The wine country’s not the first place that comes to mind for finger-licking Southern comfort like fried chicken and pulled-pork sandwiches. But the Fremont Diner‘s got the first word on hearty diner food when respite from the elevated etiquette of vineyard-side dining is in order. 2698 Fremont Drive, Sonoma. 707.938.7370. . . . Sonoma’s got everyone’s soul food fix, the sort one might find hikers using to refuel in the German Alps. Lokal proudly boasts hearty Bavarian heart-warmers like spätzle and schnitzel with a heart-stopping selection of brews to fit every taste. 522 Broadway St., Sonoma. 707.938.7373. . . . If what warms the heart brings the family to mind, Mill Valley’s fledgling Dish is the place to kick back for some neighborhood chatter. Beautiful outdoor seating allows locals to catch glimpses of Mt. Tamalpais as they gather ’round the dinner table. 507 Miller Ave., Mill Valley. 415.388.3474. . . . For those who’d rather conquer purple mountain majesties than gaze at them, Boon might be the “it” feeding ground. The complement to the boon hotel + spa brings a simple, fresh menu of artisan sandwiches and tasty, local main dishes to the more intrepid interlopers of the wine country. 16248 Main St., Guerneville. 707.869.0780. . . .
Just upstream from Boon is Healdsburg’s Spoonbar, nestled neatly inside the brand-new H2H, the town’s eco-sensible tourist destination. Featuring artisan cocktails prepared by mixologist Scott Beattie, one can sip and nibble near the plinking water wall of spoons created by sculptor Ned Kahn. Chef Rudy Mihal’s lineup of Mediterranean-inspired skewers and flat breads offer sustenance to those who have traveled far and wide to enjoy the bar’s generous natural lighting and nature-made ambiance. 219 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg. 707.433.7222. . . . Who needs spoons when you can wield a pizza cutter? Scott Howard and Bob Simontachi’s wood oven at Brick and Bottle turns out plenty of palatable pies to carve. Offering comfortable food with friendly tableside service, this eatery is a mighty brick house. 55 Tamal Vista Blvd., Corte Madera. 415.924.3366. . . At Franco’s Ristorante, anyone who walks through the door is instantly related. Franco’s is the place to come home to, especially when the late night munchies hit. Open Friday and Saturday nights from 11:30pm to 3am for pizza by the slice. 505 Mendocino Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.523.4800. . . . From the house to the garage, to L’Appart Resto, made in full by Olivier Souvestre and Bruno Denis, the very same duo who graced Sausalito with Le Garage. Featuring fine French dishes, L’Appart brings the simplicity and subtlety of French food to Marin. 636 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo. 415.256.9884. . . . Subtlety is not the name of the game for Whipper Snapper in San Rafael, where spunky Caribbean and Spanish sabor pairs with dramatic décor. 1613 Fourth St., San Rafael. 415.256.1818. . . .
Meanwhile, Bistro M indulges the ironic eye that appreciates the fashion faux pas of wine country cyclists. The outdoor patio affords magnificent views of these tight, neon wonders, the perfect contrast to simple, elegant fare. 610 McClelland Drive, Windsor. 707.838.3118. . . . What’s the lovechild of to-go lunches and aesthetically pleasing edibles? Bento boxes at Sushi 69, where an obsession with fresh satisfies the appetite for surf. The restaurant also offers an extensive beer and sake selection to rival any wine list. 69 Center Blvd., San Anselmo. 415.459.6969. . . . NewZ is riding on a lot of waves, combining simple and elegant California cuisine with traditional French and Italian classics. Edgy wines and lighter brunch fare make it a place for both the new and old. 282 Bon Air Center, Greenbrae. 415.925.4370. . . .
Sure, the wines at NewZ are edgy, but they’re nothing like the gleam on Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto’s santoku knife. Brimming with celebrity lore, Morimoto promises to roll out the red carpet. 610 Main St., Napa. 707.252.1600. . . . Stroll down the street and go from finely sliced fish at Morimoto’s to some finely sliced cured meats at Oenotri. Authentic Neopolitan pizzas and a dizzying variety of salumi paired with wines from Southern Italy make this simple but elegant eatery a favorite. 1425 First St., Napa. 707.252.1022. . . . Sure, the North Bay boasts a lot of great international cuisines. But American cuisine can’t be beat, especially since it’s really got it all. For culinary diversity, head to Grace’s Table, where tuna Niçoise is served next to tamales and hanger steak frites plays neighbor to Creole mussels. 1400 Second St., Napa. 707.226.6200. . . .
Other flavors to favor
Delicias Elenita I’d been severely under the weather—not sleeping much, not eating much. A stomach bug had laid me out, and all I’d had to eat were two bowls of cereal, all day. The world had that hazy, grim patina that comes from being sick. I’d been miserable.
Delicias Elenita turned things around. Determined to feel better after a night in the East Bay, I drove home wishing with all my might that Santa Rosa’s best taco truck would still be open at 1:15am. Blessedly, it was. I ordered three grilled chicken tacos ($1.25 each)—nothing more, nothing less—and when they arrived, like that moment in the hospital when the quiet alarm lets you know you can hit the button for more morphine, I looked up at the full moon and thanked the universe. Sebastopol Road and West Avenue, Santa Rosa. No phone.
Street-Eatz Mobile Kitchen It used to be that food trucks roamed listlessly without schedule, their location and menu ever changing, stopping at building sites and industrial districts with a beckoning honk. In the last few years, though, food truck schedules have grown far more dependable. Some even have websites to update their stops. Still others, like Street-Eatz Mobile Kitchen, announce their daily service spots on Facebook and Twitter. Hitting up industrial zones from the airport to Dutton Avenue to Southwest Santa Rosa, Street-Eatz can also be found Thursdays at Revolution Moto on College Avenue and downtown Santa Rosa at the Wednesday Night Market—and you can even pre-order your meal from their site for pick-up.
Co-owned by Alma Mendez, from the popular La Texanita restaurant, with founder Jill Dorman, Street-Eatz offers a varied and rather vegetarian-friendly menu—coconut curry vegetables, a Mediterranean plate, crunchy agedashi tofu with ginger and onions. An eight-inch foil round of Japanese soba noodles in Asian dressing with vegetables and tofu runs $6.50. Meat eaters can indulge in the likes of pulled-pork sandwiches, chicken pesto sandwiches and carne asada fries, too. With street food set to take off, Street-Eatz leads the way. Various locations in Santa Rosa. www.street-eatz.com.
Rosso Pizzeria Cart OK, so you won’t get to enjoy the Sheryl Chapman art, the soccer on the TV above the wine bar, the masterly presence of owner John Franchetti throwing dough or those totally insane modern sinks in the bathrooms. But at Rosso Pizzeria’s new cart—a blazingly hot stone oven on wheels—you’ll get what truly matters, the pizza! Made with some sort of outer-space, reverse-osmosis flour strategy, Rosso’s thin-crust pizzas come out of the small, red, mobile unit with the same taste and texture as when they emerge from the restaurant’s oven.
Personal pizzas run about $8–$10, and though there’s obviously not as many options as in the restaurant, a quick pizza margherita on the go with that crazy, chewy crust is a nice respite from the grilled-‘n’-fried fare at most other carts. Catch them on Wednesdays and Saturdays at the Santa Rosa farmers market at the Vets Building on Maple Avenue, and at the Wednesday Night Market in downtown Santa Rosa. Brick and mortar: 53 Montgomery Drive, Santa Rosa. 707.544.3221.