The Best Restaurants & Hotels In SonomaThe best spots in "Slownoma" for Portuguese food, moules frites, handmade pasta, and more.
Jokingly called “Slownoma” by locals, Sonoma is a world away from the busy crowds and upturned noses of Napa. While Sonoma’s wines have quite a fandom and more than hold their own against their neighbors, the success hasn’t gone to Sonoma’s head. At its heart, this is still a small, humble city of just over 10,000 people, where you can walk the main sights of downtown in less than an hour. That just leaves you more time for all the nearby wineries and tasting rooms, many focused on fantastic local pinot noir, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc.
With all that wine tasting you’ll be doing, you’ll need to fill your stomach between appointments. Here are all our favorite places to eat in Sonoma, as well as a few hotels worth staying the night for.
A small restaurant hidden away from the buzz of Sonoma Plaza, Taste of the Himalayas serves Tibetan, Nepali, and Indian dishes. You’ll find Indian standards like samosas, tikka masala, and saag paneer, as well as Nepali classics like the lamb momo with tomato chutney or the mismas tarkari (mixed vegetable curry). For dessert, don’t miss the gulab jamun, delicately fried dumplings made from milk solids and served with cardamom honey.
This brunch spot on Sonoma Plaza has a big menu of smoothies, waffles, breakfast sandwiches, egg dishes, salads, and more—truly something for everyone. The buttermilk biscuit sandwich, with soft-scrambled eggs, cheddar, shallot-leek conserva, and gochujang aioli, is especially tasty. No matter the weather, grab a seat on their covered back patio, which has a bright and cheery vibe, with sunflower-yellow chairs and tons of brilliant greenery.
Located on Highway 12 just outside of the main Sonoma downtown area, you might end up driving past Il Fuoco, but it’s well worth stopping here for the fantastic wood-fired pizzas. Using organic flour from Petaluma and local farmers for as much of their cheese and produce as possible, Il Fuoco makes quality ingredients the star of every pizza they make. You’ll find standards like margherita and pepperoni, but we like to focus on the more interesting options, like their fennel sausage and purple potato pizza or a fresh clam pie.
GOOD FOR GROUPS
It’d be easy to miss this small Portuguese restaurant hidden away from the crowds of Sonoma Plaza in a small courtyard, but LaSalette is absolutely worth hunting down. Start with a tasca board of small bites, like cheese from the Azorean island of São Jorge and linguiça, but it wouldn’t be a Portuguese restaurant if bacalhau (salt cod) didn’t feature prominently on the menu, so make sure you try either the cod cakes starter or the classic baked cod casserole with potato and olive. And while it’s not a Portuguese dish, the Brazilian feijoada is also phenomenal. This little spot is perfect for a casual lunch with friends—the more you can order and share, the better.
Della Santina’s is an unfussy Tuscan trattoria that’s been around for more than three decades. This Sonoma classic is known for handmade pasta, and in particular, the potato gnocchi and Florentine-style cannelloni. Don’t get distracted by the meat and seafood entrees here: pasta is where Della Santina’s shines the brightest. Be sure to check their daily specials, which typically feature at least two more kinds of pasta—come with a group so you can try a bit of everything and don’t have to make any heartbreaking decisions.
Oso Sonoma is a great spot on Sonoma Plaza with a bunch of options for when the group can’t agree on what’s for lunch. The menu has a little bit of everything, from pork chile verde tacos to harissa-roasted salmon to Thai-style steamed mussels, and while that might seem ambitious, everything works. It’s also a great place for Happy Hour if a day of wine tasting hasn’t yet wiped you out: we like their delicious red sangria.
Sonoma might be a small city, but it has more Portuguese restaurants than many much bigger towns. Tasca Tasca focuses on petiscos (Portuguese tapas), which you can order as a mix-and-match tasting plate from five categories: cheese, garden, land, sea, and sweet. Tasca Tasca also features an all-Portuguese wine list, so you can try some unique wines that you won’t find on most lists, like a crisp white vinho verde or rich reds from the Douro Valley.
Valley is a wine bar and restaurant located right on Sonoma Plaza, serving a varied menu of small bites, salads, and main dishes. You could go for lunch or dinner, but we’d argue brunch, when they serve an interesting menu perfect for pre-gaming a day of wine tasting, is the best bet. If you like sweets in the morning, grab their olive oil cake with sour cream and preserves or french toast with apricot butter. If you’re more in the savory camp, the burrata and tomato tartine is the stuff of dreams.
Cafe La Haye is an upscale French bistro with a very romantic atmosphere of candlelight, white tablecloths, and dim-but-warm lighting that would make a rom-com director proud. The menu is all about simple yet beautiful ingredients prepared just right, like filet mignon with local Point Reyes blue cheese or Duroc heritage pork chop with mustard seed vinaigrette, mushrooms, and potatoes. Their daily specials always use whatever is in season, with a French twist on local ingredients.
One part tasting room, one part marketplace, one part restaurant, Taub Family Outpost wears a lot of hats and wears them all well. Stop in for one of their wine flights structured around a theme (such as light floral reds, rare white varietals, or unique sparkling wines and ciders) and pair it with some bar snacks. If you’re hungry, opt for the full-service restaurant upstairs, where the pared-down dinner menu mixes French bistro standards like beef tartare, trout rillettes, and steak frites with California-inspired salads and seafood. On Sundays, they offer a three-course menu for $40 per person, an excellent value in otherwise-expensive Sonoma.
Specializing in French food with a modern twist, The Girl & The Fig is a buzzy spot where you’ll need to plan ahead to grab a prime weekend table, but locking yourself in a couple weeks ahead is absolutely worth it. The pastis-scented moules frites are a Parisian dream, and the burger is one of the best in town. They also offer a three-course bistro menu for $48, with an additional $20 for a wine pairing—it’s the perfect way to splurge while not digging too deep in your pockets. Skip the indoor seating unless the weather demands it: the large private patio tucked away from the street is the perfect place to escape the weekend crowds.
Housed in a former train depot that dates back to 1870, this spot offers a simple menu of Italian classics executed perfectly. They only have a few starters and salads and a small selection of pizzas and pasta, and while you can’t go wrong with a menu this short and sweet, their squid-ink tagliatelle with tuna and bottarga is especially delicious.
Head to Santé for a splurge-worthy date night of Californian-inspired French food inside Sonoma’s fanciest hotel. Focus on the interesting starters like salt-roasted baby beets with macadamia tofu and glazed quail with grapes and fennel pollen, and throw in a mustard-crusted rack of lamb to share. The dining room is just as upscale as the menu, with a glass-walled wine vault stocked with a mortgage’s worth of wines as its centerpiece.
Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
If you’re in Sonoma for a spa getaway, this is the place to stay. It’s the most luxurious hotel in the area, with five geothermal mineral pools, a sauna, and an aromatherapy steam room to choose from. The on-site restaurant Santé is also one of Sonoma’s best. Guest rooms are spacious and cozy, with wood-burning fireplaces and jacuzzi tubs to unwind in after a long day of sightseeing and wine tasting. Pick this hotel if you want to splurge with a loved one, celebrate something special, or just want to unwind in one of the best spas in the Bay Area.
The Lodge at Sonoma
If you want to relax in a more casual setting, pick The Lodge at Sonoma Resort. You’ll get all the spa and wellness amenities while still being within walking distance of Sonoma Plaza and all its restaurants. Take an outdoor yoga classes on the lawn, go for a dip in the always-heated outdoor pool, or go all in on a spa day with all sorts of treatments. There are a variety of room types to choose from, from guest rooms to suites to private cottages (which include fireplaces and patios)—one even offers a private outdoor tub to soak in.
The Cottage Inn and Spa
While you can walk to Sonoma Plaza in a matter of minutes, The Cottage Inn and Spa feels like it’s a lot further away from the crowds than it really is. Inspired by the historic adobe style you’ll find everywhere in Sonoma, this boutique hotel modernizes the look and includes amenities like spa baths, fireplaces, and kitchenettes. The suites are centered on a peaceful courtyard, so you have access to an intimate oasis only shared by a few guests. To really unwind, book an appointment in the on-site spa which offers reflexology as well as aromatherapy and deep tissue massages.