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Mac's Deli, Down-Home Vibe: Run by the Soltani family since 1970, this is the real down-home deal, complete with counter dining, vinyl booths, the best Reuben in town and servers who know their regulars. The menu offers something for every lunch craving: breakfast-for-lunch options like benedicts, omelettes, and pancakes; 47 types of sandwiches; burgers; combination plates and massive salads. Sit at the counter if you're on your own - you can pick up reading material across the street at Treehorn Books or simple enjoy the bustle of the busy deli. Budget options: Three Pancakes ($6.50), Pastrami and Coleslaw Combination Sandwich ($7.75), Combination Salad - large salad with "all the veggies" ($8.50). 630 4th St., 707-545-3785.
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The Club Sandwich with avocado and seasoned curly fries from Mac's Deli in downtown Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Waitress April Reeves at Mac's Deli and Cafe in Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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La Rosa Tequileria and Grille, Nice Weather Lunch: Escape your cubicle and feel transported to southern latitudes on La Rosa's sun-dappled patio. The menu features a variety of Mexican eats (suitable for American tastebuds) like combo plates with street tacos, enchiladas, tamales, and chile relleno and a Carne Asada Tradicional large enough to last you two more lunches. Budget options: Soup on rainy and cold days (cup $6.50; bowl $11.00), Shredded Chicken Taquitos ($10) - an appetizer large enough for lunch (especially after you've wolfed down some of the best chips and salsa in town). 500 4th Street, 707-523-3663.
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Pork Posole at La Rosa Tequileria & Grille in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Chicken fajitas and a Prickly Pear Margarita at La Rosa Tequileria & Grille in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Beth Schlanker)
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Brew Coffee and Beer, Laptop Lunch and Best Avo Toast: This cool corner coffee shop is the kind of place where creative types and local entrepreneurs (sans office) start the day with a pour-over and end it with a pint. Take a break from your hunched over laptop state by checking out some art on the wall and trying out one of the best avocado toasts in town - before the Trump administration puts an end to this trendy food. Take it up a notch with the Rainbow Toast, featuring avocado, goat cheese, pickled onions, watermelon radish, carrot, grape tomato, balsamic reduction and micro-greens. Budget options: The avo toast ($6) is, relatively speaking, a good deal. Still hungry? Pair it with munchies like deviled eggs and hummus with tortilla chips. 555 Healdsburg Avenue. (Photo by Shana Bull)
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Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven, Indian Tiffin Lunch: This "farm-to-table" Indian restaurant serves up regional classics with spices imported from Executive Chef Niven Patel’s hometown of Gujat paired with the best ingredients Sonoma County has to offer. Get your lunch in an Indian-style tiffin carrier, or dhabba -- a round, tiered aluminum lunchbox widely used throughout Asia. (The origins of the word "tiffin" can be traced back to late 18th century British India, signifying a lighter meal to accommodate for the noontime heat -- it was taken from the slang words "tiff," a swig of diluted liquor, and "tiffing," to take a sip of this liquor.) If you'd like to pair your tiffin lunch with some tiffing, there's an impressive lineup of Indian-inspired cocktails from mixologists Scott Beattie and Andrea Mota. Budget options: The cheapest entrees from the clay oven are are charred corn with smoked paneer ($8), and wild mushrooms with roasted shallots and paneer chutney ($9). Curries range from $15-$21. 535 4th St, 707-535-0700.
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Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven in downtown Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Smoked Lamb Shank with chickpeas and herbs with rice and avocado bhatura (a leavened fried bread) from Bollywood Bar & Clay Oven in downtown Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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Spinster Sisters, In Search of an Urban Feel: Home to a cluster of independently owned shops, galleries and restaurants, Santa Rosa's SOFA district embodies the kind of artsy edge you may have encountered in Brooklyn or London’s East End, albeit on a much smaller scale. At the center of this avant-garde enclave is The Spinster Sisters, a “modern, new American” restaurant that embraces traditions and flavors from all over the world and exhibits local artists. The interior is “industrial chic,” complete with exposed stone walls and ventilation pipes, concrete floors, tall windows, a wrap-around bar and a bookcase-lined wall. The menu changes, but regular favorites include Rancho Gordo Bean Tostadas, House Made Bagel + Lox, and Kimchi & Bacon Deviled Eggs. Budget options: Dishes range from $8-$16. The split pea and farro soup with prosciutto is $8 for a cup, $10 for a bowl. Dave's granola waffle with maple-agave syrup is $11.50. 401 S A St, 707-528-7100.
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The Naked Pig Cafe, Mason Jars and Farm-to-Table Foods: The Naked Pig's new location on Mendocino Avenue offers more space for foodies looking to splurge on a seasonal and locally-sourced brunch/lunch. The rustic-chic restaurant is also a good setting for power lunches Wine Country style. You'll have plenty of time to impress your business date -- this is slow food, after all. The menu changes, but regulars include Eggs Benni (local pasture-raised ham and eggs on English muffin, topped with urban foraged lemon and hollandaise) and Luxury Carrot Soup (with cracklings, dill, and spelt toast with house-smoked lard). Budget options: The cheapest items on the menu are waffles ($11-12) and while an order will only get you a single waffle, it's crisp and golden, packed with flavor and topped with local honey. 544 Mendocino Ave, 707-978-3231. (Photo by Chelsea Kurnick)
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El Coqui, Caribbean Comfort With a Side of Salsa Tunes: The sky is as grey as the office interior and you just got publicly shamed in an email chain with 20 cc:ed coworkers -- head to El Coqui. Grandma-style Puerto Rican dishes served on colorful Fiesta plates and the background salsa music will pick you up in no time. The staff is very friendly, too. Order the Pollo al Horno, chicken so tender it melts in your mouth served with your choice of rice, beans and plantains. The Sandwich Cubano is another favorite. We only wish they would clear a corner of the restaurant so you could practice your salsa moves. Budget options: The Pollo al Horno ($12.95) is a generous serving so big it hardly fits on the plate - unless you're a Swedish Viking (like our digital editor) it will last you another lunch. 400 Mendocino Avenue, 707-542-8868.
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Cubano sandwich at El Coqui in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Jeff Kan Lee)
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Fourth Street Market & Deli, Grab-and-Go: This friendly family-run business just off Courthouse Square is a popular lunch spot for downtown workers. Choose between a variety of sandwiches, or create your own; there are also pre-made salads, soup, Middle Eastern fare like tabbouleh, falafel and dolma and a weekly special. Favorites include the Falafel Wrap, which is big enough to last two lunches, the Middle Eastern Platter (with falafel, dolma, hummus, pita and lentil salad) and the Veggie Burger (add olives, avocado and mild peppers for extra flavor). Budget options: Order any sandwich ($6.50 to $8.95) as a wrap and it will easily last you two lunches. 300 Mendocino Ave, 707-573-9832.
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Jackson's Bar and Oven, Take Your Team Out to Lunch Option 1: Did your team hit the quarterly goal, or are they just awesome people (or both), treat them to a lunch by Railroad Square - Jackson's Bar and Oven is a safe bet. One of the best burgers in Sonoma County and wood-fired pizzas like the House Made Sausage with tomato sauce, provolone, olives, goat horn peppers and oregano make for a good American-style celebration. Order some truffle fries for the table and you'll instantly become a little more popular. No-alcohol-during-work-hours policy? Make a toast with a glass of ginger lime fizz or a citrus mule. Budget options: Team lunches are not the time to be tight with money. 135 4th St, Santa Rosa, 707-545-6900.
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Woodfired pizza with house made sausage, tomato sauce, provolone, olives, goat horn peppers and oregano at Jackson's Bar and Oven in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Crista Jeremiason)
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Bird and The Bottle, Take Your Team Out to Lunch Option 2: If you have a really outstanding team, or you've been a tough boss (or both), make reservations at the Bird and The Bottle. Picking from the extensive menu of shareable dishes is a good exercise in team building (make note of the orders to make it easier for the restaurant staff). The fusion of Southern, East Coast, and Asian flavors, with Jewish comfort foods in the mix, may be a little scary-sounding to less adventurous team members -- but there's B&B mini burgers and craft mac n’ cheese to satisfy picky eaters. Make sure to order the Crispy Brussel Sprouts. Budget options: Your team is worth the splurge (the Matzoh Ball Soup, $10, is a great option for rainy day lunches or when you're under the weather). 1055 4th St., 707-568-4000.
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Street tacos at Bird and the Bottle in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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The Bird and the Bottle's Matzoh Ball Soup, $10, is a warming, comforting option for rainy day lunches or when you're under the weather. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Canevari's, Meat-Lovers' Sando Paradise: This no-frills Italian-American deli is the kind of spot Tony Soprano and his buddies would like if they lived in Santa Rosa, ordering signature sandwiches for lunch, like the Meatball Sub, BBQ Tri Tip, and Spiced Pulled Pork, or homemade ravioli, and cannoli for dessert. You might leave with slightly less healthy arteries, and cooking smells lingering in your hair and on your coat (the "no-frills" part includes a not-so-well-ventilated kitchen) but it's totally worth it: this hidden gem is one of the best delis in Sonoma County. Budget options: Sandwiches large enough for a mafioso are between 9 and 10 bucks. 695 Lewis Rd, 707-545-6941.
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Zoftig, Build-Your-Own Salad and More: "Zoftig" is the secret ingredient at this lunch hideaway. A Yiddish word that loosely translates into "fullness" (and, when referring to a woman's body, "a pleasantly plump figure"), at this Santa Rosa spot, it means succulent sandwiches, full-flavored salads and fresh-ingredient-packed bowls. Everything is made from scratch, and everything is good. We're particularly excited about the Roasted Chicken Sandwich on sourdough with sharp cheddar, Brussel sprouts slaw, green apples, toasted almonds, and Dijon mustard; and the Build-Your-Own Salad option. Budget options: Sandwiches ($12-14.50) are large enough to split in two - if you have the self-discipline to stop half way, if not, see it as an opportunity to up your zoftig factor.
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Beets and greens salad with walnuts, pickled onions, black pepper buttermilk dressing at Zoftig in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Korean Burrito with Marin Sun Farms ground beef marinated with soy, brown sugar, garlic and ginger, Korean BBQ sauce, avocado, mint cilantro, pickled daikon and carrot, organic brown rice, kimchi. (Photo by Chris Hardy)
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Ippinn Udon and Tempura, Under the Weather Food: This noodle shop, located across from the Santa Rosa JC, is a great lunch destination for poor students and workers on a budget. It's also a good spot when you're not feeling 100 percent. We're pretty sure that these udon bowls - curry, beef, chicken, tofu and more - have some magical properties. The tempura is good, too. Budget options: A huge bowl of Tofu udon is $7.99, chicken is $8.99 and beef is $9.69. 1880 Mendocino Avenue, 707-521-9911.
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Interior at Ippinn Udon and Tempura in Santa Rosa. (Photo by Heather Irwin)
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Whole Pie, Savory and Sweet Pie Heaven: Noon is a perfectly reasonable hour to start eating pie, especially if it's with lip-smacking prosciutto and Emmentaler cheese handpie in a Dijon bechamel sauce or filled with beer-braised short ribs, onions and aged English cheddar. Finish with a personal-sized fruit pie on your way out. Maybe one for your boss if you're feeling generous. Open from 11a.m. to 7p.m. Wednesday through Monday, closed Tuesday. 2792 Fourth St., Santa Rosa, 843-4365. (Photo by John Burgess)
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A selection of hand pies and an individual pie from The Whole Pie in Santa Rosa. (Photo by John Burgess)
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El Roy's, Foodtruck Mexican Eats: Excellent burritos and street tacos in a hurry. Just make sure to bring a few extra napkins along to clean the al pastor sauce off your tie. 760 Sebastopol Rd., Santa Rosa., 707-843-2166.
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Momo’s Café, Affordable Asian Fusion: Sandwiches and bowls are the stock and trade of MoMo Cafe, frequented by nearby office park folks. But on Monday (and only Monday), the mom and pop deli serves up authentic momo — Tibetan-style dumplings filled with ground chicken, garlic, ginger and other spices. They’re cousins to potstickers, but these steamed and fried versions are a tasty treat to get over you start-of-the-week blahs. 385 Aviation Blvd., Santa Rosa, 707-573-0999.