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7 Sonoma Restaurants to Try Now

From Mexican seafood dishes to bacon fat-fried onion rings, Sonoma County is serving up excellent food this spring.

Click through the above gallery to see best bet dishes for each restaurant. 

Troubadour, Healdsburg

Back in 1762, it’s unlikely the Earl of Sandwich could have imagined anything like the soon-to-be-legendary Hokkaido milk bread and egg salad sandwich now being served as a daily special at Healdsburg’s new bread and sandwich spot, Troubadour. Made with inchthick slices of pillowy Japanese-style bread, creamy egg salad and whole hard-boiled eggs, it’s a monster of a sandwich, so light you won’t realize you’ve downed the whole thing until you’re holding nothing but crust.

The bread is leavened with croissant trimmings, then mixed with buttermilk and toasted milk powder for a sweet, indulgent sandwich, just asking for bites that are more face-plant than nibble.

This is the kind of magic bakers Melissa Yanc and Sean McGaughey are conjuring up. The Single Thread alums, who opened the buzzy new bakery Quail & Condor last year, spun off their second Healdsburg business at the former Moustache Baked Goods, promising “chef-inspired and locally sourced wizardry” in their ’wiches.

Of course, this is ideal picnic and takeout food, but there’s also indoor dining at long shared tables, with beer and wine by the glass. Top-notch chocolate chip cookies, pie, cake, and sourdough breads, too.

381 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 707-756-3972, troubadourhbg.com

BEST BETS

Egg salad sandwich, $12: A creamy classic, above, with hard-boiled eggs, egg salad , and greens on soft, Japanese-style milk bread.

Chicken liver mousse, $12: Top right, beautiful quenelles of house-made mousse and onion jam, with toasted sourdough. A steal of a deal. 

Warm pastrami sandwich, $18: Made with Super Seed bread (wheat, chia, quinoa, flax porridge) and piled high with carawayseed kraut, Swiss cheese, and pickled mustard seeds.

Roast chicken sandwich, $16: Served on Yecora Rojo sourdough (a grain native to Southern California) and topped with shaved truffle, mayonnaise, and pan drippings.

Sandwich from Troubadour in Healdsburg. (Emma K. Morris)

Pezcow, Windsor

Damian Zuniga has worked in restaurants since he was 15, many of them run by the Diaz family, owners of El Farolito and El Gallo Negro. Now 32, Zuniga is part of a new generation of immigrants who are launching off the shoulders of those who came before them. “I want to be like them,” said Zuniga, who hails from Guanajuato, Mexico, and who also owns the two Lucha Sabina food trucks.

Pezcow, Zuniga’s new restaurant in Windsor, features brilliantly executed dishes that make use of a wood-fired oven and the culinary skills of Zuniga’s brother, Luis Zuniga. The name Pezcow, Luis explained through a translator, means hillside and sea. It plays off the flavors of local seafood and meat from local ranches, but with a Latin bent. The whimsical logo — a mermaid-cow blowing a conch — is a visual cue to what Zuniga calls surf-and-turf, or “fresh catch.”

There is plenty to explore on the menu, from a ruby-red glass of campechana filled with octopus and shrimp ceviche in lime-orange tomato juice to pollo al horno con mole cooked in the wood-fired oven and served with a homemade mole negro I’d put up against any other (including the Diaz brothers’ — sorry, not sorry).

The well-appointed dining room, is comfortable, with long wooden tables, large hammered-bronze light fixtures that cast a warm yellow glow, and an open kitchen with handmade tiles from Oaxaca. Nearby are the grocery Castañeda’s, and, across the parking lot, El Gallo Negro, for great margaritas. The seafood is outstanding here, but don’t ignore the chicken mole and other land-based dishes.

8465 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor. 707-393-8370.

BEST BETS

Queso fundido, $12: This dish is best right out of the wood-fired oven, with bubbling melted quesillo cheese and homemade chorizo. It’s truly a chorizo to die for, made with freshly ground pork and a mix of warm adobo spices known only to Chef Luis.

Molcajete mariscos, $25: First things first — a molcajete (the volcanic stone bowl and the name of the dish inside it) should never, and I mean never, be anything less than sizzling hot. That’s part of the magic of this stew of shrimp, clams, scallops, octopus, and crab legs, served with nopales and fried cheese. Best shared with a friend.

Campechana, $18: A glass chalice fit for royalty holds piles of octopus and shrimp ceviche, swimming in citrus and tomato juices. Chiles add a savory, earthy quality, but little heat. Required.

Pizza al pastor, $18: Spit-grilled al pastor is legit (and frankly, I’d be glad to eat it by itself). Here, it’s tossed over a wood-fired pizza crust and laden with cheese, pineapple, onion, and salsa de aguacate. It’s kind of like a Hawaiian pizza, but so much better.

Molcajete Mar y Terra with seafood and beef from Pezcow in Windsor. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Camarones a la Momia are shrimp wrapped like a mummy in bacon from Pezcow in Windsor. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Table Culture Provisions, Petaluma

One of last year’s most celebrated debuts is no longer operating out of a borrowed kitchen.

Chefs Stéphane Saint Louis and Steven Vargas have found a permanent at the former Chili Joe’s, with many of the same favorite menu options, plus plenty of newcomers, including the seasonal tasting menu (highly recommended, $80 per person).

The move to the new location is part of a larger plan to work closely with Asombrosa Farm, a 65-acre farm with a 7,000-square-foot barn and culinary garden.

With a clean and minimalist interior, short but tempting wine list, and crowd-pleasing, hyper-seasonal menu that includes trout en croûte, fried chicken, and beef croquettes, this tiny 10-table restaurant has figured out comfort food with local ingredients and flourishes of French technique. It’s a perfect addition to the Sonoma County dining scene.

312 Petaluma Blvd. S., Petaluma, 707-559-5739, tcprovision.com

Sonoma Burger, Sebastopol

Thin, crispy, panko-crusted, bacon fat-fried onion rings won’t change your life. But if anything could change your life — in a single bite — it would be precisely the onion rings at Sonoma Burger in west Sebastopol. This fast-casual burger spot started as a pop-up at the Gravenstein Grill in the early days of the pandemic, and opened in a permanent location with an expanded menu a few months ago.

The menu now includes those righteous rings, along with smash burgers, “griddle hot dogs,” crispy chicken sandwiches, and a tempeh burger with grilled onions. Almost everything on the Sonoma Burger menu is made in-house, from the herb-ranch dip to the fermented pickles. The chef’s passion for local ingredients shows: He gets his burgers and hot dogs from Sonoma Mountain Beef Co. and uses Moonlight Brewing’s Death & Taxes black lager in the beer-cheese sauce (a required addition to your order). There’s a small outdoor area for seating, and takeout is available. You can order local wines and beer on tap, along with soft drinks, floats and milkshakes.

173 Pleasant Hill Ave. N., Sebastopol. sonomaburger.com

Smash burger from Sonoma Burger in Sebastopol. (Courtesy of Sonoma Burger)
Il Fuoco in Sonoma. (Courtesy photo)

Il Fuoco, Sonoma

Longtime local Rob Larman has transformed his Boyes Hot Springs barbecue spot into a bustling pizzeria that’s still got plenty of smoke and fire. A new Italian Forno Bravo pizza oven is at the heart of the kitchen, turning out wood-fired pizzas, along with roasted shishito peppers, balsamic-glazed Brussels sprouts, artichokes and zesty meatballs.

Thin-crusted pies get a kiss of char and a nice bit of chew, ranging from the simple Margherita to pies with more exotic toppings, like roasted mushrooms with preserved lemon, or fresh clams. The signature WTF Burger is a meat-tastic gut-buster with Painted Hills ground beef, Cheddar, barbecued pork shoulder, brisket, maple bacon, and a fried chipotle pork cake — with Guy Fieri’s stamp of approval. Yeah, that tracks.

18350 Sonoma Highway, Sonoma. 707-522-7778, ilfuocosonoma.com

Mother Clucker’s Wings, Cotati

A new wing and burger spot  from the owner of Cotati’s Down to Earth Cafe.

After the pandemic did a number on his businesses, with food prices soaring and a lack of available staff, chef Chris Ball pivoted business concepts to add a delivery-only option. This isn’t your usual soggy fries and wings situation. Ball puts his all into the offerings, which also include a creamy, dreamy mac and cheese with bacon. Based in Cotati, with service to Santa Rosa.

doordash.com to order

Wooden Petal, Santa Rosa

This pop-up pretzel business, which took Santa Rosa by storm after it launched in 2020, has now become a full-fledged bakery.

The menu includes daily bread specials, braided sesame pretzel loaf, and homemade dips that can be ordered online and picked up at the bakery. Orders should be placed the night before, as offerings usually sell out fast. We love the Kids Party Box with sweet, glazed pretzels served “unicorn style” (meaning with sprinkles on top), as well as the Salty & Sweet Box combo, which features cinnamon sugar and sea salt pretzels.

404 Santa Rosa Ave., woodenpetal.com

Pretzels from Wooden Petal in Santa Rosa. (Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

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