Where Chefs Eat in Sonoma County

We asked the chefs and restaurateurs behind top new restaurants in Sonoma County where they like to eat. Here's what they said.


We asked the chefs and restaurateurs behind the Best New Restaurants in Sonoma County 2023 to share their favorite places to dine out in Sonoma County. Here’s what they said. Click through the above gallery for favorite dishes.

Nick Peyton

Owner Cyrus, Geyserville 

DATE NIGHT PICK

The Shuckery in Petaluma. It’s the complete package of ambience, food, and attitude, all cleverly created with a modest budget.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Diavola in Geyserville. It’s got such great food, even beyond the signature pizzas. I love the ambience created from nearly nothing— the charming clothes hanging on lines across the alley leading to their back patio.

Guests enjoy the Kitchen Table while chatting with Maitre'd Hotel / Owner Nick Peyton at Cyrus in Geyserville. (Chad Surmick/The Press Democrat)
Guests enjoy the Kitchen Table while chatting with Maitre’d/Owner Nick Peyton at Cyrus in Geyserville. (Chad Surmick/The Press Democrat)
5/11/2014: D4: Dino Bugica, chef and owner of Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, walks under the decorative hanging laundry at his Geyserville restaurant. PC: Dino Bugica, chef and owner of Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, walks under the decorative hanging laundry at his restaurant, in Geyserville on Wednesday, April 30, 2014. (Christopher Chung/ The Press Democrat)
Dino Bugica, chef and owner of Diavola Pizzeria & Salumeria, walks under the decorative hanging laundry at his Geyserville restaurant. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat)

THAT’S SO SONOMA

We are not a monoculture. It is the reason I love living here. There’s such range, from the regional Mexican food at Mitote Food Park, to Spud Point Crab Company in Bodega Bay, to Canevari’s Delicatessen in Santa Rosa.

FOOD TRUCK PICK

I lived in Philadelphia for a while, so sometimes I jones for a cheesesteak, and nobody does them like Streetside Asian Grill. It’s a half-pound of grilled steak, lots of onions and peppers, and melty white American cheese on an Amoroso soft Italian roll.

Chef Jennifer McMurry of Bloom Carneros restaurant in Sonoma.
Chef Jennifer McMurry of Bloom Carneros restaurant in Sonoma.

Jennifer McMurry

Chef Bloom Carneros, Sonoma

FOR A BIRTHDAY

The upscale Table Culture Provisions in Petaluma. I’m super excited about what chefowner Stéphane Saint Louis is doing to change the culinary scene in Sonoma County.

DATE NIGHT

Ramen Gaijin in Sebastopol is always delicious, and their vegan ramen with shiitake miso is one of my absolute favorites.

THAT’S SO SONOMA

Try grilled oysters at Handline in Sebastopol. It’s a great space, with a fun indoor-outdoor open flow.

CHEAP EATS

I love Kathmandu Cafe & Grill, in the old train station in downtown Sebastopol. They serve authentic, traditional Indian food.

Seamus Guevara of Farmstand restaurant in Forestville.

Seamus Guevara

Chef Farmstand, Forestville

FOR A BIRTHDAY

It would have to be Hana Japanese Restaurant in Rohnert Park. I’ve worked in Sonoma County since 2005 and that was always the spot. One year we were there on Halloween, and Ken Tominaga, the late owner, was dressed up as a pirate. We brought him porchetta, and he poured us sake until we couldn’t dance straight. Rest in peace, Ken.

LATE NIGHT

The Delicias Elenita taco truck on Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa/Roseland. Phenomenal, and there’s always a crazy line. My order is always the same: two of each taco, and don’t forget the elotes.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Bird & The Bottle in Santa Rosa, a real gem of the Starks restaurant portfolio. I like it not just for the excellent food, but also so that I can tell stories about the Italian Affair, an old restaurant that had been there previously. We’d frequent that place back in the day, play poker, drink martinis.

CHEAP EATS

The pupusa de queso, calabaza y espinaca from Pupuseria Salvadoreña in Santa Rosa. It’s a pupusa stuffed with cheese, squash and spinach, and it’s the ultimate high- quality comfort food you want, for just $3.

Maud Jean-Baptise of Maison Porcella in Windsor. (Kim Carroll)
Maud Jean-Baptise of Maison Porcella in Windsor. (Kim Carroll)

Maud Jean-Baptiste

Chef-owner Maison Porcella, Windsor

WITH FAMILY

Marla Bakery. They keep this French girl well-fed with delicious croissants. We love and sell their bread, and our son Henri is always so happy with a chocolate brownie!

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

In Bodega Bay, Spud Point and Fisherman’s Cove are right next to each other. We love the chowder and fresh whole crabs. After, we get Rocky Road ice cream at Captain Davey’s coffee shop and head to the trails to look for whales.

FOR BREAKFAST

I have serious breakfast needs—no plain bagel with cream cheese for me. I get a jalapeño bagel with egg, bacon, and cheese, with Drew’s spicy mayo. Ta-da!

ON A BIRTHDAY

Willi’s Wine Bar! The staff are always smiling and remember my order. I love the duck confit and creamy polenta. Be sure to treat yourself to the delicious butterscotch crème brûlée.

Chef Mike Lutz and owner Michael Richardson of Kapu Bar, in the captains room at the tiki bar and restaurant in the heart of downtown Petaluma on Keller street February 1, 2023 (Chad Surmick / The Press Democrat)
Chef Mike Lutz and owner Michael Richardson of Kapu Bar in Petaluma. (Chad Surmick/The Press Democrat)

Michael Richardson

Owner Kapu, Petaluma

FOOD TRUCK PICK

There is a really good taco truck that parks at the end of Dry Creek during harvest called Los Plebes. You can’t beat it.

DATE NIGHT

Glen Ellen Star has a really decent wine list. You’re sitting outside, and it’s wonderful.

TAKE THE KIDS

There’s a little fish and chips spot in Bodega called The Birds Cafe. The kids love it out there. They get corn dogs and chicken fingers.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Diavola in Geyserville. It’s just good honest food. The flavor combos are great, and it’s right by the Geyserville Gun Club, a locals bar.

L’oro di Napoli owner Domenico De Angelis works his magic at the pizza oven in downtown Santa Rosa March 24, 2023. De Angelis’ designed the space that projects old Italian black-and-white films on the brick above the pizza oven. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
L’oro di Napoli owner Domenico De Angelis works his magic at the pizza oven in downtown Santa Rosa. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)

Domenico and Taylor De Angelis

Chefs-owners L’Oro di Napoli, Santa Rosa

BEST BREAKFAST

Mac’s Deli, across from the restaurant has quickly become a go-to and has the best pancakes around, Taylor says. “They are the sweetest people, and the service is always amazing.”

FOOD TRUCK FAVE

Delicias Elenita on Sebastopol Road. The elote (street corn), quesadillas, and champurrado are favorites.

DATE NIGHT

Riviera Ristorante in Santa Rosa for pasta and the charcuterie platter. The bike-themed décor is a bonus.

Jenny Phan

Chef-owner Second Staff, Various Locations 

ON HER BIRTHDAY

I’m a big fan of Tomi Thai in Windsor. They have a really intimate kitchen, like 200 square feet. And they just don’t hold back on the flavors. I always get everything Thai spicy.

LATE-NIGHT PICK 

I love going to this little Chinese place called Fantasy Restaurant in Petaluma. The owners, Vincent and Joanne Wu, are very friendly—like, my parents kind of friendly. You’ll get there at 9, and before you know it, you’re staying until midnight, chatting and talking.

AT THE FARMERS MARKET

I always detour to the mushrooms. I just like picking things up and smelling them, seeing if they’re earthier or meatier. And if it’s something I haven’t tried before, I’ll always buy it. Duncan’s Mushrooms, which sells at Windsor and Sebastopol markets in the spring and summer, is my favorite.

Octavio Diaz, owner of Mitote Food Park in Santa Rosa.

Octavio Díaz

Owner Mitote Food Park, Santa Rosa 

FOR A BIRTHDAY 

Sazón, the Peruvian restaurant in Santa Rosa. I really like the ceviche– there are a half-dozen choices. And the owner, José Navarro, is so interesting. He’s always running around like crazy, like he’s wearing three different hats at the same time. It reminds me of me.

DATE NIGHT 

My wife and I like Union Hotel in Santa Rosa. It’s got a great ambiance and it serves a really nice rotisserie- roasted Mary’s chicken, with lots of Italian spices, lemon, and fresh garlic.

THE DISH I ORDER AGAIN AND AGAIN

Mole de Oaxaca. It’s a celebration of the spices in life, so when I eat it, it reminds me of celebrating my own life and bringing my family together. The mole Oaxaqueño from El Gallo Negro in Windsor is made with more than 20 ingredients.

DINING WITH KIDS 

My sons are 15 and 16, and they’re pretty involved in our family restaurant businesses, but they also like to play soccer. After a game, we often go to Caffe Giostra in Petaluma for Italian food.

Chef Jake Rand stands inside of Oyster, a new restaurant in The Barlow, with guests in the background, Monday, November 7, 2022, in Sebastopol. (Darryl Bush / For The Press Democrat)
Chef Jake Rand stands inside of Oyster, a new restaurant in The Barlow in Sebastopol. (Darryl Bush / For The Press Democrat)

Jake Rand

Chef-owner Oyster, Sebastopol

TAKE THE KIDS

We like to go to Rosso Pizzeria for pizza and spaghetti, plus they get to make their own breadsticks!

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

It depends on how much they want to spend, but I think SingleThread is a terrific choice for visitors, with fantastic hospitality. It’s a really special experience.

FOOD TRUCK PICK

Delicias Elenita taco truck. I always get their tacos and they’re consistently juicy and delicious.

CHEAP EATS

East West Cafe on Summerfield Road in Santa Rosa is convenient and inexpensive, and their turkey burger is great.

Longtime Oakland restaurateur Jeff Berlin brought his love of Georgian food to Sebastopol with Piala Restaurant and Wine Bar. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)
Longtime Oakland restaurateur Jeff Berlin brought his love of Georgian food to Sebastopol with Piala Restaurant and Wine Bar. (John Burgess / The Press Democrat)

Jeff Berlin

Owner Piala, Sebastopol

WITH OUT OF TOWN GUESTS

The Marshall Store in Marshall. We like to kayak to Point Reyes and back, sit outside by the water, eat everything on the menu (Tomales Bay Oyster Company oysters!) and put a serious dent in their beer inventory.

THE DISH I ORDER AGAIN AND AGAIN

The mofongo relleno de camarones from Sol Food in Petaluma. So much fl avor, perfectly balanced with mashed green plantain and avocado. I load it up with their spicy vinegar sauce and have a Mason jar full of housemade fruit punch, and then I take a nice fat nap with a huge smile on my face.

FOOD TRUCK PICK

Anything from Mitote Food Park. Order something from every truck, and mezcal cocktails from the bar. I really like cochinita pibil tacos with pickled habaneros from Yuca Mami.

DINE WITH KIDS

Fisherman’s Cove in Bodega Bay. My boys love seeing the anglers unload their catch and bring it right across the street to the cafes. It’s the best place for the freshest seafood possible.

Psychic Pie in Sebastopol, California. March 16, 2022. (Photo: Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)
Leith Leiser-Miller of Psychic Pie in Sebastopol. (Erik Castro/for Sonoma Magazine)

Leith Leiser-Miller

Chef-owner Psychic Pie, Sebastopol 

FOR A BIRTHDAY 

The gift we always give each other is a fancy dinner out. This year, we went to Troubadour in Healdsburg and had their prix fixe. It was incredible, and it was also interesting to see how they transform their service from a bakery to a brasserie.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Jam’s Joy Bungalow in Sebastopol. I love the flavors that Jamilah Nixon-Mathis makes—she really pushes the boundaries.

FOOD TRUCK PICK

Galvan’s Eatery. They make awesome tacos. I love the crispy shrimp. I even get them for breakfast. I don’t bother with a breakfast burrito—I just go straight for the tacos.

AT THE FARMERS MARKET

We go to the Sebastopol market for cheeses, produce, and pantry goods. I always love Radical Family Farms— they grow a breadth of things that are harder to fi nd, like traditional Asian greens.

The Redwood co-owners Geneva Melby, right, and Ryan Miller at their natural wine bar in Sebastopol. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat)
The Redwood co-owners Geneva Melby, right, and Ryan Miller at their natural wine bar in Sebastopol. (Christopher Chung/The Press Democrat)

Geneva Melby

Chef-owner The Redwood, Sebastopol

FOOD TRUCK

After hours, I like to grab a torta or tacos from El Roy’s. Lengua is usually my meat of choice.

DATE NIGHT

We love sitting at the bar for Wednesday burger night at Spinster Sisters in Santa Rosa.

THE PLACES I GO TO AGAIN AND AGAIN

Too much good food! On our days off, not a ton is open, but I love dim sum so we’ll go to Hang Ah in Santa Rosa. And then when I’m craving larb or pad kee mao, I hit up Khom Loi in Sebastopol. And also PizzaLeah in Windsor for the square pie with hot honey and peppers. Breakfast at Willow Wood in Graton for a scramble and a cappucino. Or El Molino Central in Boyes Hot Springs, especially when they have lamb tacos.

Sonoma Eats restaurant in Sonoma
Ephrain Balmes, right, of Sonoma Eats restaurant in Sonoma. (Heather Irwin/Sonoma Magazine)

Ephrain Balmes

Chef-owner Sonoma Eats, Sonoma

LATE NIGHT

I go to Palooza in Kenwood. I like their hamburgers; they’re the best. You don’t need to dress up, and they have a really good selection of beers that they make right there.

DATE NIGHT

Salt & Stone in Kenwood, because I like the menu. They change it up a lot, so it’s not the same boring things over and over. I also really like the cocktails. It’s a great ambiance to relax in.

FOOD TRUCK

El Roy’s in Petaluma. I can just go on my way and grab a quick lunch, and I can eat it in my car. Plus they have a good selection of tacos that are different than mine.

BREAKFAST FAVORITE

I go to Sunflower Caffe every week. They have a really good breakfast. I get avocado toast, a latte, and a mimosa and always eat outside on summer mornings.

James Byus

Chef-owner Vine Burger, Santa Rosa

DATE NIGHT

We like Guiso Latin Fusion (in Healdsburg). We pretty much always get the paella and house salad. My wife loves the passion fruit vinaigrette because she’s from Colombia. His paella is unique and different. I could bathe in the (paella) broth it’s so good.

THAT’S SO SONOMA

I’m originally from the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland, so I lean towards places on the water. In Bodega Bay, I really like Fishetarian’s fish tacos and clam chowder.

CHEAP EATS

Zoftig in Santa Rosa is my go-to for a burrito or falafel wrap. It’s delicious, quick, and high quality.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Ca’Bianca is our favorite. It’s in a beautiful Victorian home in Santa Rosa. They have a great wine list with Italian wines, and everything is housemade and traditional. They hit on all cylinders every time we go in.

Melissa Yanc of Quail & Condor bakery and Troubadour in Healdsburg. (Emma K. Morris)
Melissa Yanc of Quail & Condor bakery and Troubadour in Healdsburg. (Emma K. Morris)

Melissa Yanc

Chef-owner Troubadour, Healdsburg

TAKE THE KIDS

Psychic Pie is our favorite, the food is like bakers made it, like a person who understands the physical science made it. The locally sourced ingredients and interesting desserts seal the deal for our family.

FOOD TRUCK

Delicias Elenita. The food is so solid and for the price point, a lot of seating is available on site, and it feels like you’re somewhere else.

GOODIES AT LOCAL FARMERS MARKETS

Herbs! They’re so potent, no matter the vendor. It’s the purest of pure flavor.

WITH OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

Lo & Behold in Healdsburg is a great one, especially in warmer seasons when you can sit on the patio. It’s also kid friendly and good for groups.