where to eat in Sonoma County: four faves

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We just got back from a wonderful, wine-filled week in Sonoma and Napa. It was an actual work trip for our liquor store. How sweet is that? Before I get to the wine, and there’s so much wine to discuss, I want to tell you about four restaurants we loved in Sonoma County. Two were recommended by winery employees. Locals have the best insights on where to, or not to, eat. The other two were found on Google.

Here they are, in the order in which we experienced them.

Martha's Old Mexico
Combo platter at Martha’s Old Mexico

Martha’s Old Mexico in Sebastopol

We love Mexican food. A lot. After a rough morning tasting wine, cough cough, that’s what we had a hankering for. Google to the rescue. The reviews were good, but we were still surprised at just how delicious, and affordable, it was. I had the enchilada/tamale combo with their house-made Sangria and was happy as could be. Scott loved his burrito as well. Martha’s is small, probably 10 tables, and laid-back—our kind of place. This was the first full day of the trip, and we seriously joked about coming back every day that week.

The Boat House in Bodega Bay
Fresh, fabulous seafood at The Boat Hous

The Boat House at Bodega Bay

The lovely folks at the Hook & Ladder Winery suggested this spot when I mentioned we were headed to Bodega Bay. There are lots of bigger and fancier options, but this no-frills, hole-in-the-wall eatery serves up fresh fish like its their job. Oh, wait. It is their job, and they’re great at it! I had clam chowder and fish tacos and, wow, I got every bit of chowder I could out of the bowl without actually licking it clean. Scott had fish and chips, and he gave a thumbs up as well.

Taffy shop
Stop for some taffy before you leave The Boat House parking lot.

Tip: Walk next door to the Taffy and Kite Shop and buy a big bag of taffy. You can get a kite to fly on the beach as well; they had lots to choose from.

Table at Jimtown Store

Jimtown Store in Healdsburg  

Our hostess at the Hanna Winery suggested this Sonoma County Landmark, and I would have driven back to thank her if we’d had time. Jim Patrick opened his general store, which also served as post office and meeting space, in 1895. Today, it’s a charming café in a country store, complete with an old-fashioned lunch counter as well as seating inside and out. The menu includes seasonal soups, salads, entrees, signature sandwiches, and desserts made daily with ingredients from their garden and neighboring farms. We both had ham and Brie sandwiches on fresh sourdough rolls. I could have spent at least an hour in the store, but we had a tight schedule. They even share their recipes! (Top photo is in front of Jimtown)

LoCoco's Santa Rosa

LoCoco’s Cucina Rustica in Santa Rosa

When you’re randomly searching Google for a good restaurant nearby, “Voted North Bay’s Best Italian Restaurant 12 Years Straight” will catch your eye. We made reservations even before we realized it was less than a quarter mile from our hotel. Yes, you need reservations on a Tuesday during off season. My mouth is watering just thinking about the food. The décor in this popular neighborhood restaurant welcomes you immediately. Most everyone at the tables knew each other and were joking with the wait staff. The service was exceptional and so was the food. From fresh bread and salad to garlic cheese bread, Lasagna Bolognese and Fettuccine Quattro Formaggi, there wasn’t a crumb left when we finished. The lasagna was to-die-for, and Scott’s four-cheese fettuccine was just as good. This was without a doubt the best Italian meal I’ve ever had.

There you have it! I should point out that we were there the first week in March, which is a great time to avoid the crowds. I have to go now and make dinner. Writing this has made my stomach growl.

Thanks for reading Tales From the Empty Nest. Stay tuned for wine blogs next!

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