Sonoma County, often hailed as the Tuscan Valley of Northern California, is a gold mine for food connoisseurs. This region brims with bucolic charm and is blessed with a cornucopia of organic farms, dairy, and, of course, vineyards that stretch out into the horizon. Thus, the county’s culinary scene is intrinsically intertwined with its terroir. From farm-to-table ventures to Michelin-star establishments, here are my top ten restaurants in Sonoma County.
If You Are in a Hurry…
Here is a quick look at the top 10 restaurants in Sonoma County:
|Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant
|El Molino Central
|Boyes Hot Springs
|Zazu Kitchen + Farm
|The Girl & The Fig
|Underwood Bar & Bistro
|Terrapin Creek Café
|Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar
Our Top Picks
1. Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant, Forestville
Nestled amidst a sylvan landscape, the Farmhouse Inn & Restaurant celebrates the best of Californian cuisine. Executive Chef Steve Litke harnesses the bounty of Sonoma, cultivating an exciting menu that shifts with the seasons. The heirloom tomato salad, lightly dressed and bedecked with fresh local cheese, embodies simplicity at its best.
The Michelin-starred restaurant also boasts an exceptional wine program, with sommeliers who intricately pair each course with a local varietal. The rustic yet elegant ambiance enhances the overall dining experience, making it a must-visit spot for any culinary enthusiast.
2. SingleThread, Healdsburg
SingleThread is a gastronomic journey into the heart of the Sonoma landscape. This three-Michelin-starred restaurant, run by the husband-and-wife duo Kyle and Katina Connaughton, is renowned for its exquisite farm-to-table approach. Each 11-course tasting menu is a culinary tapestry woven with locally sourced ingredients, some from their farm.
The dishes, deeply influenced by Japanese kaiseki and classic French cuisines, strike a harmonious balance between innovation and tradition. With each bite, one can taste the seasons of Sonoma, making SingleThread a transcendent dining experience.
3. Valette, Healdsburg
At Valette, Chef Dustin Valette’s creativity takes center stage, yielding divine creations that demonstrate his passion for sourcing local, organic ingredients. The Day Boat Scallops en Croute, encased in puff pastry and bathed in a champagne beurre blanc, is a highlight that’s often featured in Sonoma culinary discussions.
The warm, inviting ambiance is equally compelling, offering diners a relaxed setting to enjoy their meal. The cherry on top is the impeccable service and the restaurant’s extensive selection of local wines, which ensures a satisfying dining experience.
4. El Molino Central, Boyes Hot Springs
An homage to Mexican cuisine, El Molino Central serves the most authentic Mexican food you’ll find in Sonoma County. The handmade tortillas, blue corn tamales, and ceviche—prepared using locally sourced, organic ingredients—tantalize the palate with a burst of vibrant flavors.
Despite its modest setting, El Molino Central’s vivid and fresh culinary offerings stand out. From the kitchen, a deep understanding and respect for Mexican culinary traditions emanate, resulting in a humble yet captivating dining experience.
5. Zazu Kitchen + Farm, Sebastopol
Zazu Kitchen + Farm is a quaint gem that marries farm-to-table with Italian and Southern barbeque influences. Helmed by chefs Duskie Estes and John Stewart, Zazu offers a dining experience that’s unpretentious yet full of delightful surprises. Think black pig bacon and homemade pasta that are comfort food at its finest.
Whether it’s their applewood-smoked meats or wood-fired pizzas, the flavors are bold and deeply satisfying. Plus, most ingredients are sourced from their own farm or local producers, making Zazu an embodiment of Sonoma’s abundant produce.
6. The Girl & The Fig, Sonoma
In the heart of Sonoma, The Girl & The Fig features a fantastic French country menu with a Californian twist. The restaurant’s creative use of figs, from fig and arugula salad to fig-infused cocktails, pays homage to Sonoma’s agricultural richness.
The rustic décor, adorned with vintage French posters, complements the menu’s Provencal spirit. Coupled with an impressive Rhone-alone wine list and top-notch cheese selection, this eatery provides a charmingly authentic French experience.
7. Underwood Bar & Bistro, Graton
Located in the small town of Graton, Underwood Bar & Bistro is a local favorite that delivers a sophisticated, cosmopolitan menu. This is the place to enjoy everything from fresh oysters and French-inspired small plates to scrumptious, juicy burgers.
Underwood’s food is equally matched by an eclectic wine list featuring local and international bottles. The lively bar atmosphere, coupled with delicious food and drink, creates an environment that’s both relaxing and vibrant.
8. Terrapin Creek Café & Restaurant, Bodega Bay
Overlooking the beautiful Bodega Bay, Terrapin Creek Café & Restaurant is a one-star Michelin eatery that specializes in global cuisine. Chefs Liya and Andrew Truong are masters at reinventing international dishes using fresh, local ingredients.
The relaxed, intimate ambiance makes dining at Terrapin Creek a joy. The menu’s standout is undoubtedly their seafood, sourced from the adjacent Pacific Ocean—fresh, flavorful, and expertly prepared.
9. Madrona Manor, Healdsburg
Set in a Victorian-era mansion, Madrona Manor delivers a unique blend of old-world charm and new-world culinary brilliance. The Michelin-starred restaurant thrives on its inventive take on American classics, such as the crispy duck breast served with cherries and wild rice.
Madrona Manor’s enchanting setting, coupled with its delightful cuisine and well-curated wine list, makes for a fairy-tale dining experience. The warm, hospitable service only adds to the appeal, making it one of Sonoma’s premier dining destinations.
10. Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar, Healdsburg
Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar is a vibrant, bustling place known for its fresh seafood offerings and small, shareable plates. This isn’t a formal, sit-down dinner spot; instead, it’s a lively establishment where food lovers can indulge in an array of creatively prepared seafood.
The raw bar, featuring an array of freshly shucked oysters and ceviche, is the centerpiece here. But non-seafood items, like the duck confit sliders, also shine. It’s a place to gather with friends, sample a bit of everything, and wash it down with a glass of local rosé or craft cocktail.
Sonoma County’s culinary landscape is as rich and diverse as its renowned vineyards. The region, with its fertile soil and favorable climate, is a haven for food and wine enthusiasts alike. It’s here that the farm-to-table philosophy isn’t merely a trend but a way of life, and where the wine country’s gastronomy thrives not just in the fine-dining sector but in every eatery, from rustic bistros to lively seafood bars.
From the meticulously crafted kaiseki-inspired courses of SingleThread to the comforting, homegrown flavors of Zazu Kitchen + Farm, each restaurant on this list brings to the table a unique interpretation of Sonoma’s gastronomic wealth. Whether it’s the seamless blend of French country fare with a Californian twist at The Girl & The Fig or the vibrant Mexican flavors of El Molino Central, Sonoma’s dining scene has something to offer for every palate.