Sonoma Restaurants

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Best Rated Restaurants in Sonoma

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    just find a nice spot: Ideal Picnic Conditions Abound

    by richiecdisc Updated Jan 1, 2006

    4.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    looks pretty good, eh?

    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

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    LaSalette Restaurant: Portuguese Cuisine

    by Rixie Updated Nov 23, 2008

    4 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Old World ambience at LaSalette

    LaSalette serves outstanding food in a cozy setting. The staff is well-trained and courteous, and the menu is interesting and out of the ordinary.

    This is the only Portuguese restaurant in town, and I think it must be authentic because I know of a Portuguese family that regularly travels two hours from San Jose to eat here.

    Heads up: Vegetarians who do not eat fish will not have many choices, since many of the dishes contain seafood and/or pork. You can refer to the menu on the website.

    Favorite Dish: I can recommend the porco à Alentejana: tender cubes of pork, potatoes, red peppers, and baby clams in their shells, in a savory tomato broth; and the pork tenderloin served with a tangy citrus sauce, mashed potatoes and Brussels sprouts sauteed in butter. I savored every bite, and I liked the Portuguese dark beer.

    On my last visit, we were also served complimentary appetizers (melted cheese on toast rounds) and, after the meal, tiny spicy Portuguese cookies.

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    Mary's Pizza Shack: Dinner at Mary's: A Sonoma Tradition

    by Rixie Updated Jan 28, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mary
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    Most tourists see only the Mary's Pizza at Sonoma Plaza, but if you have the time, take a short drive to the original Mary's, about two miles away on Highway 12, in Boyes Hot Springs. That's where the local families hang out, and the atmosphere is more authentic: friendly, busy, and noisy. While you wait, you can watch pizza chefs toss big circles of dough into the air.

    The late Mary Fazio started the restaurant out of her own kitchen in 1959, and today there are Mary's Pizza Shacks in 15 locations in Northern California. It is still a family operation; her children and grandchildren now run the business.

    You'll find good, hearty food at affordable prices at Mary's. Besides pizza, you can order different kinds of pasta, salads, and sandwiches.

    Favorite Dish: The menu is still based on Mary Fazio's recipes. It's like going to your Italian Nonna's for dinner, except, of course, that Nonna didn't present you with a bill at the end of the meal. Unless you made her mad.

    I especially like the eggplant (aubergine) parmigiana and the He and She, two giant meatballs in marinara sauce. My husband likes the penne pasta with sausage. High school students -- big on appetite, low on money -- have been known to make a whole meal out of Mary's breadsticks and pizza sauce.

    I enjoy their salads, too. I'm not a big fan of plain lettuce; I like the stuff that goes on top. At Mary's, you get all kinds of "stuff on top": hard-boiled egg, beets, shredded carrots, red kidney beans, and salami.

    Mary's now offers gluten-free pizzas. A friend of mine who has celiac disease tried one and really liked it.

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    Pearl's Diner: The Best Kind of American Food

    by Rixie Updated Mar 27, 2004

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Good food and service with a smile at Pearl's

    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.

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    Amy's Peking Palace: Good Chinese Fast Food

    by Rixie Updated May 22, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

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    Amy's is tucked away in a corner of a small shopping center, five blocks west of Sonoma Plaza. There are a few tables inside and outside the restaurant, but most people come for the takeout.

    If there's a line, no worries; it moves very quickly and is worth the wait. This may be Chinese fast food, but it's excellent, and a good bargain. A large, three-sectioned box -- either fried rice or chow mein, plus two other choces -- is only $6.95, and I manage to make two meals from that.

    Don't neglect the tip jar by the cash register! Amy's employees work on their feet all day in a hot restaurant but still manage to be friendly and efficient.

    Favorite Dish: I'm partial to the string bean chicken, but the broccoli beef and spicy eggplant are good, too. Their won ton soup is excellent.

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    Depot Hotel - Cucina Rustica: Country-Style Italian

    by Rixie Updated Jul 26, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Cucina Rustica

    The award-winning Depot Hotel-Cucina Rustica is modeled after an Italian country inn. It's owned and operated by the Ghilarducci family: Michael is the executive chef, and his wife,Gia, is the events manager. Their son, Antonio, has recently joined the family business as a chef.

    Their poolside patio is available for wedding receptions and other private events, and cooking classes are also offered.

    The Depot Hotel is not far from the Plaza, but because it's located on a dark, quiet block, many visitors don't know about it. All the better for those of us who do! I know that when I go there, I will always be welcomed with a smile and treated with courtesy.

    Favorite Dish: My favorite dish is the homemade shiitake mushroom agnelotti (like round ravioli) in wine sauce. Sublime!

    I also like their Greek-style linguini with a sauce made of fresh tomatoes, garlic, chopped Kalamata olives, and anchovies. My husband enjoys the roast chicken with mushrooms and mashed potatoes.

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    Lucas Wharf: Bodega Bay

    by Docu2001 Updated Nov 2, 2003

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Still Photo from The Birds

    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.

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    Café La Haye: Café La Haye - locals favourite

    by sue_stone Written Oct 23, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Angus hangar steak
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    We had dinner at Café La Haye one evening whilst staying at a B&B just down the road. I had read rave reports about the restaurant on various review sites, hence booked ahead to ensure a table on our last night in town.

    The restaurant was small, some would say cramped, and the walls were covered with large 'modern art' canvases. From our table we could see into the small, cluttered (clean looking) kitchen. Service was the usual American friendly, though a little vague at times.

    Favorite Dish: To start we shared the Grilled spice-rubbed prawns over 'Oak Hill Farms' bi-color corn & heirloom tomatoes. The prawns were nicely cooked, though I wasn't that keen on the combination of flavours.

    Main course was the Hand torn papardelle with acorn squash, goats cheese & cinnamon toasted pecans; and the Roasted marinated natural 'Angus' hangar steak with twice backed potato-bacon pie. The steak and accompaniments got a big thumbs up, and I loved the flavours in the pasta dish but found it very rich thanks to the generous portion of goats cheese. Sadly we were too full for dessert.

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    Swiss Hotel: The people here make you feel like you're home

    by LionPrincess Updated Apr 4, 2011

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Outside shot of the Swiss Hotel

    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.

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    Angelo's Wine Country Deli: Angelo's Wine Country Deli - jerky heaven

    by sue_stone Written Oct 23, 2008

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Angelo's Wine Country Deli
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    Angelo's Wine Country Deli is the sort of place I would usually never stop at. Located on one of the main roads in Sonoma Valley, it kind of looks like a petrol station, albeit with a giant cow on top!

    So, Angelo's isn't some posh Wine Country Deli, but a small shop that specialises in beef and turkey jerky. If you are partial to the odd bit of jerky then stop by for some free tasting of the 10 or so flavours, and maybe buy a pack or two to enjoy on your travels. We tried a couple and they were good, though I am more of a biltong girl myself.

    Favorite Dish: The deli is also a good place to stop for some lunch. They whip up some big, tasty sandwiches with plenty of meat and their homemade mustard. There are picnic tables outside where you can sit and have your lunch before continuing with your wine tasting in the neighbouring wineries.

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  • Rixie's Profile Photo

    Maya: Wonderful Margaritas...Oh, Yes, and Good Food, Too

    by Rixie Updated Jun 24, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    Mural, Maya Restaurant

    If your only experience with Mexican food has been run-of-the-mill, Americanized tacos and burritos, you must come to Maya and try authentic Mexican regional cuisine from the Yucatan.

    Their Mayan chef, Manuel, creates specialties like lime tortilla soup, poc chuc (sliced pork marinated in sour orange and spices, grilled over an oak fire, and topped with tropical salsa), and chicken enchiladas with red mole sauce (savory chocolate and chilis thickened with chopped sunflower seeds).

    Maya's happy hour, 5:00-6:00, on weekdays, is very popular and lively. They make their margaritas from fresh ingredients, not a mix. Their pomegranate margaritas are lovely.

    Caution: The acoustics in the restaurant are echo-y. It can sometimes be too noisy for conversation when you're seated next to a table full of people tossing back tequila shots.

    Favorite Dish: The only dish I would not recommend is the taco salad, which is dull and out of sync with the rest of the menu.

    My two favorite dishes are the cheese enchiladas with guacamole, and the cochinita pibil: pork slow-roasted in banana leaves until it's falling-apart tender, served with chopped onions and tomatoes.

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    The Girl and The Fig: Provençal Inspired

    by Rixie Updated Jan 10, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    The Girl and The Fig is much-beloved of the yuppie crowd, but it really does serve good food. Self-described as serving country food with a French passion, this small, popular restaurant offers simple but satisfying dishes inspired by Provençal cuisine.

    They have a lovely selection of cheeses and an extensive wine list. There is a $15 corkage fee if you bring your own.

    The servers and bartenders are great.

    Favorite Dish: Lunch: I had the croques monsieur, made with Niman Ranch jambon and St George cheese. I ate every bit of it, but strangely enough, the pickles served on the side were what I remember best. They were paper thin and full of flavor. They reminded me of homemade bread-and-butter pickles from my childhood.

    My friend chose the open-faced roast pork loin tartine with apple and apricot chutney, which she said was very tasty.

    Unfortunately, we had no room for dessert, which included lavender crème brulée, chocolate tart, and fig ice cream.

    Dinner: I had the flounder meunière, which was astounding. The sauce was tart with lemon juice and capers, and was offset by the sautéed spinach and mashed potatoes. The seasonal salad contained arugula, pomegranate seeds, croutons, and walnuts with a vinaigrette dressing.

    The price listed below is for dinner, including salad and drinks. Lunch, of course, is less expensive.

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    The Fig Cafe and Winebar: Comfort Food with A Twist

    by Rixie Updated Nov 25, 2012

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This warm and cozy cafe is about 8 miles outside Sonoma, in the tiny town of Glen Ellen. Owned by the popular Plaza restaurant, The Girl and the Fig, The Fig Cafe offers a similar menu: country French cooking and creative variations on familiar dishes. Their bouillabaisse, for instance, includes ling cod and baby mussels in the shell, their chicken is braised in a wine sauce and served with Brussels sprouts, and their bread pudding is made with figs.

    I was impressed with the staff here. They were young but professional, handling the hungry crowd with diplomacy. Our waiter was especially informative and had an easygoing, courteous manner. He treated us as real people, not just as places at a table.

    Be aware that no reservations are accepted at The Fig Cafe, so if you go at peak dinner hour, you can count on a 20-30 minute wait.

    This is a good place for a "splurge" dinner, expensive but memorable.

    Favorite Dish: The food here prompted me to eat far more than I normally do. I started with a fig salad with pecans and moved on to a risotto made with talreggio (a creamy Italian cheese) and pistachios. Since I finished only half of the risotto, I felt justified in ordering dessert: a brownie with vanilla ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate sauce.

    Their chef's chopped salad (lettuce, tomatoes, blue cheese, bacon) is delicious.

    Their pot roast with mashed potatoes is just like Mom used to make - falling-apart tender..

    They also offer a nice selection of California beers and wines. There is no corkage fee, so feel free to bring your own wine.

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    CUCINA VIANSA: LAST CHANCE TO DINE ? ? ? NOW CLOSED!!!

    by travelgourmet Updated May 11, 2007

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    WELL, IT LOOKS INVITING

    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!

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    La Michoacana Natural Ice Cream: Homemade Mexican Ice Cream

    by Rixie Updated Jun 27, 2010

    3.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    This tiny ice cream shop in Boyes Hot Springs, a few miles outside of Sonoma, is becoming my "treat" place, where I go to indulge myself. Their specialty is all-natural Mexican ice cream, which they make on the premises with fresh fruit and sweet cream. Really good -- you can taste the fresh ingredients! It's $2.50 for a single scoop on a sugar cone.

    They also make paletas (fruit and cream bars), and frozen, chocolate-dipped bananas on a stick.

    Family owned and operated. Open daily, 11:00 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.

    Favorite Dish: I've tried the coconut-pineapple, the lime sorbet, and the guava, and they were all delicious. The first mouthful of guava ice cream transported me back to my grandmother's kitchen in Hawaii. My companions loved the fresh blueberry and strawberry ice cream.

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