Ready for romance? We’ve hand-picked 10 of our favorite romantic dining spots in Sonoma County. So whether you’re popping the question, or just popping out for a first date, we’ve got a restaurant that will get both your hearts beating faster. (Plus, handy phone numbers to make those reservations. Which you’ll need, Romeo.)
Front Room Bar & Lounge at Vintner’s Inn
Ever play that game where you meet your partner at a bar and pretend to be strangers? If not, you just got a great idea for a romantic date. With luxurious leather sofas and glowing lamps around the wooden bar, the Front Room is a perfect spot to steal glances at each other, or send ridiculously pink cocktails to each other. If you’re not totally turned on within 10 minutes, at least you’ll get a good laugh (or a few phone numbers) out of the experience. 350 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa, 707.575.7350
If you’re agreed that A) Anything French is romantic; B) Foods bathed in butter are equally romantic and; C) Just saying Coq au Vin makes you sexy, then this Parisian-style bistro just off the Windsor green is the key to your smooch-filled night. The space is small and intimate, the wine list extensive, and the atmosphere casual enough to not make your date feel any serious obligation. Plus, it’s run by a young husband and wife team who know a thing or two about keeping the fire burning in the kitchen. 275 Windsor River Road, Windsor, 707.838.0162
Champagne wishes and caviar dreams come true at Sonoma County’s most ultra-luxe restaurant. Think little carts wheeling around caviar and cheeses, waiters snapping to attend to your every need and food so pretty it seems a shame to eat. Be warned, you’ll pay a pretty penny for all that indulgence, but you did say for richer, didn’t you? (PS. Can’t afford dinner? Stop in for some dazzling drinks at the bar.) 29 North St., Healdsburg, 707.433.3311
They say garlic is an aphrodisiac. Test out the theory with a little between-course-kissing at one of Santa Rosa’s oft-cited romantic eateries. Featuring dishes from throughout Italy, you’ll have plenty of excuses to twirl your fork suggestively or maybe even have your own Lady and the Tramp moment. Ca’Bianca, 835 Second St., Santa Rosa, 707.542.5800.
Unassuming, and maybe even a little rugged from the outside, Zazu’s the roadhouse with a heart of gold. Serving up Wine Country comfort food with a gentle Italian flair, the menu is thick with braised, roasted, melt-in-your-mouth deliciousness. Expect to find fun, inexpensive local wines, elbow-rubbing banquet-seating and a smart, slow-food sensibility that can be enjoyed in everything from Birkenstocks to Blahniks. 3535 Guerneville Road, Santa Rosa, 707.523.4814.
A little wild, a little raucous, and always packed to the hilt, Ravenous isn’t perhaps the most secluded choice for lovers. But it may be one of the best for a little candlelit googling at each other, while sitting cheek-to-cheek (and we don’t mean your faces). A great value for Healdsburg with well-executed American bistro dishes around the $18 mark. Plus a whole lot of microbrews. Call it something for both of you, and let the public affection begin. 420 Center St., Healdsburg, 707.431.1302
Wine Country with a southern drawl. The charming Sonoma Victorian has recently reinvented itself as a favorite spot (possibly the only spot) to get daily foie gras specials along side nouveau “Lowcountry” grits and gumbo. Keep the spice alive by taking advantage of cozy nooks and lovebird seating throughout. 400 West Spain St., Sonoma, 707.938.4004.
If the quiet country drive to Forestville doesn’t get your Romance-O-Meter going, the warm glow of the Farmhouse Inn on a dark winter’s night should at least get a patter. Intimate almost to a fault, the restaurant is cozy and homey, with snappy service and a Cal-French menu that plays to the flavors of many regional wines on their extraordinary list. Plus, you can always sneak upstairs for a little overnight nookie. 7871 River Road, Forestville, 707.887.3300.
Everything old is, well, still pretty tried-and-true at this favorite Santa Rosa institution that’s been a favorite of googly-eyed lovers from its opening in the late 1970s . From its way-classic French menu to the cozy, dimly-lit interior, La Gare won’t be denied. And hopefully, nor will you, loverboy. 208 Wilson St., Santa Rosa, 707.528.4355.
Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar
Raw oysters on the half-shell are a specialty. ‘Nuff said. 403 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, 707.433.9191