Sonoma Wine Country naturally conjures up ideas of romance. With such breathtaking landscapes, charming wineries, and endless opportunities for play, how could it not?
Add dining to the list. Sonoma County offers many destination-worthy romantic restaurants from the coast to the mountains, and all in between. So set aside some date time, dress up in something nice, and plan your special meal with that special someone at these favorites:
K&L Bistro, Sebastopol
This magical little spot was recently expanded in order to serve its many fans, but hasn’t lost an inch of its charm. The setting is bistro, down to white linens, and the service is old-school delightful, meaning it’s attentive, friendly, and professional, without being obtrusive.
The food is elegant but Wine Country approachable, offering seasonal and local fare such as house-made crab cakes, fresh oysters, and house made charcuterie. New to the menu are chef-caliber craft cocktails, more wood-fired grill items, a greater variety of craft beers, and an expanded raw bar. And it all adds up to a dreamy place to gaze into each other’s eyes — more oysters, please?
119 S. Main St., Sebastopol, 707-823-6614
Scopa Restaurant, Healdsburg
Chef-owner Ari Rosen makes all his pastas by hand, lovingly topping them with sauces like sugo Calabrese of tomato-braised beef and pork rib with pecorino Romano in mouthwatering marinara.
He hand-spins his pizzas, thin-crusted and blistered in a wood-fired oven then topped with delicacies like homemade sausage and borage blossoms. His exquisite rustic Italian cooking keeps it simple but sumptuous, for entrees like Nonna’s braised chicken with juicy sautéed greens and creamy polenta.
And in the end, it’s the food that brings the romance more than the setting, because while the space is Wine Country charming, it’s tiny, always packed, and usually loud. Still, when you’re sharing a dreamy baked goat cheese with your adored one, and sipping a Sonoma sparker cocktail, the world disappears anyway.
109 Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-433-5282
Harvest Moon Café, Sonoma
Tucked away off Sonoma Plaza, Nick and Jen Demarest have created a true jewel, which charms diners with glittering fresh Cal-Med cuisine.
Cuddle up with your sweetheart at a table set with wildflowers in the country-casual dining room, or on the Wine-Country-perfect garden patio. The chef-owners trained at Chez Panisse, and it shows, with craft cooking on a nightly changing menu that might feature roasted fennel soup decorated with chive blossoms, sea beans, and Olive Leaf Hills Farm olive oil; marinated beets and golden cauliflower with tarragon, soft-cooked egg, bonito, and tonnato sauce; or grilled local swordfish with grilled asparagus, steamed Basmati rice, and sage-roasted garlic butter.
487 1st St. W., Sonoma, 707-933-8160
Twisted 2, Petaluma
For chef-owners Dick and Julie Warner, it’s not about size, since their restaurant seats only about 20 in 360 square feet.
It’s not about quantity, since the restaurant is only open Thursdays through Saturdays, and the menu is limited to a four-course prix fixe that changes nightly.
What it is about is top-notch ingredients, many sourced from the family's garden in Petaluma, plus world-class wines.
And the result is dishes that will make you swoon, from artichoke flan with tarragon dressed kale salad, to escarole Caesar with anchovies and grilled crouton; tea smoked Petaluma liberty duck breast with hibiscus glaze and jasmine brown rice; and strawberry rhubarb crisp.
29 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-789-9914
Terrapin Creek Café, Bodega Bay
Nestled in a relaxed but artfully chic space in the quiet ocean town of Bodega Bay, this Michelin Star treasure offers unexpected elegance in the Slow Food-style meals.
Chef-owners Andrew Truong, and his wife, Liya Lin, have big city backgrounds but focus on small-town farm ingredients and boutique wines. Plates are gorgeously arranged for signatures like cold crab salad with the seafood plucked straight from the sea outside; or panko crusted crab over green lentils and sautéed cabbage with roasted mushrooms, currants, and curry oil. Plan to linger with your loved one — an experience this good should not be rushed.
1580 Eastshore Road, Bodega Bay, 707-875-2700
More top romantic restaurant suggestions:
Rustic at Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville
Sante at Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn in Sonoma
Monti's Rotisserie & Bar in Montgomery Village in Santa Rosa
Ca’Bianca Italian Restaurant in Santa Rosa
Cucina Paradiso Ristorante Italiano in Petaluma
Read more about award winning restaurants in: Best Restaurants in Sonoma County.
Written by Carey Sweet