Fact: We did not have a bad meal while in Healdsburg. Honestly, I’m not sure we had a bad meal in Healdsburg. I mean, any vacation where we do two tasting menus in the course of a few days is a good vacation, right? So, obviously I knew I couldn’t leave my restaurant recommendations to a section in a larger travel guide. Even with the pictures alone, I needed an entire post dedicated to a foodie’s guide to Healdsburg.
A FOODIE’S GUIDE TO HEALDSBURG
Healdsburg and Sonoma are where you go if you’re looking for the culinary scene of Napa, but want to keep it just a bit more laid back. You’ll find inventive cuisine, unexpected flavor pairings, and dishes you’ll be reminiscing about for days, but without a pretentious air to be found. You can just walk into a restaurant and have one of the most memorable meals of your trip. It’s a foodie scene that’s both low key and high end all at the same time.
SPOTS TO GRAB A BITE TO EAT
We started each morning off in Healdsburg with breakfast at our bed and breakfast, so we missed sampling breakfast in Healdsburg, but a 3 course breakfast just steps from my room is certainly not a bad way to begin a day. So, my guide will begin with a midday meal. And whether you’re looking to grab a quick bite to take with you to the vineyards or just find something easy and light, we found a few spots that had great sandwiches, great tacos, and great food for lunch or a later afternoon snack.
- Dry Creek General Store: Can you go wrong with a pimento cheese and ham melt? No, no, you cannot. Just as you can’t go wrong with a delicious chicken salad. This is the place to grab a mouth wateringly good sandwich and a picnic to take with you on an afternoon of wine tasting.
- Lola’s Market: There’s nothing better than Mexican food from a counter service market. And that’s what you’ll find at Lola’s Market. We grabbed a quick bite to go on our way out of town and I went with my usual steak tacos. There were zero regrets as I made a complete mess of myself flying down the road in our convertible with taco all over the place.
- Shed: Adam actually discovered Shed while doing a bit of yelp searching while strolling around the Farmer’s Market nearby. While we just grabbed a pastry for a snack here, they have a restaurant, a coffee bar, and a market all within a light and airy industrial, but homey, space. There’s a gorgeous space upstairs that had me wondering if they do weddings…
THE TASTE OF TEA
When I first walked into Taste of Tea, I expected to have a cup of tea, perhaps some light bites, and then grab brunch elsewhere. Instead, I sat down for a multi-course Japanese dining experience. We ordered several drinks, several dishes, and somehow along the way I realized that I actually love matcha lattes. I’d always thought they tasted chalky and unpalatable, but this was a smooth, icy, refreshing drink that, of course, I’m now craving as I write about it (seriously – I just spent 10 minutes googling where to find iced matcha lattes here in DC).
We ordered a bento box, spicy pork ramen, a mint tea, and a citrus sponge cake. All of it was amazing, but definitely do not miss the spicy pork ramen – yet another dish I’ve been craving since I got back.
A CUP OF COFFEE AND A SIDE OF SWEETS
While there were several coffee shops and dessert boutiques that I would have loved to try, we only were able to fit two into our schedule. An impromptu sweets craving and a day spent working remotely led us to the next two recommendations in my foodie travel guide.
- Noble Folk Ice Cream and Pie Bar: Walking past the adorable store front of Noble Folk, I couldn’t resist going in. I’m a big pie fan – the combination of crust and filling hits the spot for my sweet tooth – so I’m all about a shop that specializes in pie. I ordered some sort of cookies and cream cheesecake pie that had the perfect balance of sweet and tanginess. They also do small batch ice cream here, and if you’re feeling so inclined, perhaps get both.
- Flying Goat Coffee: On our last day in Healdsburg, I needed to find a place to spend the day working remotely. Throughout the second week of our California trip, we worked East Coast hours, so 6 AM to 2 PM (though it ended up being much later most afternoons, unfortunately). After we packed up at our bed and breakfast, we headed downtown to find a coffee shop. Flying Goat looked like a charming and spacious spot, so we grabbed some iced coffees and snagged a table outside. The coffee was good, the wifi was strong, and I can’t complain! Plus, it was a great spot for people watching.
IT’S TIME FOR DINNER
Where all the food in Healdsburg was amazing, dinner is where our meals were truly outstanding. As I’ve already mentioned, every dish had inventive flavor pairings, and the presentation was consistently beautiful.
- Spoonbar: Our first meal in Healdsburg was an early dinner at Spoonbar. The space has a California cool, big windows, slightly rustic but slightly industrial vibe, and the food lived up to the ambiance. This is the perfect place to grab several small dishes so that you can try a little bit of everything. We had the tuna tartare, the heirloom tomato salad (Adam hates tomatoes and loved this), the lobster and asparagus gazpacho (amazing!), fried cauliflower, the ricotta gnudi (you MUST order this), and oysters. I’d go back and order ever single one of these dishes again – you can see several of them in the images that follow.
- Madrona Manor: I’m actually working on a post solely devoted to Madrona Manor because this property is just so stunning. The gardens are incredible. Should you go to dinner here, absolutely get there ahead of time to wander around and just take in the beauty. I won’t go too far into our tasting menu meal since you’ll read more about it soon, but it has a Michelin star, so you know it’s a wonderful dining experience.
- Campo Fina: If you’re looking for a more casual, fun vibe, with perhaps some bocce ball on the side, Campo Fina is your place. We did a big group dinner outside with a variety of salads, appetizers, pizza, and plenty of wine. It was a gorgeous night and there was a seriously competitive bocce match going on behind us. It was all you could ask for for an easy, casual, delicious meal.
A FINAL NOTE
In full disclosure, there were so many restaurants we would have loved to have had time to try, but just couldn’t squeeze them in. Among those are: Barn Diva, Dry Creek Kitchen, Bravas Bar de Tapas, and El Farolito. But, again, you can’t go wrong with any of the restaurants in the Healdsburg area.
Thank you to the Healdsburg Chamber of Commerce for letting me know a few of the best places to check out in Healdsburg and for working with me on this post!