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