Where to Eat Right Now in Sonoma County

Discover some of our dining editor's top restaurant picks in the county, plus the most anticipated upcoming openings, for a delicious summer in Sonoma.

Dining editor Heather Irwin picks four top spots for dining out in Sonoma County as summer approaches. Click through the above gallery for a peek at a few favorite dishes at each restaurant.

Tisza Bistro

No one can say no to schnitzel, it seems. In early spring, chef Krisztian Karkus’ eastern European-inspired Tisza Bistro, formerly in the basement of a Holiday Inn in Windsor, rose from the ashes at a new location in Healdsburg—and the restuarant is even better than before.

Charming and homey, it has a welcoming dining room and open kitchen accented by glittering copper pans and oversize picture windows. Much of the furniture is secondhand (yes, those are the chairs from Cattlemens in Santa Rosa), and Karkus and his family and friends did most of the build-out themselves.

“Everyone just stepped up for us, and no one asked for anything in return,” says Karkus.

The menu from the Hungarian-born chef is classic Czech and Hungarian rib-sticking fare that doesn’t require a laundry list of rare ingredients to impress. It’s a relief to eat yummy food without overthinking every bite. Tisza is a restaurant that took a village — or maybe a county — to rise again, and its fans are happier than ever to see Karkus and his magic schnitzel back in the kitchen.

165 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 707-291-5193, tiszabistro.com

Holstein Schnitzel with fried farm egg, fresh anchovies, crispy capers and watercress from Tisza Bistro chef/owner Krisztian Karkus Monday, February 12, 2024, in Healdsburg. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Holstein Schnitzel with fried farm egg, fresh anchovies, crispy capers and watercress from Tisza Bistro chef/owner Krisztian Karkus Monday, Feb. 12, 2024, in Healdsburg. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Best Bets

Potato Latkes It’s a bit of a weird presentation, served on two separate plates, but a knockout nonetheless. The first is a colorful plate of thinly sliced smoked salmon dotted with crème fraiche, dill sprigs, pickled mustard seeds, and a soft-boiled egg. Two crispy latkes are served separately so you can compose the dish yourself.

Potato Dumplings Hand-rolled potato balls are filled with smoked brisket and rolled in duck fat. Served on a bed of creamed spinach to make it, you know, healthier.

Jägerschnitzel The classic pan-fried pork wiener schnitzel, leveled up with creamy wild mushroom and porcini sauce. Buttered spaetzle soaks up every last drop of the gravy—the absolute best thing on the menu.

Rabbit Ragout Is it beautiful? It is not. But is it delicious? Yes, it is. Steamed yeast dumplings and rabbit saddle are bathed in an earthy root-vegetable sauce and a dab of sour cream.

Strudel This seemingly simple dessert is made in-house by stretching the dough into thin, buttery layers and layering with seasonal cherries and poppy seeds.

Studio Barndiva

Earlier this spring, in a bold and unexpected U-turn, Barndiva recast its elaborate Michelin star-winning menu as an à la carte lineup riffing on fancy burgers, creamy tikka masala, and steak frites. The restaurant also moved its dining room to the more expansive art gallery next door, while the original restaurant is reserved for private events.

“We’ve been proud of everything we’ve done over the 20 years we’ve been here, but we’re trying to get back to what makes us happy. We have always put an emphasis on sourcing locally. By expanding our menus in new directions, this will allow us to reach even more local farmers growing unusual things,” says co-owner Lukka Feldman.

One of the big draws at the new Studio Barndiva is the crafted cocktail menu from Scott Beattie. Where his mind-bending craft cocktails were a nice add-on to the wine program at the former Barndiva, here, they shine brightly as a main event.

The standout of a recent visit was the Philmaitai, $24, with three types of rum, lime, Orgeat, and a coconut fat “wash.” Beattie can explain the science, but it starts with a reserved hit of rum and barely-there lime, quickly blooming into a familiar tropical mai tai flavor that’s sweet but not too syrupy and finishing with a light flavor of almond and coconut milk.

237 Center St., Healdsburg, 707-431-7404, barndiva.com

Studio Barndiva
The Gallery Burger with fresh thyme, gruyère, caramelized onions and bordelaise sauce from Studio Barndiva Friday, February 23, 2024 in Healdsburg. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat)
Best Bets

Goat Cheese Croquettes Crispy bites that ooze with warm goat cheese and tomato jam. A drizzle of sweet, floral honey. Perfection.

Mt. Lassen Trout Tartare This is where chef Erik Anderson’s talent shines. A petite ramekin of shredded trout lightly capped with fat and dotted with egg yolk jam and chives. Rectangles of toasted brioche, buttery and warm, are perfect utensils for getting the rich, silky spread into your face.

Crispy Chicken Hyper-crispy breading, a tingly green chermoula and garlicky drizzles of tahini. The pounded chicken is supple and delicious.

The Gallery Burger Juicy ground beef studded with fresh thyme and Gruyère is just brain-explodingly good. Order a side of thin frites to sop up the gooey cheese and Bordelaise sauce you’ve dripped everywhere.

Turkish Bazlama & Hummus Whoever makes this Turkish flatbread (similar to pita or naan) is a genius. It’s served steaming, tender and warm, perfectly paired with a simple hummus and quality olive oil.

Brigitte Bistro

Chef Nick Ronan of Brigitte Bistro has fallen in love with Petaluma. The longtime San Francisco restaurateur opened his airy new French café in late March inside the former Wishbone and 3 Cooks Café space.

Named for his late mother, Brigitte Bistro shares dishes inspired by Ronan’s boyhood vacations in southern France, including steak tartare, boeuf Bourguignon, steak frites, onion soup, and cherry clafoutis.

Ronan is a bear of a guy who headed the kitchen at several well-known restaurants in San Francisco and is known for greeting customers with a hug. But his passion for cooking was challenged during the pandemic, and the chef took a bit of time off.

Brigitte Bistro
Nick Ronan, chef and owner of Brigitte Bistro in Petaluma, on Wednesday, March 13, 2024. (CRISSY PASCUAL/ARGUS-COURIER STAFF)

He reconnected with his culinary community after finding the space in Petaluma. “I fell in love with nature, fish, vegetables, and meat. I started to cook again,” he explains.

Losing his mother in March of last year crystallized Ronan’s concept for the new restaurant. “I want to keep her soul alive. She was wonderful, and there’s a lot of emotion for me,” he says. Brigitte Bistro isn’t a Michelin quest, but a neighborhood spot to eat a nice dinner, grab brunch, or have a glass of wine and some appetizers. More than 60 wines from Sonoma, Napa, and France are featured on the list.

“This is such a joy. I have found a life here that really connects me here. I’ve found love again,” says Ronan.

841 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma. 707981-8381, brigittebistropetaluma.com

Canevari's Deli
A customer orders at the deli counter inside Canevari’s Deli in Santa Rosa. (Heather Irwin)

Canevari’s/Guiso Collaboration

What do custom $200,000 sneakers, Latin fusion cuisine, and cult-favorite housemade ravioli have in common? They’re all circling the orbit of a small corner deli, Canevari’s, in Santa Rosa.

Earlier this year, chef Carlos Mojica of Healdsburg’s Guiso Latin Fusion and Dominic Ciambrone, son of Lou Ciambrone, the longtime owner of Canevari’s Deli, put their creative heads together to create something truly unique and delicious—a rotating Italian-Latin fusion dish to appear seasonally on the menu at both spots.

This spring, it was a Cubano Cannelloni, a porkfilled crepe with a Peruvian aji amarillo sauce, developed by Mojica.

Though the collaboration is new, Ciambrone and Mojica go way back. As a kid, Mojica tagged along to his cousin’s soccer games with Ciambrone, a Santa Rosa native and celebrity shoe designer whose up-styled kicks now command upward of $200,000 a pair (Usher wore a custom design during this year’s Super Bowl halftime show).

Ciambrone and Mojica reconnected earlier this year at Mojica’s restaurant, and Mojica pitched the idea of a collaboration. “I saw this as a perfect opportunity,” he says. “We’ve sold out almost every day.”

Guiso Latin Fusion, 117 North St., Healdsburg. 707-431-1302, guisolatinfusion.com. Canevari’s Deli, 695 Lewis Rd., Santa Rosa. 707-545-6941, canevarisdeli.com