Best Restaurants in Sonoma County
Get a taste of Sonoma County's best restaurants with these delicious Zagat award winners for 2020, as well as area Michelin award winners for 2021. Bon appetit!
Michelin Award Winners 2021
SingleThread, Healdsburg - Three Michelin Stars
Set in a grand building owned by the Seghesio wine family near Healdsburg Plaza, the elegant space is home to equally sophisticated cooking.
The concept is kaiseki - elaborate multicourse meals crafted as art - and donabe - rustic clay pot cooking. Menus change daily, but might means delicacies like black cod Fukkura-san (donabe style) with root vegetables, cabbage, charred onion, and walnut-nori pesto; plus wild salmon donabe-smoked over cherry-blossom-wood with fermented rice, salmon roe, and wild ginger.
Even with all the exotica, there's a healthy dose of Sonoma County in the seasonal recipes, with the farm boasting olive trees, beehives and chickens, all to feed the restaurant. Other specialties might include Sonoma Coast sea urchin with kojo negi custard, watercress and caviar; and whole roast Sonoma pigeon with purple mustard spinach, matsutake mushroom and sansho (pepper spice) vinaigrette.
As the 2021 Michelin Guide notes about SingleThread, "’Exquisite’ barely begins to describe a meal at this Healdsburg jewel, where every detail has been considered, from the moss and flowers cradling the amuse-bouche presentation to the packets of heirloom seeds that are sent home as parting gifts."
Barndiva, Healdsburg - One Michelin Star
A Healdsburg favorite for 17 years for its stunning garden terrace and stellar Wine Country cuisine sourced from nearby farms, ranches and waters, this is the first time Barndiva has been awarded a Michelin star.
From the 2021 Michelin Guide: “The cooking, as conceived by chef Jordan Rosas, hones in on prime local produce and sustainability. There is a tangible deftness in such aromatic flavor combinations as seared day boat scallops with kohlrabi, grapefruit and lemongrass-ginger butter sauce. Of course, it should be unlawful to forgo the creative goodies from pastry chef Neidy Venegas.”
Michelin's Bib Gourmand Awards 2021
Michelin Guide's Big Gourmand awards represent remarkable restaurants that serve two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less (tax and gratuity not included), and which receive a still-commendable rating of zero stars.
Zagat Guide's 'Essential Sonoma County Restaurants' for 2020
More Favorite Sonoma County Restaurants
Be sure to start with hand crafted charcuterie from the custom-made curing case, and if you're feeling adventurous, tuck into the "Trust Me" menu where Valette sends out a multi-course feast of his daily picks.
Bird & The Bottle, Santa Rosa
There are grilled and chilled shellfish accompanied by Southern Saltines and Korean chile buerre blanc; clam chowder studded with kielbasa; kimchee latkes with sour cream and garlic chives; chicken fried oysters with shiso leaf and spicy mayo; and schmears like smoked black cod with sour cream, onion, and fresh horseradish. Try it, you'll likely be happily surprised.
Amy's Drive Thru, Rohnert Park
It may seem odd to be proud of a drive through, except this is a showpiece of locally sourced, boutique products, and it might well be a true café, decorated with a living plant roof and solar panels. There's even table service, and the fast food isn't entirely fast, since all recipes are made from scratch and cooked to-order.
It comes from the creators of Amy's Kitchen, all the food is vegetarian, and available as vegan and/or gluten free, but really, you won't miss the meat. Skinny sunflower seed oil-fried fries are smothered in thick tofu chili and cheese, while the Amy's Burger brings a double patty of veggies, mushrooms and grains, topped with double cheese, tomato, onion, Sonoma Brinery pickle, and Fred Sr.'s regular or spicy secret sauce all on a toasted bun. For more farm-fresh flavors, dig into the sweet salad of seasonal lettuces, roasted yellow beets, dried cranberries, candied pecans and goat cheese with ranch, balsamic or raspberry vinaigrette, and cap it off with a Sonoma dairy-sourced milkshake.
Trading Post, Cloverdale
Recently, a full restaurant opened next door, tempting with farm-to-table bites such as fried chicken with veggies in apple cider glaze, cabbage bacon soup with poached pear and brown butter crouton, or Dungeness crab tartine with fennel and radish.
Owners Jim and Michele Wimborough wow with Cal-Med cuisine at this cute cottage, in savory signatures like scallop crudo dressed with Santa Rosa plums, or grilled octopus with River Dog cannelini beans, shaved fennel, watercress, orangen and olives.
Most ingredients are local, like the Valley Ford cheese on the sweet corn, cherry tomato and jalapeno pizza, or the just-caught salmon roasted in the oven with leeks, Yukon creamers, tomatoes, spring onions, and Greek olives. Local wines? You bet.
Guerneville Bank Club, Guerneville
In 1921, the big white building on Main Street housed an actual bank full of money. Now, its vaults are full of pies and ice cream. Doing double duty as a collective retail and art gallery space, the eye-candy design offers an eclectic mix of art shows, handcrafted pies, homemade ice cream, clothing, and home accessories, plus a history display of Guerneville compliments of the Russian River Historical Society.
The pies come from Chile Pies Baking Co. in flavors like strawberry rhubarb, apricot cherry, or the signature chile apple pie made with sweet apple and green chile filling, cheddar cheese crust, walnut streusel topping, and red chile honey drizzle. The ice cream, meanwhile, is the work of Nimble & Finn's, in temptations like Bulleit Bourbon with chocolate covered pretzels, cold steeped Melody coffee, or lavender honeycomb.
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?
Hana Japanese Restaurant, Rohnert Park
Find more info about restaurants in Sonoma County.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet