February 08, 2012
Dining: The Wurst in Headlsburg, CA
Beer. Sausage. Kraut. I ask you: what more do you need in life?
I have been asking myself this question daily since Mom and I took my Dad up to Healdsburg, CA, to celebrate his birthday. There, on the corner of the square, there is a happening little joint with the best food in town: The Wurst is a sausage house and beer garden, and the perfect blend of casual California living with really kicking food.
As it happens, Dad worked with the owner, Charles Bell, back in the day. He used to want to open an ice cream shop, and tested many of his recipes on my father, the happiest of guinea pigs. (I got to try some too, one summer, in between battling the fax machine and getting paper-cuts.) Charles was at the restaurant when we visited (I got the feeling that he is rarely away), serving customers, ensuring they're enjoying their time, and chatting with nearly everyone.
The sausages, but for a special Detroit sausage and the traditional Coney Island Dog, are all made just for The Wurst, and they are all delicious. Sauerkraut and relishes are made in house, and, rumor has it, the burger is to die for. They serve Double Rainbow ice cream, and make delicious shakes, hand cut fries, and tasty onion rings. And they offer a small but excellent selection of local brews, mostly German in style, including my newest favorite, Scrimshaw Pilsner.
I told Charles, and I'll tell you: I don't know why more cities don't have places like this. Here in Arlington, we have 8 gourmet burger shops, 5 fro-you shops, as many cupcakeries, several burrito places, a handful of pizza joints, gourmet and otherwise, and lots and lots of bars. A beer garden is what we need: casual, delicious, inexpensive, and hearty food paired with the finest selection of local brews. Seriously: if anyone wants to start one in DC, I will gladly sign on to help.
22 Matheson Street
Open daily, but hours vary.
Headlsburg is one of the old California cities, and was built in the traditional Spanish way, with a large central plaza. So, when you're done eating your sausage and drinking your beer, wander around the Square. There is a great bookshop, some antique stores and gift shops, an old-school candy store, and a lovely coffee shop (below), among other fine shops, plus several bakeries and groceries that are worth popping into. The Plaza is great for people watching, too. The town saw growth at odd times, so pay attention to the broad range of architectural styles (below, neo-classical alongside mid-century modern). If you're staying in town, then make a reservation at Bistro Ralph for dinner.