When traveling to Napa, you eat your way through it, one bite and sip at a time. As one of the United States’ ultimate dining destinations, it’s always wise to plan ahead and think through meals ahead of time. In Napa, dinners and four course meals are the norm, so prepare for reservations particularly when traveling with a group. Known for a Mediterranean climate and the cusp of California cuisine, prepare yourself for culinary delights, plate after plate.
Keep reading for our favorite spots after the jump!
Where to Eat: Napa Valley
It’s world-renowned and for good reason. This is always our first stop on any morning spent in Napa. Make sure to grab a few baguettes to go (for wine tasting), in addition to their phenomenal selection of pastry, croissants, and sandwiches. Bask in the sunshine with your cuppa from Ritual Coffee (see below) and ease your way into a stunning day into Napa. Bouchon Bakery is one of the many restaurants from famed executive chef, Thomas Keller, of The French Laundry. Regardless of your budget, this is a great way to try some of his food and grab some sweets for the trip back home. During peak seasons, plan for a line that can wrap outside the building.
Right next door to the Bakery, is Keller’s Bouchon Bistro. This is by far one of my favorite dining experiences to date. With comfortable food and a phenomenal staff, you will be treated with care and excellence through every bite of the Parisian cuisine. We started our meal with Rillettes aux Deux Saumons served alongside Laitue. This dish was light and fresh. With clarified butter, salmon, lemon, and garlic, the salmon had a robust and lovely flavor. Per our waiter’s suggestion, we also enjoyed this over the bibb lettuces salad. For our second course, we opted to share the classic French onion soup. Our main course was a stunning Poulet Roti. With chicken and peas, paired with the truffle potato puree. To finish the meal, we dined on coffee ice cream with a 4 layer brownie from the bakery, topped with a decadent chocolate ganache. This meal was classic French cuisine and a phenomenal experience. Any time I travel back to Napa, I will make sure to return to Bouchon.
If it’s your first trip to Napa, make sure to walk around Yountville after your trip to the bakery and bistro. Lit up at night, every where you turn is a historical building, beautiful al fresco cafe, or dining area. (I like to call it the Disneyland of Napa.) It’s magical and inspiring alike, providing the perfect form of relaxation and inspiration.
A recent addition to the valley is Farm at Carneros. This restaurant takes fine dining to new levels with it’s excellence, artistry, and stunning dishes. We were delighted and surprised at the additional courses the chef included within the meal to fill out our plates. Beginning with an amuse bouche of peas, bagel crisp, and beet puree the meal spoke of all things spring. Our bread course was a house made olive focaccia and the best parker house roll I’ve ever consumed. For the main, I ordered the Lassen Trout with Sunchokes, Leek, and sweet orange. I’m excited to try to recreate this dish at home (knowing Lassen is only an hour away.) To round out the meal, we opted for the Chocolate Candy Bar. A deconstructed dessert of salted caramel ganache, flourless cake, and caramel ice cream. As an avid fan of the Netflix series Chef’s Table, I was delighted and walked away from this dinner full and inspired. It was a meal that pushed boundaries and reinvented the typical conventions of food. I loved every second of it and am inspired to return to gathering friends around the table after a season of rest.
Located in the heart of Napa, make sure you head to Oxbow Market. An open air market with restaurants, vendors, and gourmet grocery stalls, the ingredients you find are sure to inspire any foodie. We started our mornings here with a trip to Ritual Coffee (some of the best coffee you’ll find in Napa) and returned everyday for a quick lunch prior to wine tastings. (This is a great way to try multiple options and invest in your meals during the evenings.)
From the San Francisco area, they bring phenomenal taste, knowledgeable staff, and some of the best pour overs to Napa. Once you grab your cup off the bar, make sure to grab a coffee sleeve. With a stunning etched drawing of the interior of the market, you’ll make sure to note the detail and enjoy the total experience as you get your morning perk.
While we started our first morning at Bouchon, we enjoyed our other mornings here. The pastries are delicious (Dare we say even better.) With a madeline cookie and cheese danish in tow, they have mastered the taste, and finery things of pastry making. (Including the best laminated dough results we’ve seen in a while.)
If you’re looking for a butcher, meats for your charcuterie platter, or the best deli lunch options make sure to head to Fatted Calf. They’re knowledgeable in all things meat and cheese choices and have some of the best lunch in the market. (These are the folks behind cookbooks Jerky and In the Charcuterie, so they definitely know their stuff.) My lunch consisted of a delicious Moroccan Lamb Meatball Stew, served with a herb yogurt sauce.
Have any Napa favorites? We hope you’re loving this week’s posts and we’ll be back tomorrow to talk, you guessed it! All things wine.