Just say the word “barbeque” and the fun begins. Sure, summer gets all the glory when it comes to feasts from the grill, but why not enjoy all that savory deliciousness the whole year ‘round? Plus, barbeque has a special way of bringing people closer together – maybe it’s because of the down-home nature of the meal. And, barbecue joints are usually super family-friendly, offering lots of great options for the entire brood at either lunch or dinner.
Whether you want your BBQ and grilled food served tableside or simply want to enjoy it on the fly, any number of Napa Valley restaurants can satisfy your craving for some good ol’ fashioned smoked food.
Discover all the mouthwatering secret sauces and dig into some savory ribs, perfectly grilled chicken, or marinated tri-tip. Pair your meal with a glass of newly released Cabernet or Zinfandel – or even a locally brewed craft beer – and let the fun begin!
Buster’s Southern BBQ
After more than 50 years in the restaurant business, Charles “Buster” Davis is somewhat of a legend in these parts, and year after year Buster’s Southern BBQ is routinely voted “best barbecue” in the North Bay.
The place is easy to find – just follow the smoky aroma of authentic Louisiana barbecue. Buster’s features an outdoor wood-fired grill and is located at the gateway to Calistoga. The recipe for Buster’s secret sauce has been passed down from generations and is generously slathered on the pork loin, pork and beef ribs, pulled pork, and chicken. Dine indoors or outdoors under the Redwoods. You won’t find any adult beverages at Buster’s but be sure to try Buster’s Real Lemonade.
Hang around for live blues and jazz music outdoors on Sunday nights, and chances are good you’ll run into Buster himself.
V. Sattui Winery – Weekend Grilling
Want to integrate some wine tasting with your BBQ craving? Drop in at the V. Sattui picnic grounds on Saturday and order from the V. Sattui Food Truck. The offerings include grilled seasonal entrees, salads, pizzas, and truffle parmesan fries. Bring the family and the furry friends, too (kids and pets are both welcome) and spend an afternoon under the shade of beautiful oak trees on the sprawling V. Sattui lawn as you enjoy the various food options and the fresh outdoors.
City of Napa
Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ
(Pictured above.) You say you’ve never tried BBQ chicken served on a beer can? In that case, order this legendary local favorite at Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ. This cozy-classic joint is located in the heart of downtown Napa and features an astounding lineup of over 400 highly allocated wines and 40 wine choices available by-the-glass. The huge wine selection offers plenty of options, and, if cocktails are more your pace, Bounty Hunter also boasts some of the world’s rarest and finest spirits, including over 40 American whiskeys.
Besides the beer can chicken, try the super-stacker pulled chicken sandwich tossed in white Alabama sauce and loaded with coleslaw. Also, don’t miss the signature items such as the Smokin’ St. Louis ribs, smoked beef brisket, or the smoked prime rib dinner (Friday nights only).
Seating at Bounty Hunter is first come, first served so plan ahead!
The Q Restaurant & Bar
BBQ goes “uptown” at downtown Napa’s The Q Restaurant & Bar, featuring classic baby back ribs, beef brisket, and a Memphis-style pulled pork sandwich. You’ll find crazy-delicious twists on coleslaw – The Q features one with red onions, cilantro, jalapeño, and a pepper vinegar dressing or yet another that is an Asian-influenced take on the classic.
The Q is one of only a small handful of eateries in the valley where you can find a true soul food staple: collard greens with ham hocks. And you won’t want to pass up the other must-have sides like mashed potatoes or cornbread with honey butter. Complement your menu with local craft beers or The Q’s tasty and creative cocktails. Dine indoors or out, and note The Q is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Red Rock Cafe & Back Door BBQ
After five minutes you’ll feel like a regular at this hip, homey BBQ joint situated on a neighborhood corner in downtown Napa. Take a seat at a red and white checker-clothed table or belly up to the bar for BBQ ribs, tri-tip, chicken, or any various combinations thereof. You will not be sorry you did! Choose your sides - coleslaw, beans, baked potato, fries, potato salad, corn muffin, or mac-n-cheese – and dig in.
Beer and wine are available by the glass and Red Rock is ready to welcome you Wednesday through Sunday. Red Rock also does takeout, so order ahead for grab-and-go options and don’t forget to tag on a bottle of Red Rock’s secret sauce, which is made on-site. It’s only $6 per bottle – it makes a great gift for friends and is an excellent way to spice up your own BBQ creations at home as you reminisce about your adventures in the Napa Valley!
Smokey’s & The Oyster Guy – Food Truck
While not traditional in the sense of a brick-and-mortar location, one of Napa’s best-loved food trucks offers a mean grilled shrimp sandwich alongside BBQ tacos. At this food truck, diners will not only find traditional BBQ favorites but seafood as well – it’s like hitting the jackpot on specialty food cravings! Be sure to try the twice smoked pulled pork or the juicy tri-tip.
Find the Smokey’s & The Oyster Guy food truck typically parked at the 300 block of Soscol Avenue in Napa or call to find out where they might be (707) 257-2277.
Hilo Hawaiian BBQ
Say aloha to the taste of the Hawaiian Islands. At Hilo Hawaiian BBQ, the mission is to share delicious Hawaiian BBQ at reasonable prices, and judging by what you get for the price, the folks at Hilo really mean it! All the “plate meals” include rice, macaroni salad, and seasonal vegetables. Get a plate with a main – or a combo of them – including Katsu Chicken, Kalbi Short Ribs, BBQ Chicken Musubi, BBQ Beef Musubi, or BBQ Chicken Salad. Soon you’ll be saying mahalo as you feel the spirit of the Hawaiian Islands with every delicious bite.
Photo credit: Lisa Diederich Photography