Fremont Diner, Sonoma

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Fremont Diner Chicken and waffles in Sonoma, CA

Fremont Diner Chicken and waffles in Sonoma, CA

The Fremont Diner, hidden away among Sonoma’s vineyards and pastures, is the sort of place every traveler dreams about stumbling into, but rarely ever does.

Oozing nouveau decrepitude, a heavy dose of John Deere chic and the irresistible lure of a butter and pork-soaked menu that would bring a tear of recognition to grandpappy’s eyes, the diner is everything good about, well, roadside diners. Here, “Praise the Lard”, isn’t just a quirky tag line, but a mission from 7am to 4pm daily.

The former burger stand, which stood empty for more than a year, had long been a serviceable plastic basket eatery called Babe’s Burgers and Franks. It’s most redeeming quality the 70’s-era Pepsi sign out front and the fact that it stood at the halfway point between the Sonoma and Napa Valleys.

After some jittery opening months, the diner has gelled into sweet Southern Sunday morning perfection with breakfasty-brunchy dishes like the Almost Famous Biscuits & Gravy (sweet cream biscuits with lush sausage gravy, $7.25), Black Pepper Brisket Hash (oak smoked brisket with caramelized onions, potatoes and a fried egg, $9.25), Buttermilk Waffles ($6.75), Cheesy House Ground Grits ($4.25) and Braeburn Apple Donuts ($5).

Fremont Diner Chicken and waffles in Sonoma, CA

Fremont Diner in Sonoma, CA

Walk-up and order, grab a mug of Taylor Maid coffee and one of the Mr. Potato Heads scattered around, and stake your claim at one of the reclaimed wood tables inside (in warmer months, there are outdoor picnic tables) or the kitchen bar (for ringside seats).

Reinforcing my long-held notion that caterers truly make some of the best chefs (at least when it comes to comfort food), St. Helena’s Chad Harris (of Caridwyn & Sons, formerly Rising Sun Catering) is the chief spatula behind the diner. Along with the diner grub, Harris also sells homey jams, jellies and sauces,  coveted Rancho Gordo Beans, “throwback” sodas and other regional goodies.

It’s worth a return trip for lunch, when the Fremont Diner stokes up the grills again with The Fremont Burger (a Marin Sun grass fed burger with all the fixins, $9.50); Whole Hog Sandwich (oak-smoked pork with coleslaw & pickles on an egg bun, $8.99), Nashville fried chicken with macaroni ($10.25) and a Wild Shrimp Po’Boy ($11.50). Sides include fries, collard greens, Rancho Gordo bean sand milkshakes. For dessert: Fried pies (natch), giant cookies and sweet milk chicory coffee.

But get there fast. Locals and savvy San Franciscans have already found this hidden gem, and it won’t stay a secret long.

Fremont Diner, 2660 Fremont Dr., Sonoma, (707) 938-7370. Open daily 7(ish)am to 4pm.


Author: biteclub

Food Dining and Restaurants in Sonoma County and beyond, is Wine Country dining with Drive-Thru Sensibility.

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  1. not so sure about the “grass fed” beef for the Fremont Burger. texture and coloring of the beef wasn’t exactly pleasing and no vegis were served with the burger. I would go for a grain fed beef burger any day before spending another $10.50 for the freemont cheese burger. i appreciate the effort but the whole ” range free” “organic” “grass fed” sonoma county mumbo jumbo of saving the world doesn’t belong in the kitchen.

  2. love the fremont diner
    we had lunch there today and might be going back for breakfast…beautiful drive and great totally reasonably priced food yummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

  3. Fremont Diner is awesome..also has great reviews on BTW for the record, glad the PD dropped the Forum section, was never monitored and was FULL of haters.

  4. amazing – we just had a tasty bfast there today, having found the place on yelp. yummy brisket hash and ricotta pancakes, and a delightful spot! can’t wait to try lunch …. soon … but pls note – bfast served only till 11am on weekdays.

  5. DannyBoy, Red Rose Cafe on Piner and Coffee in Santa Rosa is the only place in the area I am aware of that serves chicken and waffles. Chicken is worht it there.
    As for this place, I will be making a trip out there this weekend. SOunds so good. Thanks for the review Heather.

  6. You should have worked Guy Fieri into the review. (It’s a diner after all.) THAT would have brought the commenters back!
    By the way, does anyone know if the asian guy is still cooking at French Laundry?

  7. I haven’t been this excited about breakfast in a LOOOOONG time. I was seriously squealing the whole time. Really cool spot.

  8. Thank you for the review! I commute from Rohnert Park to Napa and I got to watch the whole renovation process as I passed every day. Since I am ALWAYS running late in the AM and I dont get off work until 5- I have often wondered (ok, fantasized..I love roadside diners) what the food was like here. After your breakfast descriptions- I might have to haul my butt out of bed earlier and stop in there sometime. I am assuming that have to-go? If so, I am REALLY looking forward :)

  9. Didn’t even think about that! The timelines do correspond. Weird.

  10. I’m hazarding a guess that a lot of the “commenting folks” left when the PD stopped allowing article comments. I may be wrong, though.

  11. This place is THE BOMB. Wish I lived closer. Fresh, delicious comfort “fast food” in a funky setting.

  12. No chix and waffles that I saw. Did you try them at P/30?

  13. It sounds yummy, and the Black Pepper Brisket Hash is a dish right up my carnivorous alley. Is that a complimentary bread basket in the 3rd photo, and if it is do all the breakfast patrons get one of those?
    Also, do they serve a Chicken and Waffle plate? I’m still searching for the real deal up here (I’m talking Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles type of goodness).

  14. Thanks Danny. I was getting SOOO lonely. Nope. It’s $3 for the bread basket.

  15. It sounds yummy, and the Black Pepper Brisket Hash is a dish right up my carnivorous alley. Is that a complimentary bread basket in the 3rd photo, and if it is do all the breakfast patrons get one of those?

  16. Where is everyone? I’m feeling really lonely lately. Are the comments not working, or are my posts just boring? Either way, just let me know, cause I can’t figure out why there aren’t any comments. Hmmm.

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