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Our List of Restaurants for Napa

  • k

My boyfriend and I are going to Napa for my birthday/new years. Going through Chowhound, I have a list of places to try. I'd be grateful to anyone who could let me know what I should keep or remove or add to this list. Doubtful we'll be able to try all of them, but at least we'll have options!

1. Pilar
2. Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
4. Celadon
5. Zins Valley
6. Angele
7. Market
8. Bistro Jeanty
9. Vallergas Market
10. Fume Bistro

Thanks in advance!!

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  1. Keep Redd as your slurge. Get the wine pairing if possible and don't hesitate to vocalize your tastes and preferences. They're very good at shifting courses around and do a nice pairing of local wines.

    1. We like Jeanty for lunch. Almost always a couple of items from the first course menu, petit salee, fried smelts (outstanding), frisee salad with lardons and poached egg, any of the pate's. This is usually plenty, especially if you're planning on a big dinner.

      Also, if you like oysters, the raw bar at Bouchon which is just a block or so away, is outstanding. A dozen or two with an order of pomme frites makes for the perfect light lunch.

      BTW, both are in Yountville.

      Have a great time.

      1 Reply
      1. re: rtmonty

        Note that the frisee salad has a bacon dressing with tiny bits of bacon. If one is expecting larger pieces of lardon like in france, this will disappoint.

        Lunch at Bistro Jeanty -

        As far as Vallergas market, the deli sandwiches are generously sized and can be good. I've disliked the prepared salads there.

      2. Bounce back and forth between Bouchon for drinks & oysters at the bar and then to Bistro Jeanty (one of my favorites) for dinner then back to Bouchon for dessert.

        1. I like Bistro Jeany for traditional bistro food, and Zinsvalley for just plain good food.

          1. Bouchon would definitely be on my list. (Well, OK, it IS on my list, but that's another story!) I have to chuckle at tne inclusion of Vallergas Market -- I used to get my lunch from there (or the old Oakville Grocery) for far too long to think of it as a "destination eatery," but -- hey, why not? I'd add Taylor's Refresher, too.

            4 Replies
            1. re: zin1953

              can i ask - what's taylor's refresher?

              1. re: katg

                It is a "roadside" burger/milkshake stand taken to a new level. It Taylor's Automatic Refesher is on the main street in St. Helena. There is also a branch in the Ferry building in San Francisco. I had the most incredible Tuna burger with asian coleslaw. The tuna ( I think Ahi) was cooked perfectly rare and was a very generous portion. My husband had a cool chicken sandwich one time, and a burger next. He said the milkshake was awesome.

                1. re: sherry f

                  Actually Taylor's is just over the bridge a little south of St. Helena, it's not "downtown" per say. A really fun place, only drive in I know of that has very good wines by the glass. O rings are also outstanding.

                  1. re: sherry f

                    oh! (duh) i've been to the one more than once in the ferry building. i just didn't remember the name!

              2. I would skip Celadon. Had a very unsatisfactory dinner there two weeks ago: slapdash service and mediocre food. A real quality drop from previous visit. Be advised that the old mill where Celadon is located (next to Napa River Inn) is currently a huge construction zone (riverfront flood control project and new promenades). Angele also overlooks the same construction zone.

                If you go to REDD, drop by Ad Hoc, which is right next door. If your timing is right, and the menu inviting, you might find a table and enjoy yourself.

                1 Reply
                1. re: santoku45

                  thanks for the tip on celadon - i'll cross it off my menu. and on ad hoc! i'll be sure to add it to my list but after doing a search on it...i'll cross my fingers to see if we can get in and if the menu works.

                2. I should also add that if you're in Yountville during a week day, you can stop by the Yountville chamber of commerce for a handy list of all Yountville restaurants (with phone no.'s). They are located between REDD and Jeanty, on the same side of the street. When we dropped in they were extremely friendly and a good source of local info.

                  1. I had a great meal at Pilar recently, so I'd definitely keep that one on your list.

                    1. i loved market for lunch... good home cooking ... mac 'n cheese, buttermilk fried chicken... so good!

                        1. re: capriana94555

                          Bouchon is in Yountville just up the street from Bistro Jeanty. It's on the main road through Yountville, can't miss it as it sits almost on the road.

                        2. I would agree with Bouchon and go to Ad Hoc as well.

                          1. You may wish to check out Go Fish in St. Helena. It's Cindy Pawlcyn's new seafood & sushi place where Pinot Blanc used to be. Victor Scargle, the chef from Julia's Kitchen at COPIA will start there in December.

                            Patricia Unterman just gave it a good review:

                            Ad Hoc is my favorite place in the valley at the moment. If you like the day's menu (there's only one), it will be a very enjoyable experience! Terrific food, executed perfectly with a friendly & professional staff.

                            1. I'll be the coice of dissent here. Bistro Jeanty was my worse meal of 2006. Shoddy, sloppy execution. Truly mediocre.
                              Bistro Jeanty- French Dorm Food?!:
                              I had much better meals at Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and Market.
                              If you're into food, consider a visit to Round Pond for their wonderful EVOO tour and tasting.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                We've had lunch at Jeanty at least a dozen times so far this year and have never experienced anything but outstanding food and service. Maybe you had an off day.

                                1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                  ooh, definitely a good tip on the evoo tasting and tour. thanks!

                                  1. re: katg

                                    Here's a report on my weekend long EVOO tasting in Napa last month:


                                    1. re: Morton the Mousse

                                      wow! your review (and i did read the whole thing) is making me salivate.

                                      i too am not a big drinker. not because i don't appreciate the taste but the allergic reaction usually stops me. and i also get the whole, "so why are you going to napa?"

                                      i am however a fan of olive oil. so thank you for sharing this review!

                                2. Terra is the greatest thing going in Napa Valley -- I'm quite surprised to not see more mention of it. Also, Don Giovanni is very consistent, such good food and wonderful interior (reserve a booth if you can). Other faves: Redd, Bouchon (I even like sitting at the bar), Taylor's Refresher (also a sociological phenomenon), Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen, and Wappo Grill in Calistoga.

                                  On my OFF list [putting on fire-protective suit]:
                                  Pilar, not because the food isn't good (poor employee treatment: the owners have terrible tempers, as I've been told by several of their employees. I'm sorry, I have a problem with restaurant employers who abuse their employees, and this has been a consistent problem with these owners. I refuse to patronize them if that's the case.)
                                  Also, Market (failed its inspection -- got an F, they appealed and received a D, were then re-evaluated and got a B, all as reported in the St. Helena Star. Even with the new B rating, I don't trust it. And I adore Nick Peyton, one of the owners, so it's difficult for me to say this).

                                  On my YOU CAN SPEND THE SAME AND GET A MUCH BETTER MEAL ELSEWHERE list:
                                  Fume, Zazu, Tra Vigne, Brannan's, Market, CIA Wine Spectator Restaurant.

                                  On my STILL TOO SOON TO TELL AND LET THEM IRON OUT THE KICKS list:
                                  Go Fish, could be promising though. Had one meal there,
                                  and there some hits, and some misses. Love that Cindy Pawlcyn, though: she's such a good cook and really knows how to develop flavor, as she has done with Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen and Mustards -- so I think Go Fish will triumph.

                                  SO MY VOTES ARE FOR:
                                  Terra, Redd, Don Giovanni, Bouchon and Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    i haven't heard of terra or go fish so i will be sure to check them out!

                                  2. I second Terra..also had an amazing meal at the Greystone Culinary Institute last weekend( aka CIA Wine Spectator Restaurant)..north of St. Helena about 5 minutes. have fun.

                                    1. I also agree completely with Terra. It's our favorite restaurant in the Valley. We've also been to Mustard's many times and have had a good experience every time (the pork chop is awesome!). We're going to try Go Fish next month...I read that the chef from Julia's Kitchen is starting there December 1.

                                      1. My last visit to REDD was in October. The meal was great, but the place is LOUD. Lots of hard surfaces. Hope you have a nice time where ever you go!

                                        1. I don't understand how Don Giovanni rates so with so many people. It's a nice room, but having traveled a lot in Italy, I just find the place OK at best.

                                          1. The following link is from our weekend, my report is toward the end.
                                            We liked Terra. The food at Bouchon we thought was good, but I'm concerned they may have serious service problems based on our visit and other posts here.
                                            I've also been back (I'm from Philly) and though Jeanty was good, I really liked La Tequiza, a fish taco place in Napa. Run by a guy from the CIA who used to be the head baker at Bouchon, now just does fish tacos. You gotta love that.
                                            Check out Model Bakery in the morning if you're in St. Helena.