Everyone has heard of the freshman 15 but how about the Napa 20?? It sneaks up on you. Would you pass up on that second glass of amazing Cab? (Ok, third…) Or just one more bite of freshly made pasta? Then when you think you can’t fit another leaf of lettuce you are so full, poof! In front of you is organic, local soft serve ice cream with freshly made salted caramel. It is incredibly hard to say no… so usually we just don’t!
Each week on Foodie Friday we will be adding to our favorites in Napa. These our just some of the must stops in Napa for mouth-watering bites of food (in no particular order).
Squid Ink Paella & Boquerones | Zuzu | Napa, CA | October 6, 2017
It is just plain fun to go to Zuzu because of how many dishes you can try. This Spanish-inspired restaurant and tapas bar is locally sourced, seasonally shaped and is perfect for a date night or a small group. Although you don’t have to be a seafood lover to enjoy Zuzu, it does benefit you, as their seafood dishes are outstanding. I have two friends that moved away from Napa and would give their left arm to have some Boquerones. This may not sound appealing to everyone, “White Anchovies, Sliced Egg & Remoulade on Grilled Bread,” but somehow it makes everyone at the table swoon. Squid Ink Paella is a must order, even if there are just two of you (much easier if there are four to share). It has a tasty, chewy textured black rice from the squid ink with a seafood medley, (shrimp, mussels, calamari, fish) slightly smokey and fresh. The mussels and the Gambas (garlic gulf shrimp) are also tasty treats. (Pro tip: Get extra bread and soap up all the delicious, garlicky juices from both the mussels and the Gambas – not to be wasted!)
For the non-seafood eaters, I strongly suggest their Shaved Artichoke-Portobello Salad with Lemon-Truffle Vinaigrette, really refreshing. The Pan Fried Manchego Cheese (Queso Frito) is a stable as who doesn’t enjoy fried cheese, plus it has a nice little kick to it with the roasted poblano chiles. Lastly, the flat iron steak is hard to pass up, medium rare with an incredible roasted jalapeño chimichurri. You will want to go home and try to perfect this chimichurri sauce. During the summer season, they have an incredible corn chowder. Please get it when it is their soup of the day – you won’t be disappointed.
Zuzu is a traditional tapas place that doesn’t take reservations, so ideally get there early unless you want to wait a little while for a table. They have some unique and tasty wines you can sip on while you wait.
Fried Chicken, Tomato Toast & Barbacoa Bowl | Southside | Napa, CA | September 29, 2017
Oh, Southside, how I love thee. A newer member to this amazing Napa community but growing popular quickly. Proof is the fact that they are opening a second location already. It is a local coffee shop that also makes incredible california-mexican fusion bites.
First of all, the space is so trendy with mid-century modern decor. Secondly, it serves breakfast ALL day. ALL day (ok, until 3 pm but we are still trying to get them to stay open later). Who doesn’t love a place that serves breakfast after breakfast hours?! Third, everything is just DE-lish! From the simple grilled cheese to the salads to the breakfast, everything is a little treat! Definitely worth a stop by, especially because it has one of Napa’s largest outdoor seatings areas.
After going to Southside multiple times and still trying to surf the entire menu, a few that pop out are the Tomato Toast, Barbacoa Bowl and the Heirloom Farro Salad. But let’s get real right now, you can never go wrong with a chilaquiles or a tostada. These are called standards if you love eggs and especially enjoy a Mexican style breakfast.
The Barbacoa is large enough for two people to split or share almost like a chips and fancy dip. Smoked, slow roasted pieces of pork shoulder, black beans, tomatillo salsa, crema, cotija cheese, pickled jalapeños and chips to top it off.
My best guess is the heirloom Farro Salad is seasonal, as it is packed with fresh corn and tomatoes so go get it now while you can. You feel good eating it and it is extremely tasty and filling. I want a bottle of the dressing to take home.
The Tomato Toast has got to be my go-to. I hope, hope, hope this isn’t a seasonal item. Seems like a simple concept but with the fresh sourdough bread, locally sourced ricotta and marinated cherry tomatoes, it is out of this world tasty. Definitely top it with their perfectly cooked poached eggs to add a little protein and york yumminess. All their bread tastes is homemade and fresh baked by Model Bakery which is a brilliant move, as we already know how crazy good their bread is. (See Model Bakery Post below).
Fried Chicken Fridays. Look it up. Order it. Some of the most delicious fried chicken outside the south :).
After all these visits, I still crave going back and finish tasting the whole menu. Suggestions on what to try next?
Manciatas & Baked Rigatoni | Azzuro Pizzeria | Napa, CA | September 22, 2017
A locals gem. When you want down the street amazing Italian, without the tourist crowd, but still ridiculously Napa and amazing, you go to Azzuro Pizzeria or we just call Pizza Azzuro.
A local favorite would be the manciatas, where a salad and a pizza create a perfect child. The garlic, slightly cheesy crust below a refreshing salad, it is really hard to beat as it hits all the senses. Salty and cheesy, yet fresh and nutrient filled. You don’t feel as guilty as eating a pizza and yet so fulfilled. The usually go to is the spinach manciata but if I am feeling festive, the steak manciata is incredible (especially with goat cheese).
We are two paragraphs in and haven’t even gotten to the pizzas or pastas. Pizzas all depend on your style. However, I do love the Funghi Pizza and the Verde. Pasta, you can’t beat the Baked Rigatoni but surely the “SpagandBalls” gives it a run for its money. You can order the Spaghetti and add the Meatballs. Highly suggested combo here.
Oh and don’t forget to leave room for one of the most simply, amazing desserts in Napa. Locally sourced vanilla soft-serve ice cream with salted caramel. Let me repeat, Salted Caramel! Seriously, save room. Every bite is hard to share,
Donuts | Boon Fly Cafe | Napa, CA | September 15, 2017
Never, ever go here without ordering the donuts. I know they are bad for you but just do it. These “World Famous” donuts are served hot, fresh and somehow so simply delicious, you can’t just have one. Plus it is pretty cute that you can order “Four Boon Fly Donuts and a Cuppa Joe” – just an added plus. Personally, I would go for a Chai Latte or if you are feeling adventurous, they also have some amazing cocktail concoctions.
Boon Fly is your ultimate brunch experience – Cute atmosphere, tasty food options and fancy beverages to pair. You can get just about anything on this menu from flatbreads to a unique spin on Green Eggs and Ham that is made with Lemon Leek-Cream. Personally, their flatbreads are hard to resist, along with their Eggs Benedict. There is something amazing about that jalapeño hollandaise, especially topping Model Bakery Pain Levain. Mmmmmm. Machaca Flatbread has smoked short ribs topped with a Maker’s Mark peach BBQ sauce. So unique and satisfying. Do you love caramelized onions as much as I do? If so, get the breakfast flatbread, or just ask them to put it on everything you order because they are delicious.
Honestly, Boon Fly is one of those places where you will enjoy anything you order and want to keep going back to try the rest of the menu. Again, just be sure to order the donuts.
Sandwiches of the Day | Fatted Calf | Napa, CA | September 1, 2017
A meat lover’s dream. A pork lover’s paradise. Fatted Calf, yes please.
Everyone talks about how expensive it is at Fatted Calf but for lunch, it is a steal. For $10 you get a large, delicious, meat filled sandwich. Many days they can sell out of their daily sandwiches by 1 pm, so if you have a craving, get there early. Their sandwich board changes regularly so it is always a nice surprise to try one of their 30+ sandwich variations.
On this particular day, we tried four sandwiches, Pulled Pork, Prosciutto and Figs, Pastrami and Meatball Sandwich. All of them were delicious but if I had to choose a must try, it would be the Pulled Pork. For you extra Barbecue-saucey people out there, this is the sandwich. It is made with a bourbon barbecue sauce that really pulls out all the flavors of the meat. The meat is a garlic brined heritage pork shoulder, talk about tender! On top is a carrot-cabbage slaw to give that perfect crunch. Plus they use Model Bakery Bread from next door, which if you don’t already know by now, is to die for.
This is one of the best spots to grab a picnic lunch. If you want to up your picnic board, stop at the fatted calf for your charcuterie, then swing by next store to model and grab some fresh bread, then to top it off, stop by the Cheese and Wine Merchant Inside the Oxbow for a variety of cheeses to pair. It would impress any crowd.
They have amazing customer service and our extremely knowledgable about the meat they are serving, so if you have questions don’t hesitate to ask.
PS – Get their beef jerky, please and thanks.
Fish Tacos & Cornbread | Grace’s Table | Napa, CA | August 25, 2017
I lived in San Diego for 7 years, just before I moved to Napa, so my standard for fish tacos are high. Although these are a totally different style than what you might find in San Diego, they are just as delicious. The fish changes per what is the fresh catch of the day, which is key. One of the best parts of this taco is it comes out piping hot and the fresh, homemade tortilla. They pan fry that tortilla to perfection. The mix of the melted cheddar, with the black bean, and their slaw with a buttermilk-chili-lime dressing is a perfect combination next to the fish. Bite for bite, it is an incredible meal.
An absolute must if you are dining at Grace’s Table is their Iron Skillet Cornbread. I never go to Grace’s table and not order this bread and neither should anyone. Not only is it so flavorful on it’s own but it is accompanied by this incredibly delicious lavender honey butter, emphasis on the delicious part. It is a melt in your mouth cornbread experience. Do not underestimate or underuse that lavender honey butter. Another plus, they will adjust the amount of cornbread for the table. Normally it comes in an order of 4 or 6 but we just got two little bites below.
PS. Their breakfast and brunch is also fabulous. I am always a fan of some amazing Chilaquiles or a homemade Quiche that is rotated daily.
Pasta, Pasta, Pasta | Reddwood | Yountville, CA | August 18, 2017
Pick any pasta, you can’t go wrong. The best is actually when everyone wants something different so you can have bites of them all. My dad can’t resist the Cacio e Pepe. If you enjoy a cheesy, peppery pasta, this one is for you. My mom on the other hand always wants to share the Gemelli, which is their bolognese. I rarely say no. However, the noodle I can’t help but order is the Bucatini. First of all, the noodle is really fun to eat. Big fat spaghetti noodles you want to slurp up like you are a kid again. Smothered in fresh tomato sauce, onion and guanciale, you won’t have a bite left.
Along side the pastas, of course, their pizzas are delicious. Wood burning oven baked pizzas that usually they planned around what’s in season. A trick my dad always does, he orders a pizza for the table as an appetizer so that everyone still gets a slice of pizza but you can still order your pasta as your main course. By far my favorite pizza I have gotten there was a brussel sprout pizza. Hint, hint Reddwood ;).
Salads are another plus at Reddwood. The debate is always between the Chopped Salad and the Little Gem Lettuce Salad. Chopped wins every time for me and Little Gem every time for my mom. Both are nice light starters. If you are in the mood for a heavier start, the meatballs or burrata would do the trick. Olive lovers, get their warmed olives, please. They serve it in a cast iron so they stay at a perfect warm temperature until the last olive.
Overall, great spot for outdoor seating, great for family dinners, dates, lunch or a specialty cocktail and of course the Italian food.
Pulled Pork, Chicken or Brisket Sandwich | Bounty Hunter | Napa, CA | August 11, 2017
Normally, I pick a couple items but honestly, this decision is based on the kind of meat you love. All their meats are tasty and barbecued to perfection. If you are a meat lover, sauce lover, whiskey lover and wine lover, Bounty Hunter is calling your name.
Being a sauce lover, I appreciate that you get three different BBQ sauces on the side. You can taste them all, mix them, drench your sandwich the way you want! The mustard is my go to, but they have a regular bbq and a “spicier” bbq sauce. They all pair well with one another.
This is a locals gem. Especially for work lunches. They do a “Pony Express” where you get a sandwich of your choice, a side of your choice and a non-alcoholic beverage for around $10. It is steal of a deal! This brings up another important note, the sides! It is hard to choose which side cause they are all tasty. Do you want a little extra crunch on your sandwich? Get the coleslaw. Do you want to try their house made pickles? They aren’t dingy with their serving size! Now my two favorites, the corn bread and mac and cheese. The corn bread is actually super tasty mixed in with the meat. Number one pick would need to be the mac and cheese. Just get it, at least for the table.
Besides the sandwiches, the beer can chicken (if you have 3-4 people) is a must. The ribs and brisket are incredible. It is hard to go wrong if you are craving meat. They also have great veggies and salads but seriously, get some meat on!
A locals hint, they changed the chicken sandwich to more of a “white” mayo based sauce. It is tasty but if you are going for more of a BBQ feel like the brisket and pulled pork, ask them for the original chipotle chicken sandwich.
Also, their wine list is quite extensive and unlike many spots in Napa, pretty affordable. They have just about every varietal in just about every price range. Now, if you are a whiskey drinker, they have whiskey flights. Great way to try out some new whiskeys and pair them with your delicious BBQ meat.
Grilled Cheese | Hog Island Oyster Co | Napa, CA | August 4, 2017
Yes, we all know the oysters are incredible here, hence their name. So, if you are an oyster lover, this is a not-to-miss sure stop. However, you may not know this sweet little fact… They have the BEST. Grilled. Cheese. EVER. Hands down. Even walking in the Oxbow and smelling one of them being made, will make your mouth start to water. My friend said she loves it to much, she would pay them for the burnt crumbs of cheese left on the sandwich press! I would have to agree.
Tell me have you ever had a grilled cheese that has a mix of fromage blanc, vella mezzo secco and cave-aged gruyere?! (Or do you even know what all those cheeses are, cause I had a look one up!) Let me tell you, this mixture is divine. In fact, stop what you are doing right now, and go try it for yourself. A bonus, some of cheeses are locally produced by Cowgirl Creamery. Oh and did I mention the bread? I believe it is fresh ciabatta bread, buttered, pressed and toasted to perfection. They toast is so well, even some of the cheese crusts on the sides of the bread. All sort of yumminess press into little triangle bites.
Pakora & Lobster Risotto | Torc | Napa, CA | July 21, 2017
All their pasta dishes melt in your mouth. Every time we go, we have to order for the table the pasta topped with fresh shaved truffles. It changes throughout the year by season, just like the rest of the menu. Right now it is the Ziti. One time I went with a friend and she asked us if we wanted to share the Lobster Risotto. Well, we each got one bit and she devoured the rest. (And she didn’t even feel bad about it.)
As for the mains, the short rib is incredible. The chicken, oooooh, thee chicken. Perfection. One of the best cooked chicken’s in all of Napa. Alright, just go to Torc and try as much as your wallet will allow.
Side note: They have one of the best, upscale happy hour’s in town. 5 pm – 6:30 pm M-F with $5 bites and $5-$7 wine, beer and cocktails.
Teriyaki Chicken Sandwich & Ahi Tuna Tacos | Gott’s Roadside | St. Helena, CA | July 14, 2017
Pappardelle with Short Rib & Chicken Fettuccini | Cook | St. Helena, CA | June 30, 2017
Other honorable mentions… The Eggplant Parmesan is a go-to regular. Best Eggplant Parm ever, hands down! Even if you don’t think you like eggplant… you will fall in love with this dish. Oh and please do yourself a favor and order the burrata to share as a starter. What a unique experience for your mouth to have this creamy, fresh burrata mixed with crispy, juicy fried green tomatoes topped with a flavorful grilled peach salsa that has a hint of spice. Delizioso!
A locals favorite and a tourists dream. Take a bite at Cook.
Side note: A few years ago they expanded next door at Cook Tavern; A much needed sports bar in Saint Helena with fabulous cocktails and an incredible upscale bar menu. Fries, fried pickles, burger, tomato soup, pizza… and much more. Go catch a game or swing by after a long day.
English Muffins and Model Wrap | Model Bakery | Napa, CA | June 23, 2017
If you are into pastries of any kind, stop here. If you love to start your day with an amazing breakfast sandy or wrap, stop here. If you enjoy a great cup of coffee, stop here (they have Stumptown!).
One of our amazing members of the CHEFS team works remotely. When she flies in, her first stop in the morning is Model Bakery, with good reason. Everything here is fresh, hot and mouth-watering. Her go to? The Model Wrap. A perfect mix of eggs, hash browns, cheese, chiptole sauce, plus TWO types of bacon wrapped up in a delicious tortilla, served piping hot.
Say the word, “english muffin” and any person in Napa would immediately think of Model Bakery. They used to have a restriction on how many english muffins you could buy because they are so mouth-watering, they had to limit people so they wouldn’t sell out. Luckily, this is not the case anymore. Even better, get one of these babies for your breakfast sandwich. Think about what it would be like if a doughnut and an english muffin had a baby. It is that fluffy, that mouth-watering… you will want to buy some to take home and share.
For breakfast, lunch, coffee and pastry snacks… model bakery is where it is at.
Chicken Bahn Mi Sandwich & Chicken Wings | Kitchen Door | Oxbow Market | Napa, CA | June 16, 2017
Kitchen Door is on the monthly minimum stop for us in Napa. The menu is so diverse, everyone can find something to eat. You feel like a juicy burger? Check. You are feeling more like a tasty wood fired oven pizza? Check. Feeling like some delicious Pho or Ramen? Check.
There are many favorites at Kitchen Door but one of the “I’ll have the usual” is their Chicken Bahn Mi Sandwich with Sweet Potato Fries. It honestly is enough food to feed two people but you won’t want to share. Let’s start with the Sweet Potato Fries. They are the best we’ve had. Perfectly crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. Dipped in a spicy mayo dip (or ketchup if preferred) and they are little bites of heaven. The Bahn Mi, oh the Bahn Mi, every bite is so complex with flavors. You have the fresh flavors with the cilantro and cucumber. Then some spice with the spicy mayo and jalapeños. (If you like spice we suggest always adding a little more Sriracha!) Lastly, some pickled veggies for some tang. It almost is an umami flavor. We skip on the duck liver mouse but if you enjoy some duck liver, go for it!
Locals tip… Their Wings are also a must! And on Tuesdays and Wednesdays they have $1 Wing Nights. Go try them! They have an asian flare teriyaki glaze and again that incredible spicy mayo drizzled on top. Mouth-watering, fresh and served blazing hot.
49er & Ricky Ricardo on Vacation | Eikos | Napa, CA | June 9, 2017
Eikos… for sushi loves and sushi haters. An extensive menu where you want to try everything on the menu but you get full after two items. There is even a sushi roll with steak that is quite tasty. If you feel like a show, order one of their liquid nitrogen cocktails or desserts. Both refreshing and entertaining!
If it were my first or only time going, I would start with the Spicy Edamame and Healthy Fries. The only thing healthy about their “healthy” fries is that they are green beans. Worth every calorie though. Their spicy edamame has a nice twist from the usual edamame you are used to getting. Not overly spicy, the edamame sit on top of a sweet and spicy homemade chili sauce. Dipping delicious!
As for sushi, you can’t really go wrong but I strongly recommend trying the 49er and Ricky Ricardo. Go for the Ricky Ricardo on Vacation if you enjoy a little bit of spice!
Lastly, if you aren’t a sushi lover, it has one of the best chicken dishes in all of Napa. I know because my friend who only eats chicken has tried chicken at just about every restaurant and their Pan Roasted Teriyaki Chicken is in her top 3.
Buffalo Taco | C Casa | Oxbow Market | Napa, CA | June 2, 2017
C Casa is a must stop in our opinion. C Casa is like a gourmet salad meets a taco and has a baby. It does not disappoint for breakfast, lunch, dinner or mid day snack. Our go-tos, well it depends on who you ask. There is a reason that sweet potato taco never leaves the specials menu! (my mom’s favorite) Their carnitas tostada has the most bang for the buck. Their salads are all fresh and chopped, each bite has every ingredient on it (Try the C Chop). If you love goat cheese then you will want to try their “Not-Nachos” with generous portions of goat cheese and mixed beans on tortilla chips. Speaking of goat cheese, an all time favorite is the buffalo taco with goat cheese. It has a hint of spice but if you really like spicy… ask them for their serrano sauce. (They don’t display it so you will really feel like a local!) You only need a few small drops to really put a kick on your taco. You can’t go wrong, especially when adding their tasty green salsa on top. There is a reason there is always a line at C Casa… and it is definitely worth the wait.
Spicy Tuna Osaka Style with Kale Salad | R&D Kitchen | Yountville, CA | May 26, 2017
What not to get here? Depending on what mood you are in or who you ask, you will probably get a different answer. Order any sandwich and you will have enough for the table but you won’t want to share! If you enjoy sushi, then try to resist loving their Spicy Tuna ‘Osaka Style’. It is sushi that is so fresh, so tasty it almost melts in your mouth. To top it off, pair this sushi with their kale salad; you won’t regret it. Filling and satisfying.
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