Sangria, the wine punch originally from Spain, Portugal and Argentina, is also a popular party drink in the U.S. The fruity wine-based drink is a natural at Latin-themed restaurants and bars, and there are numerous Sangria recipes that are simple to make at home as well. San Francisco’s North Bay Area has its share of cool spots serving this refreshing drink. Check out these five locations for the best local sangria around.
1613 4th St.
San Rafael, CA 94901
Here is a restaurant with a true California vibe. The Whipper Snapper serves California-Caribbean cuisine, blending Latin flavors with local northern California farm-fresh ingredients. Owner Chef Bill Higgins is a former chef and part owner of Cha Cha Cha, the popular long-time San Francisco restaurants that were one of the first spots to highlight flavors of Latin dishes, tapas and Caribbbean cuisine. The restaurants’ sangria caught on quickly, and the Whipper Snapper has the sangria hold in San Rafael. The restaurant’s drink specials include its signature housemade sangria in both red and white versions, so everyone is happy.
1129 Sebastopol Road
Santa Rosa, CA 95407
This small but popular restaurant gets rave reviews for its authentic Peruvian dishes. With a menu strong on seafood and fish dishes, and a list of at least six ceviches, Sazon attacts Peruvian foodies who generally find the food equal to what they have eaten in Peru. Serving lunch and dinner, along with a dessert menu filled with intriguing Peruvian sweets such as squash donuts with fig honey and a passion fruit tart, Sazon is a winner and one of the best restaurants in Santa Rosa. The wine list boasts quite a number of wines from Argentina and Peru, plus both sangria blanca (white) and sangria roja (red).
912 Lincoln Ave.
San Rafael, CA 94901
Las Camelias, an award-winning family-run restaurant, is a “labor of love,” according to Carol Fregoso, one half of the husband-wife team that has been serving wonderful, authentic Mexican cuisine in San Rafael for 35 years. The focus here is on fresh, healthy and delicious, using mostly organic, top-grade and fresh local ingredients. Plus, Chef Gabriel Fregoso created all of the recipes including the sauces. His attention to quality shows with plenty of options for meat eaters and vegetarians alike. Las Camelias also serves excellent homemade sangria, made with red burgundy wine and fresh orange and lime juices. Customers say it is the best sangria they have ever had.
5 Main St.
Tiburon, CA 94920
Guaymas Restaurant is situated in lovely Tiburon and offers an “authentic south-of-the-border experience.” The menus are inspired by Mexican celebration foods that duplicate the flavors found in the small coastal fishing village for which the restaurant is named. Menu items are made from scratch with locally grown vegetables and fruits, plus all orders come with made-to-order tortillas. Introduce yourself to Guaymas during happy hour, Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., when you can enjoy a glass of the house red or white sangria or other signature drinks and specially priced happy hour menu items.
La Salette Restaurant
452 1st St. E., Suite H
Sonoma, CA 95476
With its reputation as one of the Sonoma Valley’s favorite restaurants, La Salette, headed by Chef Manuel Azevedo, celebrates the complex flavors of Portuguese cuisine. Chef Azevedo honors his homeland while adapting its cuisine to the top-quality ingredients found in California. This means California wines, fresh fruit and local honey are perfect for refreshing sangria, which is especially popular in Portugal in the summer. The La Salette house sangria is a definite specialty and includes passion fruit and pomegranate sangria with Port wine and Vinho Verde. It tastes as wonderful as it sounds.
Melanie Graysmith is a writer, artist and educator based in San Francisco. She writes on adult education, art and lifestyle topics, and enjoys writing short stories and poetry. She is also a member of an independent filmmaking group. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.