Just a stone’s throw from the coast, the once-sleepy town of Valley Ford is waking up to its potential as a charming whistlestop on the way to Bodega Bay and beyond. The newest kid on the restaurant block: Sonoma Coast Fish Bank which opened in February 2010.
Housed in a historic bank that stood empty for years, the renovated space is a bonanza for fresh, locally-caught seafood including oysters, salmon, smelt, scallops and sustainable seafoods from further afield. Owner Brandon Guenther, who also co-owns the nearby Rocker Oysterfeller’s and Valley Ford Hotel with wife Shona, have continued to expand their offerings with haute picnic fare (Fatted Calf Charcuterie, local cheeses) and have just added prepared sandwiches like a Gulf Shrimp po-boy with remoulade, pulled pork sandwich, along with oysters and housemade clam chowder. Guenther says he recently spent a week eating through New Orleans to get his seafood po boy mojo going, so expect more tasty creations on the menu.
If you’ve got a few more minutes to spare, Rocker Oysterfeller’s (14415 Highway One, Valley Ford, (707) 876-1983)continues to pack in crowds with its oft-changing Southern-inspired menu. From grits to fried oyster po-boys, scallops with crispy fried okra, burgers and Crab Louie, there’s little on the menu that isn’t sourced locally or sustainably. New to the menu are cornmeal-dusted smelt that are fried into crispy one-bite poppers that Guenther calls “Fries with Eyes”. Surprisingly addictive and best paired with an ice cold beer.
Sonoma Coast Fish Bank: 14415 Highway One, Valley Ford, (707) 876-FISH Open daily 11:30am to 6pm
Also in town: Route One Diner (14450 Highway 1, Valley Ford, (707) 876-9600) is a convenient spot for a quick fuel-up, especially at breakfast time. With the usual hash brown fare in the AM and burgers in the afternoon, it’s family-friendly fare. Next door is the Valley Ford Market (14400 Coast Hwy 1, Valley Ford, (707) 876-3245), a local hub for grab-n-go picnic fare, sausages and chowder. The longtime Italian family restaurant, Dinucci’s is a favorite for simple, homestyle dinners and minestrone soup is a top pick among its fans. (14485 Valley Ford Rd, Valley Ford, (707) 876-3260)