Outdoor eating in Napa Valley

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November 16, 2017

Where to Eat in Napa: From Fast Casual to Fine Dining

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The Napa Valley is one of the most food-focused rural areas in the United States, if not the world. At last count, there were more than 150 dining venues, from American Canyon on the southern end up to Calistoga on the northern end of the region. Take your pick: everything from fast-and-casual to world-renowned "bucket list" fine dining is available. Below is just a brief guide to your variety of options.

Michelin Stars

For 2018, the Napa Valley was awarded an astonishing 11 coveted Michelin Stars. The French Laundry and The Restaurant at Meadowood earned three stars each, while The Restaurant at Auberge, Bouchon Bistro, La Toque, Kenzo, and Terra each hold one star. Arrive hungry and prepare to be impressed. Find more on the Valley's Michelin stars here.

Classic Napa Valley

There are places that never go out of vogue nor lose their luster. These are spots where you can often just drop in and hang out for a while, although you should check for reservations on weekend nights. Hurley's features California food with a Mediterranean flair, a patio for summer, and a roaring fireplace in the colder months. Compadres Rio Grille offers Western cooking with a Mexican accent. Situated right on the Napa River, Compadres has an expansive deck, and the margaritas are addictive. Angèle is a classic bistro serving rustic French fare, located in an old boathouse also overlooking the river. (Fantastic creative cocktails, too!) Press gives a contemporary spin to a chophouse, offering wood-grilled meats in farmhouse-chic digs with a fireplace and patio.

Quick Bites

Whether you're just grabbing some sustenance between tastings or you have kids in tow, sometimes you don't want a full sit-down meal. Heritage Eats is a fantastic counter-style local's favorite that uses fresh, local ingredients in a customizable menu of global flavors and formats like wraps, bowls, sandwiches, and salads. If you have a yen for sushi, Eikos at Oxbow has a small but comfortable counter with stools. The Bruschetteria is a fantastic food truck that's regularly parked at the Clif Family Winery in St. Helena, offering assorted bruschetta and other items. In downtown Napa, izakaya-style Miminashi has opened a window to serve its popular house-made, soft-serve ice cream with sauces like black sesame, whiskey bourbon, miso caramel and hot fudge. Finally, with locations in St. Helena and Napa, Gott's Roadside is a perennial favorite for high-end burgers, fries, shakes and salads.

New on the Scene

The valley's restaurant scene is constantly changing, both informed by and setting culinary trends worldwide. Driven by the Culinary Institute of America's renowned cooking program and gardens, the Restaurant at CIA Copia serves simple, seasonal dishes, which you can often see being prepared in the open kitchen. The Acacia House at Las Alcobas offers a "modern twist on classic fares" under the supervision of famed chef Chris Cosentino. And Two Birds/One Stone (not to be confused with the song by Drake) presents a menu of yakitori in a collaboration of respected chefs Sang Yoon and Douglas Keane.

And just because you've eaten well doesn't mean the night should be over. For after-dinner nightlife, check out the Blue Note Napa, which presents a range of jazz and other musical styles, as well as comedy performances (there's also a full menu, in case you haven't already eaten). The Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater is a full-sized performance hall showcasing all kinds of theater, music, dance, and other cultural events. The Uptown Theater is a beautifully-renovated vintage movie palace now outfitted with excellent acoustics for music and comedy events. Silo's is a more intimate venue for blues and other genres.

Explore all these suggestions more in-depth, along with other restaurants here

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