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St. Helena alternative to Taylor's Refresher

Every time I go to St. Helena for work I stop for lunch at Taylor's Refresher.
I do like it, and it fits somebody who's by themselves with not a lot of extra time-- but still wants to eat chowishly.

I am beginning to wonder if there's an alternative though.

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  1. The trucks going through St. Helena a couple of feet from the sidewalk produce enough smog to choke you.
    wearybashful May 29, 2008
    I trust you eat inside at Taylor's. How about Cindy's and Martini House?

    Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen
    1327 Railroad Ave., St. Helena, CA 94574

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

    4 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      aren't those in a different category than Taylor's? When I searched, I mainly found posts by people looking for a special dinner, not lunch during a workday. so i went ahead and posted a new topic.

      1. re: wolfe

        There's a good place in Yountville. That's only about 15 minutes away.

        The French Laundry
        6640 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          I want your job if the French Laundry is a work day option!

          1. re: dkenworthy

            While we're being sarcastic, Meadowood is closer and considered part of St Helena. Actually, is the grill open there for lunch?

            Meadowood Napa Valley
            900 Meadowood Ln St, Helena, CA

      2. Oakville Grocery

        And yes, Cindy's and Martini House are both much more dinner-oriented wih Cindy's being more casual and reasonably price and Martini House being one of the more expensive (and worth it) restaurants in Napa.

        2 Replies
        1. re: whiner

          I was thinking of the hamburger at Taylor's and what Martini House offers.
          Grilled Snake River Kobe Beef Burger Prepared Medium, Gruyère Cheese, Wine Stewed Onions and Onion Rings


          1. re: wolfe

            Martini House is dinner only except Friday-Sunday when it serves lunch. So sounds like not a likely spot for a workday lunch.

        2. How about a burrito from La Luna market in Rutherford? Not much seating there, but worth eating standing up.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Junie D

            I second La Luna. It's quick, fairly good, cheap food, if you can find seating great. Their burritos are the size of your head. yum, i want one now.

          2. Locals often get to go food at the Sunshine Market (it has a parking lot, and is slightly south of the craziness in town). Also popular is Giuni's, which has been there forever, the bad news is that it is on the main drag in the middle of town on the west side of the street. You can sometimes find parking behind the store. It is kind of a hoot, you stand in line and they make your sandwich directly to your order. These are both good options if you are willing to "picnic", no real place to eat there. The Model Bakery has some casual lunch options, and they do have tables. Same parking hassle as Giuni's, though.

            If you are coming to St. Helena from the south up highway 29 there are some Napa and Rutherford options that I find comfortable for a work day casual lunch. I like to sit at the bar at the Rutherford Grill and have a hacked chicken salad and a glass of Trefethen Riesling when I am splurging (or can put it on an expense account). The town of Napa has an excellent taqueria across from the high school called La Mixteca, you can search the board here for some ordering advice. I also like getting lunch at the ABC bakery (they have tables, there is a community table for singles that is fun to sit at).

            3 Replies
            1. re: dkenworthy


              W F Giugni & Son Grocery Co
              1227 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

              1. re: dkenworthy

                I second the nomination of Sunshine Market. They have a phenomenal deli.

                1. re: dkenworthy

                  the chichi breakfast burritos from sunshine are a local secret. they tend to sell out quickly, but are definitely worth the five bucks. The vegetarian ones are especially yummy -- mushrooms and roasted red peppers.

                2. Can anyone comment on the fish and chips at Go Fish as a lunch option?

                  Go Fish
                  641 Main St, St. Helena, CA 94574

                  1. Sunshine's deli.
                    A few doors down the road is Azteca market which has good eats.

                    1. A few miles north of St. Helena is Silverado Brewing Company--that would be a good option and is in the Taylor's price range.

                      In Yountville, Pacific Blues Cafe has a nice outside deck and decent food. Across the street is Hurley's, also with outside seating. Both of these are off the highway but with easy access to it. You could also get a sandwich (hot or cold) at Bouchon Bakery, just next door to Hurley's.

                      ABC in Napa is an excellent choice, as well. Thieir burger with gorgonzola is outstanding and comes with a caesar salad.

                      Another good option at Rutherford Grill is their prime rib french dip. It's gotten kind of expensive but comes with a choice of sides and is a lot of food.

                      Barber's Q, also in Napa is excellent and not too far off the freeway in Belair Plaza

                      1. No, I'm not going to the French Laundry for lunch. Also I couldn't travel anywhere else: I dropped right into St. Helena on St. Helena Road and went right back. I lucked out, though, because I didn't have to lunch alone. I had a lovely lunch at Market with the locals.
                        I just had a portobello sandwich, which isn't enough for me to critique the place, but it was very good and service was super-attentive. Of course I was with regulars, but I think everybody was getting good service.

                        I'll save your ideas for next trip. (The ideas I can afford, that is.)

                        17 Replies
                        1. re: wearybashful

                          I am so hoping the humor in this thread was not lost on you.

                          Here's my casual eat list in St. H and Rutherford:

                          Junie D is on the money – the burrito at La Luna is great.

                          Also, the burger at Ruth Grill. With blue cheese. The French dip, too. Comes with fries and vegetables so it's a lot, and you can take half home.

                          Guigni’s is a retro hoot – pronounced "Joonie’s", and they make really good sandwiches as you choose exactly what you want as you go through the line
                          and see all the options. They put a tasty "vinaigrette" on the sandwiches that's really good -- ask for Joonie Juice! Really good old-fashioned deviled eggs that seem creamier than most. They have other treats, fancy brownie/cookie things and all sorts of beverages.They do have tables, both in the front store windows and in a drab room in back. It's not a fancy place -- and belongs in a different time. Park on the side street or in the Sunshine/Wells Fargo lot -- easy. Love Guigni’s.

                          The sandwiches, both pre-made and to order, and the hot food at Sunshine Market. Pates, speciality meats, gourmet salads (the roasted vegetables are amazing), roasted pork, chicken, mac 'n' cheese, pre-made burritos, charcuterie, fresh fruit cut up and packaged with lime wedges, cold wines, sushi made to order.

                          I’m not a big fan of Market, but it’s there. For that amount of money, I’d hit Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen and get her amazing duck burger with shiitake catsup.

                          There’s also the kinda OK Mexican restaurants Villa Corona and Armadillo, also on the main drag. (No recent visits from moi.) The main drag is Main Street. Also known as Highway 29 or St. Helena Highway. It gets confusing -- three names for the same street!

                          But please differentiate that major thoroughfare from St. Helena ROAD, which is the continuation of Spring Mountain Rd. and goes over the Mayacamas Mountains (past some pretty spectacular Spring Mountain District wineries) almost all the way to Santa Rosa.

                          (BTW, I have always loved your Chowhound name.)

                          1. re: maria lorraine

                            Maria, don't worry, i knew people were kidding. But I was dead serious about St. Helena ROAD. I only traveled a couple of blocks on Highway 29.

                            I did have my eye on the Cindy's Backstreet Kitchen duck burger when I looked up their website, after reading wolfe's post.

                            1. re: wearybashful

                              OK, I'm glad you know where you're going, just not specifically where you're going! I don't want anyone else to be confused.

                            2. re: maria lorraine

                              Any comments on Ana's Cantina, Vern's Copper Chimney or Gillwoods Cafe. I understand the later is a chain ... but so is Taylor's.

                              Rutherford Grill
                              1180 Rutherford Rd, Napa, CA 94558

                              Market St Helena
                              1347 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574

                              La Luna Market Taqueria
                              1153 Rutherford Rd, Rutherford, CA

                              Anas Cantina
                              1205 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

                              Gillwoods Cafe Saint Helena
                              1313 Main St, Saint Helena, CA 94574

                              Vern's Copper Chimney
                              641 Main St St, Helena, ca

                              1. re: rworange

                                Someone has been pulling your leg, rw....

                                Vern's Copper Chimney has been closed for 20 years, maybe longer.
                                It's in the same place, well probably not even the same building, as that of Go Fish, which was formerly Pinot Blanc, and before that something, and then maybe Vern's More-Gravy-Please Copper Chimney resto.

                                  1. re: maria lorraine

                                    Vern's Copper Chimney... yeah, had to make sure your tetanus shots were up to date before eating there... oh my goodness... yes, definitely the way back machine... does it also have a listing for Sprouse Ritz, Nuway Drug? oh yeah.. and what was that funky grocery store out where dean & delucca are now?

                                    1. re: withalonge

                                      Oh yeah, I remember that grocery store. They didn't have a clue...ever. Always spotty in their merchandise and limping along in that big space. Been in these parts long, withalonge? (Love that Chowhound name.)

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        sadly no longer in those parts... live in Colorado now.. but was actually born and raised in NV (grew up when "traffic" involved tractors on main street st. helena. Unfortunately, the lack of professional jobs (in my field) and extremely incestuous dating scene motivated me to move elsewhere.

                                        1. re: withalonge

                                          the "extremely incestuous dating scene motivated me to move elsewhere."

                                          Some things never change...

                                      2. re: withalonge

                                        It was St. Helena Grocery, wasn't it? With that swiss bakery next door and The Spot. I liked the grocery, because back when I worked south of St. Helena, it was easier to get to by virtue of involving a right turn and not a left turn across traffic.

                                        1. re: Ruby Louise

                                          You're right. I remember going into there once 15 years ago -- bleak, though it was -- and asking for some meat/deli item (I must have been nuts for doing so) and the employee/slicer telling me that a 1/3 of a pound was less than 1/4 of a pound because the bottom number was smaller. That's a story that's reflective of a single employee -- but that experience seems representative of the overall level of expertise at the store. The cleanliness of the place was always in question, and it's here the tetanus shot comment above comes to mind.

                                          1. re: maria lorraine

                                            You old timers are a trip. Remember when the El Bonita had algae in the pool and cost about the same a Motel 6, maybe a little more.

                                          2. re: Ruby Louise

                                            Tripoli market? I think was the name... that whole set of buildings were razed iirc

                                            1. re: withalonge

                                              Ruby Louise remembered correctly. I don't believe any of the buildings were razed, but they were extensively remodeled. St. Helena Grocery became Dean & Deluca (how's that for a contrast) and The Spot became Press (another Pygmalion success).

                                              1. re: maria lorraine

                                                I think we were both right... it was tripoli market before st. helena grocery

                                                1. re: withalonge

                                                  Wow...carbon dating...good work...I didn't know.
                                                  When was that?

                                1. While not in St. Helena, Red Rock Cafe in Napa is my favorite.

                                  Red Rock Cafe
                                  1010 Lincoln Ave, Napa, CA 94558

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: wineguy7

                                    Do you like the Q and the burgers there? I've never been.
                                    Always seems a little scuzzy to me...but I think I'm just a fraidy cat.

                                    1. re: maria lorraine

                                      I haven't had the Q there. I can't seem to go beyond the burger topped with excellent bacon as well as bleu cheese when I eat there! Also love the fries AND the o-rings! What I've had there is really fresh and good. It isn't that scuzzy...anyway, a little scuzz isn't necessarily a bad thing!

                                      1. re: maria lorraine

                                        I have had the pulled pork sandwich a few times. It is so huge as to be a knife and fork affair (I would actually prefer something a little more restrained). I had coleslaw on the side, because to me, a pulled pork sandwich needs coleslaw, so can't comment on any other items. The last time I was there (late spring) I was disappointed with the quality of the pulled pork, it wasn't at all smoky. Don't know if it was just an off day, or something changed.

                                      2. re: wineguy7

                                        What, a barbecue place I don't know about? How is the barbecue?

                                        1. re: Mick Ruthven

                                          Don't know how it is but it's take out at the door on the right side of the building between the front door and the walk-to bathroom. Burger is ok. Large thin with matching bun. I would prefer my lettuce whole leaf and I forget whether the onion was also chopped.

                                          1. re: wolfe

                                            You can also phone ahead and go right into the restaurant and pick-up.
                                            To me, their burgers are huge and I wouldn't call the burger or bun thin. I don't eat bugers that much, but you really need to have it wrapped around the bottom or you end up with a juicy mess.
                                            I've had the pulled-pork sandwich a couple of times and have found it very good tasting. They also have ribs and chicken dinners with yummy sides.

                                      3. Thanks again, all. This will really help motivate me when I have an errand to cross those long, long windy roads over the Mayacamas.

                                        1. Azteca Market... its only a block away from taylors... and they make some pretty delicious quezadillas!!!

                                          ... and also try their TAMALES!!.. probably some of the best in the valley...their not like other places' tamales that seem commercial made.... they're like homemade!

                                          1. I'll second Azteca Market, just south of Taylor's. I think they have a few places to sit outside.

                                            Just across from Taylor's is Tra Vigne Pizzeria. I like their Piadines (warm pizza crust topped with cool salad and eaten like a taco) and their Ducati pizza.

                                            At the very southern end of town, Dean & Deluca has the best salad deal upvalley. The salads are made to order and you can select from their menu or pick your own toppings and they'll toss it for you. I think there are a few benches outside. I think the large size salad is just under $8.