One Day in Napa Valley, I ate at these restaurants…
Napa Valley is known for its wines – just about everyone knows that. However, a lesser known allure of Napa is its abundance of top-notch restaurants. During a recent weekend getaway to Napa with Tom, I sampled an array of Napa’s cuisine and picked my top 3 to highlight the country, the upscale, and the sandwich offerings of Napa Valley restaurants.
The Country-Chic Napa Valley Restaurant
I’ve had gourmet comfort food before, but none that dolled up basic dishes as much as the ones I tasted at Market Restaurant in St. Helena, a small vineyard-centric town in Napa County.
The setting of the restaurant perfectly complements the menu. About 15 unassuming tables are set in a small space set at the back of the restaurant behind the bar area. One wall is completely covered in stone and a massive photograph of a vineyard at sunset hangs from the adjoining wall.
Now for the food. To start, a creamy lobster bisque that had a kick to it and paired great with the bottle of buttery Chardonnay from the Napa region which we ordered. Then it was onto fish and chips and fried chicken. Usually not exactly one’s idea of gourmet dining, however, at Market, they took these two staples and enhanced them into mouth-watering creations.
First, Tom’s dish: the old-fashioned fried chicken. It came with a breaded chicken breast and drumstick that somehow escaped being too greasy like most fried chicken. Biting into it elicited a seasoned, juicy, moist morsel – tempting me to take more bites. But I had my own dish: the fish and chips.
It wasn’t a normal fish and chips dish, though. It was champagne-battered fish and chips. The fish was flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside. It came served with a small side of vinegar and tartar sauce – and if there is such a thing as gourmet tartar sauce, then this one would win the top prize.
The Upscale Napa Valley Restaurant
Also known as the splurge night. On Friday and Saturday night you’ll be hard-pressed to get anywhere in Napa Valley without a reservation, so a couple weeks before leaving for our Napa getaway, Tom and I made reservations at the aptly named Press, located in St. Helena.
The ambiance of Press is sleek and modern, with expertly placed lighting that infuses the setting with a romantic feel within the window-paned walls.
Using locally grown produce and meat from nearby ranches, the entrees from Press are fresh and the focal point of the menu is the restaurant’s steak selection. Steak entrees here range from around $20 up to $60 for top of the line pieces of meat. The California-girl in me opted for the prime chopped steak with tomatoes, avocados, and blue cheese. As one of the more affordable menu options, the steak came ground so it was more like a hamburger. It was good – hard to go wrong with those ingredients in my opinion – but paled in comparison to Tom’s meal; a juicy New York strip steak cooked to perfection in Press’ onsite wood fired grill.
Press also has a stellar and extensive wine menu featuring top wines from the region and your server can help you decide what vintage to pair with your meal.
The Sandwich Restaurant
If you’re like me, you can’t splurge every night you’re on vacation so I was delighted to discover Rutherford Grill, located in the town of Rutherford in Napa Valley. Recommended by the driver of a wine tour I was on who said the French dip sandwich was the best one she’d ever had; Tom and I took her up on her suggestion. Even better – the food was available for take-out, meaning Tom and I had a night in at our adorable accommodations in St. Helena at the Wine Country Inn.
Our driver was right – the sandwich was incredible. The meat was tender and tore right off plus the dipping sauce had just the right amount tang to perfectly complement the sandwich. I was obsessed and wanted seconds. Unfortunately for me, Tom had finished his.
When planning your Napa trip, schedule in a few restaurants to visit along with the wineries – just remember not to do too much wine tasting before dinner so you’ll remember it.