The fresh food and amazing wine of Sonoma County make for fantastic meals. Farm-to-table works well here and attracts fabulous chefs.
Madrona Manor: 1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA, (800) 258-4003, madronamanor.com. For a meal that’s an elaborate “event” (we went for my wife’s birthday and we were there I think for 3 hours) try Madrona Manor. It’s on the more formal side and it’s quite pricey, but really a special experience. The waiters are super friendly and knowledgeable, and while it’s formal it’s not stuffy. It deserves its Michelin star!
Our favorites on or very near Healdsburg Plaza
1) Scopa: 109 Plaza St #A, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-5282, scopahealdsburg.com. This is a very small, casual, very reasonably priced Italian restaurant on Healdsburg Plaza. Reservations here are scarce and even if walk ins can be accommodated it’s usually with a wait measured in hours. I’d highly recommend making a reservation here as soon as you can if any are available during your stay – they start taking reservations 1 month in advance. On Wednesdays they have “Winemaker Wednesdays” where a local winemaker serves and talks their wine as part of the waitstaff. I’m told this is a prerequisite to getting your wine on their wine list. We’ve been several times and love this place. The steak for 2 is absolutely unbelievable. They also have a new second restaurant around the corner called Campo Fina – we haven’t been there yet but it may be easier to get into. www.campo-fina.com
2) Baci Cafe & Wine Bar, 401 Center Street, Healdsburg, (707) 433-8111, www.bacicafeandwinebar.com. This is a family favorite for us. They serve delicious Italian food including wood fired pizzas, the service is very friendly, and they too have an excellent wine list (although you’ve probably perceived a theme in that regard!)
3) Barndiva: 231 Center Street, Healdsburg, (707) 431-0100, barndiva.com. This is a bit more formal than Scopa (it’s all relative in Healdsburg – the only really formal places we’ve been in Healdsburg are Madrona Manor and Cyrus which is now closed), with excellent, fresh food and an outstanding wine list. Just a block or so off the Plaza. We’ve been twice and really enjoy this place. A bit quieter than Scopa as well.
4) Zin Restaurant and Wine Bar: 344 Center Street, Healdsburg, (707) 473-0946 , zinrestaurant.com. Delicious food, excellent wine list. 1 block off Plaza.
5) Dry Creek Kitchen: 317 Healdsburg Ave, Hotel Healdsburg, Healdsburg. This restaurant always delivers. With its famous chef, Charlie Palmer, its food is beautifully plated and not surprisingly, the wine list fantastic.
Downtown Geyserville has a great street of restaurants. We have been to Diavola Pizza and enjoyed it, and love the fresh pasta at Cavelli’s.
Santa Rosa has many interesting restaurants as well. We love Rosso Pizzeria in Santa Rosa. Other than the fact that it’s kind of in a strip mall, we love everything about this place. Great pizza, superb wine list. A good place to stop if you are south of Healdsburg http://www.rossopizzeria.com/
As for lunches, we’d highly recommend Jimtown Store in Alexander Valley on a day when you are tasting in that area. It’s a great place to stop on a tour of Alexander Valley. Another good stop when tasting in Dry Creek is the Dry Creek general store. Also I am totally addicted to the shrimp tacos at El Sombrero near the plaza. Getting lunch from Oakville Grocery in the square can be an amazing picnic as well! For breakfast, both the Downtown Bakery Creamery (yummy sticky buns and scrambled eggs!) and Flying Goat Coffee are fabulous.
Cooking? Big John’s Market is fabulous! They have great meat and fresh fruits and veggies.