Although the 13 restaurants at the Graton Resort & Casino are now up and running, the chefs and owners are still tweaking menus and hours to cater to the vagaries of supply and demand.
But it's clear that so far, customers are willing to wait in line for the chance to experience the food at the four sit-down restaurants as well as the nine counter-service restaurants in the 500-seat Marketplace.
“I was so hungry, and I couldn't make up my mind,” said Mo Tajik, who drove up from San Jose last weekend to check out the casino. “I'm gluten-sensitive, so I got enchiladas with the corn tortillas (from La Fondita).”
Tajik waited in line for 10 minutes; his enchiladas took about 30 more minutes to arrive. Still, he was pleased with the dish.
“It's different,” he said of the Enchiladas Michoacanas, served with sauteed potatoes, carrots, jalapeños and chicken ($11). “I like it.”
La Fondita has a taco truck and a restaurant on Sebastopol Road in Santa Rosa.
Some diners who live in the region said the casual casino restaurants offer better value than the original, Sonoma County eateries. Others said they preferred the food at the original.
“It was good quantity, but the quality is better at the other restaurant,” said Rosa Alvarez of Santa Rosa, who ordered enchiladas from La Fondita Taqueria at the casino.
On the other hand, Alma Boardman of Santa Rosa was pleased with both meals she ate last weekend: two kinds of Chicken Wings ($8 each order) from Douglas Keane's DK Wings on Saturday night, and a combination plate ($11) from Boathouse Sushi, which included Orange Chicken, Chicken with Jalapeños, Beef with Broccoli plus a side of Chow Mein on Sunday.
Boathouse Sushi has a another restaurant in Rohnert Park and a sister eatery, Kettles Vietnamese Bistro, in Santa Rosa.
“It's more affordable here than at the restaurant in Rohnert Park,” said Boardman, who dined with her husband and two young daughters. “I'd love to go to M.Y. China, but you can't get in.”