There's something inherently special about tasting a tomato just plucked from the garden and still warm from the sun. For those who delight in the culinary adventure of seeing, touching, and smelling where their food comes from, there's no better dining experience than a restaurant with an onsite culinary garden. Wandering the gardens before a meal allows diners to form a connection with the land and the bounty that comes from it, creating a deep appreciation of the cuisine. In the Napa Valley, you'll find many restaurants that utilize onsite culinary gardens to prepare the freshest dishes around. Here are a few local favorites:
The triple Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood is led by Chef Christopher Kostow and creates bespoke menus that speak to each guest’s individual preferences and sense of adventure. The Restaurant’s 2.5-acre offsite culinary farm grows unique, seasonally appropriate crops using organic and sustainable techniques. Emphasis is placed on experimentation with new crops and varieties, new growing and cultivation methods, and the utilization of all edible portions of the plant and the plant’s life-cycle. Pictured above is the Farm for The Restaurant at Meadowood photographed by Kelly Puleio.
Brix Restaurant and Gardens has always had a clear focus on providing a farm-to-table dining experience, and the restaurant's recent renovation serves to elevate this longtime local favorite. Just a stone’s throw from the restaurant, diners find the crown jewels of the grounds at Brix: the spacious flower and vegetable gardens and fruit tree orchard. Comprised of raised boxed beds and in-ground beds, it grows crops year-round, and It’s not unusual to see the chefs out in the garden gathering bunches of fruits, vegetables and herbs for the day’s specials.
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Have you ever wondered where all the delicious, fresh organic produce in your Farmstead meal comes from? You’ll find the hub of the farming operation just off Highway 29 at Long Meadow Ranch's Rutherford Estate, where their farmers grow most of the vegetables and fruits used at Farmstead and Farmers Market. Each year, the growing season begins in the greenhouse where seedlings for over 100 different varieties of heirloom fruits and vegetables are carefully cultivated. Tours of the greenhouses and gardens are available to the public.
The Restaurant at CIA Copia
Inspired by the Napa Valley and The Culinary Institute of America's California farms and gardens, The Restaurant at CIA Copia offers a distinctive dining experience where simple, seasonally-inspired dishes are paired with a curated selection of wines, beers, and handcrafted cocktails. Visitors can wander the CIA' s expansive gardens in front of the property and get an up-close look at where food begins.
Harvest Table’s five culinary gardens are a staggered growth micro-farm with hundreds of seasonally rotating crops. The restaurant grows herbs and salad greens, fruit trees, and a full array of vegetables from root crops like watermelon radishes and candy stripe beets to Thai chilies, tomatillos, and other specialties of California cuisine.
The best aspect of working at Solbar, according to Executive Chef Gustavo Rios, is being part of a “food culture that respects local produce, farmers and ranchers.” He showcases that back-to-the-land reverence with farm-fresh Napa Valley produce—with many vegetables and herbs harvested from the kitchen garden just moments before meals.
Garden-fresh produce grown mere steps from Lucy’s kitchen in the onsite garden and in partnership with several local farms, including the garden operated by Michelin-starred Ubuntu restaurant in Napa, and collaboration with Jacobsen Family Orchards owned by master gardener Peter Jacobsen – whose farm has been the exclusive supplier of fruits, herbs, and vegetables to The French Laundry for the past decade.
Pictured are the gardens at Meadowood photographed by Kelly Puleio.