We are in CA following the pro bicycle race. We started in Sebastopol/Santa Rosa and will be leaving via Burbank on 2-23. We are sort of trying to stick to a budget on dining during this trip.Much thanks to Chowhounds for some good recommendations. We found almost all of them...
Novato: Finnegan's for lunch. Nice pub with some unexpectedly thoughtful menu items. We shared a nice fresh salad and some really good fish and chips. The hunks of fish were huge and fresh. The batter was of the heavier variety, but it did not overpower the fish. The fries were perfect- crisp, not greasy. The draught beer (a Blue Moon and a Scottish Ale of some sort) we ordered tasted better than most draught beer you get in a bar. Cold and fresh!
Santa Rosa: Union Hotel West- chosen by the other parties for the sake of the young children. The margarita pizza was respectable, with a medium-thick crust, tomato sauce, fair mozzarella cheese and a generous quantity of fresh basil. It was not the finest margarita pizza I have ever had, but certainly satisfying.
Sebastopol: East West Cafe. We go there every time we stay in Sebastopol. We love the breakfasts. My husband usually gets the Sonoma pancakes. Very hearty with blue corn flour, sunflower seeds and raspberries in the batter. I've tried lots of menu items, including the homemade granola, the huevos rancheros and the tamari braised tofu. Many choices for vegetarians. Oh, don't miss the fresh-squeezed OJ. Service has been better the last couple of visits, too. A visit to the record shop a couple of doors down is always needed to get some new tunes to digest to.
Santa Rosa: Pho Vietnam. I did not go, but hubs says it was "good but not as good as the place we went before." I am pretty sure he means Simply Vietnam.
Santa Rosa: Louie's for breakfast. Chosen by family members- they go there all the time. Reliable, if predictable and standard, breakfast fare. The coffee at East West is superior to Louie's!
Davis: Dos Coyotes for a quick lunch on the way to Sacramento. Had a gigantic mahi burrito and a gigantic shrimp burrito. Both were fresh and tasty for the price. Nice selection on the salsa bar, too.
Sacramento: 58 Degrees and Holding for wine with a friend. The selection of wine by the glass (including 3 oz. pours) was appealing- I think they have 58 selections. Prices were quite reasonable and the space was pleasant. Too bad we ate the huge burritos for lunch because the tasting menu looked great and had no meat on it. I think it was only $25 for a four course menu or $40 with wine pairings. Can't complain about that. Next time, we will try the food for sure!
San Jose: Tried to find La Victoria Taqueria and could not! We ended up getting a bean and cheese burrito at a different taqueria on First St. near Post. It was OK, but nothing special.
Monterey: Monterey Fish House for dinner (Chowhound suggestion). I had the mahi mahi special. The fish was cooked well (oak grilled) and seemed amazingly fresh. It was served with some good mixed veggies and some pasta with a rather heavy cream/tomato sauce. Hubby had crab ravioli which he thought was very good. Personally, I thought the sauce was so heavy it disguised the taste of the crab in the ravioli. The sauce on his dish was the same as the sauce on my pasta, I think. Desert was "death by chocolate" cake with a strawberry sauce that actually outshone the cake. We had a resonably priced bottle of Grgich Hills Sauv. Blanc for around $30. In any case, a good food value and would recommend.
Monterey: Loulou's Griddle in the Middle for breakfast (Chowhound suggestion). We had the sourdough french toast and the strawberry griddle cakes. Wow, those griddle cakes were deeeeelicious! The french toast was also yummy. Very cute little place and we were the only ones there probably due to the awful weather.
Wineries- recommend all:
Sonoma county: Hook and Ladder
Near Monterey: Paraiso
Edna Valley: Tolosa, Claiborne and Churchill (my favorite of the trip), Baileyana/Tangent
We still have a couple days left, so I will post the remainder in a little while.