Eating in NorCal….

… Or something like it!

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Extending Childhood. Oakland, California. April 2016.

The thing about being from LA, or really most places this far south in California, is we rarely have perspective on what and where NorCal is. In college, many of us southern-born natives talked about how in our minds San Francisco to Napa and slightly higher is about where California ends and new states most of us wouldn’t be road-tripping to begin – for those of you not in the know, this is not the case!

Where most will call these areas northern, they are lower Northern California with hours and hours more to go.

But onto food!

When visiting the Sonoma and the Bay Area, we ate well – very well! While we hit some touristy fun musts – Boudin Bakery and Ghirardelli in San Francisco – I loved the other fun spots which definitely made the trip worthwhile.

Russian River Brewing Co., Santa Rosa.

If you are a beer lover, you should absolutely known the name Russian River. They’ve won tons of awards for their brews and the food is just as good. Everything is fresh and well sourced and you can choose whether to stay in or take away – wait times vary depending on your choice. This take away includes filling up your Russian River Growler with the brew of your choice.

The only real issue is you must show up early as they do not take reservations no matter the situation and the wait can be hours long. This wait time is exponentially longer if they are sampling a new brew – however, I’ve been assured that every brew is worth the wait.

The plan is for a new location not to far from the current spot with much more room and more of a focus on non-locals so if you’re in the area, check for opening dates for quicker turn around times.

Quickly moving to Sol Food in San Rafael.

Another long line here but – according to the locals I know – it’s the only place worth going to. We laughed through the line as one patron tried – jokingly – to convince the whole line that the food was no good and we should all go somewhere else so they could go in more quickly.

While the line was long, the host(esse)s were so efficient. The tables are community settings so you will most likely sit with strangers but, as long as you don’t mind this style, you’ll sit much quicker than you’d suspect.

The servings were amazing, full meals and all locally sourced. My friends and I all ordered different plates and no one was disappointed. For spicier pallets, some at our table felt that the sauce on the table wasn’t hot enough so don’t be afraid to ask for spicier additions.

And finally, Homeroom in Oakland.

This final stop on my foodie weekend was an amazing spot for comfort food – a menu packed with mac and cheese, some vegetable sides, and salads but little else. It was fabulous!

Again, the four of us picked different sides and styles of pasta but everyone of them was perfect. We had one garlic, one sriracha, one goat, and a final jalapeño popper styled and each flavor was strong yet balanced and the popper mac tasted exactly like a giant jalapeño popper!

We couldn’t stop eating.

This was also the most fun to wait for. The joint is more than a little hipster with communal seating, eye-grabbing decor and a line that is just a sign in sheet you kind of have to keep an eye on. The crowd can get big and you’ll never be seated until your whole party arrives but there are benches and chalk to help you through the wait.

My friends and I are 25 years old and where endlessly entertained by a chalked out hopscotch draw on the sidewalk outside the side door. Paired with the childhood comfort of – yet grown up pallet! – mac and cheese and it’s a steal.

Again, in the trend of these small restaurants, everything is locally sourced and freshly made. The waitstaff was super nice but can blend in with customers so don’t be embarrassed if you mix them up a time or two! – a very sweet high schooler was very embarrassed at mistaking me for a floating server.


So here’s the wrap up: depending on where you are and where your going, if you are looking for quality food with great atmosphere, there are plenty of small overlooked places you should not miss out on! They are too good to pass up even with a bit of a wait.

So that’s all my foodie news, until next time:

This is Leave on the Wind, helping you soar.

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Eating in NorCal….

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