To enliven the local, organic produce that fills his kitchen, Chef Vinay Patel welcomes monthly shipments of spices from India, such as turmeric, fenugreek, ginger, and cardamom. After seasoning his meats, he lowers them into a clay tandoor to cook over handpicked, hardwood mesquite charcoal. For all the effort that goes into each chicken dish, curry, and biryani, the Bohemian has awarded Sizzling Tandoor Indian Restaurant its Best Indian award for 22 years running.
The dishes sprawl from traditional entrees to Northern and Southern Indian specialties and Indo-Chinese fusion dishes. Chefs also tandoor-fire nearly a dozen types of bread, including naan, paratha, and gluten-free and vegan missi roti to sop up sauces. Rather than placing a miniature fire extinguisher at each table, chefs calibrate each dish's spiciness from mild to hot.
As diners expand the depth of their palate, an Indian ambiance envelops their body. At the Santa Rosa location, live belly dancers charm and entertain on Friday and Saturday night, and live musicians stop by for events such as Samosas and Sitar. While watching, guests can nurse Indian beers and specialty cocktails including the Sizzling Sunset, which ups the ante of traditional mango lassi with vodka.
Since its first pizzeria opened in 1978 in Palo Alto, Mountain Mike’s Pizza has stretched to encompass more than 150 restaurants throughout the West Coast. From the meat-laden Pike’s Peak to the vegetarian-friendly Mt. Veggiemore, 12 specialty pizzas—most of them named after mountains—arrive in portions from small to extra large, which can feed up to eight patrons or spark nostalgia in homesick, city-dwelling mountain goats. Diners can also choose their own conglomeration of ingredients, ranging from Louisiana-style hot links to sun-dried tomatoes, and supplement pies with an all-you-can-eat salad bar or a quintet of appetizer options including wings and jalapeño poppers.
Following Baja Fresh’s ethos set in 1990 as a healthy take on fast food, never-frozen meats sizzle atop the grill before they're tucked into made-to-order tacos and burritos. Grilled corn and flour tortillas embrace fish, carnitas, chicken, and steak, and smoky queso fundido sidles onto nachos and into burritos. Between bites, chips scoop up salsa made from farm-fresh produce rather than poured out of a can or fabricated in a space-age replicator. A complimentary salsa bar ensures no mouthful goes unspiced, and guests can scoop up their favorites as they await their dine-in, takeout, or catering orders.
At Jojo Restaurant & Sushi bar, chefs import the nutritious fare of Japan to their menu of cooked entrees and sushi rolls. Known for their artistic approach to sushi, they bedeck rolls with toppings such as organic mixed greens, piles of colorful roe, or a dusting of macadamia nuts for an aesthetically pleasing finish. Some specialty cylinders, including the spicy-tuna-packed 007, are singed with the open flames of a torch, like the marshmallows traditionally toasted during Olympic opening ceremonies.
The sustainable, organic farming at Long Meadow Ranch supplies chef Sheamus Feeley with a plethora of seasonal produce. Farmstead’s menu fluctuates with the unpredictable patterns of Earth’s seven seasons and consists of first and second courses. Start with meatballs lounging in a caramelized mirepoix and tomato marmalade ($12). Reviewers rave about the second-course cheeseburger, made with Long Meadow Ranch’s grass-fed beef and California cheddar ($15). Summon all 10,000 taste-bud buddies to help you escape the ranch and follow the brick-cooked chicken road to a technicolored land of flageolet beans, lacinato kale, and salsa verde ($23). A glass of Long Meadow Ranch’s own sauvignon blanc ($8) can be enjoyed with dinner in a smooth leather booth or all by itself at Farmstead’s granite-covered bar.
Situated at the Vintners Inn beside 92 acres of vineyard, John Ash & Co. takes pride in its ability to marry a meal's delicate flavors with the most complementary wine varietals. The upscale eatery, a 2010 Open Table Diner's Choice winner, features homegrown fruits, vegetables, and herbs from on-site gardens, as well as a long list of locally sourced ingredients that, much like the four cardinal directions, change from season to season. The dinner menu offers delectable main courses, such as kabocha pumpkin ravioli spiked with pickled mushrooms and parmesan ($16) or pan-seared sturgeon served with roasted red beets ($34), and lunchers can snack on pizza margherita ($13) or fill their emptiest stomach with nine ounces of New York steak ($21).