Sunday, September 5, 2010

Napa Valley foodie destinations

Folks often ask me for recommendations when going to Napa Valley.
Having lived in the Bay Area for over 20 years and having visited Napa Valley numerous times during my wine evolution journey, I've written a few articles along the way. So without belaboring the much-covered topic, here are a few posts you should read before heading to the California's top food & wine destination.

For me, no visit to Napa Valley is ever complete without an amazingly satisfying meal. So while my posts usually focus on wine, they always contain recommendations and reviews for awesome food joints.

Read these first

Drinking with Elias Fernandez of Shafer - Hillside Select and Relentless

Joseph Phelps - blending 2007 Joseph Phelps Insignia (and another killer Napa Valley day-trip)

TUESDAY, MAY 18, 2010
How to have a great day with Burgundy in Napa Valley

Here is the list of my favorite, tried-and-true, proven food destinations, many of which are covered in the posts above:

Taylor's Automatic Refresher (renamed to Gott's in 2010) - fave "fast-food" burgers, etc. featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on Food Network by Guy Fieri.
Oakville Grocery - classic deli
Bouchon Bakery - great sandwiches and baked goodies

Not cheap but good
Mustards Grill - classic California food, perfectly executed grilled meats, especially pork chop and chicken.
Bottega - very high-end Cali-Italian (just a notch below Frasca in Boulder, CO). Everything is delicious here, and not terribly expensive for the quality and atmosphere.
Ad Hoc - super creative, different "comfort food" menu every day, part of Thomas Keller empire
Bounty Hunter - awesome American food. St Louis bbq ribs, pulled pork sandwich, and beer-can chicken are to die for.
Redd - solid, but not as universally loved. Impeccably prepared food, a little stuffy, slight Cali-Asian influences, but not very inspiring as most of the other recommendations here, and lacking in the "comfort" department. Kinda reminds me of Chez Panisse Cafe in Berkeley.
Ubuntu - super-creative, delectable vegetarian (worth a visit, even for a meat-lover).
French Laundry - 'nuff said. I think this is worth one visit. After that, don't think the value is quite there...

If you are wondering about a place, leave a comment, and I will do my best to respond. There are a number of hyped places, with loyal followings and glowing Yelp reviews, that I would not recommend based on personal experiences of a discerning foodie. And vice versa, the above ones that I do recommend are "foodie approved"!

Over time, I will be adding more of my Napa Valley adventures and recommendations to this post, so stay tuned.

Finally, when in doubt, check on Yelp, using this Yelp search. But take my advice - consider only restaurants with over 100 reviews and average rating at 4 stars or above. Yelp is pretty reliable under those parameters. Anything under a 100 reviews doesn't mean is bad, but you'd want a personal recommendation of someone you trust (hopefully Iron Chevsky :)) before taking a chance.

What top foodie joints did I miss? Comment below.

Iron Chevsky.


Rich Reader said...

In the "Not Cheap, but Good" category, you must add Martini House of Saint Helena, if only for their Mushroom menu. However, the wine list and the whole menu are incomparable. In the errata department, please take under consideration the fact that Taylor's is now rebranded as Gott's



Iron Chevsky said...

Thanks Rich!
I've heard a lot about Martini House, mostly positive. Never been!

Taylor's -> Gott's - you are right, but I am shocked!

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