More than 150 restaurants from Petaluma to Geyserville (and everywhere in between) are rolling out the red carpet March 1-10 for Sonoma County Restaurant Week.

The annual celebration of gastronomy allows for some serious exploration of the local culinary culture at approachable price points ($19, $29 or $39 per person for dinner, and $10 or $15 for lunch).

During the week, each participating restaurant serves a Prix Fixe menu of two to four courses that represent the best of what they have to offer. Some spots go all out while others keep it simple. Valette in Healdsburg, for example, has a deliciously luxe menu with honey brined Duroc pork, pasta with egg yolk custard and their signature “Bread, Butter and Jam” dessert (homemade jam, toasted brioche, salted brown butter ice cream). Meanwhile, Smokin’ Bowls in Rohnert Park serves a giant mess of freshly-made French fries with pulled pork, cheese sauce, and bacon for $10 at lunch (with a drink and salad).

A couple of veteran tips:

  • Restaurant Week is busy. Be patient. Restaurants are often slightly overwhelmed. They may run out of things. Be a human and give them a break.
  • Tip well. This is a showcase, not a coupon code.
  • Lunches are often a good way to beat the crowd and get the best deals.
  • Try something new. This is a great time to venture outside your comfort zone and hit up a restaurant you’ve been curious to try.
  • If the restaurant is typically a fast-casual spot or somewhere you’ve never heard of serving the most expensive dinner ($39), manage your expectations. 
  • Make a reservation if possible.

Check out the menus, make a plan, and put on your comfy pants. We’ve rounded up 10 Restaurant Week picks in the above gallery. More information and faves below.

Don’t see your fave? We’ll update this list throughout the week. Some restaurants have not listed specific Restaurant Week menus, so they haven’t been included. Others just didn’t really strike my fancy. Convince me otherwise.

A selection of plates at Gerard’s Paella in Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)

Fern Bar, $29 Dinner: Come for the drinks, stay for the magical wonderland inside. Though cocktails aren’t on the $29 dinner menu, plan to get one anyway, because they’re something between the best smoothie ever and unicorn dust — meaning there are lots of fresh fruits and herbs with a sprinkling of magic. The food has been evolving since the opening in December. It’s not quite bar food, but it’s not quite a regular dining experience either. Expect lots of experimentation on the plate, though the chicken liver mousse and fried chicken look pretty stellar on the Resto Week menu. 6780 Depot St Suite 120, Sebastopol. 

Gerard’s Paella, $10 Lunch: Experience one of Gerard’s signature paellas (we’re fond of the El Pescador with black rice). $29 dinner menu will feature special festival paella on Fri/Sat night along with homemade hazelnut ice cream with saffron honey. Sangria ($8) and Papas Bravas (potatoes) are required for the complete experience. 710 Fourth St., Santa Rosa. 

Criminal Baking Co., $15 Lunch, $6 Pastry Perk: It’s a bit of a scavenger hunt to find it, but oh how joyful you’ll be when you arrive at their new location. Nooked into a massive warehouse by Railroad Square, it’s every bit as cozy as their SOFA spot, but with a little more elbow room. Go for the pastrami sando on seeded sourdough with house kraut, melty cheese and special sauce. Or, hit up the Pastry Perk deal for a scone or roll with coffee/tea for $6. 808 Donahue Street, Santa Rosa.

Pascaline Patisserie & Cafe, $15 Lunch, $5 Pastry Perk: Once you experience the shatter of proper patisserie croissants, you’ll be ruined for anything else. Experience the county’s best croissant and a hot chocolate for $5 or a beef au jus sando with caramel flan and cinnamon apples. 4552 Gravenstein Highway N. Sebastopol.

Pearl, $39 Dinner: Rarely open for dinner, this hidden Petaluma destination serves a Middle Eastern-inspired menu for breakfast, brunch and lunch. For Resto Week, they’re open Wednesday through Sunday nights with warm za’atar pita with hummus or chopped Israeli salad; spring vegetable cassoulet or chicken tagine with stewed apricots and Morrocan rice pudding or spiced ginger cake for dessert. The inclusive tipping policy brings each dinner to $45 total. 500 First Street, Petaluma.

Mateo’s Cocina Latina, $39 Dinner: Sourcing from some of the best purveyors in Sonoma County, Mateo’s Restaurant Week menu just seems so worth it. Choose from Bernier Farm leek soup with smoked trout eggs or Point Reyes blue cheese salad with grilled citrus; Rossotti Ranch veal with Preston Farm bread and veal demi-glace, Ritual Farm pork loin, farro salad with fava leaves; Queso Napolitano. 214 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg.

Gravenstein Grill, $39 Dinner: Though the dining room ambiance leaves me cold, the Resto Week menu shows some serious attention to detail with a little gem Caesar to start, Liberty Duck confit with apples, smoked bacon and spaetzle along with choices like braised lamb sugo with olives and citrus, herb-crusted rock cod or chive and potato gnocchi. Each has an optional wine pairing and desserts include a Meyer lemon tart or chocolate blackout cake. There are always good vegan and vegetarian choices here. 8050 Bodega Avenue, Sebastopol.

Salt & Stone, $39 Dinner: This one is my “crowdpleaser,” with dishes that pretty much anyone can agree on. French onion soup, Caesar salad or winter chicory salad to start, crispy skin salmon with buttermilk spaetzle and Brussels or chicken with garlic potato puree (also lamb shank with mascarpone polenta) for mains, chocolate mousse or tres leches cake for dessert. 9900 Highway 12, Kenwood.

Mary’s Pizza Shack, $19 Dinner: If there’s a ridiculously screaming deal for families on the Restaurant Week list, this is it. Garlic bread, soup or Mary’s signature salad, spaghetti with a giant meatball and meat sauce, bowties in lemon cream sauce with pancetta or a bambino pizza and a bomba (layered gelato) with a cherry and almonds with cinnamon and chocolate. Impressive. Various locations.

Franchetti’s, $29 Dinner, $15 Brunch: German-influenced specials include lentil fries with curry wurst sauce, apple strudel and Weisswurst and Potato Pancakes on Saturday and Sunday. Entrees include almond-crusted halibut or chetti’s pork chop with sauerkraut. Just added: Schnitzel! 1229 N. Dutton Avenue, Santa Rosa.

More Faves:

Mercato, $15 lunch: This newly-opened(ish) downtown spot offers freshly-made pasta, along with a variety of sauces (tomato basil marinara, alfredo, bolognese, white wine & capers) along with add-ons of chicken, shrimp, house-made meatballs and veggies. Add a salad (the kale caesar is killer) or a snack of arancini or garlic bread. 630 Third St., Santa Rosa.

Charlie’s at the Windsor Golf Course, $29 dinner: You don’t have to be a member to eat at this club. Restaurant Week is a deal here with dishes that include buffalo chicken and blue cheese risotto cakes, ahi tuna won tons, a grilled house brined pork chop with bing cherry port wine balsamic sauce, smoked beef brisket with crispy onions, cinnamon sugar baked granny smith apple with Noble Folk salted caramel ice cream or chocolate and raspberry beignets with creme anglaise. Impressive dining without the starched-tablecloth attitude. 1320 19th Hole Dr., Windsor. 

Lunchette: $10 lunch includes a super healthy vegan Tahini bowl with brown rice, spiced chickpeas, roasted sweet potatoes, date molasses and zaatar. 25 Fourth Street, Petaluma

Pullman Kitchen, $39 Dinner: Though it seems a bit of a departure from their more traditional Wine Country cuisine, that’s what’s intriguing. Mussels with coconut sweet chili broth, Korean bbq pork bibimbap and ginger panna cotta with tropical fruit compote — okay, we’ll bite. 205 Fifth Street, Santa Rosa.

The Spinster Sisters, $29 Dinner: Blood orange and date salad or mushroom sopes, red chili braised beef, Pavlova with grapefruit curd. 401 South A Street, Santa Rosa.

Jade Room, $19 Dinner: Caesar salad, mushroom or bacon waffle and butterscotch pudding. It’s worth the price of admission just to see the funky new space. Make sure to grab a few glasses of bubbles to top off the evening. 643 Fourth Street, Santa Rosa.

Bear Republic Brewing Lakeside, $19 All-Day Menu: Enjoy a tasty view with choices of wild game chili made with Big Bear Black Stout or house salad; pulled pork, BLT sandwiches or burger with fries, chocolate mousse for dessert. 5000 Roberts Lake Road, Rohnert Park.