Everyone goes to Napa for the wine, but the culinary scene is equally as impressive. With 7 Michelin Star restaurants, including Thomas Keller’s two-time “Best Restaurant in the World”, The French Laundry, there is no shortage of good eats. Rather than give you a list of all the delectable places to go, I am highlighting three that cover the spectrum: Best View, Best Food and Best Hangover Cure.
Arguably the best view in Napa (not that there are many bad ones) can be found at the spectacular Auberge du Soleil. Diners enjoy 180-degree, elevated views of the Napa Valley, with a sunset that illuminates the entire valley. The Forbes 5-star rated resort has endless accolades, among them its restaurant’s 11-consecutive Michelin Star ratings. The splurge worthy, prix fixe menu offers three- or four-course options with a wide variety of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine. I went straight vegetarian with the Cow’s Milk Burrata, English Pea Ricotta Agnolotti, and the Potato Gnocchi–and savored each and every bite. Wine pairings are optional, or choose a wine from their impressive 15,000 bottle cellar. If you’re looking for a less-expensive option, without sacrificing the view, try the first-come, first-served Bistro & Bar area, which offers a lighter fare.
While French Laundry gets all the hype, even its 13-course, 6 month wait-list meal couldn’t compare to my experience at Bistro Jeanty. A french-themed bistro in the middle of Yountsville, Bistro Jeanty serves classic French cuisine with outstanding service. Born in the Champagne region of France, chef Philippe Jeanty sought to recreate his childhood favorites when he opened the bistro doors in 1998 and you can feel the authenticity from the moment you approach the restaurant. If you only get one item on the menu, make it the Crême de Tomate en Croute–creamy tomato soup with a piping hot puff pastry over the top. I still dream of it on the daily. The various duck dishes are consistent fan favs, and the Epaule de Porc–pork shoulder with butternut squash and brussels sprouts–was among the most delicious entrées I’ve ever had the pleasure of eating. Cheese lovers will enjoy the authentic fromage menu. And for dessert, I have only four words: chocolate mousse crème brûlée.
Best Hangover Cure
If you go to Napa and don’t wake up with a hangover, you’ve done something wrong. The good news is, I have just the cure. The Freemont Diner sits just over the Sonoma line and offers every all-American, Southern comfort food you can imagine. Start with a bucket of biscuits or some pimento cheese for the table. Then make the near-impossible choice between the spicy Nashville fried chicken and waffles, and the house smoked pulled pork sandwich (hint: you can’t go wrong). Add some cheese grits and collard greens on the side, and your hangover won’t stand a chance. The prices are reasonable but wait times are not, so go on off hours to avoid the well-deserved crowds or use the Nowait app to cut down on wait times.
Cheers and bon appétit!