Extraordinary places to dine in the Napa Valley! The best ever Napa restaurants – you won’t want to miss any of these eateries that should be on your “must try” list!
I recently had the opportunity to partner with Visit Napa Valley to plan our Feed the Soul retreat in Napa Valley, and it was a phenomenal experience. The Feed the Soul retreat was the brain-child of four of my blogging besties and I, designed to help us relax, renew, and rejuvenate our spirits. The idea was to combine a typical girls’ getaway and a blogging business trip, where we could trade ideas, tips, and inspiration (all while sipping Napa Valley wine and getting massages, of course!), and return home feeling refreshed and re-inspired for 2016.
We stayed at the relaxing Calistoga Spa Hot Springs and at the gorgeous Silverado Resort (I’ll write more about that next week!), and we dined at some incredible local restaurants while we were in the area. I’ve put together a list of five extraordinary places to dine in Napa Valley, so be sure to check them out when you’re in the area!
Extraordinary Dining in Napa Valley
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch – 738 Main Street Saint Helena, CA 94574
Farmstead, an authentic farm-to-table restaurant, is part of the Long Meadow Ranch family. Long Meadow Ranch utilizes organic and sustainable “full-circle farming” methods in their production of fine wines, olive oil, fruits and vegetables as well as raising grass-fed beef and lamb, honeybees, and egg-laying poultry. Farmstead restaurant chefs create dishes sourced from their own farm, and the results are SO delicious that I can’t stop raving that it was some of the best food that I have EVER eaten!
Farmstead recently received an Open Table Diner’s Choice Award (2015), and they are in the Trip Advisor Hall of Fame for receiving Certificates of Excellence for the past 5 years. With an abundance of rustic charm, outdoor patio dining options, and an adjacent LMR farmer’s market, it’s no wonder that locals and tourists alike are raving about Farmstead!
Right next door to the restaurant is a gift shop and wine tasting room that features some of Long Meadow Ranch and Farmstead’s finest wines, foods, and gifts. Be sure to pick up a bottle of the Long Meadow Ranch Sauvignon Blanc – definitely one of the highlights of the meal!
I’m not wild about tomato soup, so when chef Michael Markoff delivered this appetizer to our table, I wasn’t terribly excited. Oh man, was I ever wrong! This simple soup was seriously divine, and I happily could have guzzled down a gallon of it. It really was THAT good!
The deviled eggs with pimento cheese and pickled vegetables were just as delectable, as was the roasted romanesco cauliflower that we devoured.
Wines aren’t the only inviting drinks at Farmstead – this Cider Smash with barrel aged rum and fernet vittore, lemon, spiced apple cider, agave and rosemary was truly a treat!
California arborio rice with broccoli, winter squash, mushrooms, brown butter, toasted pumpkin seeds and parmesan was a big hit with our group.
The local petrale sole with wood roasted cauliflower, carrots, leeks and blood orange butter was another winner.
I opted for the “brick cooked” chicken with rancho gordo heirloom beans, and greens, and I couldn’t believe how intensely flavorful it was.
The Meyer lemon meringue pie with graham cracker crust was the perfect finish to our dinner. We also loved the melt-in-your-mouth lamb dinner, cheddar biscuits with honey butter, beignets with bourbon caramel sauce, and chocolate cream pie!
Heritage Eats – 3824 Bel Aire Plaza, Napa, California
Heritage Eats is a brand new company, established less than a year ago in mid-2015, but their expertly branded restaurant and delicious global cuisine has quickly established them as one of Napa’s best up-and-comers. They were recently named as Small Business of the Year by the Napa Chamber of Commerce (2015), as well as being called one of Zagat’s 10 Hottest Restaurants in Napa (2016).
The restaurant’s global flavors are inspired by the world travels of co-founder Ben Koenig who wrote the restaurant’s business plan as he was traversing the globe. In conjunction with his partner and head chef, Jason Kupper, Heritage Eats made the commitment to using locally sourced Heritage Breeds proteins that are older, healthier and more sustainably raised.
This display board on the wall tells you where each of the day’s meats originated.
The menu at Heritage Eats is an eclectic mix of flavors and cultures, and every single menu item that our group sampled was well-prepared, distinctive, and enjoyable.
The upscale casual line-style restaurant allows you to customize menu items to your liking, and mixing and matching flavor combinations is encouraged. This is definitely one of those restaurants that I would come back to over and over again if it was in my own neighborhood (hey, Jason & Ben, the Roseville, CA area needs a Heritage Eats!).
I’m a huge fan of do-it-yourself combinations, so I created a pita filled with Jamaican jerk chicken, steamed rice, fire grilled veggies, and local garden greens. It was SO incredibly delicious!
I also had a bowl of the house made tortilla soup, and alongside their homemade tortilla chips, it was just perfect for a chilly evening!
The Bánh Mì Dutch Crunch (grilled lemongrass pork on a Dutch Crunch roll with Asian pickle, garden greens, creamy cilantro & boom sauce) is a popular menu item that was quickly devoured by a member of our group.
Heritage Eats also serves a variety of beverages from around the world. Vietnamese iced coffee, Thai tea, horchata and hibiscus tea are all on the menu along with local wines and beers.
If you’re going to order a grilled cheese sandwich, you can’t beat this Dutch Crust Grilled Cheese!
We loved the family-friendly atmosphere of Heritage Eats, all of their amazing foods, and the kindness extended to us by the co-owners, Jason and Ben, on our visit. Their passion for providing sustainable global cuisine to the Napa community is palpable, and I foresee even more success in their future as their establishment continues to grow.
The Grill at Meadowood – 900 Meadowood Lane, St. Helena, CA 94574
The Grill is part of the luxurious Meadowood resort and spa where elegance and attention to detail is held to a high standard. The resort is simply stunning, and the peaceful road leading to The Grill transported me to the Pacific Northwest as I caught sight of the abundant bright green moss-covered trees and rocks lining the drive. Even though you know that you are in the heart of the Napa Valley, Meadowood feels like a hidden gem in another magical world.
It’s no surprise that Meadowood was recently named as one of Travel + Leisure’s World’s Best Award winners (2015), and they are also a Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence Winner (2015). We dined at The Grill on this particular day, but it should be noted that The Restaurant at Meadowood has earned a Michelin 3-Star rating!
We started off our lunch with cold-pressed wellness juices and elixers from chef Victoria Acosta. One of my friends was battling a migraine that day, but after drinking her juice and #3 elixer, she felt much better!
These are the two juices that we loved the most:
#2 – Kurdota Carrots, Cardinal Spinach, Fennel, Toscano Kale, Bulls Blood Beets, Italian Parsley, Cilantro, and Lime
#8 – Garnet Yam, Nantes Carrot, Lady Apple, Ginger Root, Cinnamon, and Lemon
We sampled delectable local handcrafted artisan cheeses with Marcona almonds, lavender honey, and crostinis.
This wild mushroom flatbread with smoked bacon, crescenza cheese, and Meadowood Garden micros was almost too pretty to eat!
The Day Boat scallops with Meadowood Garden greens, satsuma mandarins, and cashews was another favorite. The Grill certainly knows how to put together an eye-appealing plate!
Of course, we had to sample Meadowood’s famous desserts, and I couldn’t get enough of this rich and creamy chocolate mousse with Valrhona butter, candied almonds, and almond tuile. AMAZING!
We also enjoyed the mahi tacos (grilled and fried), Mary’s organic chicken breast, and Wagyu burgers that were so big we could barely fit them in our mouths!
Auberge du Soleil (The Restaurant) – 180 Rutherford Hill, Rutherford, CA 94573
Set into a private and serene hilltop location, Auberge du Soleil is home to exquisite cuisine and breathtakingly spectacular views of the Napa Valley. This famous Napa landmark restaurant has earned back-to-back Michelin stars for the past ten years, and was recently named one of Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 Best Wine Restaurants (2014) and one of Open Table’s Top 100 Restaurants in 2015.
We enjoyed a leisurely four-course Sunday brunch al fresco while soaking in the stunning views from Auberge du Soleil’s lovely open air patio.
Cheers to a relaxing and rejuvenating retreat with my besties! We toasted with our peach belinis, Kir Royale, and sparkling apple cider.
The first course of brunch was a round of fresh baked breads, muffins and pastries, followed by this savory potato gnocchi with wild mushrooms, pea shoots, and parmesan nage for course two.
Course number three was filled with both sweet and savory options. I love blueberries, so I opted for blueberry buttermilk pancakes with maple syrup and applewood smoked bacon. Classic and SO yummy!
The Maine lobster omelet with tarragon, leek, ricotta, and crispy potatoes was a great choice for those who prefer a more savory brunch option.
The Cabernet braised short rib (with roasted winter vegetables, celery root and parmesan) was incredibly flavorful and tender, and it was a quick favorite of many of the ladies. Other well-loved dishes included the sunchoke soup, and duck confit hash.
This bright lemon tart with almond shortbread, lemon meringue, and poppyseed gelato was the perfect way to end our meal! This sweet and tangy dessert was especially delightful, and I found myself wishing that I’d refused to share!
The white chocolate passion passion fruit mousse parfait was also divine, and perfectly plated with exquisite attention to detail. Every dessert at Auberge du Soleil is truly a work of art, and they were all as delicious as they looked!
I could have sat there all day and never grown tired of these majestic views! If you’re looking for upscale dining with a peaceful and private atmosphere, you can’t get much better than Auberge du Soleil!
Gott’s Roadside @ Oxbow Public Market – 644 1st St, Napa, CA 94559
Gott’s Roadside is a classic Napa Valley staple with loads of vintage charm. The first location opened in St. Helena in 1949 and grew to four locations, one of which was featured on the Food Network series Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives with Guy Fieri. Gott’s won a James Beard Award for Best American Classic, and they were named as one of Zagat’s “Twelve Essential Napa Restaurants” in 2014.
Gott’s serves up classic American diner food at its finest, elevated by their commitment to using only locally-sourced high quality ingredients. Naturally, even the wines and beers on the menu are local!
I have to take a minute to give a big shout out to our waiter, Zach, who accommodated about a million special requests from us that night (including severe allergies and dietary restrictions), and didn’t skip a beat. He didn’t even flinch when we asked him for their yummy Chinese chicken salad without the chicken! Not only does Gott’s have delicious food, their service is absolutely fantastic!
These hand-breaded buttermilk chicken tenders were a great dinner choice alongside a thick and creamy chocolate shake (featuring organic ice cream from another Napa favorite, Three Twins Ice Cream). The fries and chicken strips were both crispy on the outside and tender in the middle – just how I like ’em!
Of course, you can’t indulge in American diner fare without sampling ALL of the different types of fries! We shared orders of classic, garlic and spicy sweet potato fries, and they were all seriously addictive! I may or may not have eaten most of those sweet potato fries all by myself!
Not going to lie, I’ve never been a fan of brussel sprouts, but these made me a believer! They were almost as addictive as the french fries!
If you’re in the mood for high quality classic all-American food with a retro vibe, there’s no better place than Gott’s Roadside!
Our Napa Valley retreat was a TON of fun, and we couldn’t have done it without our car from Kia Motors. If you need a car to get you around on your next trip (or even every day!), I highly recommend the Kia Sorento SXL!
The 2016 Kia Sorento was able to comfortably seat five adults in the first two rows, and with the third-row seats laid down flat, we had a ton of trunk space for all of our luggage and plenty of shopping bags. The built-in GPS navigation was invaluable, and we loved the car’s massive panoramic sunroof!
Thanks to Kia, we were able to cruise the Napa Valley in comfort and style!
A huge thank you to my sweet friend, Rebecca, at Sugar & Soul for providing me with most of the pretty images in this post!
Kimberly Mattera says
Love all choices . Living in Napa over 15 years Im very fortunate to say that I get enjoy not only the food but also the beautiful Valley . Nothing better than waking up to the hot air balloon floating up in the sky. May I add Model Bakery for the best English muffin’s. you have ever had. They are Oprah’s #1 favorites and made her favorites list 2 years in a row . Coffee a must, Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company , fresh roasted beans daily they do their own. Xoxo Kimberly Mattera
Love all of your suggestions, and the photography is beautiful! I’ve been to a couple of these places, but now I’m inspired to take a road trip to the Napa Valley to check out the rest. Is it summertime yet?? 🙂 Thank you for sharing!
The Wine Ho says
Nice choices. Farmstead is a huge locals hangout on Friday happy hour. They just updated their patio to accommodate. As for Gott’s, the St. Helena location is directly across from my gym. Sometimes they leave the windows open, and the smell of food floats into the workout room in which I lose all focus.
Cheers… The Wine Ho http://thewineho.net
So many great recommendations here. I love Napa Valley, and there are so many dining options that it can be overwhelming. I’ve been meaning to eat at Farmstead but haven’t made it there yet. I love Gott’s, especially when we go with our kids (the kids’ chicken strips are the best!). I’m pinning this for my next trip over there.
Rick Galer says
Great article and I do concur with your choices as there are quite a few. Just one comment regarding Gott’s . I really with that they had kept their old name in St. Helena as “Taylor’s Refresher” I do believe the old sign is still there but it was such an icon for the Napa Valley. The food however is still great!
Courtney R says
Wow…it all looks so delicious!!!