You might wonder what taverns are doing in the heart of Wine Country, but as any great local winemaker will tell you, "it takes a lot of beer to make good wine." At any time of year, Sonoma Valley is a great place for tavern fare. Outdoor patios, live music, satisfying comfort foods made with fresh local ingredients, and delicious beers, wines and cocktails make for a memorable Sonoma experience. During our current times, the music may have been silenced and the community fostered is temporarily at home, but you can still access their food and drinks to go. Check out these five great taverns and brewpubs and bring the cheer home with you!
HopMonk Tavern Sonoma: Owned by craft brewers Gordon Biersch, the HopMonk Sonoma is the perfect picture of biergarten dreams in most years. This year, take advantage of their house-made beers in growlers to go, alongside their famous HopMonk Burger, Kale Caesar, and Waffled Sweet Potato Fries with Curry Ketchup. Yum! When restaurants open to the public again, make sure to spend a Saturday afternoon watching the big game on their widescreen TVs or in their beautiful biergarten listening to live music. Delightful.
Murphy’s Irish Pub & Restaurant: Downtown Sonoma’s local Irish pub is a fun gathering of locals and visitors alike. Tucked behind the Plaza, it’s a cozy place to grab dinner and a few pints with friends. But these days, you can still enjoy their Bangers & Mash or Alaskan Cod Beer Battered Fish & Chips for takeout. And if you’re a family of four, make sure to take advantage of their family deal and get a complimentary bottle of their house wine. When they reopen, c’mon by on trivia night and mingle with the locals.
Palooza Brewery & Gastropub: In a typical year, Palooza brings the town of Kenwood to life with regular live music and delicious, upscale tavern food. Try their Ahi Poke Nachos, Braised Beef Short Rib, or Chicken & Waffles to sample next-level comfort food. All are available for pick-up, but don’t forget to order a 64-oz growler of their house-made beers (like the Porch Pounder American Lager) or 32-oz cocktails to-go made from locally made spirits—just add ice!
TIPS Roadside: North on Route 12, just beyond Kenwood, TIPS Roadside is a hidden gem. Most days, you can sample their fare on their Tri-Tip Trolley—the locals food truck of choice—but their restaurant is great fun with live music, cozy heat-lamps and awesome service. These days, place your order online and try their gluten-free Fried Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, and their Homemade Tater Tots—like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. When things reopen again, go listen to live music on their patio on Sundays for Brunch & Blues.
The Starling Bar: In Sonoma, locals gather at the Starling, named for the bird who is a nuisance in the vineyards. Here, the wine is good, but the cocktails and live music are EVERYTHING! Fortunately for these days at home, they make their artisan cocktails to order with freshly made ingredients, and even the bar snacks are well above the norm. Sample cocktails like their Stoney Negroni (made with CBD-infused gin), a Black Walnut Manhattan, and their HouseGin & Tonic (made with homemade gin). If you’re feeling peckish, opt for their Pub Cheese, woodfired pizzas, or their Sriracha Bacon Jerky—a revelation!