Buenas Noches

'Noches Mexicanas' at Rocker Oysterfeller's a dream for Mexican food lovers


Rocker Oysterfeller’s has developed a split personality.

Five nights a week, the Valley Ford restaurant serves a menu of Sonoma County&–inspired, Southern fried cooking, gumbo, chicken-fried duck, rabbit and corn meal dumplings, molasses and bourbon-braised pork—and of course, lots of locally plucked oysters.

But Monday and Tuesday nights, the upscale, downhome restaurant shelves its regular menu and busts out an all-Mexican one: Noches Mexicanas. They call it a pop-up restaurant, simply because the chef, ambiance and food undergo a transformation. Votive candles with images of Jesus and sundry Mexican saints grace the tables. Special tequila cocktails flow from the bar. The menu is pleasingly small: six appetizers and four entr&–es, all very good.

Rocker Oysterfeller’s occupies the ground floor of the historic Valley Ford Hotel, making it feel like a cozy hideaway along the winding wilds of fog-shrouded Highway 1. The town of Valley Ford is little more than a straight stretch of the road, but the restaurant is one of the main attractions, along with a few other eateries, a market and store. The five-year-old restaurant had been closed Mondays and Tuesdays, but as business grew, co-owner Brandon Guenther decided to open seven days a week.

Guenther wanted to mix things up for the mainly local weekday crowd, so he called on his friend Juan Zuno in Mexico and asked him to come up and cook. Guenther has opened three restaurants and a catering business with Zuno in Mexico. “He’s a great, talented chef and great friend of mine,” he says.

The menu leans toward Zuno’s native state of Jalisco but offers a few carryovers from the regular menu, like the nectarine, butter lettuce and