Local’s Dining Gems In the Napa Valley, Slightly off the Beaten Path….
By Dynie Sanderson “NapaFoodGal”
Dining in the Napa Valley offers one of the most amazing culinary experiences you can imagine to ever indulge in with so many Michelin Starred restaurants and Celebrity Chefs. Getting in to some of those notable dining establishments can sometimes be a challenge and somewhat daunting. Yes indeed, it is most definitely a memorable experience to have added a dining extravaganza at one of the more exclusive establishments to your culinary bucket list. However, there is more to the Napa Valley dining scene to discover slightly off the beaten path!
If you are visiting Napa for more than a few days or live in Napa full time, a more casual less intimidating experience is a must as Napa Valley’s epicurean expose offers an extensive plethora of incredible dining options a little more off the radar. With Napa Valley’s culinary centric growth, adding to the many popular local’s favorite haunts are new and innovative bistros, cafes, brewpubs and trattorias popping up throughout the Napa Valley. Always a delicious day in our Wine Country! Here are a few selections to give a tasty try!
Boon Fly Café – 4048 Sonoma Hwy, Napa 707-299-4870 www.boonflycafe.com This charming café is located in the heart of Carneros in Napa adjacent to the Carneros Resort. This contemporary roadhouse serves modern rustic cuisine with dishes like their Akaushi Kobe Beef Burger or their famous Baby Back Ribs. Don’t miss their Boon Fly Café donuts with the chocolate dipping sauce any time of the day. Weekend Brunch is a must try with the Boon Fly Benedict or the Breakfast Tacos. Dinner is the best time to avoid the crowds, but you can also make a reservation.
Celadon – 500 Main Street, Napa 707-254-9690 www.celadonnapa.com A true hidden gem in downtown Napa. You won’t find this delicious eatery from the road as it is tucked away in a charming courtyard right along the downtown Napa Riverfront. It is easy to find though, located in the Historic Napa Mill Building and well worth the visit. Celadon has been a popular favorite for over 20 years, serving inspired global comfort food along with an award-winning wine list with selections from all around the world. Their flavors offer creative dishes with Mediterranean, Asian and American influences. They are open for Brunch, Lunch, Dinner and of course Happy Hours! Their Pan-Roasted Mussels are a must try!
Fume Bistro & Bar – 4050 Byway East, Napa 707-257-1999 www.fumebistro.com It is not uncommon to run into a familiar face at this popular local eatery whether you are in for lunch, dinner or just a happy hour beverage, it is one of Napa’s favorite neighborhood spots. They have just launched “Sunday Supper Night” – every week they will have a set menu of 3 courses of your favorite comfort foods for $28. A popular staple on their menu is their wood fired pizzas. And of course, if it is an amazing brunch you are looking for, on Saturdays and Sunday’s this is the place to be. They even have a pet-friendly patio for dining as well. So, after your walk at Alston Park, be sure and come on by and bring Fido too!
Graces Table – 1400 2nd Street, Napa 707-226-6200 www.gracestable.net A Global Kitchen Focusing on France, Italy and The Americas. Michelin Guide refers to Grace’s Table as “Around the World in Four Courses without leaving Wine Country”. This popular downtown bistro has been delighting locals and visitors alike for almost ten years. Chef Mauro Pando and his team serve up 3 meal periods seven days a week, as you can imagine, their kitchen is bustling creating high quality eclectic cuisine. They have received the Michelin Bib Gourmand award for the past five years with high quality yet affordable cuisine. The Argentinian Empanada is one of my favorites on the menu. Their Kurobuta Pork Osso Bucco Risotto is a shining star and their burgers are a must have. There is something for everyone on their innovative menus. Full Bar with Happy Hour Specials too!
Hop Creek Gastro Pub and Nano Brewery – 3252 Browns Valley Road, Napa 707-257-7708 www.hopcreekpub.com It’s not just a locals’ favorite local pub, it is a brewery too! In addition to their food menu they have an extensive beer menu with craft beers on tap. This casual and friendly dining destination, located in the Brown’s Valley Shopping Center, provides loyal locals and visitors to Napa with a homey and welcoming experience. Their burgers are outstanding and their flatbreads are a must try. If it is Happy Hour time, be sure and stop by, they offer a yummy selectin of “Opening Acts”. Their pretzel bites are a must try and go perfectly with a beer and the ballgame. Breakfast is served on the weekends along with a Mimosa by the Carafe or their Creekside Green Chili Bloody Mary! Dog Friendly too!
Napa Valley Bistro – 975 Clinton Street, Napa 707-666-2383 www.napavalleybistro.com Opened in 2013, Napa Valley Bistro quickly became a locals favorite dining spot and power lunch stop for busy downtown executives. Chef’s Bernardo Ayala and co-owner Ernesto Martinez had a vision to create a restaurant nurturing the community supporting local farmers using locally sourced sustainable organic food from the Napa Valley. They have staked their claim in downtown Napa’s expanding culinary scene and have an abundance of loyal patrons who frequent this bistro offering down home fare and fine dining. Building a sense of community is important for Napa Valley Bistro. Timeless favorites on the menu are the Lamb Burger and the St. Louis Ribs. They also offer Vegetarian options as well.
Il Posto – 4211 Solano Avenue, Napa 707-251-8600 www.ilpostonapa.com Owner Justin Graffigna had visions of bringing an old school Italian restaurant to the Napa Valley and he did just that when he opened Il Posto off Solano Avenue off the beaten path from the plethora of downtown Napa dining. This Italian bistro offers a homey welcoming atmosphere where the tantalizing aromas from the kitchen welcome you from the moment you step through the door. The recipes are family inspired offering an extensive variety of housemade pastas such as Orecchiette, Tagliarini, Cannelloni, as well as pizzas, antipasti and Secondi dishes – Veal Parmigiana Eggplant Parmigiana to name a few. There is even a Bambini menu for the kids. Be sure to make a reservation, the word has gotten out! Bravo!
Taqueria Maria – 640 3rd Street, Napa 707-257-6925 www.taqueriamaria.com One of my favorite local spots for authentic Mexican cuisine, located across from the Napa Valley Fairgrounds is Taqueria Maria. It is considered the “go-to” restaurant for the best Mexican food in town. They serve daily starting with breakfast at 8am. In addition to their extensive menu they offer beer and wine as well as other beverages from Mexico. If you are one of those that like really hot sauces be sure to ask for it, as their Habanero sauce will truly heat things up! They have become so popular that I can be a little bit of a wait to get a table, though well worth the wait. One of our favorites is their Carnitas!!! Though you won’t go wrong with anything on their delicious menu.
Hurley’s Restaurant – 6518 Washington Street, Yountville 707-944-2345 www.hurleysrestaurant.com Chef Bob Hurley is no stranger to the restaurant scene in Yountville. He has created outstanding cuisine to his loyal following for over 20 years and I too am truly one of his dedicated followers. Bob is no stranger to the community, as he has been a community leader helping to put Yountville and the Napa Valley dining scene on the map as well as a regular participant in numerous charitable events. Hurley’s Restaurant located in the small culinary hamlet of Yountville offers a savory variety of seasonal wine country Mediterranean inspired dishes. Bob is also known for his special dinner events – Wild Game Week, Winemaker Dinners, Cuban Themed Cigar Dinner, Robert Burns Supper, Friday Night BBQ’s and more. On your next visit to Yountville, Hurley’s is a must stop!
Protea – 6488 Washington Street, Yountville 707-415-5035 www.proteayv.com This Caribbean inspired global cuisine café offers you a delicious stop to delight in the creative dishes transforming everyday street food from around the globe into chef-driven palate pleasing masterpieces. Protea is a Caribbean cuisine fast casual restaurant with counter service and table side delivery where the menu changes daily to take advantage of the freshest of products available in the Napa Valley. Dine on the deck overlooking the town of Yountville with plates of Pickled Steak Tacos, Empanadas, Goat Barbacoa Sliders, the Cubano. For Brunch, the Eggs Benedict and the Huevos Rancheros are a must try. They also are able to accommodate Vegan, Vegetarian and Gluten-Free Requests. This is a tasty addition to the global cuisine offerings in the Napa Valley.
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – 3111 St. Helena Hwy N, St. Helena 707-968-5434 www.brasswoood.com Located just north of Saint Helena just off Hwy 29 is a wonderful retreat which is the Brasswood Winery where you can wine, dine, sip and shop. What makes their restaurant so special and so familiar is the Brasswood team is the original entourage from TraVigne in St. Helena spearheaded by chef David Nuno who brought with him many of his well-known recipes from the iconic St. Helena Italian restaurant. Not on the menu, but served daily is his signature mozzarella dish, “Mozza”. Be sure to ask for it when you are there. There isn’t a day that goes by that you will spot one of many of the notable winemakers in the valley breaking bread. It has remained a true “Vintners Village”. By the way, their burger is absolutely “Memorable”!
Busters Original Southern BBQ – 1207 Foothill Blvd, Calistoga 707-942-5605 www.busterssouthernBBQ.com Showcased in National Geographic, referred to Busters as the “Best BBQ West of the Mississippi” and voted “Best Barbeque” by The Bohemian year after year. When in Calistoga, after a day of wine tasting, Busters patio is the perfect stop for their Authentic Southern BBQ dishes with recipes from the heart of Louisiana with pork ribs, beef ribs, pulled pork, tri-tip, BBQ chicken, savory baked beans. It’s makes your mouth water just thinking of it. Open for lunch or dinner 7 days a week. Dine in or take out! And be sure and stop by for great jazz and blues on Sunday afternoons.