Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jan 30, 2010 06:59 AM

First time to Napa - need ADVICE please! =)

Hello all,

I will be in San Francisco for the weekend and would like to take all Sunday to visit Napa. I will have a rental car but I figure it's much safer to hire a tour limo to take us around to different wineries rather than drinking and driving the renal.
Can anybody please recommend/suggest best wineries to visit or a specific tour to take? I know those touristy limo tours do not always take you to the best wineries...Also, if there is a specific limo company someone took and was really happy with, I'd love their name and number.
On the way back, i'd love to eat at an amazing restaurant since I've been hearing Napa has some of the best restaurants! I love fish and seafood..any recommendations?

This will be my first trip to Napa and i really want to do it right! Please leave any feedback you can.
Thank you all so much! =)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)

    Greetings, first time poster --

    After you've done some research, feel free to check back with some specific questions. It'll help if you detail the kinds of wines you like, the kind of food you like, where you normally eat in your part of the country, and what you call "expensive".

    5 Replies
    1. re: bbulkow

      You will be able to find fish and seafood on most menus in Napa Valley. If you go to Yountville, I would not miss a meal at Bottega. We also love Bistro Jeanty, REDD and Ad Hoc in Yountville. In St. Helena there is Terra and Meadowood, we had a fantastic lunch at Meadowood this past March and the resort is beautiful. I was just looking at the menu at Bottega yesterday (we are going here again in March) and saw that they had Whole Fish on the menu, I had fish served this way for the first time at The Blue Duck Tavern in Washington DC this past Nov., it was a real treat! Hope this helps, you will have no trouble finding amazing food in the CA wine country. :)

      Some great wineries to visit right in Napa are: Domaine Carneros, Artesa, NIcholson Ranch and Del Dotto. Do the tasting in the back at Nicholson Ranch, it is more personalized and you can enjoy your tastings out on the back porch and take in the beautiful vineyard views. Enjoy your trip! :)

      1. re: bbulkow

        I too am headed to Napa and looking for recs. But some of these posts are from 2006/2007 or focused on Sonoma. Are you a local? Can you recommend any great lunch spots or affordable dinners? Does happy hour exist there? Bottega sounds like a "do not miss". And Bistro Jentry sounds interesting. Anything in Napa proper? tia

        6525 Washington Street Suite A9, Yountville, CA 94599

        1. re: Rizza

          There are a lot of Napa conversations, give the search engine a try!

          However, if you're looking for "affordable", you'd do well to quantify what you mean. I think Ubuntu makes a great, affordable dinner, but you'd have to order carefully to get out for $50/pp, all included. That's more affordable than the french laundry, but might not be "affordable".

          Also, Napa *valley* is a pretty big place, and the *city* of Napa is at the far end. When asking for recs, I'd suggest being as specific as possible about where you'll be, and the town you're staying in. The true Napa locals will be happy to share info!

          Here's a Napa lunch thread to get you started:

          And a more recent general recommendation thread that has a few pointers to other threads:

          I really like MamaLorraine's advice. She's local and sensible.

          And Morimoto's place has gotten good reviews, haven't been yet.

          Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
          1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

          1. re: bbulkow

            Thanks for the support. *Love* being called MamaLorraine!
            Appreciate your Bay Area posts.

          2. re: Rizza

            Bistro Jeanty in cold weather is a must. Angele is another very good French restaurant in downtown Napa. Lunch spots/affordable dinner try Grace's Table or Pizza Azzurro, both in downtown.

            Do take some time to enjoy the wonderful scenery of the Napa Valley. Also, a very affordable lunch is a picnic, with plenty of places to purchase picnic fare ...

        2. Well this is a food board so I will say in Napa proper I enjoyed Morimoto, especially the appetizers and surprisingly there was a BBQ/wine bar with some pretty tasty wine and good selection of micro-brews nearby called Bounty Hunter.

          Not food related but you may want to check to find tours at a good discount.

          610 Main Street, Napa, CA

          1. In the town of Napa, Angele is a very good French restaurant, and Ubuntu is a very good vegetarian restaurant. Just north of Napa, Bistro Don Giovanni is a very good Italian restaurant.

            My four favorite wineries in Napa Valley are: Darioush Winery, Regusci Winery, Chateau Montelena, and Castillo di Amorosa. The architecture is amazing, the wine is excellent as well.

            1. I second the call to read maria lorraine's posts. I relied pretty heavily on them for a recent Napa Valley visit and we ate and drank well!

              Our favorite was JoLe in Calistoga, where we found the food nearly flawless. ( Sol Bar was also very good. It has a Michelin star if you take those kinds of things into consideration. (

              And there's a tiny little grocery store / taqueria in Rutherford called La Luna that has excellent, inexpensive al pastor tacos. The folks there were great.

              Ubuntu and of course French Laundry were the restaurants we wish we could've tried, but didn't end up having time for.

              Our favorite wineries were Elyse (very, very small; you won't be getting a tour or anything like that since they don't have real vineyards of their own and purchase most of their grapes from other growers) and Vincent Arroyo. Both focus on red wines. It's kind of interesting to tour the Disneyland-like Mondavi estates and they have some iconic art. I'm personally not all that excited by the wines we tried, there.

              Ubuntu Restaurant & Yoga Studio
              1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94558

              1457 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515

              1 Reply
              1. re: michelleats

                Alson Solbar in Calistoga......and take time for a mudbath!!