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Solo Dining Recs in Napa?

I'm a Boston-Hound coming to the Bay Area (and several points North) for work. While I'm familiar with San Francisco and visit often...I'll be spending a night in Napa "proper" and was hoping to get some suggestions of a good 'solo-dining' option(s)-- preferably at the bar.

I'd love a place that utilizes local ingredients- wine included, obviously. Price point- I'm flexible...Though, I'd probably prefer entrees under the $25 mark.

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  1. In Napa itself, Ubunutu, Bistro Don Giovanni.
    If you feel like a very short drive, go to Yountville, definetly my choice there. You can eat at the bar at Bouchon, it's fun, and beautiful. The food is solid, french bistro

    1 Reply
    1. re: Doodleboomer

      ditto the recommendation for the bar at Bouchon (owned by Thomas Keller of The French Laundry) in Yountville. Fresh oysters, friendly environment with excellent food.

      Also, the bar at Ah Hoc (also owned by Thomas Keller) in Yountville is very fun. There, you can order a la carte from the limited single menu of the day (4 courses). Lively, casual with very good food.

      Lastly, eating at the bar at Mustard's just north of Yountville is also excellent. Try the porkchop or duck. They feature flights of wine which are great for a solo diner.

      Have fun.

    2. Downtown: Pilar, Ubuntu, Kelly's No Bad Days Cafe, Pearl
      Sushi: Fujiya at the bar (Napa Outlet Center)
      Between Napa and Yountville: Bistro Don Giovanni
      Yountville: Bouchon at the bar
      Rutherford: Rutherford Grill (just fun)

      1. Zuzu in downtown Napa is a great, solo eat at the bar place. Small plates tapas menu, with good sensitivity toward local ingredients, good wine list and helpful staff. If you're staying in the downtown area, it's convenient. If you're willing to drive, then some of the other suggestions north, into Yountville are good.

        1. Last Sunday night my wife and I were on our way home from the Sonoma wine country. We were not very hungry and it was early, about 4:30 p.m., but we had a fairly long drive ahead of us with few food options. I had read good things on here about Bistro Don Giovanni’s pizza, so we decided to stop. We were seated immediately by the none-to-friendly hostess. We split a salad, a pizza and ordered a bottle of “pizza” wine. The server forgot which wine we ordered and returned to the table some time later to confirm our selection, which was a good idea. Our salad arrived by way of another server, but no wine. We waited…..and waited….tried to catch our server’s eye…tried to catch any server…finally, I arose, headed to the bar where the wine had been sitting the whole time, but this alerted the server who immediately picked it up and then had the nerve to say he hadn’t forgotten us. After all that, the wine was great with the salad and I was calming down. Then our pizza arrived by way of the second server, but it was not the pizza we ordered. Back it went, which caused the pizza chef to have a fit. All the servers were lined up before the floor manager for a lecture, a pep talk, some further instruction (?)….we were out of earshot. The by-now-aged wine was really great with the pizza, which was very good. We paid our money and left with no thank you, good night, glad you came, etc. by anyone. For the price of dining in the Napa area, one does not expect this type of service, but people were lined up trying to get in for their share of abuse when we left.

          1. Echoing some of the the comments of others:

            Napa, at the bar:
            (Top pic) Boonfly, at the Carneros Inn off Highway 121: outstanding gourmet burgers, the best mac'n'cheese I've just about ever had, gourmet onion rings. Sitting at the zinc bar is a blast. Other good menu items also.
            Don Giovanni, on 29 just north of Salvador Ave at the north end of Napa. Cal-Ital, marble bar, and very consistent food. Love the apps, especially. Pretty dining room.

            In Yountville, a few miles north:
            Ditto on Bouchon. At the bar. The mussels and frites rock. Good raw bar.
            Nix on Mustards, had a God-awful meal with so many things wrong last week.

            Doubt you'll get as far north as Rutherford, but yes, The Rutherford Grill, which turns bar dining into something special. Solid, not fancy food. Recent other posts on RG here on this board.

            Have a nice time.

            1. If not too late, Ad Hoc is my favorite Keller restaurant in Yountville. While Bouchon is great, it's typical French you can get anywhere (although not as well executed, granted). Ad Hoc is Keller's newer one which is four courses for $45, one menu per day. It's home style perfectly executed. I'm a local and went last night and had an amaziing marinated skirt steak and lemon / huckleberry shortcake.

              2 Replies
              1. re: teejaymoore

                I have to disagree that Ad Hoc is a good recommendation for a solo diner -- it is too much food for one person considering it *is* served family style.

                Good food, yes -- but not the best suggestion for a single person.

                1. re: Carrie 218

                  As to Ad Hoc, I would agree that the 4 course family style dinner is not the best for a single diner. However, when you sit at the bar you don't have to order the complete meal. You can have any or all of the 4 courses a la carte -- you control the volume. This makes it just fine for a single.

                  A new favorite of mine for a solo diner has emerged over the last month. It's Farm at The Carneros Inn. If you sit in the bar area, they have a fine but very limited bar menu. But, if you sit at the bar itself, you can have anything on the main dining room's dinner menu. The menu is not huge, but has some very excellent items focused on local ingredients. My favorites:

                  * market salad: minimalist, fresh
                  * risotto: hen of the woods mushrooms, frothy -- a great split as a 1st course
                  * veal cheeks: again, minimalist, rich and delicious

                  Give it a try.

              2. 2 downtown Napa recommendations (in the same Hatt building complex):
                Celadon - wine bar plus wonderful food
                Angele - french-inspired bistro style.
                Not every food choice is perfect there, but they do one of the best mac and cheese dishes ever (macaroni gratin)... It's a side dish, but so rich I could order it at their bar with a glass of wine and maybe a green salad, and be perfectly happy.
                And in the same building complex is a great place for dessert: Sweetie Pie's, which supplies desserts to a number of other food establishments in the Napa Valley.

                1. My latest contribution is Ubuntu. Sitting at the bar is phenomenal, as is the food.
                  The atmosphere, the music, the whole feel of the place, is welcoming.

                  1. Ubuntu. Zuzu. Both in downtown Napa. I hesitate to mention Angele, although I have enjoyed many meals there, it has been reported in local news that there is some transition going on in kitchen.
                    As for driving up to Yountville. Bouchon has a lively and small bar and nice food. But based on what you said you were looking for the Napa sopts seem to best fit your bill.

                    1. Regarding Ad Hoc, they scale the food based upon the number of diners so if you try all four courses whether solo or with a family of 10 your "serving size" per person is the same.

                      Thanks for the rec Cortez. We've heard good things about Farm and have been thinking about trying it. Just tough to drag us out of Yountville given the convenience but we need to branch out.