Recommendations in Napa/SF
Heading down to Napa for our 1 year wedding anniversary - we got married down in Napa last year and tried out Brix, Pinot Blac and Gordons Wine Bar. Looking for some other recommends. Also spending one night in SF and would like to hear what folks would think is the *one* place not to miss in the city for a great dinner. Would also love great breakfast suggestions for the city. Whenever we stay there we have a hard time finding a Sunday morning brunch spot.
Personally, I don't like being assaulted by hordes of people on Sunday morning so I try to go places that take reservations or are not yet discovered. Two places that I love going are...
1) Suppenkueche - "What? German food for breakfast?" you say. "Yes!" I say. While the place is unbearably packed and loud at dinner, brunch is still mellow and lovely. They have both lunch and breakfast dishes. I love having their boiled, herbed new potatoes with quark followed by the lox, soft boiled egg and bagel. My husband gets either emperor's pancakes or a lunch selection with a great draft beer. I also like this crazy dish they have that's chopped ravioli in scrambled eggs. Its definitely a more unusual brunch spot but worth a visit.
2) Citizen Cake - it gets busier every week, but at least now they take reservtions. Lovely, fresh, interesting food. Unbelievable deserts. They make their own sorbets. The have mimosas, but order a champagne floats instead, you choose which sorbet you want - I had a Meyer Lemon Sorbet Champagne Float last Sunday, my husband had a Blood Orange Sorbet Champagne Float. Yummy. Also, the serve Nueske's bacon, my favorite bacon in the world. Another great dish is the Flat Iron Steak & Eggs - the steak is coated in a spicy dry rub that is excellent. Its hard to go wrong at Citizen Cake, but be sure to get a reservation!
First, I have to beg you to not call Napa Valley "Napa". Napa is a city in Napa County but it's certainly not Napa Valley. Napa Valley usually refers to Yountville up to Calistoga.
Tra Vigne is a great Italian place, but very difficult to get a reservation. I would suggest Bistro Don Giovanni (which actually is in Napa) if you can't get in.
Bistro Jeanty - French Bistro
Bouchon - French Bistro (more upscale, but prices are still great)
Catahoula - California cajun (in Calistoga)
Terra - Cal/Asian/French (expensive)
Technically Napa Valley extends to the mouth of the Napa River where it flows into SF Bay. The growers in the southernmost parts of Carneros who are on the Napa side of the county line are entitled to use the appellation Napa Valley.
Locals use the terms, Up-valley and Down-valley. Calistoga and St. Helena are clearly up-valley, but I'm not sure where the cut-off point is.
Anyone who hasn't visited the City of Napa in the last year or so is in for a huge surprise. Gentrification is rampant. Downtown is in a midst of a business and cultural renaissance. The new restaurants that have opened or relocated to the City of Napa in the last year are pretty impressive for a town of this size. Things are going to be even more upscale, I suspect with the American Center opens in downtown. The City of Napa is the place to be in the county today.
re: Melanie Wong
I guess my point has nothing to do with whether Napa (the city) is not as upscale than the valley. I grew up in the Angwin, moved there in 1979. And I recognize it is not the valley because it is on Howell Mtn. When I'm in St. Helena and I say "I'm going to Napa", I'm going to Napa.
My point is when tourists say they are going to "Napa", they are not going to Brown St., or Trancas or Jefferson or the Cinedome theater. They are more than likely going to Yountville, Rutherford, Oakville, St. Helena or Calistoga.
Locals (at least the people I know) rarely use "up-valley" or "down-valley" because it sounds very pretentious and that doesn't match the lifestyle at all.
My apologies, Daphne, I had interpreted your comments as having your nose in the air. Had always thought of up-valley and down-valley as distinguishing north-south geography rather than lifestyle.
Further to your point that "Napa" has become a generic terms for Napa Valley's or even Napa County's wine villages, its used even more generally than that. I can't tell you the number of times I'll be strolling the streets of Healdsburg in the heart of Sonoma County to hear a tourist talking excitedly into his cell phone that he's in "Napa"!
re: Melanie Wong
I have lived in Napa for 21 years. The local "upvalley" is a common for refference for north. I have never heard the term "downvalley". For Daphne's info, the actual town of Napa draws as many tourists as the rest of the valley. Sorry to burst your bubble but it's not exactly a lowbrow ghetto that simply sits at the gateway to nirvanna.
I could write about how people say that Disneyland is in L.A., incorrectly. We could discuss the fact that many people say the Cow Palace is in San Francisco when it is, in fact, in Daly City. We could correct each others type o's. Or we could stick to the stuff that is relevent. I vote for the latter. It not only fits the forum, it's a hell of a lot more interesting.
re: Brandon Nelson
I totally agree, Brandon. Jones is looking for a place to eat in Napa. Why turn it into any thing to do with proper geographical name origins, locations, etc? What help is that? There are plenty of great places to eat all over this county. If he's looking in Napa, thats pretty easy response material.
Have dinner at Terra in St. Helena, Jones, and you will have a smile on your face for awhile. (They are closed on Tuesdays.) Enjoy the valley!
There are three places I am quite fond of for Breakfast/Brunch. These would be: Ella's, Rose's and Postrio. Rose's menu is limited to a couple of items, but they are all very tasty and unique, and the neighborhood is great if you feel like walking around and checking out some shops after you've eaten. Union street (not to be confused with Union Square) happens to be one of my favorite places to shop, so it makes for a combination of great food and great shopping. There are numerous other places to eat on that same strip as well, one of them being a little French place that I have yet to try. Wherever you may chose to go, I hope you have a wonderful time. Congrats on your anniversay.
Bistro Jeanty is always excellent, and La Toque is always very good.
As for SF, you basically have five biggies to choose from (all expensive):
Fleur de Lys
Out of these, I would probably lean towards Masa's with Siegel now entrenched in the kitchen.
However, if you're looking for something on a slightly lower price scale, Boulevard, Hawthorne Lane, Bizou, Lulu/Azie and Fringale are all very good.
Now if you want a certain cuisine, then that's different.
My reasoning behind this:
Aqua - have had very good meals, but I've never left there feeling like it was a great meal. I know many people on this board love Aqua, but I dont (same with La Folie - not my favorite).
Farallon - Good food, but not up to the caliber of many other restaurants, but great decor. We have had some nice lunches there, although.
All of this is, of course, just in my own eyes, but hopefully answers your question.
I'd highly recommend Terra in St. Helena. We had dinner there Sunday night ( Anniversary) and it was superb! Better than ever. I've been dreaming about the panna cotta since then. If you've never been, I think you'll love the atmosphere, it's very civilized. You can search this site for more in Napa.
It's been a while, but we used to enjoy Postrio for brunch in S.F.