Rohnert Park got a nice addition this year — Bear Republic Brewing! With Lagunitas Brewing a mere 12 minute drive south, the Bear Republic opened (technically in September 2017) with a massive dining hall with outdoor seating overlooking a beautiful lake. The former nightclub/ restaurant is the perfect spot for this Healdsburg based brewery to make a splash.
When I visited the brewery had just opened, I was impressed by the open glass window kitchen concept, and blown away by the sheer volume and capacity the brewery had (the images I took don’t do it justice, there are lots of places to sit!), along with the adult games (cornhole, etc.) I was not prepared for this.
The beer menu was extensive. I love their IPA’s, in fact they rank as some of my favorites, so I made no qualms ordering a double IPA at my 11am business meeting (they understood). I’ll have to go back for more meetings (I felt a tasting flight might have been overkill). Anyways, this place is definitely worth adding to your itinerary, especially if you’re already a fan of their beer, or of Lagunitas.
Check them out at 5000 Roberts Lake Road, Rohnert Park.
Only in Sonoma County could you find an organic, vegetarian fast food restaurant that excels in satisfying even the most staunch carnivore. Make no mistake, this GMO free restaurant is no half-assed attempt at fast food. It is a legitimate contender to neighboring restaurants and they do it with competitive pricing, inviting atmosphere, healthy options, and a few not-so-healthy treats.
I was slightly tricked my first time here. Having been a resident of Sonoma County for a few years before Amy’s opened, I had known of the Amy’s factory. Amy’s in Rohnert Park has been producing the famous line of organic foods for grocery stores for years (canned goods, frozen things like pizza’s and burritos, and boxed dry grocery). When they opened in the same town, I never put two-and-two together and realized that the food would model that of their organic, vegetarian cuisine.
Amy’s, in fact, is named after the company’s daughter. They built their company on the idea that there was a lack of quick, healthy options to feed their daughter. So my first time in I ordered the burger, fries and milkshake. The burger was delicious but it tasted just different, so I investigated. Oh it was a veggie burger. Again, no worries, it was delicious!
Let’s Talk About the Food
I haven’t eaten everything on the menu, but that’s my goal. I have goals. The chili cheese fries are my guilty pleasure. When I need a meal that will fill me up, the classic burrito (red beans, red rice, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, sour cream, and salsa) is my staple. I have yet to try the oh so tempting Mac ‘N’ Cheese or the organic and vegan pizza’s. The salads are wonderful and so are the milkshakes (yes, they have non-daily shakes). Most recently, I heard someone in line talking about their cinnamon rolls. “Cinnamon Rolls?” I thought. So I tried the gluten free, vegan cinnamon roll, just for fun and it was absolutely the most delicious thing I’ve had in the last month! I am not gluten free or a vegan!
A Sustainable Fast Food Model
Bottom line is Amy’s organic and vegetarian food is delicious. The design of the building reminds me of Radiator Springs from the Disney movie, Cars. What really intrigues me is their business model. The water tower actually stores rainwater, they have a solar array, and the roof top is a living garden. All this good stuff — and the prices are completely on par with other fast food restaurants.
Why you should go: If you’re hungry. Or if you are trying to satisfy that gluten free, vegan, or vegetarian in the group!
Heading off to Sonoma or Napa wine country? Here are some wine tour tips that will help you have a great time!
As a tour guide, I had the pleasure of meeting people from all over the world with all sorts of levels of experience in wine. As I used to tell my groups, at the end of the day it’s just fermented grape juice. That said, there’s a whole lot to wine!
I’ve been craving some real BBQ lately. And while Northern California has its more then fair share of every ethnic food you can imagine, anyone who’s been to real Barbecue Country can attest we lack a significant BBQ community out here (other than of course the Hamburger Ranch & BBQ up in Cloverdale).
Kinsmoke delivers in this department. I ordered the brisket on white roll and was not disappointed. They gave me a choice of type of meat cuts (I went with the combo), and ordered the mac and cheese. Kinsmoke also offers chick, fish, and ribs, but I’ll have to come back to sample those. The meat was well seasoned, juicy and the cuts were generous and not overly fatty. The table offered 5 different sauces to compliment the meat. I’m no expert on BBQ, but I have been to Kansas City and tried out a lot of different spots, but I do know that different regions have different styles of BBQ. At Kinsmoke they take a very Californian approach and offer “non-denominational” BBQ.
The location is conveniently located right on the Healdsburg Square. The atmosphere is that which a BBQ joint should be — old wooden floors, big spacious tables (lots of room to move around here), lots of metal and wood working together, a nice bar in the back with a few good sized TVs. Prices were reasonable as well. Overall very happy with this spot and I’ll be recommending them on my tours for sure.
Why you should go: Because you like real BBQ. Also great place for Monday Night Football or to watch the game. Website: kinsmoke.com Menu Highlights: Brisket Sandwich, Cajun Dusted Scallops, Pollo Borracho Sandwich, Seared Ahi Salad, Granny Smith Apple & Horseradish Slaw, Pulled Pork Sandwich, St. Louis Style Pork Ribs
Location: 304 Center Street, Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Solid wines across the board. One of my favorite wineries because the wines, value, location, and experience.
Kokomo Winery, named after the city in Illinois where winemaker Erik Miller is from, is home to an extensive tasting menu where you can get cab with your pinots, but what really makes this winery one of my favorites is the friendly staff, the value, and I love all of their wines. That’s a powerful combo, and it’s in a little village of wineries out in the center of the Dry Creek Valley (Zin country).
Why you should go: Go for the solid wines and cool staff. Stay to hit up the other family wineries next door. Website: kokomowinery.com Case Production: 4,000 – 5000 Wines: Muscat Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Grenache, Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Late Harvest My Favorites: ALL OF THEM, but especially Peter’s Vineyard Pinot Noir Location: 4791 Dry Creek Rd, Healdsburg, CA 95448
Picante is one of my go-to spots in Berkeley. The location is great, just off highway 80 at Gilman (1328 Sixth St., Berkeley). I love this place not just because of the location, but because the plates are amazing. As a bonus, my dad will eat here and he is incredibly picky when it comes to restaurants; always making sure the kitchens are clean and such.
If you do decide to visit Picante, you must try the mole! It’s probably what they’re most know for, but you can’t lose here with any dish. This last visit I ordered the tostada with battered fish, and split a ceviche with my dad. The chips are house made and cut into strips, perfect for dipping into the ceviche –I highly recommend Picante’s ceviche!
“Mole is one of the most representative dishes of Mexico, especially for major celebrations. Ninety-nine percent of Mexicans have tried at least one type of mole. The dish enjoys its greatest popularity in central and southern Mexico, but simpler versions of mole poblano did make their way north. However, northern versions are far less complex and generally used to make enchiladas.
The consumption of mole is strongly associated with celebrations. In Mexico, to say “to go to a mole” (ir a un mole) means to go to a wedding. Mole has a strong flavor, especially the dark ones and is considered to be an acquired taste for most. This has spawned another saying, “en su mero mole”, which means something like “one’s cup of tea”.”
— From Wikipedia (source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mole_sauce)
While Picante may come off looking like a glamorous cafeteria, it is pretty beautiful inside and out with plenty of seating to handle high volume, but I’ve never been there when it’s super busy so tables have always been easy to find. It’s not the most authentic Mexican food out there, but it makes up for it in a lot of ways, and they also cater to the Bezerklian, Non-GMO, vegetarian crowd; complete with a vegetarian only menu.
I might have a new favorite place to grab a beer in Healdsburg. Flo is a new beer and wine bar just south of the town next to Mill St. Antiques and The New Parish Café. Offering, a good selection of beer and wine for local prices.
Flo has two tv’s and the inside is small, but they also have a massive patio with umbrellas and plenty of parking. It’s so new that the wedding parties and honeymooners haven’t crashed the party yet. Not that I care too much about that, it’s one of the things that makes Healdsburg’s nightlife fun. But sometimes you just want to grab a beer in a quiet, not so uppity or not too loud, not too divey type of place and Flo might just be that place.
If you’ve ever seen the movie Chef, you know that Cuban food is not only delicious, but also incredibly ridiculously delicious. In an area where the deli sandwich is king, hey it’s wine country, Rumba Cafe in Windsor is a very welcome change of scenery.
I had passed by this place a bunch of times, but today I finally decided today to try it for lunch. It doesn’t look like a fancy restaurant, but like I’ve learned from traveling all over, looks are deceiving when it comes to food. And like Latin food the heart beats strong in this place. It’s family run and the siblings that helped me out were super nice. I order the Little Havana sandwich (mojo roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickle, and garlic aioli), served with plantain chips it was perfect size… delicious! The citrus dipping sauce and marinade was something they should bottle. It should have a holiday named after it, it’s that good.
Maybe one day they’ll open a rum bar in there, but for now it’s got three taps with Lagunitas, Blue Moon, and Pacifica. I will be taking my tours there!
I tried desperately to spend some time in Japan on the tail end of my 4 months abroad in Asia, pretty much just to eat a ton a ramen. Not the $0.30 cent packet variety, well, kinda not. I was after the authentic noodle soup original. While I only spent 16 hours on a layover in Tokyo — where I ate 4 full sized meals, just because, hey Tokyo — I managed to find Ramen in a little whole in the wall and do my Ramen research.
So ramen changes depending on where you’re at in Japan. In the North it’s a miso base broth. And in the South the noodle changes as well as the broth. But I’m pretty sure that’s a horrible description of the way ramen can change. But like in wine, the best way to experience ramen is to try different types.
I came here for the second time on a whim. Well it wasn’t a huge whim, the first time was magical, haha. Totally satisfying. They’re only open Wednesday to Sunday (as of now), so for the first month or so they opened, I always seemed to catch them at the wrong time. And unless you have their address, then you may not find them. They’re in the old Forchetta restaurant building, conveniently located a few doors down from Screaming Mimi’s.
I’d share more about the menu, but honestly we got there late tonight and ate in a haste as to not be assholes. But the vegetarian broth with pork belly…and the special wings. Just awesome. There’s plenty to check out and the staff were great. This is a great addition to a funk Sebastopol and if your looking for a cool restaurant to eat at in Sebastopol, well you just found it.