Willie Bird’s is a roadhouse that has always been focused on turkey. This means turkey sandwiches, turkey burgers, turkey pastas and even turkey “steak.” Turkey breakfasts are even available in the mornings. Their motto is: “Turkey all ways. Turkey always.” The clientele and waitstaff are older, and the vibes are are very familial. Welcoming cordiality is well appreciated when sitting down to Thanksgiving inspired plate lunches and dinners. If you really can’t stand turkey they do serve all the other diner classics, but, really, it’s all about the bird.
The classic plate here comes with turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes drowned in giblet gravy, with a bit of cranberry sauce on the side. Basically, it’s all the best parts of Thanksgiving, minus the pie, which may be ordered a la carte for dessert. The turkey rice and three bean soups that came before the meal were both excellent, and set expectations for the turkey high.
Turkey here is juicier than we ever get it at home, but it still has the proper texture of the bird with a bit of poultry gaminess coming through. Mashed potatoes are rich and flavorful without resorting to excessive butter. Stuffing is the old-fashioned mushy bread stuffing that most of us have upgraded from over the years. Still, it has a nostalgic appeal.
Of the less usual turkey preparations available, Turkey Fried Steak is unusual. It is made with thigh meat pounded flat and covered with cream gravy. The color of the dark turkey meat actually resembles chicken fried steak. It is tender and the turkey flavor comes through nicely. We’d come back and get this with eggs if we ever do breakfast here.
Willie Bird’s shouldn’t be missed. Why is it so good? Decades of practice cooking Thanksgiving dinner, rather than doing it once a year. It doesn’t hurt that the turkey here comes from their own free-range poultry farms.
Santa Rosa is often considered America’s best beer and wine town. Willie Bird’s has unusually excellent drinking options for a turkey dinner joint.