Great dining no whining!

My wife and I have been indulging in a Sonoma County Wine vacation with our dog Willa. While the focus of our visit is the wine, we would be lost without food. Traveling with a dog can make finding sensational food a challenge. Dog friendly dining usually means being relegated to shabby outside tables or just eating in the car. Unlike our vacation last year to Colorado where we honored Ft. Collins, CO with the ‘Poser Award’ for the being the Most Dog Unfriendly City on the planet. Where outdoor restaurants have fences…you can sit at a table outside but your dog must be tethered on the other side of the fence. The much lauded beer festival had ‘No Dogs’ signs posted everywhere, but there was a guy walking around with his Ram on a leash. We finally sought refuge at the New Belgium Brewing Company where an enlightened view on dogs was awarded with our travel dollars.

Not so in many locations in Sonoma County, though it is still your obligation to ask before bringing your dog to any location that serves food.

Dry Creek General Store

If it’s Thursday night, it’s barbeque at the General Store. We pulled up at 5:30 and were told that dinner would be served at 6:30…oh darn. I guess we have to sit with our dog and watch the sun go down over the vineyard while enjoying the mix of smoke, rosemary and garlic wafting through the evening air. Slake your thirst with a Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA. There is plenty of room at the picnic tables in the shade. Our dinner was roasted rosemary chicken, linguini a’olio and salad. The sauce for the linguini was prepared in the biggest paella pan I have ever seen, right on the grill. The attendees included 4 cowboys and cowgirls that rode up on their horses, a handful of local bikers and a guy who just HAD to park his Ferrari right in front. Conversation was lively and everyone fit in.

Roadhouse Restaurant

Redwoods tower over the deck at the Roadhouse in Guerneville. Part of the Dawn Ranch Lodge, the Roadhouse Restaurant offers a full bar and local wines paired with a delightful menu for meat eaters and sea food lovers alike. We shared an ample salad and mopped up every last drop of the broth that smothered our mussels. The staff was attentive without intruding and the dirty martini was perfect!

Big John’s Market

Big John’s is not a restaurant, it’s a grocery store. No, you cannot take your dog inside…and I am not suggesting that you eat at one of the many shaded tables over looking the parking lot, not when there are so many wineries out there with picnic tables. Here’s the deal: buy your lunch at Big John’s, the ample sandwiches made from there their our oven roasted turkey breast or some of the amazing meats from Zoe’s stacked on top of fresh made breads and rolls are better than any lunch counter. Add a pint of any of the fresh salads, grab some chips and your favorite non-alcoholic* beverages (like the local apple juice) and you can unpack the whole thing at the next next dog friendly winery on your list.

*Don’t bring any alcohol, local laws prohibit the consumption of ‘off premises’ alcohol at the wineries.


While Korbel does not fit our definition of Dog Friendly, they do allow well behaved dogs on the grounds and at the outdoor tables. The reason I mention them here is because they make the most amazing Tri-Tip sandwich. Thin cut Tri-Tip stacked on a soft roll with chimichuri, horseradish and blue cheese.

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