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El Molino Central and SHED Named “Essential California Restaurants”

Eater.com recently awarded SHED and El Molino Central with the “Essential California Restaurants” designation.

Sonoma County boasts restaurants with Michelin Stars, Zagat ratings, San Francisco Chronicle Top 100 awards, and now, our Wine Country can proudly claim two “Essential California Restaurants” as designated by Eater.com.

Congratulations to El Molino Central in Sonoma, and SHED in Healdsburg. We’re so happy to share the love.

The awards are a pretty big deal. Eater is a national food and dining network with local websites in many cities and states. For the national awards, Eater only gave out 38 awards all across California. So for Sonoma County to get two awards, that means the percentage is … well, a lot.

Eater National dining editor Bill Addison had some nice things to say about California, calling us “America’s most dynamic dining region.” He went on to say that “California, for those of us who live to eat, is everything. Its very name invokes a thousand different ingredients and dishes. Forty years ago, its chefs, farmers, entrepreneurs, activists, visionaries, and romantics began jolting this country from a canned-soup stupor into a Technicolor world of freshness.”

Are you hungry yet? 

Here’s what Eater had to say about each spot:

El Molino Central

El Molino Central, Sonoma, California

What: An embellished taco stand and wine industry purlieu along the Sonoma Highway. Why: As the name suggests, freshly milled corn is the restaurant’s foundation — organic stone-ground kernels metamorphosed into exceptional tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and (very) stout corn chips. The masa wonderland has that unique quality of feeling simultaneously like a secret, but also like an essential destination — so charming that those in the know can’t bear to keep it to themselves. Bay Area eaters will know chef Karen Taylor’s work by way of Primavera, a portfolio of exquisite seasonal tamales, tortillas, and salsas that are ubiquitous at fine food retailers throughout Northern California. At El Molino, Taylor’s tamale is a standout any time of year, but for summer, the most inviting menu options are the seafood ones, and in particular, the tostada — a crisp, round tortilla that, depending on the season, is topped with pozole verde, avocado, and crema. Resist the urge to overthink a better alternative than the pedestrian-sounding Modelo-battered fish tacos. Enjoy with the lightest or localest available cerveza.

El Molino Central, 11 Central Ave., Sonoma, CA , 707-939-1010


SHED, Healdsburg, Sonoma County, California

What: An airy cafe, market, and boutique with an intensely farm-to-table ethos.
Why: Because Northern California is where people go to experience the Good Life™, and Shed is here to sell it to you. And it’s not just the lovely cooking utensils or Instagram-ready shovels (it’s a thing!) for sale, it’s also the gorgeous plates that chef Perry Hoffman serves in the cafe. It’s a salad with trout and sea buckthorn, covered in edible flowers; it’s fluffy lemon-ricotta pancakes with perfectly ripe blueberries; it’s a tartine topped with anchovies and kicky Meyer lemon aioli. Shed’s the place where all your “wouldn’t it be nice to live in Sonoma” fantasies come to life, better than you even imagined, if only for a couple hours.

SHED, 25 North St., Healdsburg, 707-431-7433

That’s praise we can all be proud of, indeed. Now, let’s get out there and eat.

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