Wine Country cuisine may reign supreme in much of Sonoma County, but if you look closely in shopping centers and tucked away spots — and some more obvious locations — there’s a world of food in Windsor.
From Eastern European jagerschnitzel to Himalayan momos, Thai po-pia, mole and New Zealand sausage rolls, tastes from around the globe beckon. Here are ten spots to find incredible food from other lands in your backyard – click through the gallery for photos.
Tizsa Bistro: Chef Krisztian Karkus isn’t sure if he wants everyone to know how good his wiener schnitzel is. He has a special recipe, sure, and it’s pan-fried in butter and pork lard with fresh lingonberry jam and homemade cucumber salad, but says he doesn’t want to be pigeon-holed as a German chef. So, in addition to the spatzle mac and cheese with wild mushrooms, charbroiled octopus with Hungarian sausage and duck fat potatoes, jagerschintzel with spatzle, bratwurst with braised sauerkraut, and warm marzipan torte he also makes a mean duck leg confit, iceberg wedge salad and roast chicken breast (with spatzle, of course). Old World meets Wine Country in a most delicious way. 8757 Old Redwood Hwy., Windsor, (707) 838-5100, tiszabistro.com.
Ume: Tucked away in Windsor, Ume is the place that sushi connoisseurs talk about between themselves. The sushi is simple, minimal (not blobbed with wasabi or overly seasoned rice) letting the flavor of the fish express itself and sliced generously without being overdone. Specialties include excellent monkfish pate, a great sake list and artistic presentations. Want something a little more approachable? Ume has excellent ramen, tankatsu (panko-breaded pork), teriyaki and American-style rolls with lots of wacky ingredients — if you’re into that. 8710 Old Redwood Highway, Windsor, 838-6700.
Qimura: Homestyle Japanese cuisine that’s comforting for just about anyone. Grandma’s recipes include painstakingly made bowls of steaming ramen (butter miso is a favorite), Nanban chicken (deep fried chicken nuggets in a creamy sweet sour sauce), chicken katsu and hamachi collar. Their sushi rice is made from a secret family recipe. The sleek, modern interior is as clean and bright as their chirashi, a bowl of steamed rice with sashimi. Very authentic flavors with friendly service. 8960 Brooks Road South, 836-1699, qimura.us.
Himalayan Restaurant: Though the cuisines of India and the Himalyas aren’t exactly the same, they share many of the same pungent spices and cooking techniques, which you’ll find at this downtown spot. Crispy vegetable pakora, Himalayan dumplings (momo), biryani (rice with meat and dried fruits) and creamy chicken tikka masala are good introductions for first-timers, but to really get dive into true Indian cuisine, try tandoori meat or vegetables made in a special clay oven. Want to take it to the next step? Himalayan goat curry or lamb badami cooked with almonds and tomato sauce are more adventurous. Flat bread called naan is best perfect for sopping up all the extra sauce. 810 McClelland Dr., Windsor, 838-6746, himalayanrestaurantwindsor.com.
Cocina Mana: In Morales’ kitchen, there are no giant cans of pre-made sauce or piles of packaged tortillas. Everything’s made from scratch as a matter of pride. Here, tacos aren’t mix-and-match discs of tiny tortillas with nibbles of carnitas, but Tacos Giusados — platters of braised meat with beans and Mexican rice with homemade steamed tortillas on the side. In the morning, chilaquiles with red sauce are a warm way to greet the day (or recover from last night’s revelry).Tamales are a specialty here, made with fresh masa and meat, cheese, vegetables or, if you’ve got a sweet tooth, pineapple. 9238 Old Redwood Hwy STE.128, Windsor, 657-7701, cocinamana.com
Tomi Thai: This pocket-sized Thai restaurant is always packed, and for good reason. Rather than overly sweet, sticky dishes, flavors are bright and fresh. You might get a giggle or two ordering Po-Pia, vegan spring rolls filled with mung bean noodles, cabbage and mushrooms or Goong Gaborg, little cigar-shaped shrimp rolls the table will inevitably fight over. You can’t really go wrong on this menu, but their Pad Thai with fried rice noodles and tamarind sauce is excellent. Pumpkin curry in a rich yellow sauce is filled with kobucha squash, bamboo shoots, green beans and basil. You can adjust seasoning to everything from mild to Thai spicy, which we don’t recommend, because unless you’re Thai, you’ll have serious regrets — maybe not now, maybe not tomorrow but soon and for the rest of your day. Wash it all down with a creamy, floral Thai iced tea that, if you haven’t had it before, will become an obsession. 426 Emily Rose Circle, Windsor, 836-1422, tomi-thai.com.
BurtoNZ Bakery: When this Kiwi-run bakery (that’s a New Zealander to the rest of us) opened in 2014, their savory mushroom goat cheese pies, flaky meat pies topped with mashed potatoes, sausage rolls and New Zealand donut were a revelation. Nearly five years later, they’ve only gotten better. We’re especially fond of the raspberry cream Lamingtons and freshly made breads. If you’re on a diet, don’t torture yourself by going. If you’re not, get ready for a pastry feast from the Pastry Wonders from Down Under. 9076 Brooks Road South, Windsor, 687-5455, burtonzbakery.com.
El Gallo Negro: This ain’t your usual taqueria, but a funky mezcaleria featuring juicy cockails with spiked with smoky mezcal and tequila. Owned by the Diaz family, who own restaurants in Windsor and Healdsburg, the menu features their family’s mole, a complicated Oaxacan sauce made with 30 ingredients including special Mexican chocolate, chiles, tomatillos, cinnamon, raisins, garlic, cloves and host of secret ingredients. It’s a rare find because of its ingredient and labor-intensive production, but the family has stuck to time-honored tradition of making it in small batches for their restaurants. Don’t expect white tablecloths, instead, wood tables, $5 bottled beers and cocktails like the Tres Pedros with tequila, hibiscus tea, fresh lime and simple syrup are casual favorites. Daily specials like Margarita Monday, tequila Tuesday and Noche Oaxaquena with handcrafted cockails keep things fresh. 8465 Old Redwood Hwy., Windsor, 838-9511, elgallonegrowindsor.com. Also owned by the Diaz family, Tu Mole Madre featuring multi-course Oaxacan dinners and classes by reservation. Their grand-opening experience happens March 29. tumolemadre.com.
KS Tian Yeun Asian Cuisine: Recently opened in the Town Square, it’s one of the few Chinese spots in Sonoma County offering dim sum. The list is comprehensive and includes bao (steamed buns), shrimp dumplings, shiu mai, marinated tofu and a few more exotic offerings like chicken feet, turnip cake and pork intestines. They’ve also got both traditional and American Chinese food ranging from orange chicken and fried rice to sizzling clay pots filled with rice or vermicelli, veggies and barbecue. 610 McClelland Dr., Windsor, 892-2968, tianyuen.squarespace.com.
Castanedas Marketplace: The El Supremo Breakfast Burrito starts with a layer of griddled Oxacan cheese,followed by meat, eggs, tomatoes, avocado, bacon and a mess of other goodies. If you can eat the whole thing (or even if you can’t) you’ll be good to go for the day. Don’t miss giant chicharrones, fresh paella, tacos and wraps at crowd-friendly prices. 8465 Old Redwood Hwy., Suite 601, Windsor, 838-8820. facebook.com/castanedasmarket