Everything is Awesome: Oliver’s Market—Cotati, Windsor and Santa Rosa
Local, independent and employee owned. A cheese case that should win a public service award. An in-house taqueria with tasty affordable burritos able to sustain a college student for a year, or four. An impressive deli counter, hot food bar and bakery featuring all the regular favorites as well as a few surprises (from petit fours to teriyaki meatballs). These are some of the many reasons to love Oliver’s.
A few more: a wine and distilled liquor section stocked with local finds and import. Raw local honey from Santa Rosa’s Gipson Golden, for just $6.99/pound. A variety of bulk foods in enormous supply (we’re talking the length of a wall), as well as herbs and other wellness products: skincare, essentials oils, vitamins and more. In short, a perfect blend of regular grocery items and the obscure, extremely local and supremely artisanal – if you can’t find it at Oliver’s, it’s probably not that cool.
Oliver’s Market, 546 East Cotati Ave, Cotati, 707-795-9501, 560 Montecito Center, Santa Rosa, 707-537-7123, 461 Stony Point Rd, Santa Rosa, 707-284-3530, 9230 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor, 707-687-2050, oliversmarket.com
Pantry Prizes: Oakville Grocery Store—Healdsburg
Oakville Grocery Co. is the longest running grocery store in the area – their Napa store dates back to 1881. Among other things, we come here for the pantry superstars, including some of the tastiest preserved foods we’ve ever tried: sumptuous sauces from Petaluma’s Preserve Farm, roasted tomato bruschetta sauce from Oakville Grocery’s own label, infused mustards, olive oils, rubs, relishes and more.
For a quick bite to round out your shopping excursion, there’s a deli section and pizza oven. According to Oakville Grocery’s Facebook page, their wine manager, Susan Straight, is an expert wine writer and wine judge, “but never a wine snob,” who loves helping customers find the perfect bottle.
Oakville Grocery, 124 W Matheson St, Healdsburg, 707-433-3200, oakvillegrocery.com
Sweet Spot: Sonoma’s Best—Sonoma
On the east side of Sonoma, just past the historic square, you’ll find Sonoma’s Best – a “modern mercantile” established in 2010. This cafe-deli-wine-gift shop is definitely the place to go for stocking up on all things Sonoma, and some quaintness. The wine shop sells local wines as well as bottles from around the world. Customers can easily navigate the selection: one whole shelf is devoted to Sonoma, there’s another for $10-and-under bottles, and then there’s the wine bar for tasting, information and conversation.
The cafe features coffees, baked goods (like fun and tasty house-made peanut butter and jelly cookies) and a bar for noshing on sandwiches while gazing out the window. Deli foods are sold in the adjoining room. Additional eating areas (one inside and one out on the back patio) give guests the green light to stay a while to enjoy the setting. The gift shop is stocked with goods that are practical, whimsical and for the foodie-minded. The collection of cheeses, preserves and other foods represent the home team (Sonoma), but also reveal an appreciation for tastes beyond the region.
Big Little Grocer: Penngrove Market—Penngrove
“She may be little but she is fierce,” is said of the diminutive spurned lover, Hermia, in a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The same could be said of the all-local, small-scale produce case at Penngrove Market, all of which is as pretty as food can be, fairly priced, and stocked for most of your needs.
Dinner puzzles can be solved easily and breezily in this airy space, that stocks minimally but smartly. Some ordinary staples are available here, too, making for even greater one-stop-shopping possibilities. (If you want everything in the world, of course there’s plenty a big box elsewhere – but if you’d like a small selection of good things, this seems like a dream destination.)
A stylish, rustic setting make this new grocery store a good spot to enjoy a cappuccino and croissant (from the cafe) and there’s artisan pizza, too (because grocery shopping is a chore in serious need of an enjoyment upgrade). Meats and wines are well stocked, but not overwhelmingly so. Local is the through-line, like Yanni’s sausages made right in Penngrove. The floral arrangements for sale could turn your table top into solid proof that you are a home design genius. No bulbous displays of mums, carnations and sweetly-stinky lilies – instead, think succulents and thistle, arranged in graphic shapes that are both wild-looking and executed to T.