Small town, big flavors
Only 1,815 people live in Graton, but they all must have good taste. That’s one explanation for why there’s a cluster of excellent eateries along the town’s two-stop sign main street. That and its proximity to Sonoma County’s Russian River wine country, where residents have a history of pairing good food and wine in an easygoing way.
Start at Willow Wood Market Cafe ($$; 9020 Graton Rd.; 707/823-0233), where the wholesome meals come Sonoma-style ― informal, yet gourmet. The 9-year-old cafe’s back patio is a gathering spot for locals, who rave about the polenta. The cafe doubles as a country store, with preserves, wine, and oddball gifts.
Continue browsing at the just-opened Far West Trading Company (closed Mon-Tue; 9056 Graton Rd.; 707/823-4880), stocked with tansu, rice bowls, and other Asian imports. Or pop into Mr. Ryder & Co. (9040 Graton Rd.; 707/ 824-8221), a cute vintage-furniture and collectibles shop named for the owners’ handsome dog.
Also downtown, small Graton Gallery (9048 Graton Rd.; 707/829-8912) has colorful works by a half-dozen local artists lining its narrow space. Wet your palate at the new Lynmar Winery tasting room (closed Tue-Thu; $5 tasting fee; 9060 Graton Rd.; 707/829-3374), where you can sample different styles of the Russian River’s specialties, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Expand your tasting range on a scenic drive to Martin Ray Winery (2191 Laguna Rd., Santa Rosa; 707/823-2404), 2 miles east of Graton. Four miles west, taste organic wines at Topolos at Russian River Vineyards (5700 Gravenstein Hwy. N., Forestville; 800/867-6567).
Back in town for dinner, you won’t go wrong at Scala’s ($$$; closed Mon-Tue; 8989 Graton Rd.; 707/824-5856) for pizza and pasta or at Mexico Lindo ($; 9030 Graton Rd.; 707/823-4154) for burritos. One of Graton’s hot spots is the Underwood Bar & Bistro ($$$; closed Mon; 9113 Graton Rd.; 707/823-7023), with French-inspired dishes and trendy cocktails. Though it comes in a small glass, the fig aperitif packs a tasty punch ― a bit like the town of Graton itself.