Food around Napa and Sonoma


It’s always great to go back to wine country to visit some of my favorite restaurants and discover new ones. Most eateries are fresh and vegetarian in wine country, but I have a few favorites that are treading more international territory.

Tarla, in downtown Napa, is always a breath of fresh air. The Turkish restaurant calls itself Mediterranean. The dips are always a great way to start a meal: a trio of tzatziki, hummus, and babaganoush. I also love the zucchini patties and the lamb burger is divine (take the pink in the middle). The wine list used to have some great Turkish and Lebanese sections too, but sadly that’s no longer the case.

Another great destination is Cook in the small, charming hamlet of St Helena. This small slice of downtown restaurant calls itself Northern Italian, but offers a menu of salads and hearty meat dishes. Where the cuisine excels is the pastas. The homemade spaghetti with cockles and shrimps in a spicy white wine herb broth is a blast. Having lived in Italy I am picky about my pasta.

A new discovery from my most recent visit to the Meritage Resort & Spa in South Napa. This hotel is a little gem with a handful of wine tastings with brands such as the Anarchist brand and the Trinitas brand, which is made in part from the vineyard next door to the hotel. The spa even does body oil treatments made with grape extracts!

The entire resort is somewhat tucked just south of the city of Napa, near the local airport and an office park. Olive & Hay offers dishes from the wine region, such as a large plate of Burrata and perfectly al dente Linguini a Frutti di Mare. Where chef really excels with meat and his American Wagyu New York Strip was wonderfully tender and finished with truffle butter.

Sonoma Bound

One of my favorite places to eat in the town of Sonoma is LaSalette, just off the main square. On a sunny day a bite to eat on the terrace of the restaurant is a feast. Caldo Verde, the traditional Portuguese soup made with potatoes, linguiça, and kale is delicious. So is the juicy dish of pork and mussels. The wine list offers a nice selection of Portuguese red and white wines, as well as Ports.

On my way to Healdsburg I always like to have a glass of wine at Willi’s Wine Bar. The outdoor patio is shaded and inviting. A new discovery I made this trip was Spoonbar, the H2 Hotel’s restaurant just a few steps from the Plaza.

The Tomales Bay oysters are small, salty and delicious. The beet salad is crunchy and topped with candied walnuts and goat cheese. I also loved the spicy Cioppino loaded with shrimp and mussels and served with crispy focaccia.