Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Mar 18, 2005 03:22 PM

Napa/Sonoma-area restaurant picks?

  • b

Greetings Fellow Hounds,

I'm planning to surprise my wife for our one-year anniversary and take her away for a magical weekend getaway to Yountville.

If anyone has recommendations of places to dine, drink or stay in the surrounding areas, it would be greatly appreciated.

I was unfortunately not able to secure reservations at the French Laundry as I'd hoped (called their reservation hotline the morning of, two months to the day as required, but no luck) but I'm looking for neat experiences like that to share as well as whatever gems might be more off the beaten path.

I currently have reservations at the Villagio Spa...anyone been?

Thanks in advance for any brilliant nuggets.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. we had dinner at la toque a few monhts ago and really liked it
    it's a fixed tasting menu but they had some good choices within that

    1 Reply
    1. re: jennifer

      We also enjoyed a great dinner at La Toque. Funny because in Canada, "la toque" is a winter knitted cap! Very comforting indeed!

    2. You're not missing anything by not going to the French Laundry. I won't bore you with the details of our underwhelming experience but I'll probably never go back as there is too much food and too many wonderful restaurants in the world to fret over that over-estemed, underwhelming borefest.

      I had a nice dinner at Bistro Jeanty last spring. Sat on the patio and had a lovely, low-key meal.

      Stayed at the Vintage Inn and almost died from a fire (Literally. Fire department, flames shooting through the room, flee-ing room in middle of the night in PJ's, lost luggage all because of a short in the water heater) and had to fight with them about the room charge the next day. Won't be staying there again (I understand same family owns several hotels in Yountville, specifically Napa valley Lodge and I believe one more).

      Don't go to Auberge du Soleil for sunset cocktails unless you are way early before sunset or you will sit in the bar baking for lack of ventilation and excess western exposure. Go very early, get a table outside, and squat. Or don't go at all. Otherwise you'll be sitting in a bar full of squinty-eyed wanna-be's vying for a table outside.

      Do go to Domaine Canneros on a side road between Sonoma and Napa, north of Napa town, south of Yountvile, for beautiful view and general relaxation.

      Do go to Oakville Market just north of Yountville and get picnic supplies and find a place to chill.

      And do have fun. I'm jealous!

      1 Reply
      1. re: Pate'

        Vintage Inn people own Villagio in Yountville, Napa Valley Lodge is owned by another group altogether (Lodge at Bodega Bay and one in Half Moon Bay). Domaine Carneros is SOUTH of Napa, not north, unless you are thinking of Domaine Chandon which is in Yountville. Sunshine Foods in St. Helena is a way better choice for picinic supplies.

      2. OH, so many little time!
        The Martinin House in St. Helena is the hot spot and no need to jump through hoops like the FL.
        Market is also good as well as Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen (Cindy Pawlyn).
        It all depends on the chef of the hour for these places. I had heard Auberge had gone downhill but had just attracted a hot famous chef. Pinot Blanc was great on one trip but disappointing on our last.
        Then there's the old standby's Terra, Tra Vigna, Brix & Mustards..
        Villagio is nice too.

        3 Replies
        1. re: MSK

          Went to the Martini House recently and it was, hands down, the most disappointing eating experience of my life. After being seated, we didn't talk to a server for more than twenty minutes. Made the mistake of ordering the tasting menu (as it was the only way to have the foie gras). The food was passable, but each course was separated by more than twenty minutes (between clearing the previous course and delivering the next). The wine pairings were very skimpy pours (esp. since there were only three) and not particularly great pairings. The waitress (Maryanne) didn't even ask if we wanted coffee or a drink, just quickly delivered the desserts and ran away. From looking around, it was obvious from some of the other faces that we were not alone in being ignored. I had hoped that this was an off-night, but heard from others at our hotel of similar experiences. Stay away. There are too many fantastic options with superb service. We loved JoLe, Redd, Ad Hoc, and Auberge du Solei.

          1. re: Bluehound

            Blue, you can get wider circulation of this unsatisfying experience by starting a new topic or finding a more current thread. I know there have been more recent favorable reports on Martini House and this thread is 4 years old. In fact, it would probably be better placed as a report on your previous post.

            1. re: Bluehound


              Martini House
              1245 Spring St., St. Helena, CA 94574

          2. If you are interested in the BEST bistro ever, try Bistro Jeanty. I have been there for several special occasion lunches and always walk away in disbelief at how incredible the food is. Be prepared for a bit of wait, but I assure you that it is well worth it. The prices are decent and haveing been to practically every restaurant over the years, I can safely say that for lunch, there is nothing better. Enjoy.

            1. REDD is pumpimh on all cyclinders right now call and get a table outside - great food. Try the Melon Salad with Procutio and padron peppers - great! Also the pastas are hand made in house!

              Bardessno for breakfast and reading the paper.If you get a Spa treatment there you can use their roof top pool pretty cool and the same cost of spa appiontments at Villagio- also the food at BArdessno is from Mickale Minna former chef - great local sustainable ingredients.

              Bouchon Bistro - eat at the bar great raw bar items and french fries.

              Both Bistro Jeanty and Bottegga are great - Bottegga can be busy I would go later in the evening.

              Angele in downtown Napa has great food and patio more of a locals spot but worth the trip into downtown Napa.

              As for staying in Yountville there are some deals to be had check online BArdessno is new and not filling their rooms but great spot.

              Have fun!

              2 Replies
              1. re: napawinegirl

                I had dinner at Bardessno recently and might consider it for breakfast given the dearth of nice breakfasts in that immediate area.

                However, I would not recommend it for an anniversity dinner with so many great other options nearby. It is basically a hotel restaurant in an unattractively designed complex (if you strip away landscaping). Looking out the restaurant window at the wading pool you see people trotting to and from their rooms or wrapped in towels on the way to or from the spa.

                Except for a heirloom tomato salad, the food was only ok. There are other places that are as good or better in the area. As far as staying there though ... while buildings outside are downright ugly, inside it is very pretty. The service was great. Room service is food from the restaurant, so a breakfast in bed from a good kitchen might be worth considering. Their strength I am guessing is seasonal produce so use that to guide your ordering.

                1. re: rworange

                  We were in the area this past weekend. We went to Cindy's, which we thoroughly enjoyed. Food was excellent and unpretentious.