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Alfredo’s Italian Restaurant, Petaluma: The father-son Nolazco team doesn’t waste money on fancy space or decor. Instead the Nolazcos put their hearts into excellent classic Italian comfort cuisine. Pastas are particular knockouts, like the homemade saffron pappardelle pasta tossed with prawns, sun-dried tomatoes, and broccoli in delicate roasted shrimp bisque sauce. $$$, 1426 E. Washington St., Petaluma, 707-782-0500, alfredositalianpetaluma.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Barrio Fresca Cocina Mexicana, Sebastopol: Owner Carlos Rosas trained at upscale restaurants and takes the same fine dining approach with his spectacular Mexico City street food. Served on paper plates at bargain prices, it’s art in the form of tacos, quesadillas, and signatures like choriloco of red corn tortilla topped in potatoes, handmade chorizo, scrambled eggs, crunchy pumpkin seed, melted cheese curds, arugula, and salsa de chile morita. $, The Barlow, 6760 McKinley St., Suite 140, Sebastopol, 707-3296538, barriobayarea.com.
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Brewsters Beer Garden, Petaluma: San Francisco nightclub maven Mike Goebel has another success to shout about with this popular, sophisticated country-bluegrass spot featuring barbecue, creative pub food, craft adult beverages, great live music, and a chic hideaway location. $$-$$$, 229 N. Water St., Petaluma, 707-981-8330, brewstersbeergarden.com. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Cascabel Mexican Bar and Grill, Santa Rosa: The sophisticated fare is rich with regional mole sauces and cheeses, Mexico City-style barbacoa, Yucatan-style cochinita pibil, and coastal Sinaloa-style aguachile. Expect loud music and conversation, but it’s still classy. $$$, 909 Village Court, Santa Rosa, 707-5219444, cascabelbayarea.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Della Fattoria, Petaluma: Elevating sandwiches, salads, and even toast to gourmet heights, this bustling breakfast/lunch/brunch cafe focuses on hearth-baked breads and premium ingredients. In 2018, it expanded to dinner service, for joyful dishes like burrata dressed with tomatoes, pesto, pine nuts, watercress, and rosemary-Meyer lemon drizzle, or short rib-ricotta raviolo. $$$, 143 N. Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, 707-763-0161, dellafattoria.com. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Paris Brest at Della Fattoria in Petaluma. (Photo by Alvin Jornada)
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Giorgio’s Italian Restaurant, Healdsburg: The 1920s cottage digs need sprucing up, but look past the tired decor for wonderful East Coast-style pizza. Old-school Italian dishes like spaghetti and meatballs and chicken Parmesan are hit-and-miss, but the retro mood and friendly staff are delicious. $$, 25 Grant Ave., Healdsburg, 707-433-1106. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Gravenstein Grill, Sebastopol: The chef shops Sonoma County for excellent ingredients, then crafts them into mouthwatering Cal cuisine like crispy local duck leg partnered with braised red cabbage mixed with organic local heirloom apples, smoked bacon, herbed spaetzle and organic local plum gastrique. Killer local wine list, too. $$$-$$$$, 8050 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol, 707-634-6142, gravensteingrill.com.
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John Ash & Co., Santa Rosa: This longtime special occasion spot has kept the white tablecloths but now offers a more relaxed experience. Cal-American cuisine is still first rate, emphasizing local produce, sparkling oysters, foie gras, and an impressive array of boutique Sonoma County wines. $$$$, 4330 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa, 707-527-7687, vintnersinn.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Mac’s Deli, Santa Rosa: Classic Reubens, matzo ball soup, lox Benedicts, and other hearty breakfasts served all day make this busy New York-style deli a delight. $, 630 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-3785, macsdeliandcafe.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Hot Corned Beef Sandwich combo with potato salad and a tap beer from Mac's Deli in downtown Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Madrona Manor, Healdsburg: Under chef Jesse Mallgren, the restaurant has captured a Michelin star for 10 years now, thanks to a sophisticated setting and elegant, inventive modern American cuisine. The seven-course tasting menu is a bargain at $98, with superb plates like Hokkaido scallop crudo splashed with persimmon vinaigrette, and Japanese Wagyu in aged soy. $$, 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, 707-433-4231, madronamanor.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Vanilla Passion Roulade with raspberry gel, almond streusel, calamansi sorbet and chocolate feather from Madrona Manor in Healdsburg. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Miso Good Ramen, Santa Rosa: No surprise, ramen is the star at this quiet, chic spot, served in six varieties that can be further customized with 22 add-ins. It’s ramen done right, with plenty of noodles and toppings like excellent chasu pork belly. Sushi is another winner, including fancy carpaccio plates. $$, 507 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 707-545-7545, misogoodramen.com.
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Rosen’s 256 North, Petaluma: Cheesecake legend Jan Rosen used to own several restaurants in Petaluma and Santa Rosa, and now she’s back with a hip, fun American bistro-sports bar. Sea-play food dishes are particularly stellar, like salmon in saffron sauce or butter- wine steamed clams — and that cheesecake is as mouthwatering as ever. $$$$, 256 N. Petaluma Blvd., Petaluma, 707-766-0799, 256north.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Salt & Stone, Kenwood: The legendary roadhouse has found new luster with new owners and a fresh concept, focusing on solid steaks, seafood, burgers, cocktails, and a very popular happy hour. This is where the locals eat. $$$, 9900 Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-833-6326, saltstonekenwood.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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The Shuckery, Petaluma: The Oyster Girls caterers, Aluxa and Jazmine Lalicker, also run this full restaurant specializing in, what else, seafood. Oysters are good, but the fresh fish is divine, in simple presentations that let the catch shine through. $$$-$$$$, 100 Washington St., Petaluma, 707-981-7891, theshuckeryca.com. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Stockhome, Petaluma: The Swedish street food dishes are unusual for Wine Country, but well worth exploring for delicious bites like shrimp skagan, a chilled salad tossed with avocado and a bit of chile with horseradish-tzatziki sauce mounded over toasted brioche. Stock up on Swedish bulk candies, too. $$, 220 Western Ave., Petaluma, 707-981-8511, stockhomerestaurant.com.
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"Saturday candy" at Stockhome Restaurant in Petaluma. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Tips Roadside, Kenwood: Stylish decor and lots of local art make this modern Southern roadhouse a welcome destination. You’ve never had grits this good, as creamy corn infused with white cheddar and ample butter plus smoked mushrooms, crisp spring peas, leeks, and radish. $$$, 8445 Highway 12, Kenwood, 707-509-0078, tipsroadside.com.
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Beignets with spiced sugar and Meyer lemon sauce from Tips Roadside in Kenwood. (Photo by John Burgess)
3 thoughts on “Best Sonoma Restaurants: 25 Picks from the Food Critics”
RE: Barrio… . “Street food” street is Rodeo Drive. Check the prices.
Trading Post? Really? Service is horrible (we waited 20 minutes to be greeted by our server, it was our anniversary and she never said a word, mucho attitude), and every dish we ordered was burned, fried in old oil, underseasoned, or just not edible.
Bunch of mediocre restaurants and lunch spots. Certainly not the “Best of”, unless it’s the ‘best (friends) of the writer.