola and West County’s funky, hippy vibes. 

Blue Ridge Kitchen

Glen Ellen Star

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Nestled into a quiet, wooded area of Glen Ellen, the Star feels like a mountain retreat. The menu is centered on the wood oven, with roasted vegetable dishes like Brussels sprouts with brown sugar–bacon marmalade, and cauliflower with tahini and almonds. Pizza and pasta are both must-orders. It’s a bustling spot in a quiet neighborhood, with a wine list full of local and cult-favorite bottles.

Yeti Restaurant

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Yeti has two Sonoma County locations, one in Santa Rosa and one in Glen Ellen, but it’s the lively-yet-cozy Glen Ellen spot that the locals love — and yes, it’s totally worth the wait for Yeti’s delicious samosas, momos, biryani, tandoori (with six types of meat and fish), curries, and most important, naan the size of two heads put together. Choose from plain, garlic, olive basil, or honey-butter.

Fisherman's Cove

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This little seafood shack on the western side of Bodega Bay is a treasure for anyone craving the freshest possible shellfish, served simply and without fuss. The various fried seafood options are crowd-pleasers, but the real stars of the menu are the raw oysters, steamed Dungeness crab (when in season), and one of the better clam chowders around. Sit outside, just across the street from the water, and enjoy that fresh ocean air.

El Molino Central

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This casual, counter-service spot serves high-quality Mexican food, from halibut ceviche tacos to pork tamales. The handmade tortillas are so good and fragrant, you can find them at various Bay Area farmers markets (under the Primavera brand name), but they taste that much better here at the mothership.

El Molino Central

The Girl & The Fig

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A Sonoma Plaza staple for more than 20 years, the Girl & the Fig faced backlash and temporarily closed earlier this year after management asked an employee to stop wearing a BLM mask, but the restaurant has since reopened, and remains a local favorite on the historic square. A bistro at heart, the Girl & the Fig is dedicated to elegant, French-inspired interpretations of humble foods, like croque monsieur, steak frites, and steamed mussels. In the summer, don’t miss the fried green tomato BLT. 

LaSalette Restaurant

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This is new Portuguese cuisine in a white tablecloth setting, with a focus on seafood for dishes like wood oven–roasted octopus and caldeirada, a fisherman’s stew. Chef-owner Manuel Azevedo translates the plates of his forefathers into seasonal dishes that retain a connection to the ocean. LaSalette makes its own cheese, bread, and sausage. (Locals also love Azevedo’s less formal Tasca Tasca, a tapas-driven version of chef Azevedo’s vision and palate found downtown on West Napa Street.)

Layla at MacArthur Place

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Layla was part of the historic MacArthur Place Hotel’s extensive renovation a few years ago, replacing a former steakhouse with a bright, airy, and positively dreamy Mediterranean experience. New chef Spencer Wolff brings a long history in the Bay Area (SF’s the Big 4 and Napa Valley’s Harvest Table and the Culinary Institute of America at Greystone) and has hopped over to Sonoma to reinvigorate Layla’s contemporary Med menu, serving up plates like shakshuka for breakfast, patatas bravas and a falafel burger for lunch, and then crispy Spanish octopus and whole roasted sea bass for dinner. 

MacArthur Place Hotel

Wit & Wisdom Sonoma

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Michelin-rated chef Michael Mina opened his first wine country outpost, Wit & Wisdom, in 2020. Located at the recently renovated Lodge at Sonoma, Wit & Wisdom is modern, semi-casual, and feels steps above the typical, cookie-cutter hotel restaurant. The menu runs the gamut from seafood towers and Liberty Farms duck wings to wood-fired pizzas (Brussels and fontina with brown butter, anyone?) and handmade pasta to hearty, meaty dishes like the crispy Berkshire porchetta. 

Wit & Wisdom

Lou's Luncheonette

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Best known under its original Fremont Diner name (with a brief stint as Boxcar Fried Chicken & Biscuits), this wine country Southern comfort food staple hasn’t changed much through all its various iterations, except that the menu is now a little bit more tightly focused on biscuits and various permutations of fried chicken — served on the bone or in a sandwich (or, better yet, biscuit sandwich) form. Lou’s take on Nashville hot chicken is one of the better ones in the entire Bay Area.

Della Fattoria Downtown Café

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A sanctuary for everything leavened, frosted, and baked, Della Fattoria is the product of legendary owner Kathleen Weber, who died in 2020. Weber was widely lauded for her amazing breads, but the salads, sandwiches, and soups were a cut above the rest, too. Weber’s recipes live on at the Della Mercantile, where mimosas and flowers are an additional draw. 

Cucina Paradiso

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This modern Italian restaurant prides itself on making its food from scratch and using organic vegetables just as they’re known to do in Italy. Open for lunch and dinner, this is just superb Northern Italian food expertly prepared and simply served — think gnocchi in a gorgonzola-walnut sauce, spaghetti alle vongole (clams), and saltimbocca (veal).

Water Street Bistro

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From the quiche to the tiramisu, every dish here transports diners to a cozy bistro in Paris. Comfort food abounds: French-inspired pastries, salads, sandwiches, soups, and country pates are served up on an outdoor, waterfront patio. Water Street Bistro is only open Thursday to Sunday, and service stops at 2:30 p.m., so plan accordingly.

Water Street Bistro

The Bagel Mill

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Inspired by her time at New York University, Sonoma County native and Bagel Mill owner Glenda Dougherty brings a taste of the Big Apple to her Petaluma bagel shop. Made with an ambitious 36-hour process that uses a stone mill, Dougherty’s sourdough bagels come in more than a dozen flavors with an array of schmears, from green olive to cinnamon honey. The cafe also serves Ritual coffee and a selection of sandwiches for breakfast and lunch.

Stockhome Restaurant

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Bright and airy, with cheerful housewares for sale and a full counter of Lördagsgodis (traditional Swedish gummy candy) for sale by the pound, this fast-casual celebration of Stockholm street food is an easy place to love. Emphasizing the city’s explosion of Turkish street food, Stockhome uses pita and kebabs in equal measure to balance out the meatballs and lingonberries and pickled fish you’d expect to find in Sweden. Chef-owners Roberth and Andrea Sundell also own Plaj in SF but live in Petaluma, bringing the food of Roberth’s childhood just that much closer to home.

Stockhome Restaurant

Angelo's Wine Country Deli

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For many would-be picnickers heading into wine country for a day of wine tasting, Angelo’s is a mandatory first stop. The obvious attraction is the selection of hearty, well-assembled deli sandwiches. For tourists visiting from out of state, this is a great place to get a first taste of Dutch crunch bread, that Bay Area staple — almost always the correct bread choice regardless of what kind of sandwich you choose. While here, make sure to stock up on the fantastic sausages and jerkies.

FolkTable Restaurant

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Located in Sonoma’s Cornerstone marketplace, FolkTable is run by female power duo Casey Thompson, a Top Chef finalist, and chef de cuisine Melanie Wilkerson. Together, they create one-of-a-kind dishes like the chicken fat butter rice and black truffle hand pies for breakfast and lunch. And while you can of course get your avocado toast fix, you won’t regret switching it up for anything else on the tartine menu.

FolkTable

Catelli's Restaurant

It could be easy to discount Catelli’s as an old-school red-sauce joint, but that would be a mistake. First opened in 1936, Catelli’s is now under the firm guidance of third-generation chef Domenica Catelli, who is cooking the heck out of the dishes first brought to the menu by her grandparents (Nonnie’s minestrone soup is still a must-order). It’s the kind of spot that satisfies those seeking modern California-Italian hybrids as much as those dreaming of a nice piece of chicken parm. Fresh pastas and sauces are hallmarks. A full bar, an outstanding selection of northern Sonoma County wines, and a lovely back patio round out the experience. 

Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria

The original pizzas from the wood-burning ovens at Diavola are excellent (like the Dictator, topped with marinated short rib, Korean barbecue sauce, garlic, serrano chiles, green onions, kimchi, and kewpie), but you can still have the meal of your life without them. Chef-owner Dino Bugica, who spent 10 years in Italy mastering the art of butchery, is a salad savant, and the main courses — which might feature sea urchin or offal cuts — reward trust.

SingleThread

Even just a few years in, SingleThread’s reputation precedes it — for its tough-to-secure reservations, its lofty $300-plus per diner price tag (especially if customers are also booking a night at the on-site inn), and its hyper-hyper-seasonal approach. (Famously, owners Kyle and Katina Connaughton speak in terms of 72 “microseasons.”) The restaurant has its own farm and three glittering Michelin stars, and chef Kyle’s elegant, Japanese-inflected tasting menu is a thing of beauty that’s almost too pretty to eat.

Valette

Valette

Right off the main square in Healdsburg is Valette, a cozy, stylish, family-run restaurant offering a menu of dishes filled with local ingredients. The famous day scallops en croute is a rite of passage here, and chef Dustin Valette is a savant at vegetable-based dishes, for instance, the roasted carrot soup and Cognac-infused mushrooms. Save room for an original dessert, like the ItsNotA “Snickers Bar.” If you’re feeling adventurous, go for the “Trust Me” chef tasting menu and let Valette do his thing.

Valette

Little Saint

Little Saint

Little Saint is an ambitious project from Kyle and Katina Connaughton of SingleThread, taking over the former SHED space in Healdsburg with a plant-based restaurant at its center. The menu at the restaurant features seasonal vegetables grown at SingleThread and Little Saint’s farms with dishes that will change based on what’s brought in that day, such as the mujadara with kohlrabi and sprouted lentils that was served in early spring. Little Saint is labelled as ambitious because there is much more to explore beyond the restaurant; there’s a coffee bar, cafe, wine shop, and a provisions area to pick up produce and food items to go, which would be perfect for a picnic.

Little Saint

Campo Fina

Carbo-load on all things comfort food at Campo Fina, from panini to pizza to pasta — the Lady & the Tramp is Campo Fina’s spicy take on spaghetti and meatballs — all of which will pair masterfully with a bottle of Italian vino. The massive patio and bocce court of this iconic Healdsburg joint makes this spot great for groups and celebrations.

Restaurant at The Madrona

The covered Palm Terrace with low tables and banquettes. Matthew Millman

Although most may know boutique hotel The Madrona by its previous incarnation, Madrona Manor, the restaurant within continues to remain an attraction in its own right. Although it has since shifted from its prix-fixe menu to a more casual version with shareable plates, the restaurant remains under the helm of chef Jesse Mallgren so expect the good food to continue. The restaurant will also be more of an all-day affair, so expect everything from a brunch featuring a salmon gravlax pizza, to a crudo plate with puffed rice and daikon or a dry aged Liberty Farms duck dish for dinner.

The covered Palm Terrace with low tables and banquettes. Matthew Millman

Willi's Wine Bar

Courtesy of Willi’s Wine Bar

Burned to the ground in the 2017 Tubbs Fire that ravaged the North Bay, Willi’s Wine Bar rose from the ashes and reopened two years later at a new location at the Town & Country Center. The menu is mostly unchanged, categorized by small plates sourced from “surf, earth, and turf,” which include oysters, crab tacos, roasted beets, pork belly potstickers, and filet mignon sliders. The new incarnation of Willi’s is just like the original in that it inspires a feeling that the afternoon has barely started and the night has just begun.

Courtesy of Willi’s Wine Bar

Spinster Sisters

Spinster Sisters

Tucked away in the South A Street artists’ district, Spinster Sisters chef Liza Hinmann’s menu covers all things ocean, pasture, and dirt. Whether you opt for the lobster roll or chicken and dumplings, don’t skimp on the legendary Kennebec fries. Pair your meal with wine selections from boutique producers like Donkey and Goat or Folk Machine. Spinster Sisters also has a daily family meal for two, which might feature pork milanese or pecan-crusted Mt. Lassen trout.

Spinster Sisters

Blue Ridge Kitchen

Blue Ridge Kitchen

This 2020 addition to Sebastopol’s the Barlow (set in the space that formerly held Zazu), serves mouthwatering mashups of California fresh and Southern comfort. The result: a wood-grilled portobello muffaletta, shrimp and grits with cauliflower florets, smoked bacon, and sweet peppers, and even a Mississippi Mud Pie (Kinda). Blue Ridge, which also offers one of the best brunches in town, manages to strike the perfect balance between classic Nola and West County’s funky, hippy vibes. 

Blue Ridge Kitchen

Glen Ellen Star

Nestled into a quiet, wooded area of Glen Ellen, the Star feels like a mountain retreat. The menu is centered on the wood oven, with roasted vegetable dishes like Brussels sprouts with brown sugar–bacon marmalade, and cauliflower with tahini and almonds. Pizza and pasta are both must-orders. It’s a bustling spot in a quiet neighborhood, with a wine list full of local and cult-favorite bottles.

Yeti Restaurant