NileGuide Expert Says:
Best seafood and sunset dining on the Sonoma coast
11048 Highway 1
Jenner, CA 95450
NileGuide Expert tip:
There aren't enough window tables for everyone to have one, so go early and enjoy one of bartender Patrick Keane's artisanal cocktails on the deck until your table of choice is available.
Everything about River's End is an unexpected delight, from the friendly, unpretentious atmosphere to the thoughtfully organized menu listing one joyfully inventive dish after another.
Named for its breathtakingly romantic location, River's End overlooks the mouth of the Russian River where the placid waters mix with the crashing waves of the Pacific. Repeat guests know to time dinnertime reservations for the sunset hour, and to come early for handcrafted cocktails or "bubbles and oysters," to be savored while toasting the fiery sky from the riverside deck.
This isn't one of those seaside restaurants where the view trumps the food, however; everything we ate was mysteriously delicious enough to have us dissecting the details of dishes from first to last bite. We ate every crispy leaf of the kicking ahi salad, with its zingy Mandarin orange vinaigrette, and had to take multiple photos of the technicolor beet salad, a rainbow tower of farm-fresh beets layered with mascarpone and goat cheeses. The eclectic entrees feature pan-seared duck and roasted elk in addition to more standard fare, but the star of the show is the Dungeness crab tasting menu, which showcases the day's catch in a variety of playful combinations.
The best restaurants reflect the personalities of their owners; you know instantly upon entering that you couldn't be anywhere else. River's End is such a place; owner Bert Rangel seems to be everywhere, greeting guests personally and conveying his ebullient delight at having landed in this gorgeous location to one and all. River's End is a true family affair; on Sunday nights, Rangel's two young daughters help with hostessing and sauce-tasting duties, and guests couldn't stop smiling at their cheerful enthusiasm.
While dinner at River's End makes the perfect anchor point for a romantic weekend, many people also make the trek up the coast for a sunny lunch or romantic dinner alone. With Goat Rock just one of several spectacular beaches nearby, River's End makes the perfect cap to a day of beachcombing. t