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Yet another "Rate My Napa Weekend Itinerary"

Greetings Chowhoundians. I know, just what we need... another "please look at my plans" thread. I'm bringing my lady friend to Napa at the end of the month and want her to leave with fond memories of her first trip. Just to preface, we're both seasoned foodies with a basic understanding of wine (but little or no understanding of wineries). I've been to Napa twice, but both trips were impromptu invitations to the Meadowood (years ago) and TFL respectively. We're also on a bit of a budget.

Saturday: Arrive in the valley early/mid afternoon. Head straight to Downtown and spend some time at Oxbow. Then down to Gaia to check in. After freshening up, dinner somewhere a bit more laid back and casual with a drink or two (this is the biggest ? at the moment).

Sunday: Reservations at Ad Hoc for brunch. Winery tours/tastings in the afternoon at 2-3 places (Cakebread, Honig, and/or Elizabeth Spencer). Emphasis is on value, wine, interest, and education (probably in that order too). Dinner at Ubuntu (particularly excited because my lady is fascinated by "what Californians can do with amazing local produce").

Monday: Check out. Bouchon Bakery for some goodies for the ride home. Brunch/Lunch at either Brix, Boon Fly, or Fremont Diner. Head home.

Also, before the Sonoma and beyond suggestions start flying, we'd like to stay south of St. Helena and north of Am. Canyon. Anyway, if you guys have any suggestions to improve or help make this trip more memorable for us, I'll be eternally grateful! <3

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

Ad Hoc
6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599

Bouchon Bakery
6528 Washington St, Yountville, CA 94599

Boon Fly Cafe
4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

Brix
7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

Fremont Diner
2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

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  1. Check the posts below mine on http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6264...
    Yountville is north of American Canyon and south of St. Helena and rumor has it some nice places to stay.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wolfe

      good hunting wolfe . . . I was just thinking of that discussion! Bacon Love, take it from a female . . . your hotel location choice needs to make a better match to your choices for many good meals. I will definitely second your choice of Brix, and suggest the deck at Auberge for another fabulous view.

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      Brix
      7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558

      1. re: vday

        wolfe and vday, thanks for the link. While we're not celebrating anything, newly wed, nor particularly picky about accomodations, we do appreciate ambiance (and industrial doesn't sound very... ambient). I'll look a little more carefully around the Downtown Napa area. ;)

        To anyone else reading this, any other feedback (particularly winery choices and Saturday dinner... remaining OT reservations are at whacky times and I doubt we'd have the energy for an epic 4 hour meal)?

        1. re: Bacon Love

          If you end up staying somewhere in the Napa Downtown, you could walk to a number of places to get drinks/dinner . . . Cole's, Celadon, Angele are all very nice . . .
          More of a locals place is Zin's for casual food/drinks.

          1. re: Bacon Love

            My favorite more casual restaurant in Downtown Napa is Azzurro Pizzeria. Although I haven't been, Graces's Table is getting a lot of great reviews. A really fun place is The Bounty Hunter which offers some interesting wine tasting options (I haven't had the food but I have done tastings there).

            If you end up staying at Gaia (which is actually a nice place on weekdays - weekends the guests tend to get a little loud - there is a casino next door - and the walls are very thin) you may want to check in first and then explore Downtown Napa/Oxbow rather than go back and forth.

            I might get flamed for this suggestion but I always enjoy tasting at Domaine Carneros. Yes, it's the Disneyland of Napa but that doesn't take away from the fact that they have good wines and the view is beautiful. I always take out of town guests there and they love it. You also have the option of NOT paying a $25 tasting fee; there are cheaper flights or you can get a single glass of wine.

            http://myculinaryadventures.blogspot....

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            Domaine Carneros
            1240 Duhig Rd, Napa, CA

      2. Note that the chef who got Ubuntu its Michelin star has left, along with some of the staff. If you go, you should probably ratchet down your expectations. But you'll be enjoying amazing local produce almost anyplace in the Bay Area.

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

        2 Replies
        1. re: Cicely

          Let's not short change Ubuntu yet. Here are 2 reviews since Chef Fox left, both positive.
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6977...
          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6884...

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

          1. re: Cicely

            yes, but only one restaurant will serve you produce from ubuntu's garden

          2. To your credit, your research seems a little better than most. As you have alluded already, this question is often asked. There's lots of bad advice out there, but I think you've got mostly good choices. However, I would suggest...

            1. Nix Brix. Boon Fly breakfast is highly regarded, and Fremont Diner is my current spot. It's a coin toss for those two.

            2. Skip Cakebread, and visit to their neighbor, Turnbull instead. Cakebread has become a factory, in many ways. I like Honig and Elizabeth Spencer as choices, though (many people have never even heard of ES). If you want a winery with Cakebread's history, I would go to Heitz (although Turnbull has been in the valley a long time, too).

            3. I had spotty service at Ubuntu, even in its heyday. Now its menu has a shade of doubt. I'd go to La Toque. Their somms are the best in the biz.

            www.thirstyreader.com

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

            Boon Fly Cafe
            4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559

            La Toque Restaurant
            1314 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559

            Fremont Diner
            2660 Fremont Dr, Sonoma, CA

            2 Replies
            1. re: ThirstyReader

              Thanks so much for the suggestions (particularly the wineries). I also had Elyse on my list of candidates... any thoughts?

              So many conflicting opinions about my Monday brunch choices (especially in older threads I haven't posted in yet)... seems like it depends on what kind of ambiance and/or food you're looking for.

              1. re: Bacon Love

                Elyse is a great stop -- the people there are really great, the wines are good and very reasonably priced, and you get to taste a nice range of their wines. I definitely recommend it.

            2. Already re-arranged our accomodations (now staying in Downtown Napa)... seemed logical since we're trying to minimize all the driving around.

              BBQ in Napa? Interesting concept... any idea if the meat is smoked? Nothing burns me up more than trying a new BBQ joint only to discover that the meat was partially/fully boiled and slathered in sauce to make it "smokey"... :-/

              1 Reply
              1. re: Bacon Love

                BarbersQ, Bounty Hunter and Buster's all cook their meats with smoke. Even Napa isn't that clueless about Southern cooking. Haha. Although I'm not so sure about Red Rock Cafe, which does serve up a Sloppy Joe version of a pulled pork sandwich (not my thing, either).

                www.thirstyreader.com

              2. Here's an opposite thought - if you're going into Napa and then heading back south to check into Gaia (which is American Canyon), you could continue to go south and check out Havana Sol for some Cuban food in Vallejo.

                Here's a post from it here - not sure if there are any more recent reviews of the place here on Chow (folks on Yelp have noted that the service has improved of late.)

                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6390...

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                Havana Sol
                326 Virginia St, Vallejo, CA