Sebastopol, California lies not far from the Northern California coast in the verdant West Sonoma County countryside just north of San Francisco. Native Miwok and Pomo peoples were the first known to populate the area, and this has been a farming community since around the 1850s.
Sebastopol today is an art and culinary hub showcasing some of the best of West Sonoma’s plentiful bounty. A dedication to sustainability permeates the culture, with high-quality local farms, fishermen, and producers the hallmark. This mix of history and sustainability has been linked to produce some of the best Sebastopol restaurants.
As with other Northern California towns, casual attire is the norm. The Barlow complex right downtown hosts some of the most exciting restaurants, tastings, and shopping. Developed out of former Barlow family apple cannery, it’s sort of an anti-mall, more of an outdoor Mercado experience to enjoy and stroll through. On Saturdays and Sundays, the roads are closed for a large market.
Sebastopol is another terrific California destination for a breadbasket of farm-fresh food. As usual, we couldn’t make it to every deserving restaurant in Sebastopol–if only time and budgets were unlimited. Here are ten among a range of our must-try Sebastopol restaurants…and a distillery to boot!
Visiting other destinations in California? Check out our other delicious guides:
- 11 Must-Try Tustin Restaurants
- 8 Best Fort Bragg, CA Restaurants
- The 7 Best Oceanside, CA Restaurants
- The 21 Best Restaurants in Costa Mesa
- 7 Must-Try Cambria, CA Restaurants
- 11 Must-Try Vallejo Restaurants
- 15 Must-Try Sanibel Island Restaurants
- 11 Must-Try Sebastopol Restaurants
- Which of these Sebastopol restaurants do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
11 Must-Try Sebastopol Restaurants
150 Weeks Way // +1-707-843-9001
Jam’s Joy Bungalow is a creative, community-based outdoor and take-out café situated right downtown on the square, with plentiful parking. Owner Jamilah Nixon-Mathis is a local gal who’s spent plenty of time traveling throughout her life. Her skillful cooking shows a range of influences as she mixes local ingredients into savory creations depending on what’s available and what she feels like making. Of course, there are a few staples on the menu.
Her Banh Mi sandwich comes on a classic banh mi roll. She gives the meatballs an Italian twist, making them with ground pork, rice, garlic, and an egg. The first bite reveals just what you’ve hoped for—crunch and then straight into softness and creaminess and that wonderful mild-tasting meatball. Add the tanginess of the pickled carrots, the kick of sriracha, and the brightness of bunches of cilantro and you end up with a mouthful of pleasure.
The ‘Nutty Nudes noodles go in a different direction, with soba noodles, avocado, and a pickled shiitake that pops with a bright acid flavor against the mushroom’s earthiness, mixed in a savory curried peanut sauce and spicy sambal. The crunchy raw cabbage strips along with fried shallots, mint, and cilantro added a light, fragrant play to the combination.
The special of the day was a satisfying dish of charred radicchio, tender roasted chicken, nutty quinoa, and crunchy raw cabbage in a sauce of fermented soybean and ginger. It coupled nicely with a Thai iced tea.
Two trademarks of Jam’s Joy Bungalow are healthy food at accessible prices and a caring community. Dishes begin at $7.00 and are generous. She sources local produce and hormone-free, ethical meats. All of her plates are compostable. She extends her relationship with food and the local community by helping to feed people that are homeless or those low on funds, no questions asked.
Her food truck is always in high demand. Find her at places like the Occidental Farmers Market, at local wineries like the Horse-n-Plow, and at events and private parties.
Jam’s Joy Bungalow is a terrific place for a healthy, affordable lunch that supports the local community. Enjoy the flavors of the east while you are in the west at one of the best Sebastopol restaurants.
6760 McKinley St. // +1-707-827-3306
The Farmer’s Wife, situated in The Barlow, serves some of the most pleasing sandwiches that you’ll find anywhere. Owner Kendra Kolling, an actual farmer’s wife, is a master at selecting fresh Sonoma County produce. Her personal relationships with local organic farmers mean she’s always securing the top specimens and all manner of seasonal treats.
A nice way to start off is an apple juice spitzer, garnished with wildflower petals, a wedge of lemon, and a sprig of lavender.
This eatery specializes in sandwiches, but not just any kind. Each one you bite into will be elevated by curated ingredients, technique, and that all-important element of love.
The Vegetablicious tastes just as it sounds. Seasonal roasted vegetables and braised greens with garlic make for a savory mouthful. Add a farm egg and round it all out with chèvre and aged cheddar. It’s what Kendra aptly calls “nutritionally dense comfort food.”
I’d eat the Belly & Jelly sandwich every day if I could! Picture gorgeous bread literally stuffed with fat slices of honey lavender bacon and aged cheddar alongside local Point Reyes blue cheese. Topped with apricot conserve and drizzled with wildflower honey, this one’s flavor profile of salty and sweet, savory and fruity hit the spot.
The side salads are small works of garden art, each one a mix of butter lettuces, mixed greens, pretty slices of carrots, beets, and cucumbers cut on the length, topped with raspberries and purple sprouts.
The restaurant storefront is enchanting, filled with bowls of newly-picked fruits and vegetables, blocks of cheese, and bunches of fresh flowers. You can also find The Farmer’s Wife at the San Francisco Ferry Building Farmers Market (Saturdays) and the Marin Civic Center Farmers Market (Sundays). Wherever you find her, you will experience the best sandwiches amongst all of the best Sebastopol restaurants.
3963 Gravenstein Highway S. // +1-707-827-3665
Pack Jack Barbeque is an old-fashioned Texas-style barbeque joint right off the highway as you drive into Sebastopol. It’s a step back into the Texas Black cowboy countryside of old, run by uncles Robert and Martin (pit master), nephew Brendan (pit master in training), and niece Monica on a piece of land that’s been in the Harris family for decades. Pack Jack’s patriarch, Donnie Harris, is turning 90!
They know barbeque, and Uncle Robert was happy to elaborate on St. Louis versus Texas and which cuts of meat are the best for each. They’ve got an old-style brick fire pit and slow-smoking is their specialty.
The interior of the restaurant sports all kinds of old Black cowboy photos and rodeo posters, and family memorabilia. They lost a treasure trove in a fire that devastated the restaurant back in 2004, but the Harris clan persevered and re-built.
We had a combination of the smoked lamb ribs and beef spareribs, both packed with rich, meaty flavor and sported impressive smoke rings. The texture and taste of the smoky brisket were toothsome. They serve it all with three types of barbeque sauce: a thick, rich classic sauce that’s familiar; a thinner, somewhat mild one; and a peppery concoction that’s also thinner in weight and is the one to choose for a kick.
Monica shared that her grandmother’s dying wish was for her to continue the family legacy at Pack Jack’s, and she’s determined to make that wish come true. She has the family recipes harking back to generations in Egypt, Texas to guide her.
For old-fashioned Texas-style barbeque at a family-owned and run spot that stands out in between all Sebastopol restaurants, don’t pass up Pack Jack Barbeque.
6780 Depot Street, Suite 120 // +1-707-861-9603
Fern Bar is an airy, light, and plant-filled bar-focused eatery located in The Barlow. Owner Sam Levy, the former bar manager of the Three Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, teamed up with childhood friend Natalie Goble, owner of Handline (a restaurant we didn’t make it to, but looks great!) on this concept establishment, and we happily recommend it.
The food menu is small, but don’t be fooled. The quality is out of this world and each dish is true to the style of cuisine that it hails from. They source their products locally and organically wherever possible, and many dishes are gluten-free, vegan, or dairy-free.
I had the Hand-Pulled Noodles, which came with cumin lamb in a broth generously spiced with Sichuan peppercorns. It tasted just as phenomenal as I remembered from traveling years ago in southern and western China. It’s a very particular flavor combination.
The trout comes in a green curry sauce that kept me licking my spoon. It was absolutely faithful to its Thai roots. The mild fish was incredibly fresh with a crackling skin while the hen of the woods mushrooms, sliced along the length, were chewy and substantial.
Let’s talk about the cocktails. They have a terrific array of spirit-full and spirit-free options, both current and vintage. Their hand-selected fixings feature a wide range of specialty liquors and herbal concoctions including Seedlip Spice, Blue Lotus, Jasmine Water, and Vodka Infused with Lemon Love Affair Tea.
The Spa Day was a refreshing companion to the cumin lamb noodles: London Dry Gin, Cucumber, Thai Basil, and Lime. Metal straws and toothpicks were a nice touch, showing a commitment to non-disposable culture. For Asian-style food in Sebastopol, Fern Bar is the place to be.
6761 Sebastopol Avenue # 700 // +1-707-861-9398
For an excellent taste of exotic Nepal without traveling all the way to the Himalayas, look no further than the Kathmandu Cafe and Grill. Set just across the street from The Barlow, this eatery is housed in an old train car that provides a fun ambiance and evokes the traveler’s spirit. It’s also a great stop for tourists on the way to Bodega Bay or Armstrong Woods.
Their momos, seasoned just right, take you straight to Kathmandu. These steamed dumplings, made daily with fresh dough, are the real deal. No store-bought wrappers here. The dal was equally as authentic, with its wonderful flavors of nutty lentil, butter, and cumin.
Owner and Manager Dheeraj Rai stressed that all of their ingredients are organic, meeting Sebastopol’s strong demand for healthy food. Likewise, their to-go packaging is all compostable. Rai explained that sustainability and climate-consciousness are part of their core ethic. He draws his flavor inspirations from traditional Nepali tastes along with Portuguese and Indian.
The Organic Chicken Tikka Masala was a treat. The chicken breast is made tender by a spiced yogurt marinade—plenty of paprika for its orange color—then barbequed on skewers and placed in a luscious sauce of cream, garlic, ginger, cumin, garam masala, and paprika. Note that Kathmandu Cafe and Grill’s default mode is mild, and they are happy to increase the heat and spice per your pleasure. Just ask.
The Tandoori Chicken was another winner. Its marinade, this time with yogurt, lemon, ginger, cumin, turmeric, paprika, and cayenne, ensured that each savory bite was nice and juicy. And bright red. A cool mango lassi drink was the ideal foil, with its creamy, fruity flavor.
For a great meal of solid, authentic Nepalese food, check out the Kathmandu Cafe and Grill. You’ll be supporting a family-owned small business restaurant in Sebastopol that builds a climate-conscious, environmental ethos into its operations when you do.
6790 McKinley Street, #100 // +1-707-634-4793
Among the many restaurants and shops at The Barlow you can also find a first-class craft distillery, Spirit Works. Run by wife-and-husband team Ashby and Timo Marshall, their labor of love was named Distillery of the Year by the American Distillery Institute in July 2020. Ashby has an encyclopedic knowledge of everything and relishes being a host. (Disclaimer: they’re old friends from a prior work life.)
Their handsome tasting room is an indication of the care they put into this entire endeavor. Long wooden tasting bars, a library of bottles lining the walls, and a large window into the shiny distillery make for an inviting setting. They’ve designed the experience to be both entertaining and educational, highlighting transparency in their process.
Try a tasting flight of their craft spirits. The vodka is distilled just once, maximizing its full flavor and smoothness. The gin has a full note of juniper along with coriander and cardamom. Dried hibiscus flowers impart a subtle cranberry hint. They labored over 26 batches before settling on their final recipe. I’d never tasted barrel-aged gin and could see why it’s a popular addition to any mixed drink.
Next up were two kinds of whiskey: the first a straight red wheat, un-malted whiskey with notes of toasted coconut and vanilla. It’s aged for over four years in full-size New American oak barrels. The rye whiskey was spicy and flavor-forward, with notes of tobacco and walnut. It’s made from 70% rye and 30% malted barley.
Sloe gin has a tartness that hits you in the nose. This one is made from Timo’s family recipe from England. Spirit Works is the only distillery in the U.S. to macerate and hand press the sloe berries into a lip-smacking gin. Each bottle is made with two pounds of berries and the flavor shines through; only organic cane sugar is added.
So, if your spirit moves you to have some spirits, go to Spirit Works, a unique distillery in Sebastopol.
6948 Sebastopol Avenue // +1-707-827-3607
Ramen Gaijin is another beautiful spot amongst all Sebastopol restaurants that I’d highly recommend. As you walk in, there’s a bar space to your left with lots of windows, and to your right a lovely Japanese-style Izakaya pub with a wonderful ambiance, bare brick walls, and an open kitchen.
I tried the Kara Age fried chicken—chunks of tender, juicy chicken fried in a light, crispy batter. They came out piping hot and nice and peppery, served with a miso-ranch dipping sauce.
The Spicy Tan-Tanmen Ramen was spot on. Fresh Sapporo noodles, made daily in-house, came in a broth that was rich and aromatic with charred cabbage, ground pork, ginger, scallions, wood-ear mushrooms, and a yummy six-minute egg. The sumptuous fatty cha shu pork belly, simmered in a sweet soy and mirin sauce, is a mouthful to dig into, a welcome meaty heartiness.
The rest of the menu was tempting too—sashimi, house made pickles, donburi rice bowls, and a line caught ahi poke that caught my eye for next time. All of the fish, meats, and produce are carefully sourced.
I took a ramen to go as well, and it was packaged up beautifully for the drive. The broth and the ingredients were in separate carriers, replete with instructions for optimum preparation at home.
Owner and Chef Matthew Williams also operate Khom Loi, a Thai restaurant that gets great reviews and is another local go-to. They were closed for a short period, and while we missed going there for this article it’s on our list of must-try Sebastopol restaurants.
6750 McKinley Street, The Barlow // +1-707-827-6373
Sushi Kosho is one of my favorite sushi spots. The sushi is elegantly done, and they offer a selection of fish that goes beyond the traditional varieties. Chef Jake Rand prides himself on the high quality and sustainability of their ingredients, through close relationships with local, national, and international purveyors.
Nicholas, one of their long-time servers, makes the whole experience even more fun and interesting with his vast knowledge of both sushi and sake.
He started me off with a smooth, silky sake, Junmai Ginjo from Niigata prefecture, and a dish of their savory-spicy Blackened Edamame. A dangerous combo.
The Japanese Eggplant starter was delicately flavored, cooked to precision, and accompanied by the lightest purée of trumpet mushroom—a tiny bit of nirvana on a fork.
The Yellowtail Tartare with Jalapeño was full of color and texture. Finely diced red and yellow bell peppers and zucchini gave a pleasing crunch against the delicate slices of fish and pepper.
Nicholas skillfully guided me through a line-up of Nigiri Sushi that began with the Amberjack, a mild and firmer fish. A buttery pair of Hamachi Toro paired well with a generous glass of mineral forward Bride of the Fox sake.
He explained how the Rosy Perch goes through a careful process of de-scaling, dipping in water, and chilling. It’s then sliced on the block and quick charred and tasted fresh and supple. Uni, or sea urchin, capped it all off, fresh and creamy with that signature pop of sea salt.
The menu offers a variety of appetizers, donburi bowls, and sushi rolls as well. Sushi Kosho tops my list of options for a light, protein-rich sushi dinner from all Sebastopol restaurants.
6821 Laguna Park Way // +1-707-827-7998
Patisserie Angelica is a must-try if you’re a sweets fan, and it’s just steps away from The Barlow. An award-winning, French-style bakery famous for its outstanding creations, just walking through their doors is a delight. They are open Tuesday-Saturday from 9 am-3 pm.
The chocolate cupcake with raspberry jam and buttercream frosting was moist and rich and sweet and super chocolatey. Heaven.
Suggestions for custom cakes left me drooling at the thought of a future special order. Their specialty is four-layer cakes. Think Tahitian Vanilla Bean Cake, “layered with our house-made raspberry jam, raspberries, and French-style buttercream,” or White Cake studded with Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chunks. They highlight curated ingredients like single-origin chocolates and natural food colors.
Make sure to try this French bakery while you are looking for desserts through the best Sebastopol restaurants.
8050 Bodega Avenue // +1-707-634-6142
Are you on the hunt for a restaurant that is both elegant and unpretentious, fit for a languorous West Sonoma County afternoon or evening with friends? The Gravenstein Grill is a marvelous choice, set just off the road on Bodega Avenue, and one with ample parking. It’s situated on the old French Garden grounds.
Ask for a table on their lovely front patio, a large outdoor dining space lined by pergolas draped with grape vines. There’s a guitarist in the evenings. The team of Executive Chef Bob Simontacchi, partners Brendan Parkhurst and Owen Barrett, and Chef de Cuisine Alejandro Garcia attain a dining and drinking experience that is sublime. It’s a quintessential Northern California wine country establishment.
Gravenstein Grill features an absolutely stunning specially curated wine list filled with fine vintages from their neighbors in West Sonoma County, Napa County, and beyond. The local region is home to some of the most exceptional Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays on earth.
Ben, our esteemed server, walked us in detail through the ins and outs of the evening and was an adroit guide. For sparkling wine to start with, anything Iron Horse is a joy.
The Heirloom Tomato Salad showcased these prized seasonal delicacies beautifully, with creamy dollops of local Double 8 Dairy Mozzarella and a Balsamic Reduction Drizzle.
Tender shredded meat filled a Mini Rabbit Pie, served with local cheeses and salted cherries and drizzled with a most luscious port reduction.
Their lead bartender, Bronwyn Gauvin, was recently Sonoma County’s Bartender of the Year in 2020. One of her signature creations, The Chameleon, was great fun as it jumped from deep blue to bright purple in an instant when the cucumber tonic reacted with the butterfly pea flower-infused gin.
Their Ahi Poke had an original twist, served with an avocado mousse that was fabulously light, with skillfully cut orange segments that were terrific against the smokiness of the sesame oil.
Pork Scallopini came atop a mountain of creamed corn that was shaved and grated, then simmered cob in. The skin on the Seared Salmon had a flawless crunch and it was served with nutty, woodsy Idaho morels and goat cheese ravioli. Both were first-class.
And for dessert. A house-made Bursetta Della Stagione, their crisp and flaky Crostada filled with organic White Peaches, Marzipan, and Slivered Almonds, served with Screamin’ Mimi’s vanilla ice cream, drizzled with caramel. The crostada was lightly sweet and filled with complementary flavors. It was an excellent way to round out this delectable experience.
Gravenstein Grill is pet-friendly, as if you need one more excuse to come and spend time on the patio! For fine dining in Sebastopol, look no further than the Gravenstein Grill. It’s one of the best Sebastopol restaurants for that purpose.
6770 McKinley St. #150 // +1-707-222-5040
The Blue Ridge Kitchen is a gem in between all Sebastopol restaurants and features farm-fresh American cuisine with a southern flair. Chef Matthew D’Ambrosi is a wizard of color and flavor. With Sonoma County produce as a palette, he’s a talented, innovative chef who loves to invent menus and execute them to the plate.
Situated in one of the prime positions in The Barlow, Blue Ridge Kitchen has an ample front patio with a fun vibe, perfect for a Northern California afternoon. Every dish was elevated, served with a level of beauty, care, and quality that will keep you coming back again and again. They have their own smoker and dry age all of their meats in-house. Their dry-aging room has a big window where you can witness the meats and the process first-hand.
Chef Matthew kicked us off with an Ahi Tuna Tartare plated decoratively with Asian pear coulis (a thick purée), and spicy aioli that was bright against the richness of the ahi and avocado. Bits of mint burst through. The dish was accented with large chips of white and black forbidden rice.
Cocktails and lemonades provide more opportunities to be playful. Front of House Manager Yana Zork was an excellent guide. The Dragon fruit Lemonade infused with Thyme struck a lovely pink rose in a tall glass. The Smoking Dove was a complex drink that brought together smoky mezcal and flavors of tequila, Pamplemousses, Aperol, white pepper/lime cordial, grapefruit, lime, and egg white.
I loved the creamy, fresh Italian Burrata as much for its creativity and color as for its taste. It was like receiving an exquisite impressionist painting at the table. The composition was deep blueberry compote, golden Marcona almonds, smoked paprika oil, bright green dill, and colorful wildflower petals, served with rustic toast.
Next came Lamb Cavatelli. It was another visual feast, set on a ceramic plate: shredded smoked lamb, fava beans, baby carrots, and pasta piled high, surrounded with a sumptuous burnt orange roasted carrot puree and topped with pesto. Each bite offered a chunk of tender lamb pulled from a whole leg that was smoked for 24 hours. Divine.
I wasn’t sure how dessert could top what came before, but it lived right up to the rest of the meal. Not just any Banana Split, this one was made with bruléed bananas topped with chocolate sauce, crunchy toffee cookie crumble, with a bitter contrast of brandied cherry cocoa nibs. And yummy banana ice cream from Screaming Mimi’s, the #1 local ice cream shop, that you’ll find on many Sebastopol restaurants menus.
Chef Matthew brings energy and a sense of playfulness to his relationship with food. As a kid, his family moved from Marin County to Mexico where he learned how to cook at a young age. Now he’s brought his passions to vibrant West Sonoma. It’s a true California story.
For a meal that is of the highest quality and creativity in a casual fine dining setting, Blue Ridge Kitchen in Sebastopol is an excellent pick. But you won’t go wrong with any of these ten best Sebastopol restaurants.
Which of these Sebastopol restaurants do you most want to try? Let us know in the comments section below!
Tonya Hennessey is a freelance writer and non-profit professional who resides in the San Francisco Bay Area. She was raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she took off for a year of travel throughout Europe, Asia, and South America, a trip that awakened her awe of the world’s varied cultures, landscapes, and, of course, foods! Since then, she has traveled extensively in Europe, East and Southeast Asia, and the United States. Along with travel, she loves to cook, garden, and get that exercise.