Written by Heather Irwin for BiteClubEats.
I rarely get too excited when random magazines and websites celebrate Sonoma County as a best foodie destination. I mean, duh, we all know that. But its a little more interesting when Condé Nast Traveler readers pin Healdsburg (12), Napa(8) and San Francisco (9) among the 15 Best Food Cities in the U.S.
From the website, the Healdsburg caption reads: “An hour outside San Francisco, tiny Healdsburg is our favorite Sonoma County stopover—and a welcome respite after all those oyster crackers at wine tastings in Russian River, Dry Creek, and Alexander Valleys. Opened in 2013, mixed-use Healdsburg SHED (pictured) is a 10,000-square-foot prefab structure with a fermentation bar, coffee shop, and the excellent Shed Café, showcasing vegetables grown nearby. Meanwhile, on Healdsburg Square, Valette is the hip cured meats-and-chandeliers newcomer by a former Dry Creek Kitchen chef, and Italian restaurant Scopa is chef Charlie Palmer’s go-to spot for wood-fired, thin-crust pies.”
SF: “Out-there ideas thrive in the Bay Area—where punk-rock Mission Chinese Food chef Danny Bowien made critics swoon when he opened his groundbreaking Chinese-American restaurant in a sticky dive. Another Mission eatery, Al’s Place (pictured), has picked up the mantle; chef Aaron London’s fluffy French fries and spiced fish dishes won him the top spot on Bon Appetit’s 2015 Top Restaurants list. At gray-walled Atelier Crenn, chef Dominique Crenn decorates dishes with rocks, moss, and branches. A decidedly more simple offering, the roasted chicken for two at 37-year-old Zuni Cafe remains a dish worth waiting for.”
And Napa, which is truly one of the most burgeoning food scenes around, is described as: “The country’s most storied wine region should boast a first-rate food scene, and Napa doesn’t disappoint. Downtown on Main Street, Mick Salyer’s duo of Spanish restaurants—Zuzu and La Taberna—showcase his devotion to Iberian meats and Basque-style seafood dishes, while trendsetters head to stylish Ninebark(pictured), a three-story riverfront spot with rooftop views and two-Michelin-star chef Matthew Lightner at the helm. Up north in Yountville, foodie pilgrims who can’t score a reservation at Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry head to easier-going eatery Ad Hoc for the chef’s technique-driven takes on comfort foods like fried chicken and pot roast. His bustling Bouchon Bakery, meanwhile, is a must-stop for macarons and a freshly pulled espresso.”
The rest of the lineup includes Sarasota, Fl., San Antonio, Boston, Aspen, Santa Fe, Las Vegas, NYC (3), New Orleans (2) and the surprise winner, Charleston, South Carolina at #1.