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La Salette is a charming little restaurant tucked away in a side alley mall just off the Sonoma Plaza. The food is excellent and Portugese based. A choice of appetizers will start your meal: any 3 for $15, 5 for $20, etc. There are lots to choose from, but if you are into it, they have some of the best blood sausage ever. His tripe appetizer is delicious, but so rich it needs to be split with friends.
Much of the food is cooked in a wood oven which provides ambiance and a lovely crunch to many of the dishes. Chef Manny does a great job with sardines, all types of Portugese stews and the traditional caldo verde. They even serve a delicious portugese fish and chips at lunch time.
There is a fine selection of wines with a large percentage of wines from Portugal. The staff is well versed in the menu and can answer any questions you might have.
My only complaint is that the menu rarely changes, nor does it offer regular changing specials. If you go there regularly, you are almost forced to have the same things again and again. Still, the food is excellent, unique and reasonably priced.
Favorite Dish: Blood sausage, tripe.
Written May 21, 2011
Address: 452 1st St. East
Mike and Gia Ghilarducci have welcomed diners to their beautiful restaurant for 21 years. Located just two blocks north of the Sonoma Plaza, the Depot Hotel has beautiful gardens, shaded decks, and a pool. The waitstaff is very experienced and as good as it gets in Sonoma. The Depot Hotel is casual, “Country Inn” style featuring Northern Italian cuisine. Locals love Mike’s food especially the tortellini, which rates as the Wine Patrol’s best ever in a restaurant.
As of May 2008, Mike's son Tony has come on board running a delightful antipasti bar featuring his own house cured meats. Any 3 plates for $12. A sampling of all of the plates for $25. Hell of a deal. Open Wednesday to Sunday after 5 pm. Recently Tony and his wife had a baby, and the baby occupied the aging room for his salumi, so homemade salumi went away. They should be up and running again by summer of 2011.
The wine list has a wonderful selection of local California wines as well as plenty of fantastic Italian wines. The list runs to about 100 different offerings and more than half are under $30. The Ghilarducci’s own Lake County vineyard produces a delightful Wildhurst Reserve Sauvignon Blanc for $20 and a Cabernet Sauvignon for $24. Real treasures dot the list like a 2001 Donatella Columbini Rosso di Montalcino for $25.
Favorite Dish: Tortellini is to die for. Crab canneloni when in season is heavenly. House cured Braseola and pancetta are incredible.
Updated May 21, 2011
Address: 241 West First St.
This is some of the best Mexican food in Sonoma. It's served from a truck parked on Hwy 12 just next to La Favorita Mexican store about 1/2 block from Mountain Ave. They open around 7 pm each night. They are open until MIDNIGHT Sunday through Thursday and OPEN TILL 3AM Friday and Saturday.
Walk up to the window, order your food from the menu displayed on the side of the truck, and in 10 minutes your food will be ready to go. Everything is delicious, except the chicken which is dull. Bottom line, this is as real and local as it gets in wine country, and you won't run into any tourists.
La bamba is still the best truck in Sonoma, but they've moved five blocks down the highway just next to Golden West Glass.
Favorite Dish: Torta de pierna is a terrific sandwich made from pork leg . The Chicharron gordita is sublime and worth the risk that the cholesterol will kill you. The carne asada is very good in either the burrito or as tacos. Carnitas are pretty tasty.
Updated May 21, 2011
Situated on the west side of the plaza, Harvest Moon is a comfortable little restaurant and wine bar. They have a small inside dining area, with a huge outdoor secluded courtyard that seats maybe 50 guests. We enjoyed some of their daily entrèe specials for about $25 each plus a few glasses of wine. While the wait staff was casual, they were very professional and efficient.
Overall, this was one of the best restaurants we tried during our 10-day journey on the west coast from Monterey to Vancouver and back.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 487 1st Street West, Sonoma, CA
The Swiss was built in 1850 and has been a hotel since 1909. We sat in the tiny bar where there are only about 25 seats. The walls are covered with old pictures, and things like barb wire samples. While the atmosphere was rustic and quaint, the people make the place. The bartenders show an authentic interest in the people who walk through the door. When asked where we should go and taste wines they took into consideration what kinds of wines we liked, the distance we wanted to travel and the atmosphere we were looking for. When they found out I was training to be a chef, they notified the chef who immediately came out to say hello and sent out an order of baked brie and roasted garlic, which was phenomenal.
Favorite Dish: 8oz beef tenderloin over blue cheese mashed potatoes, mushroom red-wine sauce and crispy onion rings.
The above dish was what I had for dinner. I enjoyed the textures of the dish and the steak was perfectly cooked.
I was also able to try the Seafood Ravioli with lobster-basil cream which was excellent, as well as the Linguine with Prawns.
Updated Apr 4, 2011
Address: 18 West Spain, Sonoma CA 95476
A friend of mine who was born in Michoacan, Mexico, swears that La Hacienda in Boyes Hot Springs (about 2 miles outside the city limits of Sonoma) makes the best Mexican food in Sonoma Valley. She says it's Jalisco-style cooking. All I know is that it's delicious.
The interior of this small restaurant is so cheerful it will make you smile: the tables and chairs are all decorated with bright enameled paintings of stylized Mexican scenes.
In Spanish, the name of the restaurant is slurred together to sound like "La Cienda."
Favorite Dish: I ordered off the short breakfast menu: machada con huevos (shredded beef scrambled with eggs), which was served with rice, beans, and flour tortillas. Excellent! I kind of overdid it by also ordering horchata, a sweet rice and almond drink, which filled me up, so I ended up taking half my meal home. It was still good the second time around.
My friend ordered from the lunch menu and had a giant burrito.
Updated Mar 7, 2011
Address: 17960 Sonoma Highway (near Boyes Blvd)
After our 2nd full day of touring the wine country and having only a really light lunch several hours earlier we were ready for dinner. Unlike our first 2 nights in wine country we didn't have a reservation for this evening as we weren't really sure where we were going to be around dinner time. So when we made our last winery tour of the day in Glen Ellen and saw that the town of Sonoma was just a couple of miles down the road, that's where we decided dinner would be that evening.
After walking around the town a little and checking out the town square, I powered up my handy iPad and did a quick look to see which restaurants were in town. As usual I picked one that was just a hair off the beaten path in a little side area just east of the town square. And once again the choice turned out to be a gem.
I think we arrived there around 7:00 p.m. in the evening just as the sun was setting. Sue snapped a picture of the outside and I took a quick video before we entirely lost the sun and one of the patrons inside waved at us when he saw what we were doing. We entered and asked if they had any openings. He mentioned that a table would be open in about 20 minutes, but that we could sit by the bar area in front of the wood oven stove. That looked inviting as we could watch the food being prepared right in front of us, so that's where we parked ourself for the next 90 minutes.
Unfortunately we didn't take a picture of the resturant from the inside but let me give you a little idea about the place. They have a patio area with about 8 to 10 tables before you enter the front door. These were not in use on the night we were there at the end of October as it was a bit chilly. When you walk in the greeter is right there and there are about 4 to 5 tables immediately ahead of you. To your left and also straight ahead is the preparation area and wood fire stove in back of the curving bar which has about 10 chair/stools. And finally to the left are another 4 to 5 tables.
Favorite Dish: As much as I try to take copious notes about places we've gone and things we've seen and eaten, once you go beyond a week it gets hard to remember everything. Such is this case here with this tip being written almost 2 months after the event. Anyway here goes, to the best of my knowledge and with the help of their website and pictures.
After we sat down we were presented with 2 appetizers of sausage, melted cheese and a green olive. I remember this because I have the picture. That actually did convince me to order what I did.
Sue's entree I am a little unsure of, but from the pictures she did have a bowl of soup (good on a chilly evening) and I believe the fresh fish of the day (not sure what type) over a bed of spinach topped with a homemade salsa.
My entree which I am sure of because of the website and picture was one of the tasting plates. They have 3 different types of tasting plates (3, 5 or 7 dishes). I chose the 5 dish one and had a choice of about 10 different items. My selection for the evening was 1) Serra de Estrela or sheep's milk cheese which came with roasted almonds, 2) Sardine Pate, not something I would usually order, and even though a bit salty for my taste was an interesting experience for my tastebuds, 3) Serrano Redondo or spanish ham which I've had once before and have recently started to use some recipes at home to use this flavorful ham, 4) Linguica a Portuguese sausage of pork and garlic (the free appetizer was this type of sausage) and finally 5) Tremoco (lupini beans) a type of a fava bean.
To finish the meal of course we needed to order some decadent desert so Sue and I shared the Carmel Desire (you've got to see this picture) which was 3 deserts in 1. A vanilla bean creme brule, Cobblestore Road Ice Cream with coffee and caramel and a carameled apple in a pecan boat. Yum, I can still remember finishing the last lick of that desert thinking "this is what vacation is all about". Lovely wife, warm toasty environment and a perfect desert.
Yeah, I guess we kind of liked the place.
Written Dec 14, 2010
Address: 452 1st St E # H
Phone: (707) 938-1927
The previous day we walked around Sonoma Plaza and my boyfriend thought this would be a good place to have breakfast. So, we did the next day. You order your food up at the counter and they bring it to you when it's done. We ordered some latte (was excellent) and my boyfriend ordered an omelet and I had the lox and goat cheese breakfast sandwich on brioche. Everything was quite tasty!
Written Nov 3, 2010
Address: 421 1st. Street West, Sonoma, CA 95476
I am registered on opentable.com, a restaurant website that helps facilitate your reservations, a glance at the menu, ratings and reviews all on one site. I really like how handy it is. And, for every reservation you make and keep, you earn a 100 points. 2000 points earns you a dining certificate worth $20 check that you can use at any restaurant on opentable.com.
Anyway, this restaurant was rated "Diner's Choice Winner". Prices looked reasonable and I was looking forward to eating here. We ordered our food and I was actually disappointed with my meal. The ambience was very nice. I ordered a starter of pumpkin ravioli. I thought is was a little too greasy with all the butter and not enough salt. My boyfriend ordered a starter of pasta carbonara. I had a bite and it was actually very salty. Our entrees came, my boyfriend enjoyed his lamb shank. I ordered the Pacific cod. It was very bland. The fish was cooked perfectly - not dry but lacked salt and I thought the fish was a little too fishy. I did enjoy the sliced boiled potatoes on the side with sliced tart green olives. Overall, I wasn't happy. Perhaps if I had ordered something different? Anyway, I would only recommend this place because it's ambience was very nice and the service was very good.
Written Nov 3, 2010
Address: 400 W. Spain Street, Sonoma, CA 95476
We needed to grab a bite to eat. We just happened to be driving along and said how 'bout there! Not much to look at from the outside but the inside was quite nice with white tablecloths and wine glasses on the tables. I ordered the duck spring rolls and they were tasty! My boyfriend ordered a burger. He was impressed that the waitress didn't ask how would he like his burger cooked. She brought the burger well done (just as he likes his burgers). We also each enjoyed a glass of local wine!
Updated Nov 3, 2010
Address: 9900 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, CA 95452
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