Given the turmoil wrought by the presidential election and the massive uncertainty that looms ahead, it’s understandable that you might want to just grab a drink and devour some comfort food. Fortunately, Petaluma has a bevy of happy hour haunts and weekly specials that anyone would vote for – including these three Rivertown favorites.
Wishbone and the “Happiest of Hours”
Wishbone specializes in a kind of culinary jiu jitsu with counterintuitive combinations that just might be the model for achieving cultural unity in our otherwise divided country. What might read like a culture clash on the menu is pure harmony on the tastebuds. Sometimes it’s “down home” meets “haute cuisine,” other times it’s “Look, we know the guy who grew this and this is the awesome thing we did to it – you’re welcome.”
To wit, try their house-fermented kimchi and a butter fried egg up against can of Olympia beer and you will wonder why you’ve been abusing your tongue all these years. Sounds kinda weird, you say? Sure. But if it brings your hipster kid brother and blue collar father to the same table it’s worth the $5 (the beer is only two bucks!) and it’s surprising how well they pair.
Ditto the “Dirrty Fries Fo’ Real” a $4 gut punch of fingerling potatoes topped with beer cheese, miso ranch, secret spice, seeds, crispy pork belly, chive and fried greens. It’s like Wishbone took the American “melting pot” metaphor literally and cooked it up and threw in extra R just to make “dirty” concept that much “dirtier-er.” What should you drink with it? A Grüner Veltliner, duh. This white wine is a dry, Austrian varietal that has enough “will to power” to cut through the oils of the fry-pocalypse – which is served in a ceramic pot, by the way – and keep your palate in shape for its next devilishly delicious onslaught.
Those looking for a mellower ride might consider the labneh cheese – this is a housemade yogurt-based cheese prevalent throughout Middle Eastern cuisines. It’s creamy, sweet and comes served with nuts, honey and crostini. That, and a “Fresh Screw,” Wishbone’s take on the venerable screwdriver (a no frills $5 mix of Stolichnaya vodka and fresh orange juice) and “Morning in America 2.0” almost has a nice ring to it – especially if you’re starting your day at 4 p.m. with hard alcohol but such soft cheese.
Get there: Located on the north end of the boulevard in area that will surely be called “NoBo” (get it… North Boulevard?), Wishbone is located at 841 Petaluma Blvd. No., Petaluma. (707) 763-2663. wishbonepetaluma.com.
Brixx Pizzeria: Making Mondays Suck Less
Stroll into the heart of the historic Lan Mart building and your senses may be overcome by the aromatic nexus of pizza production. With Old Chicago Pizza upstairs and Brixx Pizzeria below, it’s deep dish above and thin crust below – which sounds like some kind of pizza mullet. The “party in the back” part, however, is handily owned by Brixx when it comes to Mondays thanks to their $20 pizza-and-a-bottle-of-wine deal.
It should stand as an endorsement that many of Petaluma’s other restaurateurs (whose own establishments are closed Mondays) frequently cameo at the popular pizzeria. A favorite combo is the “Nor Cal” – sundried tomatoes, pine nuts, mozzarella, goat cheese and fresh basil – which goes great with the Mark West Springs pinot noir. You will feel quintessentially West Coast at a Rust Belt price.
Pro-tip: Order a second pizza to take home “for the kids” but enjoy the wine right then and there. Brixx gets it and they will happily keep your second pizza boxed and warm atop the oven for you.
Get there: Brixx Pizzeria, 16 Kentucky St. (in the Lan Mart Shops), Petaluma. (707) 766-8162. brixxpizzeria.com.
Aqus Cafe: Extremely Happy Hour
Aqus Cafe in the Foundry Wharf boasts an “Extremely Happy Hour” featuring discounted pints and pitchers ($3.50 and $13.75, respectively), and wine by the glass and bottle ($5.95 and $22.50). The southside hotspot (SoBo, anyone?) is one of Petaluma’s political and cultural nerve centers, brimming with open discourse reminiscent of the cafes of yore (think Co-Existence Bagel Shop circa 1959).
Pro-tip: Go big to make the math work further in your favor. Considering an average 750 milliliter bottle of wine contains just over 25 fluid ounces, even with a heavy-handed “Petaluma pour” of 5-ounces per glass, you’re getting five glasses for almost a buck-fifty less than the per glass price. Good times.
But wait, there’s more – Aqus offers artisan flatbread pizza’s for $6.95, a panoply of quesadillas or a hummus plate with flatbread for $5.25, a culinary feat known as “Bruschetta Fusion” or baked brie with figs and cranberries for $6.25 and straight-up, old school chili nachos for $7.25
Get there: The Extremely Happy Hour at Aqus Cafe occurs between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m., Mondays and Tuesdays, and 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., Wednesday through Saturday, and 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Aqus Cafe, 189 H St., Petaluma. (707) 778-6060. AqusCafe.com.
Daedalus Howell spends hours happily as Daedalus Howell at DaedalusHowell.com.