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For Napa locals - where do you eat?

For all the locals who live in the Napa region - where do you go for a good dinner without the high prices?

I'm visiting next month with the primary objective to taste and buy wine. So need affordable recommendations for dinner, ie places the locals flock to for well cooked meals. I've checked the Chowhound threads and there are plenty of suggestions for Bouchon, Martini House, Ubuntu etc. Yes, these places sound amazing but I'm not looking to eat at restaurants where the entrees alone cost $30-40! (gulp!) Any places where entrees are more along the $15-25 price range? Or is that impossible now in Napa? I (and my wallet) thank you!

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  1. None of those places is in the $30-$40 entree range. What towns will you be visiting?

    Go to Oxbow Market.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rworange

      Martini House can be affordable depending on what you eat. The tasting menus can be expensive, but you can go a la carte and spend less. I recommend going to their cellar and getting the best burger in town (only $16 with onion rings), it's a huge burger and is easily filling, but don't miss their charcuterie plate which is all house made.

      I'm just a starving culinary student, so for less expensive meals I go to the Mexican Markets like La Luna or Azteca. Taylors is a rip off. Tra Vigne pizzeria isn't too expensive. If your staying in Napa, then there are lots of taco trucks. Unfortuneately Napa County isn't the best place for budget meals.

    2. Pasta Prego on Jefferson and Claremont Way is a hidden gem. Black Bear Cafe on Soscol has been open about a month is is always full...it is a chain. Red Rooster on 29 and Trower. TAco trucks. Martini house does a take out dinner every night until 6 that is very reasonable.

      1. Pica Pica in Oxbow Market

        Pizza Azzurro on Main and Clinton in Napa

        La Playita - three words: tacos al pastor - on Old Sonoma Road at Jefferson in Napa

        La Taquiza near Vallerga's on Redwood road (okay for a fish taco fix)

        La Luna market in Rutherford

        Lucy Gore's take out meals on Thur and Fri nights are fantastic - pick up is on Industrial Way in Napa: http://www.lucyfoodnapa.com/

        I used to say Uva on Clinton in Napa, but it has changed hands and I haven't been since - anyone have an update?

        Bounty Hunter on First and Main in Napa

        Zinsvalley on Browns Valley Road in Napa - soon to move downtown http://www.zinsvalley.com/

        Ad Hoc - I think $49 for four courses of simple, delicious food is a deal

        Bistro Don Giovanni

        I haven't tried the pupusa truck on Soscol nr. Silverado Trail yet, but have heard great things

        4 Replies
        1. re: Junie D

          My friends and I just went to Uva last week and it's still good. We've gone there at least once a month for the last few years and have never had a bad meal. Plus, they waive corkage for each bottle you buy so we usually buy a bottle of white (because it's cheaper than red) and bring a good bottle of red. Service has always been very good as well.

          Another place we like is The Pearl. I love their tacos and pork chop.

          1. re: calalilly

            Glad to hear that about Uva. Yes, I'll second Pearl. Very eclectic menu and always tasty.

          2. re: Junie D

            It's good to hear that Zinsvalley is moving. I never figured out how they were able to stay in business that long with that location. I'll vote for Tres Hermanos over Playita for tacos al pastor. Actually Frida's is pretty good for carnitas if you can get over that initial tire smell from the tire shop next door.

            I'd like to toss Cook in St. Helena in there for a good meal at the original poster's price range. Limited menu, not much in terms of seating (and thus usually crowded) but what they do cook they cook pretty well and the dishes range from $18 to $25.

            1. re: Junie D

              Good list, Junie D.

              Second Azzurro Pizzeria, early meals at Martini House, the taco trucks, Bounty Hunter, La Luna burritos, BarbersQ for pulled pork sandwich and fried chicken but nothing else. Not a fan of Oxbow for dining, but Model Bakery and Fatted Calf work for buying picnic stuff.

              Speaking of which, picnics are a great way to dine inexpensively. Buy stuff at Vallergas and Whole Foods deli section (actually rather amazing) in Napa; and at Dean & DeLuca and Sunshine Market (my favorite) in St. Helena.

            2. BarbersQ's fried chicken ($16?) on Sundays is worth the drive. I was not impressed by their BBQ.

              1. As a local who tries to keep things in the $10-20 range including beverage and tip . . ., Villa Corona for great mexican food - a locals favorite tucked behind Umqua bank in the Trader Joe's shopping center on Trancas. Great for any meal, but especially their machaca for breakfast and their camarones dishes later in the day. Both Thai places in Napa serve reasonably priced meals which are fairly good. Sushi at Fujiya in the factory stores center has been there long before the factory stores were built and is good - the owner Eiko is always on site to oversee the meal. Try the Sanchez roll . . .
                Great middle eastern food downtown at Small World - love their falafel plate salad. There are plenty of places to eat for low $. Enjoy!

                1. It looks like Napa (the town) has the most choices and that's not too far from where I am staying. I've got Oxbow Market, The Pearl and Uva on my list -exactly what I was looking for. I will also include Martini House (burger/a la carte) and Cook in St Helena.

                  The 4 course meal at Ad Hoc sounds intriguing - what are portion sizes like as it may end up being too much food for me?

                  6 Replies
                  1. re: SeoulQueen

                    Here's a tour of one street in Napa where 2 Mexican food aficionados had a nice day and one exceptional dish.
                    "if you are in Napa... Antojitos La Mixteca's Chileajo (Pork Ribs in Dried Costeno Chile & Sesame Seed sauce) is one of THE best Mexican dishes in all of Northern California... and the Cucumber Agua Fresca is among the most distinctive Aguas within a 100 mile radius.'

                    1. re: SeoulQueen

                      You can also eat at the bar at Ad Hoc without having to have all four courses (and you pay less, but I'm not sure how much). The portion sizes are as big or not as you want them, and they're happy to give you leftovers, and also seconds.

                      1. re: SeoulQueen

                        One more lunch suggestion: the porchetta sandwich at Fatted Calf. Seating is outside at picnic tables.

                        I'd say the portions at Ad Hoc are "just right," I never feel too full after eating there. Sitting at the bar if you want fewer courses is a great idea. But I bet you'll want all four.

                        1. re: Junie D

                          Do I need reservations to sit at the bar? ? I didn't know you could just roll up and sit at the bar and order fewer courses than their 4 course dinners. Is it possible to just walk in and get a table for dinner (all 4 courses) or do I HAVE to reserve?

                          1. re: cyberroo

                            I was planning to go to Ad Hoc either Mon or Tues night the 2nd week in October. Will it be busy with tourists given that it's harvest season? Provided they don't have a 24 hr cancellation policy, I could reserve and then cancel on the day if I don't like the menu. Or do you think I can wait and book that day?

                        2. re: SeoulQueen

                          Seoulqueen, Do not miss the Mushroom Soup @ Martini House. It rocks! Share a bowl of it (downstairs in the bar, by the fireplace if you can score it....) before your burger. adam

                        3. Since you seem interested in places like Ad Hoc, you might consider Brix which is nearby. Mon-Fri there is a happy hour from 4-6 where all the dishes on the bar menu are half price. Many of the wines and cocktails have the same discount. They have a really swell cheese plate and at half price it is quite the bargain. The burger is very good as well. Nice pizzas. These are full dishes, not little bitty bites

                          Ninth Annual Chowing with the Hounds Picnic! October 3rd, 2009


                          6 Replies
                          1. re: rworange

                            Look into Bayleaf. They treat you like family, good food, and nice wine selections.

                            1. re: KJP

                              Bayleaf's dinner entrees are in the $30 to $40 range. Definitely more than SeoulQueen wants to spend. Bayleaf caters to the Silverado Country Club crowd, with an old-school, fine dining vibe. It is overpriced and most of the food is not worth it, but there are some surprises there like the housemade pita. And the Fahmy family is delightful.

                              1. re: Junie D

                                How's the food and prices for that Vietnamese place next to Ubuntu?

                                1. re: rworange

                                  I haven't eaten at Annalien in about 6 months, but I have enjoyed each visit, mostly because it is a relief to have something different in Napa. Not sure it holds up for people who get good Vietnamese food regularly. Prices are more than you would expect, entrees probably in the $15 to $25 range?

                                  1142 Main St, Napa, CA 94559

                                  1. re: Junie D

                                    Annalien does not hold up to other Vietnamese restaurants in the bay area but if you live in Napa its ok. Its within SeoulQueen"s budget but its not an inexpensive or budget place.

                                  2. re: rworange

                                    First off, it's not Vietnamese. Worst Vietnamese spring rolls of my life. Lamb curry that was definitely not curry -- had no flavor -- and included nearly whole carrots! Truly awful. And not cheap. We split the spring rolls, each had an entree, and the bill was more than $80. Take a pass. Much better meals are to be had elsewhere for the money.