At a street corner on the outskirts of Santa
Rosa’s SOFA neighborhood, overlooking an auto repair and a tire shop, sits the Naked Pig Cafe. If the ideal brunch destination consists of cutesy calm, the Naked Pig, established in the middle of a parking lot, defies this notion.
Customers sit at wooden tables on the sidewalk but don’t seem to care about the gritty urbanism. Why should they, if a list of local, organic and sustainable vendors is proudly displayed on the door and the rustic chalkboard menu announces items such as “waffles with Gravenstein apples compote and salted caramel”?
The owners are Santa Rosa natives and high school sweethearts Dalia Martinez and Jason Sakach. The Naked Pig is reminiscent of Guerrilla Foods, their popular tent at the Santa Rosa Original Certified Farmers Market and other outdoor events. Martinez and Sakach have been perfecting their morning treats for two years. Additionally, they’ve hosted “guerrilla” garden parties in their backyard, inviting guests to eat and occasionally watch a movie. With the good times followed an agenda, as the couple became advocates for the “cottage food law”—California legislation that allows foods prepared in home kitchens to be sold to the public.
“It was a small liberation in what is a very limited economy,” says Martinez.
As of April, however, Martinez and Sakach decided to move their activity to a professional kitchen and open a place of their own. “We wanted to bring people into a space that feels more like home,” explains Martinez. As for the location, she says, “we’re always driven by all things underground and seek out up-and-coming places. And those always come with a little grit.”
The restaurant is open Wednesday to Sunday for breakfast and lunch only. Martinez is responsible for the ever-changing menu, with weekday items overthrown by decadent weekend choices. Sakach runs the front of the house. Plates come out of the small kitchen generously decorated with greens; the food is hearty and only somewhat adventurous, as brunch should be.
The waffles ($12), bacon-flavored or smothered in nectarines, are destined to be the crowd-pleaser everyone raves about, and so is the green onion biscuit ($14). A couple of dishes, however, err on the greasy side—the German pulled pork sandwich ($14) featured succulent meat in a very buttery, glistening bun, but redeems itself with the crunchy coleslaw. Similarly, the brie and beets sandwich ($12) goes easy on the beets but is very generous with the cheese and homemade aioli.
Seasonal fruits and vegetables also get a chance to shine in such dishes as the delicious Santa Rosa plum and goat cheese salad ($12) and the avocado toast ($12.50), abundant with fresh avocado and bacon. A little fine-tuning of the menu should guarantee the Naked Pig a culinary victory, and soon evenings will come into play, with hamburger and beer nights.
You might expect to find a restaurant like the Naked Pig in Healdsburg or Sebastopol. By the way people dress up to sit at a concrete parking lot next to an auto repair, it’s clear the Naked Pig has found fertile territory in Santa Rosa.
Naked Pig Cafe. 435 Santa Rosa Ave., Santa Rosa. 707.978.3231.