Salt & Wind Travel

6 Delectable Stops on a Sonoma California Food Tour

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Are you a culinary enthusiast? This 24-hour food-inspired itinerary to Sonoma, California, will take you to all the best places. Sonoma’s food scene has it all. Whether it’s your first time or a regular trip back, you’ll want to incorporate these food stops into your trip.

Sonoma Has All The California Farm-To-Table Vibes

While the Northern California region of Sonoma County may be known for its never-ending list of wineries, it’s also home to incredible local food. It has even more agricultural diversity than Napa, thanks to its proximity to the sea, its nutrient-rich soils, and numerous farms. If you’re curious about “what food is Sonoma known for?” you’ll want to start here.

Bottom line is that, in Sonoma County, farm-to-table isn’t just a term but a way of life. Restaurants source local ingredients; now, wineries are incorporating food into the experience. Because what better way to taste wine than an accompanied bite of food?

As a Northern California native, I’ve spent many weekends exploring this part of California in-depth. And as a food lover, I always dive deep into restaurants, wineries, and bars. On every Sonoma visit, I’ve discovered something new to love — so these recommendations are a few of my favorites from over a half dozen trips. 

When in wine country, indulge in seafood like local oysters sourced from the Sonoma coast and family-owned farms inspired by the wine region. Do try the local wines and cocktails, and plan your trip ahead of time to snag a seat at this bustling foodie destination.

Our Sonoma California Food Itinerary

While we have places we love to eat across the county from Santa Rosa to Guerneville, here we’re focusing on Sonoma Valley and, specifically, the towns of Sonoma and Glen Ellen. For one, they’re really easy to get to on a day trip from San Francisco. But also? We feel this area sometimes gets overlooked as travelers head north to Healdsburg or the Sonoma Coast. 

8:30 AM: Breakfast at Sunflower Caffé

Kick off your day in Sonoma at no place other than Sunflower Caffé. This charming landmark on historic Sonoma Plaza is your spot for all things breakfast. You won’t be surprised to see a line waiting to grab a table on their sun-filled, lush patio. While the whole menu is a total win for breakfast, there are two dishes we have to point out.

The first is the Turkish Eggs — perfectly poached, set with a dollop of Straus greek yogurt, and topped with a chili crunch (add a side of breakfast potatoes!). The other winner is the house-made buttermilk biscuit breakfast sandwich you can customize. Keep it as is with the cheddar cheese, eggs, and gochujang aioli, or get adventurous and add Hobbs breakfast sausage, thick-cut Duroc ham, or applewood bacon.

Sunflower Caffé, 421 1st St W, Sonoma, CA 95476

10:00 AM: Stroll The Sonoma Botanical Garden

Meander Highway 12 toward the town of Glen Ellen for the rest of the morning. Your first stop is a bit of a hidden gem and often overlooked paradise for some time in nature. The Sonoma Botanical Garden, home to one of the largest collections of Asian plants globally, is set up on the hills of Sonoma and worth the drive.

The gardens are vibrant nearly year-round, with fall bursting with foliage and spring abundant in flowers. It’s a great spot to peel off Highway 12 for visitors to move those legs before your next experience. Pack a pair of more sturdy walking shoes, and go for a bit of a stroll for an hour or so.

Sonoma Botanical Garden, 12841 Sonoma Hwy, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

12:00 PM: Wine And Dine At Abbott’s Passage Winery & Mercantile

We’re always a fan of combining food and wine when possible, so be sure to book a seasonal menu flight at Abbott’s Passage Winery & Mercantile for one standout wine tasting.

Vintner Katie Bundschu of the Bundschu Family founded Abbott’s Passage Winery and is known for her distinctive Rhone-inspired blends. The wine-tasting experience is paired with local seasonal food cooked by the Estate Chef.

The experience is 90 minutes of pure delight as plate after plate of delicious locally sourced ingredients accompany each wine pour. The plates include seasonal salads, small soups, and hearty entrees. It’s a journey of how food and wine play together, deeply rooted in Sonoma’s incredible culinary culture.

Abbott’s Passage Winery & Mercantile, 777 Madrone Rd, Glen Ellen, CA 95442

2:00 PM: Explore The Sonoma Plaza

Time to return to Sonoma Sonoma Plaza to stretch your legs. The beauty of the rest of the day is you only need to park once and can do it all on foot. History buffs take note: the historic Sonoma Plaza was home to the short-lived Bear Flag Revolt. But, even beyond history, the town of Sonoma has a bit of everything. It’s worth going for a meander around the entire square as a few shops, and stops may catch your eye.

Notable favorites include:

3:30 PM: Wine Tasting At Three Sticks Adobe

While many tasting rooms are on or near the historic Sonoma plaza, few feel unique. Instead, Three Sticks Adobe, designed quite beautifully by Ken Fulk, is the spot to reserve. Past the walls, the space is mesmerizing with Rafael Arana murals, a private patio set amidst lush gardens, and an inviting interior.

Of course, you’re not there for just the space, but it does add to their delicious wine. Chardonnay and Pinot Noirs are mostly offered in their “Taste of Three Sticks,” tasting a few times daily. Snag their last appointment at 3:30 to cap off the afternoon in Sonoma.

Three Sticks Winery Adobe, 143 W Spain St, Sonoma, CA 95476

6:30 PM: Dinner At Valley Bar & Bottle

Many visitors pop in Valley Bar & Bottle for weekend brunch, so their farm-to-table dinner is often overlooked. Reservations are encouraged, but you may luck out on a walk-in. 

The food here is Mediterranean-inspired, simple, and incredible from the open kitchen. Explore the whole menu here, beginning with any starters but know you’ll want at least one of their XO eggs per person. 

Seasonal plates often rotate throughout the menu, and one mainstay you have to get is the crispy rice. A crunchy bite of umami rice soaked in a tart scallion-ginger sauce makes one of the most perfect foods on the square.

And, of course, it’s not a dining experience here without some of their wines. While it’s a Sonoma County restaurant, it focuses on small producers worldwide. You’ll encounter primarily low-intervention wines, from sparkling wines to rare finds. 

Valley Bar & Bottle, 487 1st St W, Sonoma, CA 95476

8:00 PM: Dessert At Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream

If you haven’t had your fill for the day, do one last stroll on the square will find you at Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream. Made fresh, their flavors are changed daily and are posted to their Instagram account. You can’t go wrong with 1 or 2 scoops to go while also allowing you to check the box on the quintessential small-town ice cream shop.

Sweet Scoops Homemade Ice Cream, 408 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476

More Sonoma Town Restaurants

Looking for additional restaurants right near Sonoma’s historic square? A classic choice is Girl and The Fig for the classics of French-inspired cuisine, or consider California-inspired El Dorado Kitchen across the street.

Down the street is the newly opened MacArthur Place Hotel and their ever-so-popular restaurant,  Layla. Another hotel restaurant to consider is Wit & Wisdom at The Lodge at Sonoma Resort. And, as we’ve told you before, if you head along Highway 12 towards Glen Ellen, don’t miss El Molino Central.

Of course, this is just a taste of Sonoma. So, if you’re looking for something else like craft beer or cocktails, fish tacos, burgers, fried chicken, or tapas, get in touch, and we’ll help you decide where to eat.

More Sonoma Travel Tips

If you’re looking to expand your Northern California trip, here are a few resources to guide you:

Have Us Plan Your California Trip

Did you know we’re also a boutique travel agency specializing in California vacation planning? If you have questions about California wine country, like how many days you need, how you get around, and if you should visit Sonoma or Napa, we’ve got you.  Our California trip planner services are here to help you plan your perfect itinerary.

Photo Credit: Ice Cream photo by Emma K. Morris; women toasting with wine byLorena; all other photos by Salt & Wind Travel 

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