Food & Drink

The 17 best NorCal restaurants not in the Bay Area

Published On 05/30/2014 Published On 05/30/2014
The Firehouse Restaurant
Osake
burger.
1833
World Famous Hamburger Ranch & BBQ
Spoonbar
K & L Bistro
The Firehouse Restaurant
Lake Tahoe Pizza Company
Cafe CItti
Willie's Wine Bar
Oakville Grocery
Awful Annie's
Foursquare
Duarte's
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1. Osake 2446 Patio Ct, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

The problem with trying to tell you which roll is the one you need to try at this Japanese spot, is that Gary Chu, the man behind the bar, is always making something new. What we can tell you is that you should get some sake from their amazing stash and settle in with some martini prawns while you wait for the latest creations.

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2. Flavor Bistro 96 Old Courthouse Sq, Santa Rosa, CA 95404

The long menu at this Cal-Italian bistro, which is matched by a robust wine list, means tons of choices. There's the butternut squash ravioli or the steamed mussels, the Everyday Sandwich stuffed with chicken breast, bacon, avocado, tomato and house-made mayonnaise or the mahi mahi crusted in caramelized onions and done in a bright white wine sauce. The only requirement? Don't skimp on deserts like the quince and huckleberry pie.

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3. K & L Bistro 119 S Main St, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Owned by Karen and Lucas Martin, this Sebastopol resto features classic French fare, as well as an oyster bar and a drinks menu loaded with signature cocktails and craft beers.

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4. World Famous Hamburger Ranch & Bar-B-Que 31195 N. Redwood Hwy., Cloverdale, CA 95425

This Cloverdale joint sticks close to everything its name entails, ie serving up killer BBQ and burgers. Run by a husband and wife duo, WF delivers a slice of Americana via chili cheeseburgers, patty melts, and baby back ribs. It's as American as Apple Pie... which they also have on the menu, alongside other sweet bites like cheesecake and brownies.

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5. burger. 1520 Mission St., Santa Cruz, CA 95060

Chuck Norris, Kim Kardashian, and Snooki are frequents here... frequent burger orders that is. They've named almost every menu item after a pop culture reference for a fun, laid-back resto. The extensive beer list, including beer floats and shakes, doesn't hurt either.

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6. Willi's Wine Bar 4404 Old Redwood Hwy, Santa Rosa, CA 95403

It doesn't matter if you're a tourist or a local of Sonoma Wine Country because you'll always feel at home sipping on a glass from their Private Stash or devouring one of the 32 international small plates.

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7. Spoonbar 219 Healdsburg Ave, Healdsburg, CA 95448 (Napa Sonoma)

With Spoonbar, the wine country's got a Bourbon & Branch-caliber cocktail bar, with libations by Tara Heffernon (of Chalk Hill Winery & Dry Creek Kitchen); it occupies the ground floor of Healdsburg's ultra-green h2hotel, with a 16ft bar that's bathed in natural light, plus an adjoining lobby lounge that's lit by a fireplace, though you'll find there are plenty of other places to get lit.

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8. 1833 Restaurant 500 Hartnell St, Monterey, CA 93940 (Monterey)

Making Monterey significantly more absinthe-y, 1833's a historical landmark turned high-end booze n' food retreat with seven rooms including a leather sofa-clad library lounge, and a specialty dining nook dubbed “The Governor’s Room” (because it used to be home to California's head of state, duh). There're victuals like bacon-wrapped sturgeon, a foie gras terrine, and bacon cheddar biscuits with maple chili butter, plus a 1000+ bottle wine list and 15 absinthes that can be served classically or "Pyro" style, also a US Weekly feature where they ask whether Lisa "Left Eye" or The Human Torch wore it better.

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9. Ikeda's 13500 Lincoln Way, Auburn, CA 95603

This Auburn spot is a jack of all trades, with a market doling out fresh fruit, veggies, and other foods; a bakery at the rear of the market that sells fresh breads and pastries; and a restaurant featuring award-winning burgers, homemade soups, and a host of other tasty options.

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10. Cafe Citti 9047 Sonoma Hwy, Kenwood, CA 95452

Head up to the counter at this Italian eatery to order your pasta which a choice of four types of noodles and eight sauces. While the focus isn't on fancy decor, your tastebuds will thank you for the authenticity you'll get in the dishes.

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11. The Firehouse Restaurant 1112 2nd St, Sacramento, CA 95814

The Firehouse Restaurant (housed in a former fire station) has a sweet patio, plus delicious fare like miso-glazed pork belly with spiced dashi broth or the Firehouse filet mignon with bone marrow butter, chive-potato croquette, and Madeira-infused demi-glace.

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12. Oakville Grocery Co. 7856 St Helena Hwy, Oakville, CA 94562

This St. Helena grocery spot (which is the oldest one in ALL of California) is home to serious gourmet eats, artisan cheeses, incredible sandwiches, and acts as the perfect Napa pit-stop.

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13. Backyard 6566 Front St, Forestville, CA 95436

This American eatery North of SF (in Forestville, to be exact) is a serious contender for unbelievable grub. Head there for the fried chicken, and stay for one of the most refreshing cocktails ever.

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14. Awful Annie's 160 Sacramento St, Auburn, CA 95603

This old-school breakfast/brunch eatery in Auburn, CA is known for its superb pancakes, breakfast sandwiches, and burgers.

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15. Redd 6480 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599 (Napa Sonoma)

Modern steak and potato reduxes wind their way through this contemporarily decorated restaurant. If you've got the time, order a five or nine course tasting menu and consider sitting outdoors to wait for your plate, crafted by a Michelin-starred chef.

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16. Lake Tahoe Pizza Company 1168 Emerald Bay Road, South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158 (Tahoe)

Barnyard Massacre. Gut Buster. Welcome to the big boys of pizzerias. Loaded with peperoni, sausage, linguica and spcy pepperocini(Gut Buster) or an all meat in the form of pepperoni, salami, sausage, canadian bacon and linguica, the pies here mean serious business, and have since 1973. sit down and loosen up your belt buckle.

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17. Duarte's Tavern 202 Stage Rd, Pescadero, CA 94060

Opinions are pretty much meaningless once you've been around as long as this eatery. Since 1894, three generations have manned the spot, serving about t 13,000 a month from a menu written daily. On the whole it's the fish stew and artichoke dishes that get the high points from most and of course the pie. Apple, blueberry, ollalieberry, whatever pie is on the menu, you need to get a slice.