Eat Your Way Through Napa

Photo by Meg Baggott
Photo by Meg Baggott

Napa used to be the hub that food lovers drove through to get to the heart of culinary discoveries in Napa Valley, but no longer. The city is now a destination to not just stave off hunger, but to savor every last morsel. Globally recognized chefs like Masaharu Morimoto have opened up restaurants here, and a Michelin star shines bright at Ken Frank’s La Toque. With plenty of options to choose from, get ready to eat your heart out.

Grab and Go

Model Bakery / Photo by Meg Baggott
Model Bakery / Photo by Meg Baggott

For visitors on the go, there’s no shortage of take-out options. Food Shed is a popular spot just off of Trancas Street that offers tascas (hot sandwiches) on fresh-baked bread, hot plates and an indulgent pizza prepared with house-made burrata.

A mecca for charcuterie fans, The Fatted Calf offers packaged assortments of salumi, housemade pickles, cheese and bread. It also features a daily sandwich like roasted pork shoulder with quince mostarda, lemon aioli and arugula. Spread the savory rabbit rillettes purchased here on a crispy, chewy baguette from Model Bakery next door.

Downtown Eats

Walk into La Taberna, a chic, cozy tavern on Main Street, and you’ll feel as though you entered a pintxos (small-plate) bar in northern Spain. Enjoy dishes like pulpo y saffron patatas (octopus with saffron potatoes), or choose a chicken empanada.

Morimoto / Photo by Meg Baggott
Morimoto / Photo by Meg Baggott

Farther east on Main Street, Sean O’Toole’s Torc is an airy farm-to-table eatery whose open kitchen serves specialties like San Diego yellowfin tuna tartare with ginger, scallion and Meyer lemon; and Akaushi beef short rib with local Star Route Farm broccoli di ciccio, oyster mushroom, sweet potato and hyssop.

On Main Street, Morimoto offers top-notch if somewhat formal plates. Eikos on First Street offers a sashimi lunch that tastes as though the chef went fishing just minutes before.

Hudson's Greens & Goods / Photo by Meg Baggott
Hudson’s Greens & Goods / Photo by Meg Baggott

La Toque is a sleek, leather-topped-table restaurant located in the resort oasis of the Westin Verasa Napa. Choose the four- or five-course tasting menu to experience Ken Frank’s culinary expertise. That way, you won’t have to decide between dishes like Angus beef tenderloin carpaccio with smoky aioli and grilled king trumpet or Japanese hamachi sashimi with citrus and pickled heart of palm.

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Every good food town includes an excellent pizza spot. Velo Pizzeria, a two-storied space on the same block as La Taberna, is serious about its pies, and its meatballs will make you plan a return visit. Norman Rose Tavern is an upscale saloon where truffle fries vie for popularity with the juicy, locally sourced Five Dot Ranch cheeseburger.

Kara's / Photo by Meg Baggott
Kara’s / Photo by Meg Baggott

Shop and Snack

Browns Valley Market, tucked into the quaint Browns Valley neighborhood, is where locals stock up on everyday staples and luxuries like cornichons and crème fraîche. On site are a full deli, a premium butcher and fish counter.

Hog Island Oyster Co. / Photo by Meg Baggott
Hog Island Oyster Co. / Photo by Meg Baggott

Enjoy one-stop shopping at Oxbow Public Market, an indoor food hall that features gourmet stalls mixed with restaurants and take-out counters. Find everything from Belgian endives to Makrut lime at the organic stand at Hudson’s Greens & Goods. Five Dot Ranch offers premium meats to take home or have prepared to enjoy in the open-seating market. Belly up to Hog Island Oyster Co., where you can come out of your shell and indulge onsite or bring some home. Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, owned by Peter Granoff, a master sommelier, features gourmet plates for your pairing pleasure. Try the quirky tacos at C Casa, like the seasoned ground buffalo with goat cheese, black beans, mixed greens and chipotle aioli. You can’t leave without being tempted by the sweets that bookend the market: Kara’s artistically decorated cupcakes, and the organic Three Twins Ice Cream cart.

Shackford’s Kitchen Store is a destination for chefs of all levels, with everything from restaurant supplies to chocolate molds and hand-crafted kitchen tools. (You’ll likely peruse the aisles alongside aproned chefs in Birkenstock clogs.) At Rancho Gordo, whose owner was titled “celebrity bean grower” by The New York Times, stock up on heritage beans and specialty grains, roasted chilies and spices (recipes and cool vibe included).

Published on May 1, 2017
Topics: Dining