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5 evenings South of Napa, need recs

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. 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

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

      1. re: lotta_cox

        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

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

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          Celadon
          500 Main St., Napa, CA 94559

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

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

        1. Check out Boon Fly Cafe at the Carneros Inn.

          1. 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

              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

                Thanks for the warning!

            2. 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.

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              Dead Fish
              20050 San Pablo Avenue, Crockett, CA 94525

              4 Replies
              1. re: DonZ

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

                1. re: lotta_cox

                  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.

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

                  1. re: lotta_cox

                    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

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