Perhaps Cindy Pawlcyn’s sign outside her Mustards Grill describes the state of Napa Valley’s dining and drinking scene best: “Sorry, everything is delicious.” The superior ingredients certainly have something to do with it, but from roadside counters to nine-course epics, we’ve yet to have less than a memorable meal.
Breakfast + First Things
1357 Main Street, St. Helena | (707) 963-8192
A Main Street USA storefront invites you into this downtown St. Helena baking institution whose cozy quarters and loyal fanbase guarantee a ‘standing room only’ setup most mornings. The world famous English muffins really are every inch the pillowy dreams you’ve read about – they’re the perfect base for the best breakfast sandwich this side of the Thames. Even in a town chock-full of world class bakeries, Model sets a high standard.
1426 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga | (707) 942-5757
This locally owned no-frills café in funky downtown Calistoga is what ardent natives like to call “the real Napa”. We’ll recuse ourselves from that debate but can wholly vouch for the rich, delicious coffee, which is the best in the Valley. We recommend skipping the questionably hilarious souvenir magnet collection and snagging a few bags of single-origin coffee beans for your carry-on instead.
6528 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 944-2253
Visitors to downtown Yountville will gawk incredulously at this famous French bakery’s inevitably long lines, but the bottom line? It is well worth the wait. Flaky pain au chocolats, strawberry pastries, TKOs (Thomas Keller Oreos) and Better Nutters are foregone order conclusions, and the elusive weekend donuts are not to be missed if you can get them. The lattes, brewed from Keller’s own Equator Coffee, are an unsurprisingly better cup of joe.
Pacific Blues Café
6525 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 944-4455
Also in downtown Yountville, this sweet little deck restaurant is a great place to start the day. Hearty fare like a carnitas-filled Blues Breakfast Burrito or melts-in-your-mouth Vanilla Cinnamon French Toast prove wise choices when there’s a day of wine tastings ahead, and the town center station makes for prime people watching.
6510 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 944-0103
Just as it should be, the only thing more delicious than Bistro Jeanty’s children’s book illustration exterior is Chef Phillipe’s French country classic cuisine. Lunch at the Yountville mainstay’s bustling vineyard view patio on a sunny afternoon is one of Napa’s purest pleasures, and we’ve yet to have better moules – even in France!
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
738 Main Street, St. Helena | (707) 963-4555
It’s impossible to resist the farm fresh menu and lush garden grounds at this sprawling, picturesque restaurant and ranch collective. Stroll glass-in-hand through rows of blooming flowers and a convivial patio scene before taking a seat to sample simple dishes with a Southern inflection. The farm vegetable risotto is both light and incredibly hearty, while the 12-hour pulled pork is even better than advertised. Whatever you order, don’t skip the cheddar biscuits with honey butter – trust us.
1226 Washington Street, Calistoga | (707) 341-3131
When we heard Michelin-starred Solbar executive chef Brandon Sharp was opening a New Orleans homage in downtown Calistoga, we couldn’t wait to give it a try. Evangeline is a unique breath of fresh air, its patio-centric aesthetic and updated Creole cuisine striking just the right chord. Plus, there’s something novel about breaking up a marathon tasting day with spicy St. Claude Sazeracs or ice-cold Abitas.
7399 St. Helena Highway, Napa | (707) 944-2424
Before French Laundry or Bouchon were a glimmer in Thomas Keller’s eye, there was Mustards, Cindy Pawlcyn’s most sophisticated, sustainable take on a truckers’ stop. Comfortable, garden set and unendingly pleasant, this is also home to some of our favorite Napa comfort fare including the Mongolian Pork Chop with housemade mustard and the defiantly delicious Seafood Tostada. This is an unmissable Valley eatery.
6770 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 945-1000
The unassuming red ‘market’ building at Yountville’s edge belies the popular pizzeria housed within. By now, Ciccio is as famous for its dinner only, no reservations policy as it is for its rustic pastas and flavorful pies. The giant mosaic tile wood fired grill, imported from Italy, is the center of attention here. Given the crust perfection produced, the position of prominence is more than justified.
755 Silverado Trail, Calistoga | (707) 226-0860
Solbar at the Solage Calistoga resort is California cool dining at its best. Whether you’re seated on the beautiful, bocce-adjacent patio or beneath the elegant dining room’s vaulted ceilings, you’ll find yourself in the capable hands of an award-winning kitchen. This is food that is both inventive and approachable – crispy sole tacos, yellowfin tuna sliders, ‘the new standard’ crispy chicken sandwich – and utterly outstanding on the plate.
6480 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 944-2222
Richard Reddington’s clean, modern restaurant is a warm rendering of sophisticated fine dining with an Asian flair. The low-lit patio is a lovely place to be on a nice evening, but truth be told, we often beeline for the cozy wood bar in order to partake of the masterful cocktails and several orders of the sublime steamed bao buns. If you can’t make it for the full Redd experience, make sure a bao pitstop works its way into your Napa itinerary.
Tra Vigne – temporarily closed for renovations
1050 Charter Oak Avenue, St. Helena | (707) 963-4444
It is the most victorious of surprises when a restaurant you’ve long adored manages to be even better with time. Tra Vigne is just such a rarity, its pasta prowess and fluid service matched by the Tuscan courtyard’s vine-covered charm. This is a special place where dinners invariably turn celebratory. Luckily, the romantic gardens and courtyard encourage you to linger and enjoy awhile, long after you’ve had dessert.
The French Laundry
6640 Washington Street, Yountville | (707) 944-2380
Can a nine-course tasting menu really be worth the investment of time and funds? In a word: absolutely. In the decades since Thomas Keller opened this Michelin star-winning juggernaut, The French Laundry has never been content to rest on its laurels and it shows, true to reputation, in the little details. From a clothespin napkin tie to a trademark embossed lampshade to the fact that the genius flavor variations taste simply marvelous, this is the culinary keepsake you’ll never forget. Gather tip: plan on a mid-meal constitutional in the adjoining courtyard to take in the night air and make room for the next course.
NIGHTCAPS & DESSERTS
933 Main Street, St. Helena | (707) 963-3486
It’s a little unorthodox to list the former Taylor’s Refresher as the spot for a nightcap, but that’s only because Gott’s is always a good idea, no matter the time of day. True to its St. Helena roots, this is not your average burger stand as evidenced by the sushi-grade ahi burger and extensive list of wines by the glass. But it’s the rich and creamy ice cream shakes that will guarantee your sweet dreams – the Black & White and Coffee flavors are two of our very favorites.
1429 Main Street, St. Helena | (707) 968-9200
Given its propensity for ‘day drinking’, it’s no surprise that Wine Country tends to call it a night on the earlier end of the spectrum. But on the evenings where you’re game for a little bar raising, Howard Backen’s amber-lit Archetype is a great place to wet your whistle. Try a raspberry refreshing Doctor Ann, a spicy Scala or even a St. Helena Sangria and toast your good fortune.
Goose & Gander
1245 Spring Street, St. Helena | (707) 967-8779
It has been years since the beloved Martini House became Goose & Gander, and the latter has accomplished the delicate feat of both honoring the former’s mantle and offering a fresh, more casual atmosphere. A regular industry haunt, this tends to be a lively scene for cocktails and merriment with a last call that’s later than most.