Stop by the Jaded Toad for Southern-style barbecue in the sunny beer garden. (Courtesy of Jaded Toad)

Modern Guide to Windsor: A craft beer explosion, Southern comfort food, wine + croquet

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Too often overlooked for its better-known neighbors, Windsor is a charming, Mr. Roger's–level friendly pocket of Sonoma County that has all the Wine Country essentials (plus lots of beer) without crowds or a trace of snobbery.

The town is currently in recovery mode after the Kincade Fire came within a mile of its borders, forcing local businesses to close up shop for a week or longer. Life is finally returning to normal here, but as owners struggle to recoup their losses, the time is now to plan a visit and show your support.


Where to Eat + Drink in Windsor, California

Chicken cacciatore.

(Courtesy of Kin Windsor)

KC's American Kitchen

KC's American Kitchen is like the Cheers of Windsor and one of the town's longest-standing restaurants. It's a casual and incredibly friendly dining spot where every customer is treated like family. They're open for three meals a day, but their diner-style breakfast menu is positively epic. While choices may seem endless, take our word for it: the Famous Potato Pancakes are a must. // 9501 DuVander Lane (Windsor), kcsamericankitchen.com

Jaded Toad BBQ & Grill

In hard times like these, comfort food is a necessity, and the Jaded Toad BBQ & Grill always delivers. A favorite gathering place for locals, it's beloved for its sunny beer garden, two dozen craft options on tap, and southern-style barbecue. Order up the Sweet & Sexy fries (sweet potato fries with candied bacon and brown sugar glaze) and smoked meats served in three styles: House (tangy and sweet), Memphis, or Cajun. // 275 Windsor River Rd (Windsor), jadedtoad.com

Sweet T's

Sweet T's is another great Southern comfort option. Formerly located in Santa Rosa, the restaurant burned down in the 2017 Tubbs Fire and re-opened in Windsor this past spring. They had another close call when the Kincade Fire came within half-a-mile of their new spot, but thankfully first responders stopped history from repeating itself. Wash down delicious ribs, brisket, and tri-tip with a specialty cocktail like the Jalapeño Watermelon Margarita or the Key Lime Pie Martini. // 9098 Brooks Rd. S (Windsor), sweettssouthern.com

Kin

Kin's elevated American comfort dishes always hit the spot and often come with a twist, like the Bourbon Mustard Glazed Pork Chop or the Shrimp & Bacon Pizza. Start your meal with an order of Frickles (tempura-battered, fried pickles) to share. // 740 McClelland Dr (Windsor), kinwindsor.com

Corks & Taps

Corks & Taps is a new wine and beer bar right off the Windsor Town Green. Hit them up for happy hour or weekend brunch (get the mimosa flight or go bottomless!). // 1001-1007 McClelland Dr (Windsor), corksandtapssc.com

There's a craft beer boom happening in Windsor.

(Courtesy of Russian River Brewing)

St. Florian's Brewery

If you want to thank a first responder, head to St. Florian's Brewery. Named for the patron saint of firefighters, COO and brewer Aron Levin is a Windsor fire department captain and the brewery donates a minimum of five percent of their profits to fire-related and community-based organizations. Levin was out fighting the Kincade Fire while his wife Amy held down the fort at the taproom. // 7704A Bell Rd (Windsor), stfloriansbrewery.com

Russian River Brewing

There's a mini craft beer boom happening in Windsor and it's gotten a helping hand from Russian River Brewing, who opened up a second and massive location in Windsor last year. Ringing at $50 million, the 85,000 square-foot, 195-seat brewpub (complete with patio and a one-acre, pet-friendly beer garden) offers roughly eight beers on tap, tours, and an expanded menu from their original Santa Rosa spot. // 700 Mitchell Ln (Windsor), russianriverbrewing.com

No Quarter Brewing

The new kids on the block, No Quarter Brewing opened their doors this summer and brews quite the range of beers, from a salted caramel porter to a wet hop ale. On Mondays, you can BYO vinyl to spin on their record player. // 8786 Lakewood Dr (Windsor), noquarterbrewing.com

Barrel Brothers Brewing

A modern family affair, Barrel Brothers Brewing was started in 2015 by two brothers-in-law with their father-in-law. Head to their industrial taproom and see if you can spot the pop culture references in their beer names, like The Snozzberries Taste Like Snozzberries and Milk Was a Bad Choice. // 399 Business Park Ct #506 (Windsor), barrelbrothersbrewing.com

Barley & Bine Beer Cafe

You can also pop into Barley & Bine Beer Cafe, which has unique flatbread pizzas and 38 taps representing local California breweries as well as some big-time craft beer cities across the U.S. (looking at you Denver and Portland, ME). // 7765 Bell Rd (Windsor), barleybinebeercafe.com

Where to Drink Wine (and Play Croquet) in Windsor

(Courtesy of Sonoma-Cutrer)

Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards

Forget bocce ball, Sonoma-Cutrer Vineyards is the only winery around where you can sip while engaging in a competitive croquet match. For just $10 (reservation required), you and up to eight friends can play on the professional-grade courts and even get a lesson from the on-site pro. Purchase wine, cheese, and charcuterie to make it the perfect Wine Country day. // 4401 Slusser Rd (Windsor), sonomacutrer.com

La Crema's Estate at Saralee's Vineyard

Taste pinot noirs and chardonnays from all over California inside a painstakingly restored redwood barn that dates back to 1900 at La Crema's Estate at Saralee's Vineyard. The winery offers a variety of experiences, but the picnic is the best bang for your buck if you're with a group. For $180, you'll receive a bottle of wine and your own basket filled with cheese, charcuterie, and other accompaniments to feed up to four people. // 3575 Slusser Rd (Windsor), lacrema.com

Notre Vu Estate Winery & Vineyards

Escape city life with a serene, lakeside tasting at Notre Vu, set on a 710-acre estate, which includes a totally-wild, 350-acre nature preserve. Notre Vu, which translates to "a place of trees," crafts small lot, estate wines from the acclaimed Russian River Valley and Chalk Hill appellations. // 11010 Estate Ln (Windsor), notrevuestate.com

Where to Stay in (and Around) Windsor, California

(Courtesy of IHG)

Holiday Inn Express Windsor

Ok so it's not your typical luxury Wine Country hotel. But Windsor's Holiday Inn Express is fresh from a $4 million renovation. It has bright, contemporary rooms and an indoor heated pool—we're willing to bet it's the nicest Holiday Inn you'll ever stay in. And at about $200 a night, it's a steal by Wine Country standards. // 8865 Conde Ln (Windsor), ihg.com


Windsor Wine Country Vacation Home

Prefer some privacy? You can alway Airbnb it, and there are a few local options available. If you're traveling with a group, this property has four bedrooms, two-and-a-half baths, and a backyard with a barbecue and fire pit. // From $200/night; airbnb.com.


Or, there's always Healdsburg....

Still want the luxurious Wine Country inn experience? Book a room just six miles away in Healdsburg—which was also evacuated during the fire—where choices of posh stays include Hotel Healdsburg and Single Thread.

PS: Please also consider donating your dollars or volunteer to support the fire relief efforts throughout Sonoma County.

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