Napa Valley and Sonoma County are well known for their vineyard-covered hillsides and award-winning wine. With more than 800 wineries to choose from, most visitors to this legendary stretch of Northern California come ready to indulge, but there’s more here than just wine. The culinary scene is exploding. Wine country eats from Michelin star restaurants to under the radar local favorites just keep getting better. You just need to know where to go. That’s where we come in.
Napa Valley boasts more Michelin stars per capita than any other wine region in the world. That means you have some tough dining decisions to make.
In the heart of Napa Valley, Yountville is home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, the world-renowned spots, French Laundry and Bouchon. Whether you choose the Chef’s Tasting Menu or Tasting of Vegetables, jackets and reservations, are a must at The French Laundry. Nearby Bouchon, another Thomas Keller creation, is open daily, serving seasonal selections along with staples including roast chicken, leg of lamb, and trout amandine. Elsewhere, Lucy Restaurant & Bar at Bardessono offers menu selections inspired by what’s growing in its organic garden, and Bouchon Bakery is a sweet way to start your day, even if you have to wait in line to do it.
The star power continues in St. Helena at The Restaurant at Meadowood. The menu changes with the season, but often includes selections like Trout Buckwheat Turnip and Buffalo Milk Yogurt Cultured with Rose Strawberries. It’s recommended guests make reservations two to three months in advance.
For something more down-to-earth, and if you are a fan of great burgers, Goose & Gander is a must stop in St. Helena. Like many other wine country restaurants, the menu changes with the season, but the G&G burger is always available. With grass fed beef, Gruyere, and bacon – its arrival at the table will be an “oh my” moment for sure. You can even add on Bone Marrow or Foie Gras if you please. Another tip; pass on the wine and go for a try one of the bar’s excellent featured cocktails.
Delicious. It’s the best way to describe dining in downtown Napa these days. Whether you’re in the mood for fine dining or quick and casual, you can do it here. La Toque serves Michelin star cuisine, but Chef Ken Frank shows off his casual side in delicious dishes like Orecchiette and Lobster Buttered Popcorn, at neighboring BANK Café and Bar. Both restaurants are located at The Westin Verasa Napa. Oxbow Public Market, just steps away, is home to more than a dozen eateries. Sharing and tasting a little bit of everything as you wander around, like the Cream of Mushroom Soup at Kitchen Door and the Huevos Rancheros at C Casa, is encouraged. Ca’ Momi serves tasty pizza and other Italian eats at both its Oxbow Public Market location, and its full-service restaurant on First Street.
Just to the west of Napa you’ll find Sonoma County has its own long list of amazing wineries, talented chefs and tasty restaurants. Favorite dinner choices include everything from French cuisine to seasonally influenced Japanese dishes.
Tucked in along the coast in Forestville, the menu at Michelin-starred Farmhouse Inn changes depending on locally available ingredients, but The Restaurant’s signature dish is Rabbit, Rabbit, Rabbit. As the name implies it’s rabbit prepared thee ways; confit of leg, roasted rack and Applewood bacon wrapped loin. Try to make reservations a couple weeks in advance.
Whether it’s date night or a drink after work, John Ash & Co. and neighboring The Front Room Bar & Lounge, is a hit with locals and visitors alike. An onsite garden provides seasonal inspiration for dishes like Sonoma Vegetable Tempura, Chile Relleno and Dungeness crab fritters.
It’s Santa Rosa location isn’t ideal, but Franchetti’s is worth the short, but a bit out of the way drive. The ping pong table in the dining room will help you pass the time while you wait for dishes like fried chicken, meatballs or wood fire Neapolitan style pizza, to emerge from the kitchen.
Bright, fun and tasty, SHED is worth a stop no matter what meal time your watch says is coming next. Menus change daily, depending on local bounty. Alongside the Shed Café is a Coffee Bar and Fermentation Bar. Try the house-made kombucha or one of the flavorful Shrubs, and save a little time to do some shopping. The selection of housewares, pantry items and garden tools will inspire you to do great things at home.
Where to say in Napa and Sonoma