You wouldn’t believe how excited we are to be in our own backyard for the Traditional Home Napa Showhouse (and even more excited to be a part of the experience). While we install pieces for our vintner’s master-suite, we couldn’t help but wonder how many people are making the trek to our Northern California home. We usually travel over to the East Coast or head out of the country to attend wonderful design events, but it’s nice to know our travel time probably won’t exceed an hour this time around. However, we wanted to make sure all of our out-of-state design peeps knew what they were in for in the always-lovely Napa Valley.
We gathered our team of experts (aka our gals at the Design Lab) and decided on our Must-Try and Must-Do and Must-Drink places to go and activities to take part in. Read on for our full list of what you need to be doing while you’re in the Napa Valley during the Traditional Home Napa Showhouse event!
Boon Fly Cafe: Fun, lively, and vibrant, The Boon Fly Café serves modern rustic cuisine in a contemporary roadhouse atmosphere.
Looking for brunch? Stop by Boon Fly in Carneros Valley for a delectable dish and ease-inducing atmosphere. We highly suggest asking for a plate or two of their famous Boon Fly donuts and maybe an order of their award-winning fried chicken. You can’t make reservations for breakfast-lunch so get there early, and make sure you’re hungry.
Goose & Gander: Goose & Gander is a wine country public house- a gathering place for locals and visitors to celebrate Napa Valley’s abundant bounty.
We have way too many great things to say about Goose & Gander. Rustic American cuisine is bountifully served at this gastropub-esque restaurant in St. Helena. One of the best features about Goose & Gander is the fact that their kitchen stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, which means you have no excuse not to visit this local watering hole.
The Girl and the Fig: The girl & the fig features a wonderful antique bar with French aperitifs, unique and traditional cocktails, an award-winning Rhone-Alone winelist, a seasonal menu, cheese & charcuterie platters, and outdoor garden patio seating.
If you’ve never heard of or tried ‘country food with a French passion’, oh boy, are you missing out! The menu at The Girl and the Fig in beautiful Sonoma is full of French cuisine sans unapproachable descriptions. This restaurant is another eatery that focuses on where their ingredients come from in order to compose the most beautiful comfort food we’ve ever seen (or tasted for that matter).
FARM at the Carneros Inn: Settle in for dinner in our elegant dining room featuring fireplaces, dramatic lighting, and a cathedral ceiling, or dine alfresco on the patio and enjoy our glorious Napa Valley evenings.
FARM at The Carneros Inn is a destination in itself. Boasting a beautiful view of the rolling hills of Napa Valley, FARM serves up some of the best wine in the land, including locally harvested wines out of Los Carneros valley, as well as some from around the world that are all crafted from sustainable harvest grapes. Pretty great, huh? As for their menu, we hope you’re in the mood for some seriously delectable eats. Their Superior Farm Lab? Tres Magnifique.
Angele: A French country restaurant and bar offering refined bistro fare, wine and cocktails on the Napa riverfront in the heart of downtown Napa.
Angele is synonymous with Napa, and when in Rome, do as the Romans do. A French countryside-esque space, Angele delivers on its promise of luxurious, delicious, and sustainable cuisine. Situated along a relaxing riverfront, customers have the option of sitting outside and enjoying the view, nestling up at the restaurant’s beautiful bar, or taking a seat in the dining room, only to be inspired by the romantic décor and rustic menu. Any way you choose, you’ll be delighted by this restaurant du jour.
ZuZu: …a beloved, Spanish-inspired restaurant and tapas bar in Napa’s historic Old Town.
We might be biased, but California has some of the best tapas joints around. ZuZu, an eclectic and electric Spanish-style eatery is West coast famous for its masterfully put together and deeply satisfying take on farm-to-fork eating. With fresh seafood, greens, and spices, you’ll definitely experience a case of some serious sizzle at ZuZu.
Morimoto: Inventive, high-end Japanese fare & artful cocktails presented in glamorous yet Zen surroundings.
As one Yelper boldly stated: “If you don’t know Chef Morimoto, you don’t know sushi.” World renowned and design intensive, Morimoto is a fusion of exquisite cuisine and impeccable design. With unmatched culinary skills and a knack for creating beautiful dishes and decor, Chef Morimoto’s restaurant is a destination in its own right. We would recommend a dish for you to try, but we’d be lying if we said we had just one favorite.
Ad Lib: Ad Lib is a temporary restaurant concept offering a classic American menu of traditional recipes prepared with the same quality ingredients and execution our guests have come to expect.
If you’re familiar with Napa, then you’re familiar with the French Laundry (more on that majestic eatery later on). Ad Lib is the French Laundry’s little pop-up sister. Featuring straightforward and selective dishes, Ad Lib is a nostalgic representation of all-American delicacies like shrimp cocktail, roasted chicken, and even the classic banana split. If you haven’t already, take a look at their 1950’s-themed menu online.
The Model Bakery: Today’s Model Bakery specializes in artisan breads made with organic stone ground flours and the highest quality ingredients as well as a complete range of pastry products.
Two words: English. Muffins. This artisan bakery has two convenient locations in St. Helena and Napa filled to the brim with fluffy, warm muffins, breads, pastries, cakes, pies, and cookies. If you’re in the mood for a seriously delicious snack, make a beeline for Model Bakery.
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen: Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen combines the sophistication of a supper club with the flair of a speakeasy to create the perfect upscale eatery and neighborhood hang-out.
One of our personal favorite Napa hangouts, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is the perfect blend of comfort and cool. We had the pleasure of meeting Cindy herself and with her friendly demeanor we immediately knew we’d be in for a delectable treat. With such decadent dishes as stuffed piquillo peppers and a home-sweet-home style wild mushroom pot pie, Cindy’s is a backstreet kitchen with uptown taste.
Redd: Redd reflects the passions of a serious chef who, after spending 15 years in some of the best kitchens in the United States and Europe, has found the perfect balance of serious food and unpretentious environment.
If you’re looking for beautifully thought-out dishes, modern and elegant decor, and a chef who knows a thing or two about fine dining, look no further than Redd in Napa Valley. Having been reviewed by San Francisco Magazine, Town & Country, and Food & Wine, this establishment is a well-known watering hole for foodies and rookies who enjoy sophisticated bites. Try the sashimi of hamachi or glazed pork belly with apple puree for a taste of the chef’s signature dishes. And as always, locally harvested and produced wine is an available, and encouraged, staple.
Reddwood: …a polished, chic restaurant with a voguish vibe and hip playlist coupled with an osteria-styled menu and Napa/Sonoma favored wine list.
In summation, Reddwood is the best place to grab a bite of some seriously fancy pizza. Superbly stylish and situated just inside of Yountville, Reddwood is famous for its sophisticated dining quarters and daily changing menus filled with oven baked pizzas, house-made pastas, and a wine list to die for.
Bouchon Bakery: Blending traditional techniques with a depth of knowledge in the science of bread making, Bouchon Bakery bakes hand-crafted breads from ingredients that meet Chef Keller’s exacting standards.
If you haven’t already, look up Thomas Keller, and then continue reading this guide. A renowned chef and food entrepreneur, Keller has impeccably high standards for his eateries, which is why his restaurants, bakeries, dining rooms, and pop-up shops are always all the rage. Bouchon Bakery features some of the tastiest treats in all of Napa valley because of meticulous attention to detail, only the best of the best ingredients, and a team of chefs so exacting that the food is dare we say– Perfect. If you happen to stop by, grab a bowl of their yummy French onion soup and a wine carafe then ask for the Thomas Keller Oreo or their prettily packaged homemade caramel popcorn for a sweet treat.
French Laundry: …the restaurant commits itself to creating classic French cuisine with the finest quality ingredients, along with a similarly intense focus on impeccable guest service.
Yes this place is as fancy as it sounds. Thomas Keller (as mentioned above at least 20 times) made French Laundry his life’s work. He searched near and far for a place to call his dream’s home and found it in Napa valley. One of the few restaurants in the world to receive multiple three-star rankings from the Michelin group, as well as many outstanding restaurant and restaurateur awards, The French Laundry is the epitome of fine dining. Reservations are taken at least two months in advance, and the menu continually changes to make sure all ingredients are fresh and local. We would recommend something to try but chances are, you’ll be trying a taste of all of French Laundry’s many delectable wares.
Hotel Yountville: …boasts an open kitchen, oversized fireplace and an outdoor dining terrace under a majestic oak tree.
We would be remiss if we didn’t mention the BEST breakfast spot in Napa valley. Obviously named for its beautiful location, Hotel Yountville is a beautiful lodge situated in a gorgeous realm of Yountville, CA, offering a spa, outdoor pool, bed and breakfast, complimentary wine tasting, and only the finest dining experience. Even if you aren’t a guest of Hotel Yountville, you’d be smart to wake up early one morning and make the trek to snag a plate of their beautiful bites.
The Bistro Jeanty: The Bistro is that little neighborhood restaurant where they know who you are, greet you warmly, and serve you satisfying foods that change with seasons and define regional homey French cuisine.
Bistro Jeanty is where hungry people with a sophisticated palette go to get their food on. A tale as old as time, Bistro Jeanty is a warm and welcoming family-style establishment with big portions and big hearts. True to their word, their options are seasonal, fresh, and scrumptious.
Bounty Hunter: With an astounding lineup of over 400 highly-allocated wines on the shelves and 40 wines available by-the-glass, you can scan the 18-page wine list on any given day to find a snapshot of truly great wines from around the world.
When you’re in Napa, you’re going to go wine tasting a time or two. If you’ve been to Napa valley several times already, you have got to head to Bounty Hunter. With a vast selection of local and global wines, spirit tasting flights, a whiskey bar, and artisan beers on tap, there’s something for everyone (as long as they’re 21+).
Cairdean Estate: …Edwin and Stacia embraced their vision and created Cairdean Estate. Cairdean is Scottish Gaelic for friends, which reflects their belief that wine is meant to be shared by those held close to your heart.
If you’ve read our past few blog posts, we highlighted Cairdean Estate as our Chef’s Table for the month of October. To recap, Cairdean is an umbrella for four unique businesses: Cairdean vineyards, The Fox and the Farmer, Redolent Mercantile, and Butterscot’s bakery. We highly recommend traveling to this estate to sit in their beautiful tasting room and delight yourself in a glass or two of their locally grown and harvested wines (their Petite Syrah is off the hook).
Schramsberg Winery: Surrounded by dense coniferous and deciduous forests, the vines produce late-ripening, richly concentrated fruit with yields of only two tons per acre.
Whether you’re team red or team white, everybody enjoys a bottle of bubbly. Schramsberg winery is our top pick best sparkling wine in Napa valley. Complete with sprawling vineyards, underground cave tours, and their own vineyard dog, Schramsberg is the perfect pit stop for a glass or two of some of California’s best bubbles.
Oxbow Public Market: The 40,000 square foot marketplace, which includes a scenic outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River, features a diverse tenant mixture of local food vendors, artisan cafes and an organic produce outlet for local farms.
What’s better than wine tasting, shopping, or fine dining? Combining them all in one open-air market in the middle of Napa valley. Peruse the best of the best organic products like olive oil, seasonings, beauty products, home goods, and pet presents. Try a bite at some of the onsite eateries like Casa, Eiko’s, or Hog Island Oyster Company. If you have an extra day in Napa with no plans, head to Oxbow for a plentifully fun filled day.
Williams-Sonoma: …where Chuck Williams purchased a small Sonoma hardware shop and converted into a store for passionate home cooks.
No, this is not a plug, we truly recommend paying homage to the original Williams-Sonoma, in, you guessed it– Sonoma. If you’re headed that direction, peek in their original store, which recently reopened in 2014, and check out their collection of original wares as well as some new pieces to add to your kitchen.
Ma(i)sonry: As an art, design and wine gallery set amidst a contemporary, landscaped sculpture garden, Ma(i)sonry offers guests a respite and a retreat.
Consider Ma(i)sonry your one stop shop in Napa valley, a wine aficionado and art lover’s oasis, an interesting piece of land ready to be explored. This winerr/art gallery/life experience is a great way to spend an entire day perusing only the best wine selection, resting your eyes on some of the most unique art pieces, and just getting away from it all.
Auberge du Soleil: Here, life’s earthly pleasures are celebrated in the serenity of an intimate hillside setting that has captivated guests for 30 years.
If that brief synopsis doesn’t draw you in, you must already be beyond relaxed. What do you need after a weekend of eating, sipping, and sightseeing? Spa-ing, of course. Auberge du Soleil is one of the most luxurious spas across the country, with a wide array of all of the retreat-type options you could hope for. As their philosophy goes, after all: Pleasure is healing.
Phew. Hopefully you enjoyed our full blow-by-blow of the best eats, sips, and sights in Napa Valley! If you’re sunny California mid-October through mid-November, don’t forget to stop by our vintner’s estate at the Traditional Home Napa Valley Showhouse and say hello before you head out exploring!