Sunday, October 30, 2011

Best Sonoma County Restaurants 2011/2012

The new Zagat Bay Area Restaurants 2012 and The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2012 were recently released. Here's an update on the critics' favorite restaurants in the Sonoma County.

Cyrus in Healdsburg is the top rated restaurant in Sonoma County, according to Michelin, receiving two stars.   The Sonoma County recipients of one Michelin star are Applewood in Guerneville, Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant in Forestville, Madrona Manor in Healdsburg, Sante near Sonoma city, and Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay.

Only 1 of the 25 most popular Bay Area restaurants, according to Zagat, is in Sonoma County: Cyrus. Not one other restaurant in Sonoma County made Zagat's most popular list. The top rated restaurants for food in Sonoma County, according to Zagat, are Cyrus (28 points); Cafe La Haye (Sonoma city), Madrona Manor, Farmhouse Inn, and Bistro des Copains (Occidental) (27 points); and Sante (26 points).

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars, which were awarded to one Sonoma County restaurant: Cyrus. Two Sonoma County restaurants received 3.5 stars: Madrona Manor and Farmhouse Inn and Restaurant.  Twelve restaurants are the recipients of three stars.

Lunchtime on my tours in Sonoma County usually finds my guests in either Healdsburg or the town of Sonoma. My favorite lunch spot in Healdsburg is Willi's Seafood, which features small plates of the freshest seafood. In Sonoma city, I recommend The Girl and the Fig for French influenced California food and Della Santina's for Italian cuisine. If you would like to take a private tour in Sonoma County that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Best Napa Valley Restaurants - 2011/2012

The new Zagat Bay Area Restaurants 2012 and The Michelin Guide San Francisco, Bay Area, and Wine Country Restaurants 2012 were recently released. Here's an update on the critics' favorite restaurants in the Napa Valley.

The French Laundry in Yountville and The Restaurant at Meadowood near St. Helena remain Michelin's only three-star restaurants in the Bay Area. Thirty-nine restaurants received one star from Michelin. The Napa recipients are Etoile at Domaine Chandon, Bouchon, and Redd in Yountville; La Toque and Ubuntu in Napa city, Auberge du Soleil in Rutherford, Terra in St. Helena, and Solbar in the Solage resort in Calistoga.

Six of the 25 most popular Bay Area restaurants, according to Zagat, are in the Napa Valley: The French Laundry, Bouchon, Bottega (Yountville), Ad Hoc (Yountville), Bistro Jeanty (Yountville), and Auberge du Soleil. Other Napa Valley restaurants on the 50 most popular list are Redd (Yountville), Mustard's Grill (Yountville), and Hog Island (city of Napa).

The top rated restaurants for food in the Napa Valley, according to Zagat, are The French Laundry (29 points), The Restaurant at Meadowood (28), Terra (27), Ad Hoc (27), Redd (27), and Auberge du Soleil (27).

"The San Francisco Chronicle's" top rating is four stars, which were awarded to two Napa Valley restaurants:  French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood. The following Napa Valley restaurants received 3.5 stars: Bar Terra (St. Helena), Bistro Don Giovanni (Napa city), Etoile, Redd, and Terra. Twelve restaurants are the recipients of three stars.

My favorite lunch spot in the Napa Valley remains Auberge du Soleil. The combination of food, service, and view can't be beat. I've taken many happy guests to this restaurant. If you would like to take a private tour of the Napa Valley that includes a meal at one of these great restaurants, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours and Travel at (866) 326-4237 or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Lunches in the Napa Valley

While the Napa Valley is well known for its many excellent restaurants, I find that many guests on my tours prefer a quick lunch, so they can spend more time visiting wineries.  Here are some options for good, but quick, lunches in the Napa Valley.

Picnicking at a winery is a great option on nice days.  While not all wineries permit picnics, there are enough with picnic grounds that you should be able to find a table to enjoy your lunch al fresco.  Some nice wineries at which you can enjoy a picnic include Clos du Val, Regusci, Robert Sinskey, Rutherford Hill, Hall Wine - St. Helena, and Clos Pegase.  A good list of wineries with picnic areas is available on the Napa Valley Vintners website.

Good places to pick up food for your picnic are Soda Canyon Store outside of Napa, Oakville Grocery, Dean and DeLuca south of St. Helena, and Sunshine Foods in St. Helena.  You can also picnic at Oakville Grocery.

In Yountville, you can grab a quick panini or salad at Napa StyleBouchon Bakery has salads, sandwiches, breads, and pastries to carry out. In Rutherford, you can get burritos to go at La Luna Market and Taqueria. St. Helena is home to Gott's Roadside, a great burgers and fries place.  While service is usually pretty fast at Gott's, long lines are the norm on nice weekend days.  Also in St. Helena is Giugni's Deli, where you can carry out sandwiches or eat them at one of the tables in the delicatessen.   Lastly, Calistoga is home to Palisades Deli Cafe.  Again, you can carry out the sandwiches or eat them at the restaurant.

As you can see, there are many options for quick lunches in Napa.  If you would like to take a private Napa Valley tour that includes one of these quick lunches, contact Blue Heron Custom Tours at (866) 326-4237 (toll free) or Rick@BlueHeronTours.com.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Monterey County Posts

Monterey County is part of wine country.  On my other blog, "Rick's San Francisco Journal," I have posted recently about Monterey County; just not about Monterey's wine country.  If you are traveling to Monterey County, you might like to see these posts.  To do so, click here