Your insider’s guide to Wine Country
Those who frequent this small downtown know it offers some excellent restaurants.
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The Oyshi special roll with deep fried shrimp, crab, avocado and tobiko is served at Tian Yuen restaurant in Cloverdale. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)
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The House Special chow mein is served at Tian Yuen restaurant in Cloverdale. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)
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Japanese style cucumber salad with seaweed and crab meat is served at Tian Yuen restaurant in Cloverdale. (Conner Jay/The Press Democrat)
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Chicken Veneziana with artichoke and mushrooms in a light marsala sauce from owner/chef José Pelayo of Piacere Italian Steak & Seafood in Cloverdale. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat).
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Shitake Mushroom Ravioli in a pesto garlic sauce from owner/chef José Pelayo of Piacere Italian Steak & Seafood in Cloverdale. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat).
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Rack of Lamb with a Cabernet Demi-Glace with braised red cabbage, garlic mashed potatoes and seasonal veggies from owner/chef José Pelayo of Piacere Italian Steak & Seafood in Cloverdale. (John Burgess/The Press Democrat).
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Cheeseburger from Wolf House Brewing in Cloverdale. (Courtesy of Wolf House Brewing)
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At Plank Coffee in Cloverdale. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
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An Aztec hot chocolate at Plank Coffee in Cloverdale. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
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Cookies and sweets for sale at Plank Coffee in Cloverdale. (Beth Schlanker/The Press Democrat)
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The northernmost city in the Bay Area, Cloverdale is home to less than 9,000 residents. But those who frequent its small downtown know it offers some excellent restaurants.
This is a place to enjoy a great meal in an old-school setting; while much of Sonoma County is becoming increasingly modern, Cloverdale, settled in 1859, has retained its rural charm. Nestled between oak-studded hills and sprawling vineyards, it is surrounded by quaint farms, small wineries and bucolic parks.
Here are five restaurants to try on your next visit. Click through the above gallery for best dishes.
Chef de Cuisine Julio Vasquez tempts with “la cocina de la abuelita” (grandma’s cooking) and specialties like guisados (stews, braised dishes and stir-fries), nopales (cactus) enchiladas, and pescado del día smothered in zesty garlic sauce.
Try the Mexico City style street tacos in flavors like spicy mole verde dotted with pipián squash, and dig into daily specials such as “tacos de nada” from Hermosillo, Sonora – the crispy bundles are stuffed with goodies like potato, beans, chorizo, chicken and Oaxacan cheese.
Set in the historic Owl building, the festive space offers a spacious garden patio, as well.
485 S. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-6334, elmilagrocloverdale.com.
The organic coffees and teas are premium, and there’s more to explore at this boho-chic, wood trimmed café. Plan on a vegan-vegetarian breakfast or early lunch, with fancy belly fillers like the mouthwatering Parisian with two fluffy organic eggs, gooey cheddar, avocado and heirloom tomato on a buttery croissant.
A fresh-made Healdsburg Bagel Company bagel comes topped with eggs, melted sharp cheddar, Beyond meat “sausage” and spicy mayo, while a toasted Village Bakery roll arrives stuffed with melty provolone, Duncan’s amazing cremini mushrooms sautéed with garlic, onion, tamari, Bragg’s liquid aminos and fresh thyme, all crowned in braised local greens.
And yep, during the fall season, you can sip a killer pumpkin spice latte, crafted with housemade organic pumpkin plus a double shot of house-roasted Pine Mountain espresso.
227 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-6187, plankcoffee.com.
It takes a lot of work to keep customers coming back for 22 years. That’s what Piacére owners José and Mary Pelayo have accomplished with this intimate, old-school Italian trattoria. How old fashioned? Entrees include complimentary bread, plus soup or salad.
But there’s much more than spaghetti here. Go for the enormous yet delicate shiitake ravioli bathed in a silky pesto cream sauce, or the chicken Veneziana, the tender breast napped in a light marsala sauce with tangy artichoke and mushrooms for a creamy, meaty, comforting meal.
Don’t miss the from-scratch desserts — traditional tiramisu impresses with real, ground espresso beans.
504 N. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-0885, piacereristorante.com.
Although the Bay Area is famous for its Asian cuisine, it can be hard to find delectable Asian dishes in far northwest Sonoma County. Cloverdale’s KS Tian Yuen comes to the rescue, with the flavors of China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and Taiwan.
The casual spot is popular for takeout, but owners Ming Cheng Kuo and Mei Jung Shih put lots of love into signature dishes like sensationally sour seafood-mushroom tom yum soup; succulent beef and eggplant glistening in green curry; and ginger shrimp tossed with onion, carrot, celery, water chestnut, and zucchini and tree fungus (wood ear mushrooms).
If you’ve never had squid hot basil before, dig in — it translates to chewy-savory calamari tumbled with garlic, onion, red pepper, green pepper, mushrooms and fresh basil — and is entirely delicious.
421 S. Cloverdale Blvd., Cloverdale, 707-894-5697, tianyuen.squarespace.com.
A patio/beer garden and live music adds extra appeal to this spot for craft beers brewed onsite, plus pub food favorites. The rotating, seasonal suds get the party started with creations like a Therapy Session IPA (hoppy, floral, earthy, citrusy, piney, fruity and bitter) or a Burning Daylight lager/Pilsner (crisp, with a creamy finish).
Naturally, there are pretzels with beer cheese dip, chicken wings with all kinds of sauces, including the “face melter,” and a lavish steak-n-cheese sandwich loaded with thinly sliced sirloin, mozzarella, provolone, grilled peppers, onions, lettuce and mayo. Note: the gorgeous sausages are from Healdsburg’s boutique Journeyman.
131 East First St., Cloverdale, 707-894-6438, wolfhousebrewing.com.
Sonoma Magazine is an award-winning, bi-monthly publication that celebrates the Sonoma landscape and lifestyle.
Through in-depth stories and vivid photography, Sonoma Magazine keeps readers on the pulse of the restaurants, wineries, arts, entertainment, culture and style that make Sonoma a destination, a haven, and a way of life.

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