Don Eats! Farm to Fork
Napa and Sonoma counties offer a plethora of farm-to-table restaurants.
These foods are fresh, organic, healthy, locally grown, and sourced from farm, ranch, or sea to the plate in front of you. Here are just a handful of examples where you will taste the difference fresh makes.
BARNDIVA | Healdsburg
The saying “a picture is worth a thousand words” is especially true when you first go onto the Barndiva website. The picture, beautifully displayed, shows an assortment of fresh vegetables, herbs fish, and edible flowers, with the caption “Eat the View.” The small family farm from is the cornucopia for all things fresh, delicious, and beautiful that grace the tables to end up on your fork at Barndiva. The Anderson Valley is an especially important area for sourcing sustainably farmed fruits and vegetables where “fresh and organic” are the buzzwords. It’s no wonder that in 2021, 2022 and 2023 Barndiva has been honored with a Michelin star rating. All your senses with come alive when you visit and dine at Barndiva.
GIRL AND THE FIG | Sonoma
“Farm to table” has become a standard buzzword in dining over the last quarter century. But it’s the girl and the fig that were instrumental in defining what “farm” to table or fork really meant. Imagine in 1997 walking into a restaurant and seeing arugula salad on the menu! What? But that’s what you would have seen at the newly opened the girl & the fig. Sondra Bernstein’s vision was to show off the bounty of the area, and to do that she started purchasing directly from local farmers. The concept grew exponentially, and twenty-six years later you find dishes prepared from fresh, healthy seasonal ingredients. For Sondra, their food is all about “authenticity, seasonality, and simplicity.”
Don’s “go-to” when dining here? The charcuterie, featuring house-cured meats is a can’t miss, and the signature fig and arugula salad. After that? well, throw a dart. This iconic, trend-setting Michelin Guide Bib Gourmand restaurant is a must on your farm-to-table journey.
BRIX RESTAURANT & GARDENS | Napa
When you talk about “farm to table” you can’t get much closer to fresh from the source than at Brix! On 16 acres with more than a dozen raised planter boxes, growing all sorts of vegetables and herbs, and surrounded by fruit and citrus trees, Brix epitomizes fresh picked, fresh served, fresh delights. The menu changes with seasonal availability from their gardens and orchard.
A staple for me (season permitting) is the fresh tempura green beans! This month, watch for garden fresh ratatouille, a vegan creamy tomato and squash soup, and other delicious creations from Executive Chef Cary Delbridge.
STREET SOCIAL | Petaluma
Come eat, socialize, and experience the dream of Marjorie and Jevon. Supporting local farms and purveyors, seasonal produce comes from local organically grown farmers plus their home garden. Goat cheeses are from a new artisanal cheese maker in Bodega Bay (Mt. Eitan). The focus is on sustainable, fresh, healthy, and organic. Jevon and Marjorie’s goal is simple: To Provide Damn Fine Food! And to be social.
BISTRO DON GIOVANNI | Napa
Bistro Don Giovanni has been a favorite Napa Valley eating destination for more than twenty-five years. Sitting inside surrounded by freshly picked floral arrangements, or outside, surrounded by greenery, including the restaurant’s gardens, you instantly feel at ease and welcome. The menu changes frequently, depending on what is fresh from the garden or available from local farmers. Fresh, sustainably farmed organic vegetables, and organic meats, including house-made pasta and breads are ready for your enjoyment. If in season, try the fig pizza! Buon Appetito!
GRAVENSTEIN GRILL | Sebastapol
Gravenstein Grill was voted Sonoma County’s Best Farm-to-Table (AND best outdoor restaurant) in 2023 by The Press Democrat. Gravenstein’s works with a substantial number of small area farms, ranches, creameries, cheese companies, dairies, and orchards to secure the freshest, healthiest available ingredients for their delicious menu. As they state on their menu: “Meat and produce locally sourced.” You may want to end your meal with some Screamin’ Mimi’s Ice Cream, a local shop where everything is made in-house from locally sourced ingredients. Fresh, healthy, local, and delicious for your dining pleasure.
GRACE’S TABLE | Napa
Chef Mauro Pando brings healthy, fresh creative cuisine to Napa inspired by his travels around the world. Committed to using as many organic products as possible, Chef sources chickens that are hormone and antibiotic-free, part of the “never ever program.” Red meat is Akaushi Kobe, again hormone and antibiotic free. Chef Mauro will tell you “I love growing for the restaurant, going to farmer’s markets, and picking produce that has never seen refrigeration. Personal responsibility to people, farms, art, history, and Mother Earth is Chef’s mantra. Start your meal with the iron skillet cornbread with lavender honey while you pick your main from the globally inspired selections. One of my favorites: Catch of the Day fish tacos with house-made tortillas and accouterments. Bon appetite!
OXBOW PUBLIC MARKET | Napa
Take a stroll through the Oxbow and bring home “fresh” for your table! At Hog Island Oyster Company you can sit at their bar or bring home an assortment of fresh oysters harvested from their Tomales Bay farm, plus other seafood. At Hudson’s Greens and Goods shop for organic fruits and vegetables sourced from locally owned family farms. At The Olive Press, select from an assortment of 100% California-grown olive oils, in addition to vinegars, seasonings, and spreads. Wander the Oxbow for other fresh delights – to flavor recipes and grace your table.
Eat Fresher, eat healthier, while supporting local farmers and purveyors that bring the best and freshest of foods from farm to table to your fork. Napa and Sonoma counties offer innumerable restaurant choices for your dining pleasure-and how lucky we are to have this area’s abundance of fresh bounty so readily available from farm to sea.
Don Sonderling is a freelance writer covering California’s wine country lifestyle from the Central Coast to Napa Valley. He may be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.