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. In the winter and fall, add in fire pits, heat lamps, and rain tents...that is, if you still want to eat outdoors. And that's saying nothing of the great live music that they host year-round! Check out these great taverns, wine gartens, and brewpubs and bring on the cheer!
HopMonk Tavern Sonoma: Owned by craft brewers Gordon Biersch, the HopMonk Sonoma is the perfect picture of biergarten dreams in most years. 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! You can also spend Saturday afternoons 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. 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. If you're more a fan of cocktails than beer, then treat yourself to their $20 Bloody Mary--not only is it delicious with all the spices and awesome garnishes, but it also comes with a burger slider (which resembles a burger more than a slider!). Enjoy it all on their outdoor patio with a regular rotation of local musicians to entertain you.
Palooza Brewery & Gastropub: IPalooza 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. With craft cocktails as tasty as their mircobrews and ciders, you can't go wrong! Dappled with both full sun and shade, their patio offers a relaxing spot to kick back, enjoy delicious dishes, and listen to good music.
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. Try their gluten-free Fried Chicken, Shrimp & Grits, and their Homemade Tater Tots—like nothing you’ve ever tasted before. On Sundays, park yourself on their shady patio for Brunch & Blues and if you're feeling sassy, treat yourself to one of their craft cocktails.
Kivelstadt Cellars & WineGarten: In Schellville, just south of downtown Sonoma, is one of Valley's hidden gems. Kivelstadt Cellars changed their winery concept and expanded it, creating a gastropub and wine garten underneath a grove of ancient trees. Bring the kids to play on their playset, or your doggies to lounge with, and take a load off. With a menu that dazzles with simplicity and flavor, a short but focused beer list, and a cascade of interesting and quaffable homemade wines, there's something for everyone to love.
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! 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!