Willie Bird’s on Santa Rosa Avenue served up Thanksgiving dinner 52 weeks of the year for nearly 40 years. The original restaurant has now closed but, good gravy, The Bird has risen from the ashes at a new location (4776 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa) with the same gritty authenticity turkey lovers have come to expect.
Joe Castro purchased The Bird in 2020 and made a few attempts to open in the original spot during the pandemic but ultimately moved to the Montecito location with a revamped turkey-centric menu and full bar. The tables are wobbly and the banquets are worn and ripped in spots (this is early days, still), but the vibe is welcoming, especially at the bar. It’s a fun neighborhood watering hole for live music on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays (check the website, thebirdrestaurant.com).
Expect to go down a tryptophan rabbit hole, with a surprisingly addictive Turkey Dip, a no-nonsense turkey salad with homemade potato chips ($9.50); the Mama Bird sandwich ($16.25) that’s like a Thanksgiving dinner with turkey breast, stuffing and cranberry sauce between two slices of toasted bread; or Turkey Scaloppini ($23.95), a homely plate of sauteed turkey breast and mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce with creamy mashed potatoes that’s cozier than a pair of slippers. The Turkey Pot Pie ($17.95) is a hangover miracle or marathon fuel.
The Bird has added barbecue on Fridays and pulled pork appetizers and entrees throughout the week. 4776 Sonoma Highway, Santa Rosa, 707-542-0861.