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Wednesday, April 12, 2017

19th Century Sonoma County Restaurants

Here's something different to do when visiting: Check out an old, historic eatery while in the area. Sonoma County has a few that have been operating since the 19th century.

Stormy's in Bloomfield, est. 1854

One of the oldest roadhouses in the West. Owned by the same family since 1961 and is officially called Stormy's Spirits and Supper. It's about beef with a decent list of local wines and several beers on tap. Perhaps a bit expensive for the quality and service, but worth the trip.
Washoe House in Petaluma, est 1859

What was once a stagecoach stop between Santa Rosa and Petaluma where you would swear nothing has changed in those 150 years. During the Civil War there were California towns settled mostly by Northerners and others by Southerners. The story goes a group of Union-sympathizers from Petaluma were on their way to attack Southern-sympathizers in Santa Rosa, but stopped by the Washoe House to wet their whistle, wound up getting drunk, and went back home instead. You'd definitely call this a rustic drinking hole with decent food and okay service. Nothing great, but it's all about the atmosphere. Hint: Not a place you'd want to go for a romantic meal; go if you're feeling a bit rowdy and wear your western boots. As far as I can tell they don't even have a web page.
The Washoe has a few dollar bills on the ceiling adding to the ambiance
I have an old business card stapled up there somewhere
Union Hotel in Occidental, est 1891

There's a restaurant, a cafe, and a saloon. The restaurant is about family-style Italian cooking. The cafe is known for its pastries. The people at the bar may have been there since the 19th century. It's been in the same family since the beginning. The Union is across the street from another Italian diner, Negri's, that opened in 1943. Neither is fancy, but you'll leave full and happy.

A couple "late" arrivals

While we're talking about Italian diners (Sonoma County had a lot of Italian settlers) I'll mention Catelli's in Geyserville that opened in 1936 and serves excellent food, the best of anyone on this list as it's gone kind of wine country trendy. Dinucci's in Valley Ford, opened in 1908 as a hotel and diner, is about steaks and pasta, but also has seafood as they are just a couple miles from the Pacific.