Sonoma County in California is one of my favorite places to visit. There is so much to do and see from the hillside vineyards, miles of rugged coastline with beautiful beaches, majestic redwoods, historic Sonoma Square, shopping and of course, there is the food. Food is always foremost on my mind anywhere I go, so today’s post is all about Good Things Eat in Sonoma County.
For the last three years, I have gotten to know Sonoma County while my daughter went to college at Sonoma State. Driving out to visit her was like taking a mini-vacation traveling through Sonoma Valley Wine Country and discovering back roads to scenic vineyards with wild mustard growing between the vines, sunsets at Bodega Head, rolling mountains covered in fog, locally made cheese, and a tranquility of the area which always resulted in finding a new place to stop. Remember, to always get off the beaten path, you never know what is down that side road.
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This book on Sonoma County will show just how spectacular this area is.
Redwoods ~ Vineyards~Coastline
While visiting, I make Santa Rosa my home base and venture out in all directions. Today, I want to share with you some of my favorite places to eat that always provide me with a great meal, the perfect cup of coffee and tasty treats. I know there are fabulous restaurants here but my focus is on those small places with just a few tables, that the locals go to, and offer food that I can’t get at home.
These are a few of my favorites places, the pictures aren’t great but the food is:
The Freemont Diner in Sonoma. The first time I drove by this little diner that is out in the middle of nowhere and saw a parking lot full of cars I knew I needed to stop. On my first visit, I sat at the counter which I loved since I could see the cooks cranking out some amazing food. Where else can you get a bucket of fluffy buttermilk biscuits, a plate of deviled eggs, spicy chicken and waffles, egg sandwichs, an O’Henry Peach Salad (my favorite), local beers, and a caramel cake served straight out of a cast-iron skillet? Be prepared to wait on weekends for seating, but it is worth it. I love this place; it’s all about comfort food!
Sadly, this beloved diner closed its doors. I thought I would cry when I drove by and realized this gem was closed. This article is a great read about the diner.
Wild Flour Bread in Freestone is on my way to the beach at Bodega Bay. This little bakery is a must-stop for all bread lovers. Their tables are piled high with brick oven rustic baked loaves of bread made from sourdough, scones, buns, and biscotti. With so many varieties of sweet and savory offerings to choose from, make sure to get samples, but you might want to go for the rye, fougasse, a giant sticky bun (YUM), the Egyptian – pear, fig, and ginger (another YUM), or any of their scones. While at Wild Flour Bread make sure to stroll through their organic garden, it is beautiful.
Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar in Healdsburg offers some modern flavors of ice cream as well as the always popular familiar favorites. I love this little ice cream shop located on the Healdsburg Plaza. It’s a hard choice deciding which creamy ice cream to get. You are allowed three samples of ice cream, but seriously I need to try more than three because everything looks so good. Here are some flavors to get you thinking, Coconut Thai Tea, Black Sesame, Dutch Cookie, Cardamon Almond, Aztec Chocolate, Peach Sorbet, Coffee, and my favorite Swiss Chocolate. I’m never disappointed with my selection and have been known to drive to Healdsburg twice in one weekend for ice cream. Don’t forget to ask for a fun topping like sea salt flakes, bee pollen or an edible flower which makes your ice cream cone look fabulous. Pie lovers beware, this is pie heaven and their peanut butter pie is the one to get.
Coffee in the morning is a must and I love these two coffee shops. Lately, I have been forgoing the mochas and lattes and focusing more on a drip or pour over; after all these places are roasting the beans and have excellent coffee. The scent of a well-roasted coffee just draws me into these coffee shops. The coffees are smooth, not bitter, and have a well-rounded flavor.
Acre Coffee has several locations but I visit the one in Montgomery Villiage in Santa Rosa. I love the clean decor and openness. Their soft-boiled egg with chimichurri is a nice little breakfast treat. I love dark roast coffee and the 1080 Dark Roast is my choice of coffee. They also do a French press for tea if you are a tea lover. While having your coffee or tea make sure to get their Chocolate Chip Sea Salt cookie, that is unless the customer in front of you buys the last one, err.
Flying Goat Coffee has the perfect cup for me. The Ethiopian pour-over is a cup of coffee I can slowly savor and the spicey Aztec Mocha is my favorite (had to forgo the pour-over this time.) I love the Flying Goat in Healdsburg right off the plaza, it’s open and relaxing and they offer a variety of tasty pastries to go with your coffee. This is a good place to stop before wine tasting.
I saved my personal favorite for last.
Criminal Baking and Noshery in Santa Rosa has been my go-to place for coffee, tea, and a great pastry. Earlier I said to get off the beaten path, well for this tiny bakery you need to get off the beaten main street and venture down a side street through a residential neighborhood to find this hidden gem. Criminal Baking offers phenomenal pastries and desserts and I have tried almost everything in their case. I almost always order the baked oatmeal with lemon curd, but always get a couple of items to take home. It is hard to choose from all the muffins, bars, galettes, scones, sweet rolls, pies, and more. The brownies and lemon bars are both delectable and a favorite. Flavors are constantly changing but you are always guaranteed a fresh and delicious treat. I always go for breakfast but come for lunch for salads and sandwiches. Criminal Baking is a tiny place but if you can snag a table you can sit and relax, play with the blocks and enjoy the wall art and delicious food.
I love their baked oatmeal so much I have come up with my version of Baked Oatmeal with Applesauce. I will be honest, my version is really good.
I sincerely hope you can visit Sonoma County in California to see the beauty it has to offer. Taste some wine, view some very tall trees, see the ocean and eat some incredible food.
Do you have a Pinterest board for your travels or a foodie experience? Here’s a pin to save for later.
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From learning to cook on a farm in Indiana to culinary school in California, my passion for food is never-ending. Turning on my oven to bake something for friends and family is my happy place, and I am glad to be here at One Hot Oven sharing both sweet and savory recipes with all my baking friends.