Guy Fieri may be a household name around the country, but he’ll always be Santa Rosa’s native son. Home to his first restaurants and the beneficiaries of his philanthropy, Fieri still lives and works in Sonoma County and loves giving extra props to his fellow restaurateurs. That’s why we’re calling out all of the local restaurants he’s featured on his hit Food Network show, “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives.” Though some of the establishments are no longer open, they are still fun to remember.
For most, national recognition means a huge bump in business and notoriety even long after the show airs (here’s one local example). You’ll know you’ve arrived at one of them by Fieri’s flashy signature somewhere in the restaurant — a little Easter egg worth finding.
How many of these restaurants have you been to?
Hank’s Creekside Restaurant, Santa Rosa
The traditional breakfast and brunch spot, Hank’s Creekside Restaurant in Santa Rosa was featured in the “House Specials” episode in season one. Fieri tried the blueberry pancakes with corn beef hash: “It’s basic, it’s simple, but it’s money,” he said.
Willie Bird’s Restaurant, Santa Rosa (Now Closed)
Known for serving up turkey in a wide variety of ways, Willie Bird’s in Santa Rosa was featured on Fieri’s “Talkin’ Turkey” episode in season two. He tried the turkey stroganoff served in a creamy sauce with sautéed mushrooms. “I’m impressed,” Fieri said. “You're going to see me back just for this one.” In April 2022, two years after Willie Bird's was sold and relocated, the nearly 50-year-old business closed down its storefront.
La Texanita Restaurant, Santa Rosa
Craving an authentic taste for his “Global Grub” episode in season seven, Fieri went to La Texanita Restaurant in Santa Rosa. “So simple, but so good,” he said of the carne asada tacos. “I'm telling you something, there's just nothing that can beat that handmade tortilla.”
Taqueria Molcajetes, Santa Rosa
Fieri highlighted numerous dishes at Santa Rosa’s Taqueria Molcajetes for his “Regional Recipes” episode in season 29, including its taquitos, burritos and chile verde. He called this Mexican restaurant off W. College Avenue a “gem.”
Worth Our Weight, Santa Rosa (Now Closed)
The nonprofit Worth Our Weight culinary training program was featured in the "Funky Finds" episode in season 11. Fieri noted it as a "one-of-a-kind experience," and the Guy Fieri Foundation donated a pretzel cart to the culinary program/restaurant. His favorite special dishes were the nectarine scones and the huevos rancheros with pulled pork and pico de gallo.
Worth Our Weight executive director Evelyn Cheatham announced the closing of the culinary training program for at-risk young adults in 2018 after struggling to find funding. Cheatham passed in November 2019.
Zoftig Eatery, Santa Rosa
Featured on the “From Big Burgers to Little Italy” episode in season 29, Zoftig Eatery is a contemporary restaurant serving up healthy fare. Fieri tried the Korean burrito, packed with marinated Marin Sun Farms beef, house kimchi, brown rice and veggies. “I’m going to drown in my own drool,” he said before chomping down on the burrito.
Simply Vietnam Express, Santa Rosa
Serving up the unique flavors of Vietnam, Santa Rosa’s Simply Vietnam Express was featured in the “Meaty Mashup” episode in season 29, where Fieri praised its combination pho. “Oh my goodness. It’s light, refreshing, but the depth of flavors is outstanding,” he said. “It’s everything I wanted it to be."
Johnny Garlic's, Santa Rosa (Now Closed)
Before it closed in 2018, Fieri featured his own restaurant in the "Unexpected Eats" episode in season 14. The restaurant had a fusion of Mexican, Italian, Asian and Cajun dishes on the menu, and on his show, Fieri highlighted the eatery's Sashimi Won Tacos dressed in eel sauce, which won gold at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair.
Jimtown Store, Healdsburg (Now Closed)
In the “Porktastic” episode in season 11, Fieri featured Healdsburg’s Jimtown Store, a quaint café in a rustic country store tucked away in the vineyards of Alexander Valley. “Big, deep flavor in the brisket,” Fieri said of the smoked brisket sandwich he tried there. “Sauce is no joke, you get that little back kick of the bourbon.” Jimtown Store closed down at the end of 2019 due to wildfires and expensive housing.
This California-inspired Italian restaurant was featured in the "Bar Food and Bon Bons" episode in season 12. Fieri said the ravioli, made in-house from scratch, was "memorably great," as are the beef meatball sliders "that you can't get enough of." Fieri featured Catelli's in three other episodes of “Diners, Drive-Ins & Dives” and its spin-off show "Triple D Nation."
Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Sebastopol (Now Closed)
Farm-to-table establishment Zazu Kitchen + Farm was featured on the “From Sandwiches to Stroganoff” episode in season 29. According to the Food Network website, Fieri loved their Bacon-in-the-Batter Waffle along with the restaurant’s quality, freshness and portion sizes. Zazu closed in 2019 after a major flood damaged the restaurant and surrounding businesses in Sebastopol's The Barlow. Owners Duskie Estes and John Stewart continue to operate their Black Piglet food truck.
Russian River Pub, Forestville
This Russian River staple is a regular go-to for Fieri, who first featured the pub in the "American Cookin'" episode in season one. Some of Fieri's favorite dishes at Russian River Pub include the pub burger, seared ahi tuna salad and beef tri-tip sandwich; but it's the crispy, juicy chicken wings that he calls "some of the best-tasting wings in the nation," that really stand out for him. Fieri featured the pub again in the "Takeout: Bold Bites Brought Home" episode in season 32, and a third time in the Triple D Nation spin-off in the "California Comfort" episode. (Saachi G./Yelp)
Cafe Citti, Santa Rosa
Before it moved locations from Kenwood to Santa Rosa, Fieri featured Cafe Citti in the "Bringin' It Home" episode in season nine. Fieri enjoyed the Italian trattoria's classic Polenta ai Funghi Porcini, and he called the ravioli an "orchestra of flavors."
Schellville Grill, Sonoma (Now Closed)
Sonoma’s Schellville Grill serves a fusion of Wine Country fare and Austin-style barbecue, which is why it was featured on the “Grilled, Smoked and Sauced” episode in season nine. Fieri tried the buckaroo sandwich with Mexican Achoté chicken on a brioche roll and the tri-tip sandwich smothered in a special barbecue sauce. “The right amount of smoke,” he said of the flavor. “You have a really good ability to blend things really well, without having anything take over another.” Schellville Grill owner Matthew Nagan sold the restaurant in February 2020.
Sunflower Caffe, Sonoma
Located in the historic Sonoma Plaza and offering seasonal menus, Sonoma’s Sunflower Caffe was featured in the “From Mozz to Matzo Balls” episode in season 11. Fieri sampled the borscht and feta lamb burger. "That's like the [most] luscious lamb burger,” he said. “Seriously, one of the best I've tried."
Cochon Volant BBQ Smokehouse, Sonoma (Now Closed)
Another Sonoma County restaurant to be featured on the “Meaty Mashup” episode in season 29, Cochon Volant BBQ Smokehouse is proud of their slow-smoked barbecue meats — and Fieri’s endorsement. They even created a dish in his name: The WTF (What the Fieri) Burger, topped with barbecued pork shoulder and beef brisket. "Wow that's good,” Fieri said of their fried chicken. “I can't put it in my mouth fast enough. This is not your grandma's fried chicken, this is a chef's fried chicken." In the fall of 2021, the smokehouse closed and became Il Fuoco, with Cochon Volant owner Rob Larman still at the helm and Fieri's namesake burger still on the menu.
Written by Maci Martell