Napa Valley is about an hour drive north from San Francisco – the perfect day trip or weekend get away if you love anything food and wine! Napa county consists of several little towns, most famous for its wineries and restaurants are Downtown Napa, Yountville & St. Helena.
Over the past two decade, Napa has become a mecca for foodies and the culinary industry. With it came a following of celebrity chefs. The Michelin Guide lists 7 restaurants in Napa: French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood, La Touque, The Restaurant at Auberge, Solbar, Terra, Bouchon Bistro.
I prefer to enjoy Napa’s casual vibes; sunshine, vineyard concerts and picnics. Here are some of my favorites spots:
Open seven days a week,Oxbow Public Market is the perfect spot to grab some coffee by Rituals Coffee Roasters before starting a long day of wine tasting. There are a variety of other great market vendors to check out too.
Start your day with wine tasting! In Napa you don’t wait till 5 o’clock to enjoy your first glass of wine. Most wineries start taking reservations as early as 10am.
Mumm Napa is famous for it’s sparkling wines. Enjoy some bubbles in their tasting salon, or out on the patio overlooking the vineyard. It attracts a young crowd and always has a fun atmosphere. Reserve a spot on the Oak Terrace for more privacy.
Visit Mondavi for a wine tour and tasting. Secret tip: During the summer months Mondavi winery hosts a series of concerts in their vineyard. Buy your tickets online and bring a picnic basket (Dean and Deluca is down the street) and a blanket.
Bouchon, a upscale french bistro, is a must when you visit Napa. Lunch at Bouchon brings me back to afternoons in Paris, when you crave oysters and a glass of wine. As reservations are hard to get, I suggest making plans long in advance, or grabbing a seat at the bar when visiting as a small group. Some of my menu favorites are: Oysters, Bibb Lettuce, Salmon Tartar, Mussels, and Steak Frites.
Next door you can find Bouchon Bakery. WARNING: everything here is delicious and addictive. Bouchon Bakery is most famous for their macarons, which also make a beautiful souvenir as they pack them in decorative boxes.
Redd Wood Pizzeria, Yountville
Redd Wood describes itself as a “stylish Italian-inspired eatery”. Their menu changes frequently but you can never go wrong with any of their delicious stone oven baked pizza any homemade pasta. Sit out on the courtyard to get that vacation feeling, or relax inside for hip dinner atmosphere.
Gott’s Roadside, St.Helena
Gott’s Roadside is a casual burger joint with lines that are always long and out the door. Here you can find real American burgers (grass fed and organic of course, we are in California after all). They also have great shaded picnic seating, but the best part about this place? You guessed it, they serve beer and wine. This is the perfect hangover cure!
I love dining at Bottega for it’s rustic Italian ambience, and it’s great for large groups too. When ageless beauty Sophia Loren celebrated her 80th birthday here, star chef Michael Chiarello decided to make her favorite dish a regular menu item. The pasta in this must-have dish, Spaghetti Gragnano alla Sophia Loren, is cooked in tomato water infused with its own leaf, and bathed in skin-on tomato sauce with crispy garlic root threads, basil and black garlic. Need I say more?
2 Birds/One Stone, St.Helena
Two Birds/One Stone is a California-inspired yakitori restaurant. Japanese BBQ in Napa? Yes, it works and every bite is delicious. Try the wagyu short ribs, pork belly, savory Japanese pancakes, fried forbidden rice and silken tofu. Unexpectedly, the tofu dish was our favorite dish.
Born and raised in Germany and Sweden, I call California my home for over 7 years now. I work as a health coach and enjoy a healthy and active lifestyle. My fiancé is a world class sommelier and works with restaurants all over California. That means on the weekends we get to indulge and dine at famous and world renowned restaurants. He teaches me about wine, food and how delicious life can be!