The 15 Best Restaurants in Napa Valley

  • Foodies
  • by DAISY BARRINGER
  • on SEPTEMBER 27, 2023
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Foodies

The 15 Best Restaurants in Napa Valley

By Daisy Barringer September 27, 2023

Whereas the beautiful city of San Francisco is known for its renowned culinary experiences, the stunning wine region known as Napa Valley, just an hour north of the city, has always received most of its accolades for its wineries. That is until recent years when Napa’s restaurant scene exploded, making Napa not just a destination for those looking to sip their way through some of the best tasting rooms in Wine Country, but a destination for those eager to enjoy restaurants comparable to those in San Francisco—and and oftentimes even better (don’t tell anyone we said that!).

Of course, in a region with dozens and dozens of amazing restaurants, a few of which have Michelin stars, it’s hard to pick “the best” 15 restaurants in Napa Valley. So what follows is a list of our favorites, including several that will not leave you with sticker shock (and, several that will). And, no, The French Laundry isn’t on the list, because it goes without saying that the Three Michelin-starred restaurant, which Anthony Bourdain once called “the best restaurant in the world,” is… well, one of the best restaurants in the world. Or at least in Napa Valley.

Acacia House
Photo Courtesy of Acacia House

This restaurant from celebrity chef and winner of Top Chef Masters, Chris Constantino, sits inside a Georgian-inspired home with a wide wraparound porch on the exquisite property of the Alila Napa Valley boutique hotel in St. Helena. You don’t have to stay at the hotel to dine at the restaurant (though if it’s in your budget, you absolutely should), which serves “bold and artful American cuisine” that showcases the best of Napa’s bounty. You’ll find simple, but elevated salads and beautifully cooked meat, like a pancetta-wrapped quail and a garlic crusted lamb. The wine list is perfectly curated (of course), but plan to start with an expertly made craft cocktail.

Dinner at Acacia House is certainly a splurge kind of meal (entrees range from $33 to $74), so if you’re looking for a more affordable option, the weekend brunch, best enjoyed on the magical outdoor porch, is fabulous. (Just don’t have one-too-many cocktails and then leave your iPhone on the top of the car only to return to the scene of the crime a few minutes later to watch car after car (after car after car) run over it in the middle of the intersection).

1915 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-9004

FARM Restaurant + Bar
Photo Courtesy of FARM Restaurant + Bar

It is certainly a treat to stay at the Carneros Resort and Spa, which sits between Napa and Sonoma (so you don’t have to choose) and has so many amenities you won’t want to leave the property. There are several restaurants on-site, including FARM Restaurant + Bar, a rustic fine dining restaurant that sources most of its ingredients from the property’s on-site garden and farm. The dining room is elegant, modern, and comfortable, the service is top-notch, and the food and wine list are consistently impressive. The five-course tasting menu is ideal for anyone who wants to let the chef take them on a culinary adventure, but you need to arrive hungry. Or, go for the family-style Sunday brunch, where you’ll get to try a little bit of everything and enjoy the grounds, glass of bubbles in hand.

4048 Sonoma Highway, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 299-4880

Gatehouse Restaurant at CIA
Gatehouse Restaurant at CIA in St. Helena. Photo Courtesy of Courtesy of The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone

The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone is known for being one of the best places in the world for culinary and wine education (including classes for amateur home chefs who want to sharpen their skills), but it’s also the perfect spot to enjoy a farm-to-table meal made by CIA student-chefs who have completed two years of study. Your Gatehouse Restaurant servers will also be CIA student-chefs learning the art of contemporary and formal service techniques, guaranteeing a unique dining experience every time you return. Dinner includes three or four courses (with optional wine pairings) of seasonal dishes like roasted summer squash, seared pork belly, and a blue corn cake with blackberry and blueberry compote. Tips are not permitted, but each check does include a 20% Student Support Surcharge, which helps provide scholarships.

2555 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-2300

PRESS Restaurant
Photo Courtesy of PRESS Restaurant

You’ll definitely want to ask for advice from the wine director, Vincent Morrow, at this bright and airy St. Helena restaurant, which draws tourists and winery folks alike on any given night. Unless you want to navigate all 245 pages (and 2,700 unique selections) of the wine list on your own, that is. Morrow was recently named California’s Sommelier of the Year by the Michelin Guide, which also gave PRESS its first Michelin star in December of 2022, after more than 15 years in business. To pair with your wine, you’ll enjoy refined but simple California cuisine, including a ricotta gnudi wrapped in squash blossom and served with Parmesan consommé that’s a must-order for anyone dining at the restaurant for the first time (and anytime thereafter because it’s just that good).

587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 967-0550

Ad Hoc & Addendum
Photo Courtesy of Ad Hoc & Addendum

When it comes to fantastic restaurants, nowhere in Napa is doing more than Yountville. The town may be tiny, but its title as the “culinary capital” of Wine Country is much-deserved thanks to Michelin-starred restaurants, thoughtful farm-to-table dining, and celebrity chefs, namely one Thomas Keller. And while it goes without saying that anyone who enjoys food should add The French Laundry and Bouchon Bistro to their restaurant bucket lists, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that the famous chef’s most casual restaurant, best known for its elegant (and mouth-watering) take on buttermilk fried chicken, is a must-visit. (It’s also more affordable, meaning you might actually be able to eat there more than once in your entire life). The four-course menu changes daily, but don’t stress—the fried chicken is always on it. You can also go during the day to grab some chicken (which also comes in sandwich form) from Addendum, which you can take to-go or enjoy in the garden. Needless to say, our vote is: enjoy it in the garden.

6476 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 944-2487

Angele Restaurant
Photo Courtesy of Angele Restaurant located on the Napa Riverfront.

A riverfront bistro in downtown Napa perfect for a romantic date or a dinner with friends, Angèle has been delighting diners with its French country bistro fare and charming ambiance for over 20 years. There’s not a bad seat in the house—the dining room is rustic, elegant, and intimate, while the waterfront terrace is delightful on a summer evening thanks to lush landscaping and twinkle lights. The menu highlights Northern California’s best ingredients cooked with French flair, so think: beef tartare, escargot, duck leg confit, and roasted chicken. Lunch is more casual with dishes like a baguette sandwich with salami, cornichon, and French butter, steak frites, and a roasted chicken salad. Whatever time of day you decide to dine, be sure to order the “cochon in a blanket” for the table, a fancy pigs-in-a-blanket situation that will delight your inner five-year-old (and your outer adult).

540 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 252-8115

Charter Oak Restaurant
Photo Courtesy of Charter Oak Restaurant

Casual and stylish, The Charter Oak is all about the fresh produce that comes from its farm, its massive hearth that plays a starring role in almost every family-style dish, and the legendary double cheeseburger, which is probably the best one you’ll find in all of Napa Valley. Begin or end your meal with a cocktail in the straight-out-of-a-fairytale courtyard, complete with towering oak trees and twinkling lights, but dine inside for the main affair so that you can enjoy the ambiance of the aforementioned open-flame hearth and the heavenly smells coming out of it. And whatever you do, order the bread. It comes in a small and large size, but you know which one to get. (Large—the answer is always large.)

1050 Charter Oak Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 302-6996

Wood-fired pizzas at Ciccio
Wood-fired pizzas at local's favorite, Ciccio located in Yountville, CA

Ciccio somehow manages to be a Napa Valley hotspot but completely unpretentious at the same time, which is saying a lot for a restaurant that sits in the heart of Yountville. One of the best spots you’ll find in Napa for Italian comfort food, Ciccio is known for its wood-fired pizzas, fresh pasta, and farm-to-table salads. Plan to start with a classic cocktail (if you enjoy a Negroni, you’ll get to choose from three versions) and finish with gelato topped with figs and olive oil. And don’t let Ciccio’s “quaint” vibe fool you; it may be casual, but it’s still hard to snag a prime-time reservation, so either plan ahead or prepare to be one of the last tables seated at 9 p.m.

6770 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599, (707) 945-1000

Gott's Roadside
Burger, fries, and a milkshake. Photo Courtesy of Gott’s Roadside

Gott’s has been satisfying hungry Napa Valley diners with delicious cooked-to-order burgers made with locally sourced ingredients from quality California purveyors since 1999. Although there are now several locations throughout Napa, San Francisco, Marin, and the East Bay, the St. Helena burger shack is the original restaurant, and somehow the food just tastes better when enjoyed at one of the picnic tables on the patio. The lines can be long, but they move fast, and there’s something for everyone (including vegetarians and vegans—Gott’s has Impossible Burgers and veggie burgers). The menu also offers wine and beer, but whatever you do, don’t leave without a thick hand-spun milkshake.

933 Main Street, CA-29, St. Helena, CA 94574, (707) 963-3486

Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Market in Napa, CA
Hog Island Oyster Co. at the Oxbow Market in Napa, CA. Photo Courtesy of Hog Island Oyster Co.

The Oxbow Public Market is a must-visit for anyone in downtown Napa, and though there are tons of excellent options for eating and drinking throughout, you can never go wrong with Hog Island Oyster Co., where you’ll enjoy fresh shellfish harvested and delivered daily from the farm just 50 miles west on Tomales Bay. Clearly, shellfish is a must-order at this seafood spot (the grilled oysters are amazing), but the less obvious thing to order is the grilled cheese made with lots of fancy cheeses and served on an Acme green onion slab. The key here is to split everything and to leave time to enjoy a pre- or post-meal glass of wine on the deck overlooking the Napa River.

610 1st Street, Suite 22, Napa, CA 94559, (707) 251-8113

Tacos at House of Better restaurant in Calistoga, CA
Taco Tuesdays! Photo Courtesy of House of Better | Emma Morris

Tucked in the front yard of Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, you’ll find this casual and colorful counter service restaurant with outdoor seating (covered and not), lawn games, and most important of all: a wood-fired oven and New Mexican chile roaster. The latter two are key because the reason you’re stopping at this tiny Calistoga spot is for the Southwestern-inspired cuisine, specifically the green chile stew, green chile burger, and the green chile apple pie, which may very well be the best apple pie you’ll ever eat in your entire life. (If you agree, you can order a whole one to enjoy later).

1507 Lincoln Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-6257

Lovina
Photo Courtesy of Lovina

Walking into Lovina is like stepping into an old friend’s house, but not just any old friend—the old friend who is known for being a phenomenal chef and effortless host. Located inside a historic 1904 clapboard cottage, there’s no bad seat in the house to enjoy Lovina’s hearty American fare (with plenty of options for vegetarians), though the garden patio is the most often requested. You can’t beat Lovina for brunch—get the hot cinnamon roll and the grilled cheese to share with the table, as well as your own entree—but dinner is also exquisite, especially if you enjoy a spicy bolognese.

1107 Cedar Street, Calistoga, CA 94515, (707) 942-6500

Mustard's Grill in Yountville, CA
Photo Courtesy of Mustard's Grill located in Yountville, CA

Named for the wild mustard flowers that blanket the vineyards in a field of yellow every spring, Mustards has been a part of Napa’s food and wine community for over 40 years. On any given evening, you’ll find a mix of winemakers, chefs, and viticulturists dining alongside tourists, all gathering to enjoy the restaurant’s California comfort food (or “deluxe truck stop classics” as dubbed by the restaurant), like a seafood tostada, Mongolian pork chop, “mighty” meatloaf with garlic mashed potatoes and horseradish barbecue sauce, and a half-pound burger. The restaurant also has “way too many wines,” as well as a small selection of cocktails and booze-free drinks. (And if you’re a fan of lemon tart, be sure to save room.)

7399 St. Helena Highway, Napa, CA 94558, (707) 944-2424

Oakville Grocery
Photo Courtesy Oakville Grocery

For the uninitiated, it may seem strange that a grocery store is on a “best restaurants in Napa” list, but for those in the know, it wouldn’t be a “best restaurants in Napa” list without this beloved Wine Country institution, which happens to be the oldest continually operating grocery store in California. The reason you’re stopping at this little roadside store between Yountville and Calistoga is for some of the best artisan sandwiches in all of the land, perfect to take with you to any winery that permits a picnic. Oakville Grocery’s brick-oven pizzas are also an excellent option, best enjoyed at one of the courtyard tables with Wine Country views. It’s also the perfect place to stock up on gourmet snacks and hostess gifts, like fancy cheeses, seasonal jams, pickles, spices, and, of course, lots and lots of wine.

7856 St. Helena Highway, Oakville, CA 94562, (707) 944-8802

We have no proof, but we estimate that this Provençe-inspired restaurant perched on a terrace with seemingly endless panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and vineyard is home to no fewer than two proposals an evening. Probably more on the weekend. After all, what better spot to get engaged than at one of Napa’s most beloved fine-dining restaurants, with 16 consecutive Michelin Star awards, a 15,000-bottle wine list, and truly delicious Mediterranean food served in three or four courses? The key is to go when the sun is still up, so either for a leisurely lunch or a romantic sunset, to make the most of those Valley views. Even if you’re not planning on getting engaged, by the time the gorgeous dessert arrives, you’ll definitely be in love.

180 Rutherford Hill Road, Rutherford, CA 94573, (800) 348-5406