The Best Hidden Gem Restaurants in Every Sonoma County Town

Lita's Cafe, Santa Rosa (Photo Courtesy Lita's Cafe)

When talking about the Sonoma County dining scene, there are the famous, fancy restaurants we brag about to out-of-town friends. Then there are the treasured little spots we like to keep secret: The diners, markets, and under-the-radar eateries that rarely get the accolades they deserve but are nonetheless in the hearts of the neighborhood regulars.

Here are some of our favorite hidden gem restaurants in Sonoma County. 


Written by Heather Irwin

Sea Ranch

The Sea Ranch Lodge (Photo Courtesy Carlos ChavarrĂ­a/Sea Ranch Lodge)

The Sea Ranch Lodge: This 1960s-era lodge features a beautiful restaurant, café, bar, lounge, and general store, each with scrumptious goodies to discover. 60 Sea Walk Drive, The Sea Ranch, 707-579-9777

Santa Rosa

Tambayan, Santa Rosa (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Tambayan: The authentic Filipino cuisine here, such as banana sauce, pork belly, and pork sisig, makes the trip worth it. 600 Larkfield Center, Santa Rosa, 707-843-3824

Canevari’s Deli: A Santa Rosa Junior College neighborhood classic that’s been around for as long as anyone can remember. Canevari’s has a tri-tip BBQ sandwich, meatball sub, and homemade ravioli. Where else can you get a good gabagool? 695 Lewis Road, Santa Rosa, 707-545-6941

Lita’s Cafe: We know where the cops go for hearty, satisfying breakfasts. Really, what better recommendation can you get than that? 1973 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-575-1628

Taqueria Molcajetes: This strip-mall Mexican restaurant has a local following that lives for the carne asada and fiery molcajetes. 1195 W. College Ave., Santa Rosa, 707-544-8280

Walter Hansel Bistro, Santa Rosa (Photo Courtesy Chris Hardy/Sonoma Magazine)

Walter Hansel Bistro: An excellent French bistro without all the hoity-toity. Lobster bisque, boeuf Bourguignon, and Coquille St. Jacques — bon appetite! 3535 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, 707-546-6462

Cotati

Shige: Along with Hana Japanese in Rohnert Park, this is one of the few Japanese-run restaurants in Sonoma County with Tokyo-worthy nigiri and udon. 8235 Old Redwood Highway, Cotati, 707-795-9753

Windsor

Pizza Leah, Windsor

Pizza Leah: Leah Scurto is an award-winning pizzaiolo who puts every bit of her soul into making the best pies in Sonoma County. We’re obsessed with the Old Grey Beard, with mozzarella, fontina, spicy sausage, and hot honey. 9240 Old Redwood Highway Suite 116, Windsor, 707-620-0551

Healdsburg

Guiso Latin Fusion, Healdsburg (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Guiso Latin Fusion: Named one of the best restaurants in America by Open Table, this tiny cafe mixes Latin and Caribbean flavors with panache. 117 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1302

Journeyman Meat Co., Healdsburg (Photo Courtesy Chris Hardy/Sonoma Magazine)

Journeyman Meat Co: Stop in for a salumi tasting or order one of the daily sandwiches or meaty sausages. 404 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-395-6328

Taste of Tea, Healdsburg (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Taste of Tea: Healdsburg gets plenty of play for its chef-driven cuisine, but we like the homey Japanese flavors of this tea shop. 109 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1995

Geyserville 

Geyserville Gun Club, Geyserville (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Geyserville Gun Club: Chef Dino Bugica brings this Fellini-esque watering hole to life. It’s a local favorite and different from his other popular eatery, Diavola Pizzeria. 21025 Geyserville Ave., Geyserville, 707-814-0036

Cloverdale

Dahlia and Sage Community Market, Cloverdale (Photo Courtesy Dahlia and Sage)

Dahlia and Sage Community Market: A charming gourmet grocer with lots of locally sourced goodies, including a full deli, hot bar, salad bar, and bakery. 115 E. Second St., Cloverdale, 707-669-2320

Penngrove

Penngrove Market, Penngrove (Photo Courtesy Houston Porter/Petaluma Argus-Courier)

Penngrove Market: An adorable gourmet grocer and kitchen. Try the pizza or piandine. 10070 Main St., Penngrove, 707-753-4974

Twin Oaks Roadhouse, Penngrove

Twin Oaks Roadhouse: The fried chicken sandwiches here are the best. Come also for the live music, fresh beer, good friends, and bread pudding with whiskey cream. 5745 Old Redwood Highway, Penngrove, 707-795-5118

Petaluma

Pearl, Petaluma (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Pearl: A Mediterranean cuisine spot tucked away. We recommend it for brunch with someone special. 500 First St., Petaluma, 707-559-5187

Sax’s Joint, Petaluma (Photo Courtesy Chris Hardy/Sonoma Magazine)

Sax’s Joint: People line up to dine here on the weekend, but it still feels like a hidden gem. All the usual diner fare is done deliciously. 317 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma, 707-559-3021

Rohnert Park

Azalo, Rohnert Park (Photo Courtesy Azalo)

Azalo: Come for charbroiled kabobs, burgers, and conchinita pibil — our favorite. 5979 Commerce Blvd., Suite 8, Rohnert Park, 707-303-7702

Smokin Bowls, Rohnert Park (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Smokin Bowls: French fries topped with so much yum. 295 Southwest Blvd., Rohnert Park, 707-665-5265

Graton

Dining at Willow Wood Market and Cafe in Graton, Sonoma County
Willow Wood Market, Graton

Willow Wood: Though this breakfast and brunch spot has been around since 1995, it’s often overlooked in the one-stop-sign town of Graton. Try the homey-yet-impressive menus. 9020 Graton Road, Graton, 707-823-0233

Kenwood

Palooza Brewery and Gastropub: Patio dining with burgers, wood-fired pizza, and more. A permanent outdoor space has towering heaters and plenty of coverage to keep you warm during chilly evenings. 8910 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, 707-833-4000

Glen Ellen

Glen Ellen Village Market, Glen Ellen, California

Glen Ellen Village Market and Deli: You’ll be amazed at the deli case, prepared foods, and gourmet goodies in this unassuming grocery store. It’s possibly one of Wine Country’s best-kept secrets. 13751 Arnold Drive, Glen Ellen, 707-996-6728

Sonoma

Sonoma’s Best, Sonoma (Photo Courtesy Robbi Pengelly)

Sonoma’s Best: Here, you’ll find coffee, pastries, and sandwiches, along with an impressive wine collection. Great for picnic fare. 1190 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-996-7600

Spread Kitchen, Sonoma (Photo Courtesy Robbi Pengelly/Sonoma Index-Tribune)

Spread Kitchen: Chef Cristina Topham (known for her catering and farm market food) has opened a humble Lebanese-style cafe with beef and chicken shawarma, chickpea and black bean falafel, and beef and lamb kofta. 18375 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma, 707-721-1256

Occidental

Altamont General Store, Occidental (Photo Courtesy Beth Schlanker/Sonoma Magazine)

Altamont General Store: A lunch favorite in Occidental, the Altamont General Store is a breath of fresh air, with an Instagram-worthy interior and plenty of grab-and-go dishes. 3703 Main St., Occidental, 707-874-6053

Guerneville

Koala’s Fine Food, Guerneville (Photo Courtesy Jil C./Yelp)

Koala’s Fine Food: This casual family-run eatery offers a delicious array that may include fish and chips, Korean bulgogi, Chinese won ton soup, Japanese ramen, cheese steak, nigiri, and Hawaiian poke. 16380 Mill St. A, Guerneville, 707-869-3300

Monte Rio

LIghtwave Coffee and Kitchen, Monte Rio (Photo Courtesy Lightwave Coffee and Kitchen)

Lightwave Coffee and Kitchen: Located by the Creekside Skatepark, this unique little cafe is a mix of smoothies, bagels, pies, and Middle Eastern cuisine. 9725 Main St., Monte Rio, 707-865-5169

Northwood Bistro, Monte Rio (Photo Courtesy of Northwood Bistro)

Northwood Bistro at the Northwood Golf Club: This hidden gem golf club has its own cafe with a lovely outdoor patio overlooking the course. The menu is simple, but the standard pancakes, omelettes, and Benedicts just off the green start the day in style. 19400 Highway 116, Monte Rio, 707-865-2454

Duncans Mills

Cape Fear Cafe, Duncans Mills

Cape Fear Cafe: This tasty cafe in a tiny, quaint town features bacon chowder, a regional lineup of egg Benedicts (from grits to crab cakes), and ginger teriyaki chicken. 25191 Main St., Duncans Mills, 707-865-9246

Bodega

Casino Bar and Grill, Bodega (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Casino Bar and Grill: This is a place to discover accidentally and then love unconditionally. Local chefs Holly Carter and Tali Aiona run the show Monday through Thursday. On the weekend, Chef Mark Malicki dazzles with local seafood chowder or beef stew with chanterelles. 17000 Bodega Highway, Bodega, 707-876-3185

Bodega Bay

Ginochio’s Kitchen, Bodega Bay (Photo Courtesy Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Ginochio’s Kitchen: Home to our new favorite Dungeness crab sandwich, Ginochio’s buttery, griddled slices of white bread hold huge chunks of freshly picked crab and a slice of melted cheese. 1410 Bay Flat Road, Bodega Bay, 707-377-4359

Cazadero

Raymond’s Bakery, Cazadero

Raymond’s Bakery at Elim Grove Cottages: This cute, family-owned bed-and-breakfast is also a hopping bakery loved for its freshly made pastries, focaccia pizza, and bread. 5400 Cazadero Highway, Cazadero, 707-632-5335

Jenner

Cafe Aquatica, Jenner (Photo Courtesy Cafe Aquatica)

Cafe Aquatica: We always, always stop here on trips up the coast for coffee, soup, and whatever else sounds delish. 10439 Highway 1, Jenner, 707-865-2251

Stewart’s Point

Twofish Baking Company: Freshly made pastries, sandwiches, bread, salads, pizza, and soup worthy of a drive up the coast. 32000 Highway 1, Stewarts Point, 707-785-2011

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