This Sonoma, California Travel Guide highlights must-visit restaurants in this scenic and rustic city located in the heart of Napa Valley. If you missed Part 1 of this series, check out my Sonoma, California Travel Guide: Must-Visit Wineries here.
My husband and I recently visited Sonoma to celebrate our first wedding anniversary. We sipped on fabulous wines, we soaked in the breathtaking vineyard views, and we dined on some mouthwatering foods. Like, really mouthwatering. If you missed Part 1 of my Sonoma, California Travel Guide, check out my winery recommendations here. If not, stick around because today I’m sharing more about the delicious restaurants we discovered while there—some of which are among the best meals I’ve ever had. Seriously!
While delicious restaurants can be found throughout the entirety of Napa Valley (many of which are famous nationwide!), I’m focusing on just quaint and peaceful Sonoma for the sake of this post. Believe me—you will not go hungry. In fact, you’ll be in for quite a treat. Now let’s dive in to some of our favorite foodie finds in the area.
Tips for Dining in Sonoma
- Make reservations. Sonoma may be a small town, but you’re mistaken if you think that means no waits at restaurants. In fact, many of the more popular restaurants book up weeks in advance for dinner, meaning you may be out of luck unless you plan ahead and make a reservation. We found this was really easy to do online using OpenTable either a few weeks or a few nights before we planned to visit.
- Local flavors abound. Many of the menus at the restaurants we visited prominently featured local ingredients from a variety of California farms. Think lots of produce, cheeses, and even meats from the surrounding area. Everything tasted so fresh!
- Stroll around Sonoma Plaza. Many of Sonoma’s most popular restaurants are conveniently located in the heart of the city in Sonoma Plaza. Definitely plan to eat dinner here at least one night if not more than one, and go for a stroll around the various local shops before dinner (most seemed to close by 5 or 6pm when we were there).
Must-Visit Sonoma Restaurants + Eats
Cafe La Haye (Dinner)
If you go to just one restaurant while in Sonoma, make it Cafe La Haye! Oh my…where do I even start with this meal? This was my favorite dinner of the trip and among the best meals I’ve ever had. The menu, while short and to the point, focuses on well-loved specialties and fresh, seasonal ingredients. When we were there, a large number of specials were also available. The restaurant’s website describes the atmosphere as “appealing unfussy sophistication,” and I totally agree! The food and service were upscale but not fussy. Just our style.
I branched out a bit and tried the stuffed quail, and wow — it was so tender and bursting with flavor from its herb and cornbread filling. Definitely try this dish if it’s available as a special! The buttermilk-brined pork and the butterscotch pudding (OMG, the butterscotch pudding) are absolute musts as well. We each ordered our own and could have downed 12 more each (if calories were no object).
The Girl & The Fig (Lunch/Dinner)
When I searched for recommendations in Sonoma, this one was near the top of almost every list! A pre-fixe, multi-course meal that changes on a weekly basis seems to be a well-loved option here. I was originally planning to give it a try, but I was too full after a day of wine (and, okay, cheese) tasting.
Luckily, the entrees here do not disappoint. I recommend the Chicken & Figs (roasted garlic, cippolini onions, fingerling potatoes, honey wine glaze) and the Chocolate-Dipped Fig Kisses (dried black mission figs dipped in chocolate drizzled with black mission fig syrup) for dessert. Be sure to make a reservation at this one due to its popularity.
Sunflower Caffe (Breakfast/Lunch)
I had perhaps the most lovely breakfast of my life on the beautiful outdoor patio at Sunflower Caffe before wine tasting. It truly felt like an oasis with its running fountain, quirky sunflower art, and cheerful yellow patio umbrellas. This is a fairly casual spot where you order your meal at the front counter, then it’s delivered to your table of choice.
I highly recommend the Sunflower Scramble (farm eggs, chevre goat cheese, organic baby spinach, organic cherry tomatoes, local olive oil, dressed organic greens, buttered organic toast, seasonal jam) and a warm vanilla latte. Warning: the coffee is strong but the real deal!
Sonoma Cheese Factory (Lunch)
Wine tasting has a way of working up the appetite. Luckily, we had our wine tour driver pick up sandwiches for us from Sonoma Cheese Factory and enjoyed them out on the patio at Benziger Family Winery. The prices were reasonable and the sandwiches were delicious (and the perfect pairing with a crisp glass of sauvignon blanc, I might add)! I recommend the Mission (herb roasted turkey, brie cheese, pesto aioli, mixed greens, cucumbers and tomatoes on sliced wheatberry bread).
Basque Boulangerie Cafe (Breakfast)
Be sure to stop by this bakery with an old-world French vibe for a treat one morning. Everything looked so delicious, from the fluffiest fresh-baked croissants to black forest muffins and more. We tried the grilled egg and bacon panini breakfast sandwiches and couldn’t resist taking a pear almond croissant to go. Verdict: so, so good!
Note: if you’re looking for a more substantial dessert, their beehive cake seemed to be a pretty popular option (sweet danish sponge, split with custard and caramel, topped with honey-almond praline and powdered sugar). Maybe next time!
Dutch Bros Coffee (Breakfast/Coffee)
If you’re a flavored coffee addict like me, you have to give Dutch Bros Coffee a try! For what it’s worth, I live in Connecticut and we don’t have this chain available nearby, so this was new to us. Good luck selecting an option from their crazy extensive menu of options. And I mean extensive! Think everything from black forest to banana coconut to birthday cake and more.
Note: we were pleasantly surprised to learn that this chain gives you your first iced coffee free of charge if you’ve never been there before. Yes, you read that correctly. Incredibly generous for a business these days.
Note: This is not a sponsored post and all opinions are my own. My husband and I simply booked a visit to Sonoma to celebrate our anniversary, and this Sonoma, California Travel Guide is intended to share our favorites with you!