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5 evenings South of Napa, need recs

lotta_cox May 30, 2009 04:39 PM

I am heading to the Vallejo/Benicia area for five nights mid-June. A couple nights I would like to treat myself to someplace special for dinner. Cost is not a huge option, as I will be working hard and away from home, so I can justify some luxury. (French Laundry probably won't happen though). While not a deal breaker, I would prefer to eat in a nice bar area. But I am open. Thoughts in Napa in particular, or not much further north than that?

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  1. m
    mick RE: lotta_cox May 30, 2009 05:01 PM

    The Oxbow Market is in south Napa. There are several places where you can have a meal in a bar setting. Only wine and beer. Just wander around and see what looks good.Also nearbye is Cole's chophoouse good steak and full bar.

    3 Replies
    1. re: mick
      lotta_cox RE: mick May 31, 2009 11:08 AM

      What are your thoughts on Celadon, Cole's sister restaurant?

      1. re: lotta_cox
        vday RE: lotta_cox May 31, 2009 04:59 PM

        Celadon is excellent - never had a bad meal there. It's a little more affordable than the Chop house. I often see the owner, Greg Cole at Celadon - sometimes he has waited my table during lunch! Both places are great with good attention to quality and detail. I've only eaten at tables at both places - the patio at Celadon is especially nice. The steaks and sides at Chop house are awesome and worth the splurge. Not sure either/both places serve food at the bar . . . You'd have to check that out.
        At the Oxbow Market - the Hog Island Oyster bar and the Wine Merchant both have eat at the bar options for seating/eating.

        1. re: lotta_cox
          SFDude RE: lotta_cox Jun 1, 2009 10:02 PM

          Celadon is consistently excellent and has a nice bar; though on a warm evening I would prefer the patio.

          500 Main St., Napa, CA 94559

      2. wolfe RE: lotta_cox May 30, 2009 06:06 PM

        Welcome to the 50's at Jonesy's at the airport.

        Jonesy's Famous Steak House
        2044 Airport Rd, Napa, CA 94558

        1. j
          jaimecouchon RE: lotta_cox May 31, 2009 09:10 AM

          Check out Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn.

          1. c
            cyberroo RE: lotta_cox Jun 1, 2009 10:54 AM

            I'm pretty sure Ubuntu serves their full menu at the bar, but I'm not certain.
            I really like the barbecue at Bounty Hunter, and it's definitely a bar setting - more funky than upscale, but good BBQ and wine list.
            Pizzeria Azzuro is tasty, but not extravagant, but I don't think they serve food at the bar.
            Not much further north, you have Yountville, which offers Ad Hoc, Bardessono and a lot of other options...

            2 Replies
            1. re: cyberroo
              rworange RE: cyberroo Jun 1, 2009 01:26 PM

              Yes, Ubuntu will serve the entire menu at the bar.

              Just a note about Jonesy's. While I think it is great, it is not a great bar scene if you are looking for something other than a Bud and a well drink. It really is 50's food ... which doesn't necessarily mean good or bad. It is just stuck in time. If you want good broasted chicken or hasbrowns topped with shredded cheese ... this is the place.. If you sit at the bar, you don't have a view of the small airport which is a big feature for me. Read the reports on that link to see if it is for you.

              1. re: rworange
                lotta_cox RE: rworange Jun 2, 2009 04:39 AM

                Thanks for the warning!

            2. DonZ RE: lotta_cox Jun 1, 2009 02:49 PM

              If you decide to head south from Vallejo, just across the Zampa Bridge in Crockett is "The Dead Fish" with a great view from a large bar area.
              The food is "good to very good" and it has a nice bar scene.

              Dead Fish
              20050 San Pablo Avenue, Crockett, CA 94525

              4 Replies
              1. re: DonZ
                lotta_cox RE: DonZ Jun 2, 2009 04:38 AM

                I am definitely going to do this one night....thanks for taking me off the beaten path!

                1. re: lotta_cox
                  wolfe RE: lotta_cox Jun 2, 2009 06:26 AM

                  Really off the beaten path and probably off beat but sounds like fun and slightly south of The Dead Fish is The Powder Keg. It made the $1 oyster list, Monday 4-8.

                  The Powder Keg Pub and Seafood Cafe
                  2132 Railroad Ave, Hercules, CA 94547

                  1. re: lotta_cox
                    rworange RE: lotta_cox Jun 2, 2009 09:29 AM

                    Looking at your profile it seems you are from the Los Angeles area. Dead Fish is by the same owners as The Stinking Rose which has a touristy second restaurant in SF's North Beach. They also have a few restaurants in Fisherman's Wharf.

                    I like the bar at Dead Fish and as mentioned the food falls in the good category. The mussels are one of their better dishes. I hear the prime rib is good. You want to stay away from the dead fish since there are not chefs here but line cooks and there's no guarantee it won't be overcooked. The veggies are of the type that most chains put out.

                    Dead Fish does try though. They serve Acme bread. They go through the trouble of serving heirloom veggies and you might see a purple potato (a tad overcooked) with the al dente carrots and broccoli.

                    Besides the lack of real chefs in the kitchen to really get things right, they are located in places that don't appreciate the extra step such as Fisherman's Wharf. Hercules is a suburban town where a majority of the people are blue collar with families. I've seen a lot of innovative dishes get put on the menu that just don't sell because they don't fit with local tastes.

                    So besides the view, I like Dead Fish for at least continuing to try. Still ... stick to the mussels.

                    Looking at your profile, you won't see any of the restaurants of the type you list as your favorites until you hit Napa or Sonoma. Given what I'm seeing there, you want to put Ubuntu high on your list.

                    Vallejo is more about Filipino food, family style dining, etc. There's a great Chicago-style hot dog place in town if you need lunch suggestions.

                    1. re: rworange
                      lotta_cox RE: rworange Jun 2, 2009 09:39 AM

                      I am not planning on eating anything in Vallejo. I will be driving in from a hotel 30 miles away for work bringing my lunch and driving out again at 4. I will check ut Ubuntu, but don't want to drive farther north than Napa (sadly) because I have to both be to bed early and want to enjoy some wine. Thanks for your great recs based on my profile. You are so kindly thoughtul.

                2. w
                  whiner RE: lotta_cox Jun 2, 2009 08:33 AM

                  iirc, Martini House has a wonderful bar. And I certainly do love the food there.

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