It's a rare treat to walk through an entire downtown district in the space of a short lunch break, but in cozy little Penngrove, it can be done. And while your trip will only take a few blocks, you'll be walking through more than a century and a half of local history.
The town's founders first settled the area just north of Petaluma in the 1850s, and a number of the buildings still in use downtown date back to the very early 1900s.
Vicki Mack of Mack's Bar and Grill set up shop on Main Street in 2010, but she has her own local history.
"I grew up on Jacobsen Lane, and our house was half in Penngrove and half in Petaluma, but my bedroom was on the Penngrove side, so I consider myself a Penngrovian," Mack said.
Mack's is just one of several charming spots to stop along Penngrove's Main Street. Up the street to the north a short ways is the classic, old-school neighborhood bar, the Penngrove Pub. Across the street, and slightly to the south, stands the Superburger cafe. And right next door to Mack's is the tiny but widely celebrated Yanni's Sausage Grill, gold medal winner at the Sonoma County Harvest Fair in 2010 and 2011.
"In a little town, you can't depend on just the local people," said owner John Vrattos, who opened the place two years ago with his wife, Francesca. "We get tourists. We're not their destination. They're really going to the wineries, but they find us."
Every Monday and Tuesday, the couple closes up shop to make their own fresh sausage, usually with a European flavor, to be served on fresh bread from the nearby Full Circle Bakery. The bakery is in the Grove Shopping Center at the south end of town, which is also home to several homey spots, including Caprara's Pizzeria and the JavAmor?Cafe, which has outdoor seating.
And if you're in the mood to picnic under shady trees, don't overlook historic Penngrove Park, also on Main Street.
— Dan Taylor