Small interesting looking restaurant. Husband chef and wife pastry chef. Menu changes daily and Chef Nick tries stuff. A stinging nettle and potato soup was delicious and unique. The food is inventive and always good, but somehow rarely excites. Pork confit was tasty, but generally not as good as the carnitas at most of the local Mexican restaurants. His ribeye steak was perfectly cooked, just a bit small. Sunchoke and celery salad was delightful. Killer carrot cake. Wine list seems to get more local over time, with only one or two wines under $30. Free corkage on a bottle if you buy one from the list. Open for dinner only. Nice patio when weather is right.
Favorite Dish: Duck entree with delicious sliced duck, a confit duck leg and foie gras on toast. All delicious, but the polenta that came with it was rubbery and cold.
NOW CLOSED, BUT GOOD TO KNOW! Cucina Viansa is either very good or average, depending on the mood of the staff. One of the reasons for this might be that the owner, Viansa Winery, is not sure of keeping the landmark location as a restaurant or throwing away the key. Starting off as the Sonoma Mission Creamery, it then became the Old Sonoma Creamery, then taken over by Sam and Vicki Sebastiani (Grandfather Samuele Sebastiani started growing grapes in the region in 1904) as the Cucina Viansa, a name made up by the combination of Vicki and Sam. It seems that the success of their new Viansa Winery and Italian Marketplace(1989) nearby in Sonoma and other ventures has put a hold on top food and service at Cucina Viansa. A shame for such a great location and for the locals as well as tourists who ate at the Sonoma Plaza location. Here's hoping that they will come around and see what a treasure the Cucina Viansa is and bring it back to the culinary heights that everyone expects from Sam and Vicki Sebastiani.
Favorite Dish: Food is still a hit or miss taste treat. Being open only from 11 am to 3 pm for lunch proves that the decline has set it. It would help if the hostess/manager were more pleasant. It doesn't hurt to smile when customers enter. But then, if you are worried about your job, maybe you would not smile. I once owned a restaurant, and I know someone is going to have a great location for an upscale restaurant, that the present owners have seem to lost interest in. I wish I were in the position to buy this potentially fabulous restaurant. It's a natural for the Sonoma Valley. SORRY, BUT HAPPY. NOW CLOSED!
This is another Sonoma institution that's been around for more than 20 years. It features a large menu for a taqueria including enchiladas, jerk chicken and specials in addition to the regular fare. All of the portions here are large and it's a bit pricey, but it's worth it. The al pastor pork is delicious in any configuration, especially when topped with their killer green hot sauce full of tomatillos, cilantro, chile and large onion chunks. A tostada is a full meal, and you will likely not finish your burrito. It's a very funky place, but the food is cooked to order and consistently delicious. The walls are decorated with children's drawings raving about Juanita Juanita.
Favorite Dish: Tostada con carne al pastor. The chicken tostada with cumin dressing is great too.
The Swiss Hotel is a real local place, although plenty of tourists go there as well. On warm nights locals vie for the chairs outside in front of the restaurant. The food is very decent and the walls are loaded with terrific photos of old time people from Sonoma's past.
The Swiss Hotel Bar is a local hangout and it serves a one-of-a-kind drink called a Ghalarify. It's a shot of Irish whisky and a shot of secret elixir (very strong coffee and various liquores) that's shaken with ice and poured ice cold into a glass where it is topped with a cream float. Sweet and delicious. Locals will have Ghalarifies instead of dessert after a good meal, but they know better than having two, because the caffeine will definitely get you up.
In the downtown area by the ex-train station is a delightful area of shops and restaurants. The omelettes were huge and everyone enjoyed theirs to the last bite. They also have an excellent sirloin steak sandwich. Service was very good.
Favorite Dish: The sirloin steak sandwich was most excellent.
Set in an old hotel in downtown Sonoma, this place has a warm, charming ambience. It was packed on a Friday evening even by the time we got there at 9PM. Except for the excellent, classic wooden bar on the left, the waiting room could have been someone's living room. The Girl describes itself as "county food with a French passion". Even though busy, the service was great. Our troop of ten enjoyed a little bit of everything. From the arctic char to my sweet potato dumplings with crab meat. Interesting that in Sonoma they only served Rhone style blends. Dinner, wine and coffee for two ran $42 including tip.
I love picnics and when you find a place as ideal to picnic in as the Sonoma Valley, you should take full advantage of it. With dry sunny conditions and fantastic vistas, what's not to like? We enjoyed sitting amongst the actual vines, you could almost smell the grapes or so I imagined. ;)
Favorite Dish: Wine is meant to be enjoyed with food and the local cheeses are a fantastic accompaniment to all varieties. All you need is a big crusty loaf of bread and some artisan salami to round out a great meal. This kind of quality does not come cheaply so this is not a true shoe string travel meal but it is well worth the splurge and still costs a fraction of enjoying such pleasures in a fancy restaurant
Don't expect to meet anybody actually named Pearl here - the principals are Sylvia, Bob, and Chuck. What you can expect is satisfying comfort food: meatloaf, fried chicken, hamburgers, French fries, milkshakes, malts, and knockout breakfasts.
The consistently good food, friendly staff, and kitschy aloha decor have made Pearl's a very popular eating place, so unless you get there early, you may have to wait for a table.
Breakfast and lunch daily, 7-2:30; dinner Wednesday-Saturday, 5-9.
Favorite Dish: My favorite dish at Pearl's is the homemade chicken-apple sausage hash with poached eggs. I’d love to know how they get the eggs so plump and fluffy! I also like the veggie scramble (eggs, seasonal vegetables,and cheese) and gardenburgers.
Pearl's serves enormous portions – unless you have a hearty appetite or have just come off a three-day fast, you probably won't be able to finish everything. The pancakes cover an entire dinner plate, and the milkshakes are a meal in themselves. I usually end up taking half of my meal home to savor later.
The interior is very Country French with huge trompe l'oeils on the walls. They serve lunch and dinner daily, as well as Sunday brunch. There's a full bar, and patio dining is available.
Favorite Dish: Go for the pork chops!! Delectably moist and flavorful!
It was foggy and cold the day we visited Bodega Bay. As we sat by the window in Lucas Wharf and sipped the chowder it was impossible to see the outline of the shore, so thick was the mist.
But it wasn't the view or the chowder I came for - but only to look inside this place which was the site of a famous scene in Hitchcock's "The Birds" ... the scene in which the frightened villagers huddle together as the first assault of birds brings death and devastation to Bodega Bay.
Favorite Dish: There isn't any photo or plaque in the restaurant commemorating the film ... and the tired staff seemed bored at my questions... too bad.
The meal was ok.
For lunch we went to a lovely little restaurant in Glen Ellen in a small shopping area next to the Glen Ellen winery. Go to the back of the restaurant and onto a wooden deck overlooking the creek, gorgeous. I had a wonderful vegetable ravioli.
As you walk into the Swiss Hotel lobby, you'll realize that it has more than a few faces. To the right of the entrance is the stairway to the guest rooms, the center lobby is the gateway to the restaurant, and to the left is an old-style Sonoma bar.
I love the different atmospheres in one building. The upscale restaurant vs the bawdy bar. Too cool!
"The Swiss" is packed with young and old alike on weekends and it's more tourist than locally patroned nowadays but there's no harm in that.
Favorite Dish: I'd have to say my favorite dish is the Panna Cota for dessert. Most restaurants make it like Mexican flan but this is creamy and heavenly. It dissolves in your mouth like nothing in this world!
My mouth is watering as I type this.....
The wine tour took us to the Sonoma Cheese Factory for our scheduled lunch. It was fun and relaxing on a hot day. Cheese and wine were the order of the day.
I didn't see any grilled oysters, but I did enjoy them au naturel. We had a great time but I can't remember what the h&*l I ordered other than the oysters. Very artsy presentation and good service.