Napa (City) Restaurants

Since we were staying in the city of Napa, our restaurant visits, especially for dinners, were focused around the city and nearby Yountville. Among our best (and in one case, worst) dining experiences were:

  • Boonfly Café. We had lunch at the always crowded, always delicious Boonfly Café (roasted chicken flatbread, cheeseburger with the fixings and hash browns). Good food, atmosphere and service. The place for lunch, brunch or any other good, casual meal in Carneros.
  • Torq got incredibly strong recommendations from a San Francisco couple that said they would drive up to join us if we decided to go, and middling recommendations from a Napa couple. We went, our friends joined us, we sampled across the entire menu: we loved it. Among our favorites: squash blossom frito misto, chilled corn soup, soft shell crab, squab and especially the deviled eggs with bacon and the beef short rib. And our friend, who loves Italian wines, was very impressed with the wine list and found two wonderful bottles, including a stunning 208 Muncagota Barbaresco.
  • Oenotri . On our first visit to Oenotri, it was a modest storefront restaurant where we snacked on its wonderful charcuterie and pizza. The restaurant has since expanded to perhaps five times its original size and now includes al fresco options, including sidewalk tables on First Street and a lovely courtyard. The Northern Italian menu has also expanded to include a range of antipasti, secondis and of course, pastas. After a snack of the rather fried Cavolo Nero (kale) with very hot pepper and parmigano, we settled into two secondis: the wild king salmon was wonderful—especially due to its incredibly fresh sweet corn polenta accompaniment. While the pancetta-wrapped rabbit was somewhat less satisfying, the salmon, the courtyard atmosphere, the knowledgeable service and the bottle of Montepulciano Vino Nobile more than made up for any lapses on the rabbit.
  • Angele. On our “To Try” list for about a decade, we finally made it to Angele. Why did we wait so long? We had two dishes. Both they (Roasted Quail with quinoa stuffing) and Scallops with forbidden black rice, saffron cream and charred leeks) and the service were very good.
  • The Q r&b. A nice taste of Memphis BBQ in the Valley with deviled eggs, smoked baby back ribs and pulled pork sandwich with coleslaw and barbeque sauce.
  • Bistro Don Giovani. One of the valley’s older, classic restaurants, which still regularly makes it onto the Chronicle’s Top 100 Bay Area restaurant lists. We enjoyed a light lunch: rigatoni with meatballs and especially the fig and gorgonzola pizza with caramelized onions, arugula and aged balsamic.
  • ZuZu. Dinner at this packed spot consisted of four small plates. Three were pretty good: Grilled squash blossoms with chevre and quince on salsa, pan-fried manchego cheese with roasted peppers, and salmon with arugula and fennel salad. The best dish, by far, were the perfectly cooked (medium rare) Colorado lamb chops with a delicious Moroccan barbeque glaze, mint and chutney oil. True, it would have helped if the restaurant had shaper knives, and ideally, a somewhat sharper server, but delicious lamb chops.
  • Morimoto. We really enjoyed a multi-course dinner at Morimoto shortly after its opening. Although it took a long time to return, we looked forward to a lunch on the deck overlooking the river. I ordered a Sea Urchin Carbonara Lunch Set (sea urchin udon with bacon, sushi, miso soup and vegetable tempura) and Joyce a yellowtail avocado mori cristo (essentially a croque madame). After interminable waits for food and visits from our server, the udon was overcooked the croque, as shown in the picture, was all brioche and batter, with barely a spec of fish or avocado. There are simply too many good restaurants in the valley to put up with service or food like this.

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