Where there is world-class wine, excellent dining will follow, and the town of Healdsburg is a perfect example. The famous Russian River meanders through this small town in the heart of Sonoma County, California, which is chock full of great restaurants, including several that have earned Michelin stars. This won’t be a budget dining destination, but it will be memorable.
My husband, Jason, and I have had the chance to visit Healdsburg three times over the past 2 years, and we’ve dined at the town’s best-known establishments along with a couple hidden gems. After much exploration, here are the best restaurants we recommend.
A portion of my trip was hosted by the Healdsburg Tourism Improvement District, but all opinions are my own.
Right after Barndiva earned a Michelin star in 2021, I tried to snag a reservation and was unsuccessful. A year later, we finally had reservations but were concerned we’d have to cancel due to epic rainstorms in Northern California. Fortunately, we made it to Healdsburg safely and finally had a chance to dine at Barndiva.
Come prepared for a decadent, four-course, seasonal tasting menu featuring sustainably-grown vegetables and locally-sourced meats and fish. After a small bite of amuse bouche, we enjoyed our first course, crudo of Mount Lassen trout. The next round brought us smoky potato soup and egg yolk dumplings. For the third course, I ordered the Maine lobster and Jason had the roasted chicken. To top it all off, we ended with a dessert of Paris Brest, a round flaky pastry filled with hazelnut cream. This was a meal I will long remember.
What To Order At Barndiva
The menu at Barndiva is always changing. Each course has two choices on the menu. If you’re dining with a partner, I suggest selecting one of each so you can sample everything offered. And if you enjoy cocktails, I recommend the Weller Manhattan made with 12-year-old bourbon, vermouth, and Tahitian vanilla.
Pro Tip: Reservations are required at Barndiva since walk-ins are not permitted. If you’ll be visiting on a weekend, it’s necessary to book a couple of weeks in advance.
2. The Matheson’s Roof 106
I’m a sucker for rooftop restaurants and bars, so despite the cold and rainy weather during our recent trip to Healdsburg, I knew we had to try Chef Dustin Valette’s The Matheson’s Roof 106. This might be the best designed rooftop restaurant I’ve ever seen. A generous number of both ceiling fans and heaters are mounted on the patio cover to moderate the temperature for guests’ comfort. But none of that would matter if the food wasn’t good — and it was really good.
Wood-fired pizzas are the star of the show here, which made me nostalgic for Italy. Many have unique ingredient combinations, but for heartier appetites, there are also entrées; although a full meal is not required. Come for a cocktail or glass of wine accompanied by a snack and simply enjoy the view of Healdsburg Plaza.
What To Order At The Matheson’s Roof 106
We recommend starting with the Delicata squash fries, continuing with the Not So “Hawaiian” pizza, and then ordering the whole roasted branzino for your entrée. If you still have room — we did — then end the evening with a warm chocolate and potato chip cookie served with a shot of espresso martini.
Pro Tip: Roof 106 is just one part of this building. Downstairs, you’ll find the Michelin-recommended restaurant The Matheson along with the wine bar and wall, serving 88 wines on tap.
3. Asahi Sushi & Kitchen
Asahi Sushi & Kitchen is currently a hidden gem Japanese restaurant on Healdsburg Avenue, but I don’t imagine it will be one for long. Opened as a takeout-only restaurant during the pandemic, Asahi is now a full-service dining room and sushi bar that locals return to regularly.
The Chef and owner, Nobuyuki Asahi, serves traditional sushi with top-quality fish often sourced from Japan. While you can order sushi rolls, what this restaurant is known for is nigiri and sashimi. Sit at the sushi bar and watch a true master at work.
What To Order At Asahi Sushi & Kitchen
Be brave and let Chef Nobu select your dinner. Known as omakase, this is always the way to go at an exceptional sushi restaurant. And be sure to pair your meal with a bottle of Chenin blanc from Harris Gallery.
Pro Tip: Before dinner, take a few moments to browse through the Harris Gallery across the street. The paintings of father and son team, M.C. and A3L3XZAND3R, are very good. Better yet, stay for a wine tasting in their outdoor tasting room featuring wines made specially for this gallery.
4. Guiso Latin Fusion
During our first visit, Guiso Latin Fusion was also a hidden gem among Healdsburg restaurants, but that’s since changed. Chef Carlos’s Salvadoran- and Caribbean-inspired cuisine has become well known in the region and for good reason. The focus of this tiny restaurant is the open kitchen, where all can watch the chef at work.
What To Order At Guiso Latin Fusion
The paella Caribena is very popular, and Jason and I both enjoyed it. However, in our opinion, the best dish on the menu was the pescado en salsa de coco — a crispy skin fish of the day topped with papaya and coconut emulsion, lime foam, and Thai basil. We ordered a bottle of Santiago Ruiz Rias Baixas to accompany it.
Pro Tip: There is a small outdoor seating space at Guiso’s, but request to sit inside to enjoy the experience of the open kitchen and watch the chef cook.
5. Bravas Bar De Tapas
You can eat your way around the world in Healdsburg, and if you’re craving Spanish or Mediterranean cuisine, Bravas Bar De Tapas on Center St is the place to go. In fact Travel + Leisure named it one of the top 20 tapas restaurants in the United States. And no matter what type of small plates you enjoy — hot or cold — it’s on this menu. If you’d like something more substantial, order the paella for two or four people. There are some local wines on the wine list, but I really appreciated the selection of Spanish wine pairings.
What To Order At Bravas Bar De Tapas
We went with the really traditional tapas dishes like boquerones, patatas bravas, sardines picante, marinated olives, and pan tomate, and all were good.
Pro Tip: Just a few doors down from Bravas Tapas, check out both SingleThread Farms and Journeymen Meat Co. for authentic and local dining experiences.
6. Costeaux French Bakery
All mornings would be good if they started in a French bakery. Fortunately, Jason and I did just that one morning when we had breakfast at Costeaux French Bakery. This much-lauded, family-owned operation sells a wide range of cakes, breads, and pastries, both in Healdsburg and throughout Sonoma County. In addition to breakfast, the cafe serves lunch every day and brunch on Sunday.
What To Order At Costeaux French Bakery
If you’re looking for a healthy but seriously delicious breakfast, get the avocado toast with pickled red onions and smoked salmon. And be sure to order one of their coffee beverages, which come with a small piece of their sweet and crunchy rugelach.
Pro Tip: If you’re visiting Healdsburg during the holidays, be sure to pop into Costeaux on Healdsburg Ave and see their enormous display of nutcrackers. Hundreds of nutcrackers in all shapes, sizes, and colors adorn the walls.
We had the very good fortune to stay at h2hotel in downtown Healdsburg during our recent trip to Healdsburg, so it was easy to enjoy breakfast at their stylish onsite restaurant, Spoonbar. Whether you opt for breakfast or dinner here, you can expect delicious and seasonal California cuisine.
What To Order At Spoonbar
Be sure to order the chilaquiles with two soft poached eggs, queso fresco, cilantro, and guajillo salsa roja. We’re told this has long been a guest favorite and now we know why.
Pro Tip: Before or after dining at Spoonbar, be sure to appreciate the sculpture Spoonful by Ned Khan, which is located at the entrance to the hotel. Hundreds of espresso spoons were used to craft this peaceful sculpture and water feature.
8. Black Oak Coffee
Anywhere I travel, I seek out independent coffee shops and Black Oak Coffee Roasters fit the bill. The location on the town square means it’s easy to find and within walking distance of many Healdsburg hotels. And judging by how many people greeted one another while entering, Black Oak is a local favorite as well.
The roasting operation has been around since 2012 and prides itself on the ethical sourcing of beans as well as giving back to the community. Their coffee blends include a range of roast levels and include several organic options.
What To Order At Black Oak Coffee
If you’re hungry, get the breakfast burrito; they are tasty and reasonably priced. Jason enjoyed the version with bacon while I opted for the veggie one. Whatever coffee drink you prefer will be done well here.
Pro Tip: After enjoying your coffee, step outside to the small alley adjacent to Black Oak to see a mural from The Monarch Project. If only all alleys looked like this one.
9. Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar
Jason and I both love seafood, so our second visit to Healdsburg included a great dinner at Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar. I knew it would be a great evening when I could see the fresh shellfish being prepared right behind our table.
What To Order At Willi’s Seafood & Raw Bar
We decided to order a variety of their small plates so we could try as many dishes as possible. Definitely order either the yellowtail ceviche or the tuna tartare. If you’re a scallop lover like I am, try the bacon-wrapped scallops too. Finally, we ordered the charred octopus street tacos which are also delicious.
Despite three trips to Healdsburg, I still have several more restaurants to visit. Next time, I hope to dine at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen, Parish Cafe (known for their fresh baked beignets), and the highly-regarded barbecue restaurant, Kinsmoke. Less than an hour and a half from San Francisco and Napa Valley wine country, see everything there is to do just outside of Healdsburg: