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Napa Area Restaurants: Reviews & Recommendations


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I'm giving this thread a bump.  Good friends are heading to Napa and are wanting good food at decent prices.  They're not out for the TFL's and Cyrus's of Napa, rather more casual and cozy bistro-types. 

Recommendations?

I really liked Martini House. The main restaurant can certainly get a little pricey, but the "cellar" has some less expensive grub that is supposed to be good. When we were there about a month ago (crazy-good short ribs, by the way) the kitchen kept sending out these burgers (kobe beef) with onion rings that were making us wish we were down there. According to the website, the burgers are only $17.

I think the best place to get great food at a decent price is Bouchon. Every time we go, we leave feeling stuffed and happy. Without wine, it's very east to get out of there for under $100. Last time we were there for lunch, I tried the Croque Madame - insane.

As far as wineries in Napa, has anyone been to Buehler? This is by far my favorite winery in Napa. Insanely good Zin and Chardonnay (both around $20!) and a very good cab - their "Papa's Knoll" bottling is up there with some of the $70-$90 bottles from other Napa wineries, but they were selling it for about $45. The drive to get their is a bit out of the way (off Silverado Trail), but the views are awesome and the wine is well worth it.

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I'm giving this thread a bump.  Good friends are heading to Napa and are wanting good food at decent prices.  They're not out for the TFL's and Cyrus's of Napa, rather more casual and cozy bistro-types. 

Recommendations?

Pilar would be hard to beat is what I would guess?

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I'm giving this thread a bump.  Good friends are heading to Napa and are wanting good food at decent prices.  They're not out for the TFL's and Cyrus's of Napa, rather more casual and cozy bistro-types. 

Recommendations?

Pilar would be hard to beat is what I would guess?

I'm still in the Pilar camp. It would be my choice.

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save your money and your time and go to the Anderson Valley instead. Napa is so extremely overrated and Disneyland like. I loathe the place. Most of the restaurants are extremely overrated.

Go to the Anderson Valley and try great Pinots Noirs and other varietals from Breggo (particularily the Savoy and Ferrington Vineyards); Goldeneye (try all their single vineyard wines); Lazy Creek Vineyards; Londer... also look for MacPhail, De Muth... you can find far better wines here in this undiscovered valley.

For decent eats go to the Boonville Hotel...

If you have to go to Napa and you insist on the Disneyland tour of overrated wines at least drink some decent ones... Barrett on Spring Mountain, Corizon, etc. stay away from the big overpriced places...

Grimod

"Bacchus has drowned

more men then Neptune"

Thomas Fuller

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  • 8 months later...

Hi

Long time luker, first time poster here :)

I'm a chef at an inn in Maine, and plan on attending a 5 day course at CIA Greystone from March 23-28. The course ends in the afternoon, so I will be looking for some things to do. Restaurants, activities, nightlife, etc.

If anyone here is familiar with the Napa area, I would really appreciate some suggestions. While I am not made of money, I don't have a problem spending for something really really worth it. I have a soft spot for hole-in-the wall places with great ethnic food.

Also if anyone works in the area, maybe I could visit your restaurant and get a tour of your kitchen. I'm always looking to make new friends in the industry.

Thanks in advance

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I live and work in the area, and there are a lot of great places. As for ethnic hole in the walls your best bet is to go to Napa, and check out Tres Hermanos Taqueria, they have a great shrimp cocktail there. Actually everything there is good.

I am the Sous Chef at Pizzeria Tra Vigna. It is in St Helena. A lot of locals and students hang out there so finding us should not be difficult.

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Hi

Long time luker, first time poster here :)

I'm a chef at an inn in Maine, and plan on attending a 5 day course at CIA Greystone from March 23-28.  The course ends in the afternoon, so I will be looking for some things to do.  Restaurants, activities, nightlife, etc.

If anyone here is familiar with the Napa area, I would really appreciate some suggestions.  While I am not made of money, I don't have a problem spending for something really really worth it.  I have a soft spot for hole-in-the wall places with great ethnic food.

Also if anyone works in the area, maybe I could visit your restaurant and get a tour of your kitchen.  I'm always looking to make new friends in the industry.

Thanks in advance

I think it's actually in Sonoma, but Cyrus in Healdsburg was on par or bettter than the best places here in NYC

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There is a relatively new restaurant called Ubuntu in Napa. Take a look at their website and see if it's your cup of tea. It's vegetarian and pricey and getting lots of press lately and rave reviews. I haven't been, but it sounds very interesting.

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Ubuntu sounds great!

I was a vegetarian for almost 10 years, but went back to the dark side a couple years ago. I love having vegetarian guests at the inn, since its hard to find a memorable veggie gourmet meal in this part of Maine.

Also, are there any bars in the area that are good chef hangouts? I know when I was in Boston, there were a handful of places other chefs would frequent. I love talking shop and sharing stories after a rough night in the kitchen.

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Well, pretty much the only bar in St. Helena is Ana's Cantina. I've only been a few times since starting at the CIA, but it's usually pretty fun. It's about as much of a dive as you're going to get in St. Helena. Usually after midnight a bunch of restaurant workers come in. Then there's Silverado brewing company only a mile or so from the CIA.

As for Restaurants. Tra Vigna is great, and does have a nice bar...and insanely good olives.

Edited by piperdown (log)
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'Nother idea: if heirloom beans are of interest you could pop into Rancho Gordo's retail outlet on Industrial Way. I'd stop there if I was going to Napa...but then I'd keep going and head on up to Calistoga for a mud bath!

I just noticed there's a recent thread about the Oxbow market in Napa. Just one more place I haven't been, but I will add to the chorus praising Fatted Calf. I don't eat a lot of charcuterie, but their rabbit pate is out of this world.

Edited by Katie Meadow (log)
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Another chef bar hang out in the area is Panchas in Yountville. Lots if Industry people there around midnight.

Or for a late night bite Bouchon is open late with a limited menu

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You guys are really helpful.

Speaking of ingredients, I could possibly bring some Maine/New England stuff out with me (Whoopie Pies, Maple anything...lobsters would be too hard). If anyone has any reasonable requests and is willing to meet up once I'm out there, PM me.

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A nice Tapas place in the town of Napa called  ZuZu just on the river. It has nice bar and great Tapas. We ate at the  CIA Greystone for lunch, nice ,but I always thought the training chefs worked the restaurant, not  so.

Greystone only has three start dates a year, so there aren't enough students to constantly rotate into the kitchen. We do get to work in the kitchen for a few months at the end of our program, but most of the time, the kitchen is staffed by the regular employees. So students will be cooking, but it just depends on when you go.

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A nice Tapas place in the town of Napa called  ZuZu just on the river. It has nice bar and great Tapas. We ate at the  CIA Greystone for lunch, nice ,but I always thought the training chefs worked the restaurant, not  so.

I have to agree. ZuZu is great. Love the Fried Manchego Salad.

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We were in the wine country this past weekend, if you like to wine taste, don't miss Artesa in Napa, good wine here and the views are gorgeous from the tasting room, lots of fountains and art work here, a great place to linger!

We have enjoyed meals at REDD, Ad HOc and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in Napa Valley, if you want an amazing dinner, go to Cyrus, we have dined here twice now, our meal this past Sat. night was outstanding, I'll try to post more details later in the week. :)

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We were in the wine country this past weekend, if you like to wine taste, don't miss Artesa in Napa, good wine here and the views are gorgeous from the tasting room, lots of fountains and art work here, a great place to linger! 

We have enjoyed meals at REDD, Ad HOc and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen in Napa Valley, if you want an amazing dinner, go to Cyrus, we have dined here twice now, our meal this past Sat. night was outstanding, I'll try to post more details later in the week.  :)

I have to second REDD. Go there and if nothing else, get the pork belly (the hamachi's pretty friggin good, too). I also like Terra, Martini House (good, but overpriced) and Bouchon (despite what it's detractors might say).

Cyrus in Healdsburg is also great, but in a different price range than the previous mentioned restaurants. The service and attention to detail is pretty amazing.

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  • 5 months later...

Just got back from St Helena. We drove--we had a fabulous time.

We had the chef's tasting at Meadowood. It was beyond fabulous. I mean I am not fine dining guru girl by any means, but wow was this special. I will apologize for no pictures and we also forgot to get the menu to take with so I can't remember all the courses because there were so many but man it was super.

We were seated on the spacious open heated round sliver of balcony/porch overlooking the golf course and the mountains with a breathtaking view surrounded by window boxes over flowing with beautiful white flowers. The service was flawless. Absolutely flawless. A beautiful large white rose adorned our table.

The boys, my husband and Chef-boy, had wine with each course. I just took a little sip of theirs except for the Hungarian one that was served with the fois course. I took many sips of that one! The fois was awesome. It was served several ways, crispy and layered with plum jelly, brioche toastlettes. Each course was an oil portrait by a master coulda hung it in the Louvre.

We had kobe beef with specialty eggs and a potato tuille --their take on steak and eggs. Lovely. Oh we had this really good lobster soup with sweetbread ravioli--sooo goo-od! We had this beautiful beautiful toro course served with sake. The presentations were each just stunning. Had a great chicken course, served with a chorizo wrapped egg white mousse inside.

Chef came out and spoke to us--he actually offered me a (tongue in cheek) position on his team, but gosh the commute from Memphis--lol!!!

Don't miss Meadowood. Can't say enough good things about our special time.

On a completely different plain, we ate at Taylor's Refresher a couple times for lunch. I couldn't order anything but the special--heirloom tomato sandwich on a cornmeal dusted roll with fresh mozzarella and pesto then sweet potato fries on the side. mmm

We also ate at Ubuntu in Napa--Chef very kindly got us a reservation there. Wow that was great too. Caulifower never tasted so good! Ubuntu is one of the top ten new restaurants in the US I was told. Very good. All vegetables. Man we had chickpea fries! Fabulous.

Down south of there we ate at Dukes in Huntington Beach too. Beautiful view great food.

We missed the In and Out burger joints but not to worry we ate at a ton of McDonald's.

All I can say is we gotta get back there soon.

Oh yeah the only Keller we did was the Bouchon Bakery on our way home. The brownie was good, small for two dollars but real good. The sticky bun was great.

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I actually didn't like the Bouchon brownie thing. The sticky bun was phenomenal though!

I can see why the brownies could be a problem. It would take very little to overbake that tall skinny shape and accidentally dry them out. Which also leads to a brief shelf life. Fortunately the one we got was nice & moist. And I mean their redeeming factor is the chocolate chips in there--otherwise it's just a very small very high priced brownie.

I mean that odd shape makes it hard to eat too.

C'mon, Thomas! Brownies ain't hard. :raz: ,

But Dude, those sticky buns are the bombshabomb!

Curious to me were the croissants already loaded with ham just sitting on the tray on the counter. Maybe they were in process of packaging up a phone in order or something.

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