Napa Valley Favorites: Restaurants
In Napa Valley, there's a slew of great restaurants, many of them amazing. And there's a good number of glorious ones that have put this Northern California region not just America's wine country, but also, a veritable food destination.
Lucky me, this now world-class destination is just in my backyard. We can easily go for coffee, or a Sunday brunch, or make a whole day out of it with a wine tasting tour. We're definitely all for trying something new, But there's definitely those places that we know when we crave for a specific thing, we know exactly where to go - the tried and tested, where we won't be leaving the satisfaction of our cravings to chance.
We come here for the buffet Sunday brunch. For one thing on the Sunday brunch. Unstoppable oysters.
The fresh, raw oysters are shucked right at the seafood bar and you can keep coming back for more for as many times as you want. At $42.50 per person, the raw oyster buffet is really where it becomes all worth it, especially as some places charge $36 for a dozen of fresh raw oysters.
But of course, there's more at the buffet brunch. You've got an omelet bar, a cheese board, and a salad bar as well. If unstoppable oysters is not your style, there's also unstoppable apple wood smoked bacon. Here's a tip: on the dessert bar, the tiramisu is not so unlimited. It's a pretty good one so definitely if there's still some, grab a slice to save for later.
In our world of celebrity everything, we all know this place, right? And as much as macarons are one of my favorite things in the world, which Bouchon Bakery makes quite decently, at the main restaurant, it's really all about the French bistro glory. Thomas Keller's more accessible yet still Michelin-starred Yountville staple surely has got that on point.
But for us, this is where we go to get our escargot and moules et frites fix. There's quite a few French restaurants in Napa but I don't know why not a lot of them serve escargot. Yes, there's the buttery goodness of this dish but I like how Bouchon makes it because it's not just all butter and herbs. I can still taste the earthiness of the snail. The mussels served in a classic Staub pot is just a bit more special with the saffron, super juicy, super fragrant. With the classic companion to the mussels, the pommes frites get a special treatment too with truffles.
Another celebrity chef owned Yountville institution is Michael Chiarello's Bottega. I have seriously passed up Bouchon numerous times because my mouth waters at the thought of their oh so creamy polenta. It's amazing because polenta is so basic, right? Not this one. The earth tones of the caramelized wild mushroom gives this antipasto a whole other dimension.
A recent discovery but an instant favorite is also another antipasto, the polpo alla griglia - grilled octopus. Octopus is so delicate to cook and a few extra seconds too long on the grill would ruin it entirely. I truly cannot wait to get this again. The balance of grilled crispness and oceany freshness in this dish is simple yet so fine. Another dessert tip: ask for the chocolate lava cake, and make sure you order this as soon as you order your drinks. It takes about 20 minutes to cook so if you order it only after your entree, that will be quite the wait.
When I hear wine country, the image that immediately pops in my head is one with hills and valleys marked by distinctive lines of vineyards. Driving around, you see some of that depending on how high the road is. At Auberge du Soleil, you are looking down at Napa Valley from a vista nothing short of gorgeous. It's really every bit the Napa Valley that you would imagine.
Regardless if you visit for the view, stay at the resort, or come for brunch, you must not leave without their signature torte au chocolat. Eleven heavenly layers of delicate handcrafted goodness, even featured by the Barefoot Contessa herself. Luckily, they do sell it online.
We rarely go to Napa without making a pit stop at Oxbow. For us, it's reminiscent of the Market of San Miguel in Madrid where we had such a good experience with really gourmet everything under one roof. Coffee, oysters, cheese, wine, ice cream, olive oil - it's really a one-stop shop of simple favorites. There's a lot of ground to cover in the Napa Valley, but this is one I always take visiting relatives and friends to.
Bianca is one of the founders of get there | get lost. She is an avid writer and photographer based in Northern California. Her love for history, literature, architecture and food culminate to her passion for traveling and learning about different cultures. She advocates for accessible travel, and continues to explore with her husband and travel partner, Jesús, despite physical limitations. Follow their adventures on Instagram as @gettheregetlost and @coffeeandtherapy.