Insider's Guide to Napa Valley Restaurants - Secret Menus and More
September 13, 2019
Hope you’re hungry! Napa Valley is a culinary wonderland just waiting to be explored. With new restaurants popping up all the time and classic favorites always pushing the boundaries to create new culinary experiences, some of the best cuisine in the world can be found right here. We’ve put together a few of our favorite restaurant hacks so that you have all the insider info to plan out your Napa Valley noshing.
Everyone loves a secret menu item. There’s nothing better than feeling ‘in the know’ enough to order that special chef creation that’s off the menu. Here are a few of our favorites:
PRESS - The bacon bar- need we say more? It’s not on the regular dining room menu, so guests have to know to order up this bacon flight, which comes on a special hanging device and is sure to draw the envy of the diners at the table next to you.
Roadhouse 29 - Kitchen crew quesadilla: Everyday Chef Dennis feeds the line crew and the front of house staff with the choicest smoked meats and his fresh-made salsas melted with traditional cheeses between two fresh tortillas. Just ask and Chef will whip you one up as well!
Tarla Grill - Known for some of the best Mediterranean food in Northern California, Tarla is a local favorite. Regulars know to ask for the chickpea pita - marinated chickpeas w/ Tzatziki, cabbage, onion, and tomatoes- a great option for vegetarians!
Clif Family Bruschetteria - Frequent visitors and locals know to ask for the Italian ramen dish, which is especially comforting on a chilly fall day. Chef John takes the daily soup and dresses it up ramen-style with an Italian twist, adding farm veggies, pork meatballs and arancini to create a satisfying meal in a bowl.
Hog Island Oyster Bar – Saddle up to the famous oyster bar inside Oxbow Public Market and ask for the oyster stew- a special secret menu item made with pernot and, of course, plenty of fresh oysters.
With over 30 Michelin-starred restaurants, you might think securing a reservation at the best establishments in the Valley is a difficult task. Surprisingly, booking a table is a snap most of the time if you have just a couple of weeks’ notice. In fact, most of our restaurants even accept walk-ins. One notable exception would be The French Laundry- not to worry, here’s the scoop on how to snag a seat at Thomas Keller's world-class Yountville restaurant:
The French Laundry releases reservations on the first of every odd-numbered month at 10:00 am PST for two months in advance. For example, on November 1 reservations will open for January and February. Be ready to snatch them up online (reservations are only available online through TOCK) promptly at 10 am. Missed the window? Reservations for four people are much easier to come by than the elusive table for two, so grab another couple to join you on this momentous culinary occasion.
Have a special bottle of Napa Valley wine you’d like to enjoy with your meal? These restaurants offer free corkage for Napa Valley wines (please note that restaurant policies change often and you should confirm corkage with the restaurant in advance):
Sam’s Social Club
VINeleven at the Napa Valley Marriott
Grille 29 at Embassy Suites
Hop Creek Pub (first bottle only)
Charlie Palmer Steak (first bottle only)
Brasswood (first bottle only)
Charter Oak (first bottle only)
Harvest Table (first bottle only)
Market St. Helena (first two bottles only)
Ca’ Momi Osteria (Tuesday-Thursday only)
CIA at Copia (Sunday and Monday only)
Napkins (Tuesday and Thursday only)
Need more inspiration? Check out this post on The Best Restaurants in Napa Valley.