540 Main St., Napa
The relaxing setting on the patio is one of the main draws of this bistro-style restaurant. Located in the Hatt Building, an historic 1890s ship chandlery, the space has the feel of a French brasserie. The menu is solid, with French favorites such as duck confit and roast chicken.
1339 Pearl St, Napa,
To dine here it so indulge in authenticity and flavor, as well as minimalism.
1915 Main Street, St. Helena
Chef Chris Cosentino has earned a reputation as one of the culinary world's top talents (he's held his own in the TV sphere as the winner of Top Chef Masters). At Acacia House, his penchant for classic American dishes is evident on the menu. For the vegetarians among us, the whole roasted eggplant is exceptional, finished with capers, pistachios, and blistered tomatoes. If you're looking for a heartier protein, go for the Striped Bass. And if you happen to find yourself tiring of wine, there's an inventive cocktail list from which to choose, which includes a traditional Mexico City margarita.
Two Birds/One Stone
3020 St. Helena Highway N., St. Helena
We love a good yakitori dish, so naturally we were curious to try this restaurant when it opened last summer. It delivers, to say the least, and offers a refreshing (and much-needed) Asian twist to Napa's culinary scene. The duo behind it has serious chops (Douglas Keane and Sang Yoon, from the now-closed Michelin-starred Cyrus and LA's Father's Office, respectively), proving their talent by using local woods to infuse the grill with flavor unique to the area. We especially like the laid-back vibe of the staff that welcomes walk-ins with the same ease as anyone with a reservation (an anomaly, at times, in Napa). Check out their happy hour event Monday and Friday.
The Charter Oak
1050 Charter Oak Ave., St. Helena
New-ish kid on the block, The Charter Oak, is the highly anticipated follow-up from Christopher Kostow and Nathaniel Dorn, who previously earned three Michelin stars for the Restaurant at Meadowood. Located in the former Tra Vigne, lovingly run by Michael Chiarello for some 30-plus years, the space has undergone a soup-to-nuts renovation (the iconic lion statues outside still remain) and the result is a warm brick-and-wood interior, a substantial patio, and a more casual family-style menu. Chef Katianna Hong takes the helm of this restaurant that elevates the art of simple American food. (And we mean simple: Most of the dishes feature minimal ingredients and are meant to be shared.) This means, hearth roasted figs with local honey for starters, coal roasted cabbage, and cauliflower with a mushroom au jus. It's gaining in popularity, so be sure to snag reservations ahead of time.
FARM at Carneros
4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa
Nestled between the Napa and Sonoma Valley, the FARM, the Carneros Resort's warm, though undoubtedly fancier dining option (the other is the roadhouse-style Boon Fly Café) is known for its stellar farm-to-table line-up. Much of the menu is dictated by what's seasonally thriving, so that may be heirloom tomatoes, little baby lettuce, beets, and carrots; meats and fish come from nearby farms, including the Bay Area. Napa-raised chef Aaron Meneghelli's dishes are a nod to his Italian roots, too, with orecchiette pasta, ricotta gnocchi and summer squash, and Urbani truffled burrata being some of our favorites to order. (There's also a gorgeously plated five-course tasting menu if you want to go all in.) The wine list is obviously impressive too, and the cellar features some 490-plus options, including Carneros bottles plus many other sustainable and biodynamically farmed options.
The Boon Fly Café
4048 Sonoma Hwy., Napa
In this red barn right on the Carneros Resort property, weekend brunch is a major thing, both for visitors and locals, thanks to diner favorites like green eggs and ham, a triple stack of griddle cakes, and breakfast tacos—despite it not taking reservations. (Oh, and a bacon Bloody Mary, obviously.) If you have to be in and out, don't miss the made-to-order cinnamon doughnuts or scones.
344 Center St., Healdsburg
For chef Dustin Valette, the history in this space dates back to the 1930s when his great grandfather owned the property.
2365 Midway Dr., Santa Rosa
Every inch of this roastery and café is considered, from the clean industrial interiors to the perfect cold brew.
ad hoc + addendum
6476 Washington St., Yountville
It's hard to imagine that Thomas Keller initially opened ad hoc as a temporary dining space—it's been a beloved Yountville dinner spot since it first opened back in 2006. This laid-back spot offers a four course menu that changes daily and showcases the comfort food Keller grew up with (fried chicken, macaroni and cheese, and some seriously good salads with blue cheese and bacon). It's a fixed menu, with no substitutions except for a few add-ons, which always sell out.
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