Sonoma County may be known for having a relaxed, laid-back vibe, but don’t think a vacation here can’t include a more extravagant fine dining experience or two. While it’s true that Napa Valley gets more recognition as the Michelin Star capital of Wine Country, Sonoma offers plenty of fine dining establishments that are sure to impress. From white tablecloth dining to elaborate Wine Country fare, and yes, even Michelin-rated gems, here are our picks for the best fine dining restaurants in Sonoma County.
Located at Santa Rosa‘s luxurious Vintners Inn, John Ash & Co. was one of the first Sonoma restaurants to cook with local and seasonal ingredients. Today, under the direction of Executive Chef Thomas Schmidt, John Ash & Co. continues to epitomize the Wine Country dining experience, where dishes highlight what’s in-season and are designed to be paired with wine. Speaking of wine, you definitely won’t want to bypass the wine list; the restaurant has one of the most extensive lists in all of Sonoma County, offering more than 275 selections from local Sonoma wineries — all chosen specifically to complement the restaurant’s delicious cuisine.
Dress code: John Ash & Co. requests Business Casual attire, meaning men are asked to wear jackets and collared shirts, ladies should wear dresses or slacks, and no one is allowed to sport shorts, flip-flops, tank tops, or ripped jeans, naturally.
4350 Barnes Road, Santa Rosa, CA 95403, (707) 527-7687
Located on Healdsburg‘s charming town plaza inside the Hotel Healdsburg, Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen is a beloved destination for Wine Country-inspired dining. Here, you’ll find a menu of progressive American food highlighting local Sonoma ingredients and a stylish, inviting dining room, complete with oversized doors that open to a sophisticated garden terrace. While dishes can be ordered a la carte, for a more special experience opt for the Daily Tasting Menu featuring five courses inspired by Sonoma County’s farms, which runs $79 per guest, plus $48 for wine pairings.
Dress Code: There’s no specific dress code at Dry Creek Kitchen per se, but the restaurant asks that guests avoid workout clothes, cut-off shorts, and the like. Think Wine Country casual chic, if you will.
317 Healdsburg Avenue, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 431-0330
At the upscale Farmhouse Inn, located in Forestville, food is an important part of the guest experience. Whether or not you stay the night at the Inn, a visit to their Michelin-starred restaurant is a must. For the ever-changing menu, Executive Chef Steve Litke finds his inspiration from what’s freshest and in-season, even utilizing what’s growing on the ranch for his innovative Californian/Mediterranean-inspired fare. Enhancing a meal here is the exceptional service, and for the wine lovers, an on-staff Master Sommelier will no doubt ensure your food and wine pairing is a match made in heaven.
Dress code: Wine Country Casual. The ‘casual’ part means gentlemen are not required to wear a jacket or tie, but definitely leave your shorts or flip-flops behind.
7871 River Road, Forestville, CA 95436, (707) 887-3300
Restaurateurs Kyle and Katina Connaughton fine tuned every detail for several years before opening SingleThread in 2016, a 55-seat fine dining restaurant in Healdsburg. Luckily, their dedication paid off — the restaurant was recently awarded Three Michelin Stars and was a runner up on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2019 list. Throughout the elaborate 11-course tasting menu — which, by the way, changes daily and can be customized to meet dietary restrictions — you’ll delight your taste buds with the bounty of Sonoma County blended seamlessly with the flavors and techniques of Japan. The entire meal is based on the Japanese concept of food as art, so it’s no surprise that a visit to SingleThread is a treat for all the senses.
Dress code: Guests are encouraged to dress comfortably, yet nicely. Flip-flops, t-shirts, shorts, and athletic wear are prohibited, but layers are encouraged since part of the experience takes place outside.
131 North Street, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 703-4646
This historic 1881 Victorian mansion turned inn exudes a romantic ambiance that extends into the acclaimed on-site restaurant. Expect fine china, silver, candlelight, and an elegant, Old World setting inside the Michelin-starred restaurant, where Chef Jesse Mallgren’s seasonally-focused fare is both classic and unexpected. Many of the ingredients are grown on the estate (the Manor has organic gardens, orchards, and a greenhouse), so it’s only natural that the food be focused on what’s fresh and seasonal. Choose from the à la carte menu or tasting menu, and wash it down with a local wine from the wine list or one of the tasty garden-inspired cocktails.
Dress Code: There’s no dress code in particular, but the restaurant kindly asks that you refrain from wearing anything too casual. So no flip-flops, cut-off shorts, sports jerseys… you get the picture.
1001 Westside Road, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 433-4231
Situated along the coast in Bodega Bay is The Tides Wharf, located inside The Inn at the Tides. Here, fresh seafood and local wine come with picturesque ocean views for a coastal-inspired fine dining experience worth noting. Given its proximity to the Pacific, it’s not surprising the menu has everything needed for seafood lovers, including freshly cracked Dungeness crab, clam chowder in a bread bowl, fish tacos, seafood pastas, fresh fish, and cioppinos, but there’s also a good selection of non-seafood items for those who prefer to eat from the land. Made famous as the backdrop for scenes of Alfred Hitchcock’s film classic The Birds, The Tides Wharf may lure fans looking for a photo opp, but it’s the fresh seafood and unmatched views of the water that leave a lasting impression.
Dress code: It may be overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but showing up with no shoes and no shirt will cause problems (sorry, Kenny Chesney fans). Yep, shoes, shirts, and pants are all required.
835 Coast Highway One, Bodega Bay, CA 94923, (707) 875-3652
While dining at a winery can be a very casual experience (pass the cheese plate, please), expect things to be kicked up a notch when visiting The Bubble Room at J Vineyards. As one of the first educational wine and food pairing programs in Sonoma County, The Bubble Room continues to impress with its five-course wine and food experience, each course thoughtfully chosen to showcase the bounty of Sonoma while highlighting the marriage between food and wine. In fact, Chef Carl Shelton and Winemaker Nicole Hitchcock work together to come up with the lunch-only menu, which changes every six weeks, so you can expect a new experience every time you visit (unless you can’t wait that long between visits).
Dress Code: This is a winery after all, so Wine Country casual is the norm, but given the elegance of the dining room, it’s best to spruce things up a tad to ‘casual chic.’
11447 Old Redwood Highway, Healdsburg, CA 95448, (707) 431-3646