10 Sonoma Eateries to Pair with a Wine Country Weekend

 
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The climate in Sonoma lends itself to a style of cooking common throughout Northern California where local farms are revered and seasonality reigns supreme. Sonoma takes its agrarian roots one step further, though, letting its rich farming tradition, not just dictate menus, but set the tone for the hospitality and atmosphere of its restaurants, too. Rustic and casual, warm and familiar, there’s no fuss, no flair, and no pretense in the local food scene. Largely centered around its historic town square, known as The Plaza, Sonoma is a town that embraces the same simple pleasures of past generations: small, family-owned restaurants, pure, local food, and top-notch wine.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Depot Hotel Restaurant

Since purchasing the historic train depot building in 1985, the Ghilarducci family has been churning out rotating menus of rustic Italian food that varies with the season. Just a short walk from the plaza, this beautiful landmark-turned-restaurant serves casual lunch and dinner in a Wine Country setting full of old world charm, complete with a garden courtyard, reflection pool, and Venetian tapestries.

Insider Tip

Brides will be pleased to learn that this restaurant doubles as a one-of-a-kind wedding and reception venue.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

El Dorado Hotel & Kitchen

For those seeking a more refined Sonoma experience, El Dorado Kitchen offers polished California cuisine, attentive staff, and sophisticated style with a variety of spaces to suit any occasion. For intimate dinners at the bar to corporate groups in the dining room to birthdays and brunches in the corner cafe, EDK is a go-to for locals and discerning travelers alike.

Insider Tip

El Dorado Kitchen is also home to a 27-room room boutique hotel, making it an even more appealing spot to sit back, relax, and stay a while.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Cafe La Haye

One of the hardest reservations to get in town, this pint-sized restaurant, just a half block from the plaza, is a testament to simple ingredients at their finest. With the former executive chef of Restaurant Michael Mina at the helm, Cafe La Haye offers a thoughtfully-crafted menu of Sonoma’s best farm-fresh ingredients, with an outstanding, tightly-focused wine list to match.

Insider Tip

For the silkiest, most satisfying dessert on the menu, be sure to try the Butterscotch pudding.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

El Molino Central

From Ruffino’s Pork Tamales to Zoraida’s Mother’s Oaxacan Red Mole Chicken Enchiladas, this popular Boyes Hot Springs spot just a few miles north of the town’s square serves family-inspired, authentic Mexican food with organic ingredients. To avoid the crowds, grab-and-go their popular tamales or Enchiladas Suizas just inside from their cold case.

Insider Tip

Start your day at El Molino with an order of their Chilaquiles Merido, but be warned,this popular soft-scrambled egg dish is only available before 11 AM.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

the girl & the fig

Offering classic French bistro cuisine featuring the best local ingredients, the girl & the fig’s menu was smartly designed to hit the spot wherever you are in your day. From a satisfying brunch on their festive outdoor patio or a leisurely afternoon platter of “fromage,” to a seasonally-inspired prix fixe dinner, or just a deftly-crafted cocktail at the bar, this longtime Sonoma star is always a solid choice for great food and drink.

Insider Tip

Learn more about owner Sondra Bernstein’s favorite wine region ( and if you’re lucky, meet her too) at her new tasting room on the south side of town, The Rhone Room.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Harvest Moon Cafe

From the exterior, it’s hard to imagine what kind of experience awaits inside this unassuming adobe on the plaza, but locals are onto this restaurant gem. Fresh Sonoma produce, plus sustainably-sourced meats, poultry, and fish, guide each night’s new menu of Cal-Med cuisine. Dine inside at one of two tiny bars for an intimate, unforgettable meal and front row seat of Chez Panisse alum, Chef Nick Demarest, or enjoy your house-made bread and pasta al fresco in the enchanting courtyard just like Sonoma’s best winemakers like to do.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss Wednesday Movie Nights during summer months, when classics are projected in the back patio starting at dusk.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Mamma Tanino's Ristorante

Easy to miss, but well worth the hunt, this hidden gem a few blocks north of the plaza, offers a rotating nightly menu of simple, authentic, Italian cuisine lovingly prepared by Sicilian chef, Gaetano Pastrinostro. Expect classics, like Buccatini Amatriciana, and house-made favorites, such “Katarina’s Vitellina,” all served in Sonoma’s signature style: seasonal, rustic, and deeply satisfying.

Insider Tip

Indulge in the Spaghetti and Meatballs special, that would rival any Italian grandmother’s version, each Friday between 5 and 5:30 PM, but be sure to make a reservation first.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

LaSalette Restaurant

In a town where olive oil, garlic and fresh produce always star, La Salette offers some refreshing twists. Unassuming, down an alleyway just off Sonoma’s plaza, Chef Manuel Azevedo combines the best of California’s superb produce with the flavors and culinary traditions of his homeland to create an adventurous menu of hearty meat and seafood dishes, in what he describes as, Cozinha Nova Portuguesa, or“New Portugeuse Cuisine.”

Insider Tip

Experience a more casual take on Portuguese food and wine at La Salette’s casual little sister restaurant and tapas bar, Tasca Tasca.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Sunflower Caffe Espresso & Wine Bar

Specializing in brunch “all day, everyday” this popular restaurant serves travelers non-stop on the weekends, while catering to a quieter crowd of locals throughout the week. Offering seasonal variations on the usual breakfast suspects, like eggs and waffles, in addition to soups, salads, and sandwiches, the cafe also offers smoothies, beer, and champagne cocktails for a fitting start (or finale) to a Wine Country weekend.

Insider Tip

Grab a table on the back patio, a lush, shaded, garden oasis,that will make your mimosa and brunch even sweeter.

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Restaurants / Sonoma

Swiss Hotel Bar & Restaurant

Originally built by Don Salvador Vallejo, General Mariano Vallejo’s brother, in the 1830’s iconic landmark on the north side of the plaza, has been a favorite local haunt for over four generations. Home to one of Sonoma’s oldest bars, a quaint, five-room hotel, and a full-service restaurant, this charmingly old-school spot offers Italian-inspired cuisine in a casual atmosphere that proudly remains unchanged.

Insider Tip

Save room for the bar’s famous Glarify, a coffee cocktail made with a secret family recipe.

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Susan Williams

Susan Williams is a baker, writer and entrepreneur based in Sonoma, California. When she’s not busy in the kitchen assembling tiers for her garden-inspired wedding cake business, Cake Bloom, she's usually at the farmers market looking for something new to inspire her next creation. Follow her in the kitchen @cakebloom and in the vineyards @sonoma_williams.