The Napa Valley dining scene focuses on freshness. “Farm to table” here means great local wines paired with locally grown ingredients, particularly lots of flavorful herbs. It’s common to find Napa Valley olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table instead of butter for your bread. You may find a second menu, offering food and wine pairings, or for that matter a menu of wine flights (samples of, say, pinot noir, made by several area wineries for you to compare). Add world-class chefs — both the famous and the soon-to-be famous — for dining that’s bound to be memorable.
There’s good reason New York’s Culinary Institute of America (CIA) opened a chef school here, including a restaurant that is open to the public. You’ll need reservations for the Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant at the CIA, at restaurants located within wineries and at any place owned by a well-known chef. Prices range from moderate to super expensive.
Address: 1026 1st Street
Word of Mouth: “I took my wife to this restaurant for our 30th anniversary and we were more than pleased. The service was great and the food was superb! They even gave us free Champagne for our anniversary. It was a little loud, but they put us in an area where that was not a problem, plus, if you’ve ever been to Italy, this place is quiet.” — LenCalifornia
Address: 500 Main Street
Word of Mouth: “We always love dining at Celadon. If you’re looking for a warm and inviting atmosphere, well-designed wine list and consistently delicious food, we highly recommend Celadon. Chef/Owner Greg Cole can be largely credited for why Napa is such a great dining destination, his other restaurant Cole’s Chophouse is just as amazing. Greg can often be seen chatting up his guests table side, his warm and friendly disposition tops off an already pleasurable experience.” — Sean D
Genova Delicatessen and Ravioli Factory
Address: 1550 Trancas Street
Cuisine: Delicatessen, Italian
Word of Mouth: “This deli is a throwback in a world dominated by Subway and Quiznos sandwich shops. You take a number and wait to give your order. Their selection of bread/rolls is outstanding! I love the turkey/ham and pepperjack cheese sandwich. They have a great selection of homemade salads, the tortellini pesto is excellent. If you have room try a homemade dessert, if not, get it to go.” — leoedward
Address: 1126 1st Street
Cuisine: Latin, Mexican, South American, Southwestern
Word of Mouth: “If you are looking for common staples of Mexican food, the likes of which you can find anywhere else — then don’t bother, this is not the place for you. But if you want REAL Mexican/Latin American food, prepared home-style — the likes you may find in any Mexican household, but with a twist — then you are in the right place.”— DeLeon1011
Address: 829 Main Street
Cuisine: Portuguese, Spanish, Tapas
Word of Mouth: “From the moment the food started pouring out of the kitchen, we knew that this was the place for us! We went with our brother and sister in law and loved sharing all of the food! Everything was delicious and large enough portions that everyone was able to enjoy each dish. We loved the paella (best I’ve ever had) and the shrimp.” — Halle B
The Farm at Carneros Inn
Address: 4048 Sonoma Highway
Word of Mouth: “From the moment we arrived, the ambience was alive! The decor is contemporary yet warm with appropriate lighting. The service was excellent from water, to bread, to food, to wine recommendations and proper pairings. Cannot say enough about this place. If you are looking for a special evening, sit next to the fireplace and watch the magic … then taste it! Expensive but well worth it.” — Behindthescenes2
Wine Spectator Greystone Restaurant
Address: 2555 Main Street
Word of Mouth: “It’s a school restaurant, and we can see they do everything with love. Food is great, wine pairing is excellent, desert (chocolate volcano) is unforgettable. But what makes us fall in love with Wine Spectator was the experience of watching everything being prepared — kitchen is in the middle of the restaurant. Our waitress was so attentive and the chef is more than a great teacher, he offers us an amazing experience of flavors, with simple and fresh ingredients. Best spinach of our lives.” — alalas
For more Napa restaurants, click here.