It’s the loveliest time of year in Sonoma County, when farm stands are laden with fresh strawberries, flower bouquets and first-of-the-season tomatoes. Boozy outdoor brunches and face-plants into giant waffle cones are now seasonally appropriate, along with hogging a lovely patio table for a little too long.
So, in the spirit of gas economy and weekend adventures, here are 15 recently discovered summery Sonoma County spots worth visiting. They’re all shorts- and sundress-approved and waiting for you to put your Hot Girl (or Boy) summer bod on the back burner and enjoy the delicious things in life.
Mangonada from Fru-ta: If summer had a flavor, it would be the sweet, sour, salty, spicy, icy mangonada at Fru-ta. Made with fresh mango, mango sorbet, lime, chamoy (a pickled stone fruit condiment) and lime and dusted with Tajin, it’s everything a cold drink should be. The tamarind paste-wrapped straw just adds to the puckery deliciousness. Pairs perfectly with Takilocos, a mixed bag of Takis rolled corn chips, peanuts, cucumber, lime, jicama and pickled pork rinds. Three Santa Rosa locations: 2770 Stony Point Road, 52 Mission Circle and 3080 Marlow Road. frutaicecream.com. Open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
Shady Oak Barrel House: We love the lineup of food trucks as much as the funky beers at this downtown Santa Rosa brewery. Hang at the picnic tables in the back with some of the area’s best food trucks and pop-ups, including Smackin’ Soul Food, pizza from SoCo Supper Club or burgers from Lunch Box. 420 First St., 707-575-7687, shadyoakbarrelhouse.com. Open 3 to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Rosé at Locals Tasting Room: Yes, Virginia, you still can taste wine for free. Though no purchase is required to sample the nearly 80 wines, chances are you’ll find at least one bottle to buy from this collective tasting room. The Dernier-Handal chenin blanc blend is a favorite summer sipper. 21023 Geyserville Ave., 707-814-0713, localstastingroom.com. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Dank beer and barbecued lamb at Corner Project Ales and Eats: At this family-run brewpub in Geyserville, one brother brews while the other operates the kitchen. More than just fried pub grub, Chef Tom Adamian’s menu includes lots of comforting dishes like meatball sliders, pulled lamb on focaccia with preserved lemons, and a perfect pickled veggie sando on thick slices of bread (my favorite). They also sell beers from other brewers; try the funky Smelltron 3030 from Santa Rosa’s Cooperage Brewing Co. or the super-refreshing Lavender Radler from Rohnert Park-based Old Caz Beer. 21079 Geyserville Ave., 707-814-0110, cornerprojectales.com. Open noon to 8 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, noon to 3 p.m. Sunday.
La-Yu from SingleThread Farm: The owners of Healdsburg’s SingleThread restaurant have opened their new Dry Creek Valley farm stand, selling fresh flowers and perfect produce ($6 strawberries, worth every penny), as well as artisan donabe clay cooking pots, handcrafted knives and bespoke dishes used at the restaurant. Don’t miss larder items like Chunky La-Yu (chile oil), barrel-aged ponzu and yuzu kosho, a Japanese condiment made with chiles and citrus. 2836 Dry Creek Road, singlethreadfarms.com. Open 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
Wine and pizza at Bacchus Landing: An impressive collection of tasting rooms that feature exceptional wines, including AldenAlli (a collaboration between Dan Kosta of Kosta Browne Winery and celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse), The Setting Wines (vintner Jesse Katz of Aperture Cellars) and Smith Story Wine Cellars (Alison Story). Though Bacchus Landing looks like a faux Tuscan villa, there’s plenty of space to lounge, sip and nibble, with a new wood-fired pizza oven and frequent food trucks and pop-ups, including Black Piglet and Bayou on the Bay. 14210 Bacchus Landing Way, 707-395-0697, bacchuslanding.com. Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
Thai at Tuesdays on the Plaza: This relaxed Tuesday gathering with mostly locals features music, arts and our favorite Thai food pop-up, Sangsan. Look for Thai wok omelets and strawberry milk ice from chefs Ploypailin Sakornsin and Jeremy Kuo (both SingleThread alums). Open 5 to 8 p.m. Tuesday on the Healdsburg Plaza and 8:30 a.m. to noon Saturday at the Healdsburg farmers market, sangsanhealdsburg.com.
Shakshuka at Lightwave Coffee & Kitchen: Located at the Creekside skate park in Monte Rio, this curious little cafe sells smoothies, bagels and Middle Eastern cuisine, including rich, tomato-based shakshuka. Watch for freshly baked desserts and creative specials from owners Ori and Gal Ginzburg. Or just grab a coffee from the walk-up window and watch the gnarly board slides and cringeworthy lip skids. 9725 Main St., 707-865-5169, lightwavecafe.square.site. Open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Strawberries at Stony Point Strawberry Farm Stand: Insiders know this is the spot for the best strawberries. This organic fruit and vegetable farm sells berries still warm from the sun. 735 Stony Point Road, 510-917-0514. Open 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.
Lagunitas Taproom: There’s plenty of fun to be had for humans and dogs at this family-friendly, convivial Petaluma beer garden. The sprawling semi-covered outdoor space has picnic tables for people and plenty of slobbery water bowls for thirsty pooches. Seasonal offerings and tasty grub make it a must. 1280 McDowell Blvd., 707-778-8776, lagunitas.com. Open 11:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday.
Piggy Punch at Third Pig Bar: This brand-spanking-new bar from the owners of Graton’s Bowman Cellars serves fresh craft cocktails, including the dangerously delicious Piggy Punch made with rum, Swedish Punsch, chicha morada (a purple corn drink), lime and cardamom bitters. They come in piggy cocktail glasses, and you’ll be oinking for more. Classic cocktails like the Mai Tai and Southside (gin, lime, orange bitters and mint) warm the summery, garden-like space. 116 S. Main St., thirdpigbar.com. Open 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Singing Frogs Farm at the Sebastopol farmers market: There are so many local farms and farmers markets to love, but this Sunday market has the goods from my favorite permaculture, regenerative, sustainable farms in Sonoma County, including Singing Frogs Farm, a family-run, no-till farm that’s won many awards for its methods. The best of west county is at the Sebastopol market, along with J.E.S. plant-based foods, The Green Grocer and more. 6908 Weeks Way, 707-522-9305, sebastopolfarmmarket.org. Open 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday.
Dinner and a movie at Delicious Dish: Family-safe(ish) cult movies like “Cry Baby” and “Airplane!” pair with a casual patio dinner and plenty of fun at this Sonoma restaurant and catering company. The July 9 dinner (with Johnny Depp as Cry Baby) pays homage to Baltimore with fried green tomato and blue crab melts, Old Bay chips, peach and tomato salad and Baltimore’s famous fudge-iced Berger cookies. 18709 Arnold Drive, 707-721-4231. By reservation only, at deliciousdishsf.com/popup.
Picnic before the show at Transcendence: A night at Jack London State Historic Park watching Broadway stars perform has become a summer tradition. If you’re planning to go, one of the best parts of the evening is the dining experience before the show. You can pack a picnic, but it’s far more fun to grab food from one of several food trucks parked on the grass. Premium picnic table spots can be reserved for $50 when you purchase your tickets. 2400 London Ranch Road, Glen Ellen, 877-424-1414, transcendencetheatre.org.
Tea time at Fleur Sauvage Chocolates: After years at farmers markets, Chef Robert Nieto opened his first brick-and-mortar store and kitchen in late 2021. It’s a gourmet dessert wonderland with truffles and cakes from one of the world’s top pastry chefs. Now he and wife Tara have started a Wine Country Tea Time with sweet and savory goodies. 370 Windsor River Road, 707-892-2162, fleursauvagechocolates.com, by appointment only.