The Top Gourmet Restaurants In Napa Valley, California

Food & drink
Food & drink | Photo by Alex Haney on Unsplash
Carly Minsky

Napa Valley may be best known for its wine, but gastronomy in the valley is anything but an afterthought. Dining options range from shacks serving gourmet barbecued picnics to luxury resorts providing fine dining and breathtaking views. From hearty Italian cuisine to experimental Japanese creations, Napa Valley caters for visitors of all tastes, offering food experiences that characterize Napa’s northern Californian vibe. Here are 10 unmissable restaurants in the valley.

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Tra Vigne

Tra Vigne is at the height of neo-Italian dining in the Napa Valley, channelling old world Italy and situated in a stone villa with a tree-lined courtyard. The décor is a fusion between art deco and rustic Italian, and the food reflects the same ethos, with traditional Tuscan dishes brought into modern Napa cuisine through the use of regional ingredients. Menu highlights include the popular hand-pulled mozzarella bruschetta, a variety of handmade pasta and seasonal meat and seafood. The award winning wine list features 520 varieties of the best wines both from California and Italy, including lesser known wines from new and pioneering producers. With a gorgeous setting and hearty Italian food to match, Tra Vigne is ideal for an intimate dinner with friends or loved ones.

Bottega Napa Valley

Bottega restaurant has much to boast about; in addition to celebrity chef Michael Chiarello, the Emmy-winning host of the Food Network’s Easy Entertaining, the restaurant is situated in one of the oldest wineries in the valley, part of the historic Vintage Estates. Showcasing Italian flavors with chef Chiarello’s signature twists, the menu relies on both artisanal ingredients and sourced local produce, resulting in fresh regional dishes that are impressively unique and vast in number. Guests can choose from wood-grilled lamb chops, duck three ways, forno-roasted whole fish, and twice cooked pork, to name just a few options, all of which are accompanied by innovative vegetable sides, which have clearly received as much attention and thought as the mains. The ambiance is quaint, perfect for a relaxed evening sampling Mediterranean flavors and the best of California’s wines.

Solbar

Describing themselves as ‘Sol-ful dining in Napa Valley’, Solbar at the Solage Calistoga Spa uses seasonal ingredients to artfully create dishes, producing both homely soul food and healthy spa food, all with a great deal of heart. The menu is itself delineated along these lines, with hearty meals such as grilled loin and confit shoulder of Sonoma lamb with English peas, Cipollini onions, tarragon honey-bacon carrots and PX sauce, and lighter meals such as warm bulgur pilaf with ras al hanout, roasted cauliflower, cannellini bean hummus, castelvetrano olives and tomato chutney. There is a sprawling outdoor terrace with a chic atmosphere, from which guest can enjoy al fresco dining or a glass of wine at sunset, admiring the view of the surrounding mountains.

Auberge du Soleil

The very first fine dining establishment in the valley, restaurant-turned-spa Auberge du Soleil, has been providing guests with a balance of well being and indulgence since 1981. Set in the hills with panoramic views over the valley, the restaurant’s characteristic style is a fusion of California and Provence, served around rustic wooden furnishings and underneath abstract artwork hanging on the walls. The dinner options are carefully thought out, combining regional ingredients with a Mediterranean flair, resulting in appetisers such as poached Maine lobster with apple, almond milk, avocado, and orange vanilla vinaigrette, and mains such as spiced local lamb with medjool dates, farro, radicchio, lemon, and harissa. In the warmer months, guests enjoy glasses of wine from the award winning list outside on the peaceful terrace, overlooking the lush landscape.

Morimoto Napa

Sitting on the riverfront, Morimoto Napa is the valley branch of celebrity Iron Chef Morimoto’s franchise, maintained under the guidance of Napa’s executive Chef Kang, who recreates Morimoto’s signature Asian dishes. The restaurant itself is designed as a wide retail space, with tables set against a background of brand products such as cookbooks, wooden crockery, and sake, all representing the ‘Morimoto lifestyle’. The dining area is flanked on one end by the shop gallery and on the other by the open kitchen, where the craft of sushi is always on display. Décor is cool and minimalistic, creating an air of expansive privacy that wouldn’t be out of place in Tokyo. The menu offers both a vast sushi and sashimi list, and Morimoto’s more innovative creations, including grilled hamachi kama with red miso chimichurri sauce, and duck meatball soup with duck confit, fried rice, and gooseberry compote.

Oxbow Public Market

‘The local gathering place for great food and wine in Napa Valley,’ Oxbow Public Market, open seven days a week and overlooking the river, is the sociable eating destination at the lower end of the price scale. Strictly speaking, the market is not a restaurant itself, but there are many treats to be sampled there against a dynamic backdrop of community events, live music, cooking demos, wine and beer tastings, and animated chatter from local visitors. Kitchen Door, from chef Todd Humphries, is a popular contemporary family diner serving dishes from classic chicken roasts and root beer floats to the banh mi duck sandwich with pickled vegetables, spicy mayo, jalapeno, and duck liver mousse, all in a toasted roll with sweet potato fries. There are many other restaurants and stalls offering the best of Napa’s food and culture, all with a focus on communal gathering and regional produce.

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