Healdsburg has the good fortune to be situated at the confluence of three distinct award-winning wine regions: the Russian River and the Alexander and Dry Creek Valleys. As a result, the town is a perfect base for sampling a wide range of Sonoma County wine styles ― and in the process, enjoying some of the area's most beautiful scenery.
The town's viticultural riches have given rise to a culinary explosion ― in the past four years alone, four highly acclaimed restaurants have opened here. Now, urban-chic dining spots stand cheek by jowl with the bookstores, bakeries, and galleries that surround the town square.
The buzz among foodies centers around the Dry Creek Kitchen, which adjoins the Hotel Healdsburg. Though the new restaurant is the brainchild of Charlie Palmer, who also owns Aureole in Las Vegas, it's a breed of its own. Here, 30-year-old executive chef Mark Purdy, whom Palmer recruited from Aureole, is embracing the challenge of cooking entirely with local products. In Las Vegas, Purdy had ingredients flown in from all over the world. Now he bases the menu on whatever's fresh from the Healdsburg Farmer's Market that day ― like the morel mushrooms and fava beans he bakes alongside a CK lamb loin.
Dry Creek Kitchen's wine list is similarly selective: 600 wines from Sonoma County vintners only. Says Purdy of his restaurant's tight geographic focus: "The simplification is liberating."