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San Jose & Sonoma - DC Chowhound's Trip Report (long)

Meg | Feb 21, 2006 12:28 PM

Reporting back on last week's trip to San Jose and weekend in Sonoma (Russian River Valley). We took several of your Chowhound suggestions.

- SCOTT's SEAFOOD Rest. in San Jose. Hands down the best clam chowder we've ever had. Though if only the entrees had been nearly as good. Neither were impressive. I had rock fish that was cooked in so much butter and wine that it was greasy and I couldn't taste the fish. And there were so many other accompaniments on my plate that nothing was distinguishing. My husband had snapper that was overcooked and uninteresting.

- Dinner at VITO'S TRATTORIA on Skyport near the airport. What a treat. Perfectly cooked al dente pasta, incredibly fresh seafood, and the spiciest and tastiest Fra Diavalo sauce I've ever had. Didn't try one but the pizza's looked yummy. The icing on the cake is George the owner, who makes you feel right at home. The decor is much classier than your typical family italian joint, but in no way stuffy.

- Hit the coast and headed north to Sonoma. Stopped at Hog Island in Marshall for oysters, but it was soooo cold last Friday that we couldn't enjoy them outside. So went to to the local MARSHALL GENERAL STORE where we ate inside and stayed warm. Great oysters and clam chowder (and exceptionally fresh horseradish with quite the zing) but awfully pricey. $30 for a dozen tasty, but teeny, oysters and two chowders with a drink. Didn't expect such a mark up right on the water. Not worth a return trip.

- Dinner Friday and Saturday at the APPLEWOOD INN in Guerneville where we were staying. Enjoyed two creative, fresh and really stellar meals. Even if we hadn't been staying there with a package deal, it would have been worth the drive. Their Chef is exceptional and the restaurant itself is very cozy and intimate.

- After much wine tasting and with a good buzz, headed to Ravenous in Healdsburg at 2 pm to encounter a 30 min wait. Asked the hostess for a suggestion for local mexican food and ended up having some of the tastiest and most authentic mexican I've ever eaten (and that's coming from a Mexican food freak) at GUADALAJARA's in Healdsburg (across from McDonald's in a strip mall by the 101 entrance). It's a little dive in a non-descript strip mall, but what a diamond in the rough. We tried the house burrito with Mole sauce and the Carnitas.

- Terrific brunch at CAPE FEAR CAFE in Duncan Mills...a really unique and interesting menu. Had the frittata with proscuitto and red peppers covered in Fontina cheese. Mmmmm. And loved the ambiance and the staff. I felt right at home with the locals.

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