Wednesday, January 28, 2015

When In Napa




Me and the Mrs. love getting away to Napa for a few days. In LA, we’re lucky enough to be a one hour flight (or a 6 hour road trip) away from one of the most famous “wine country” regions in the world. We’ve been a couple times now, and we always enjoy the food, sights, and of course, the wine. With so many things to see and places to try,  it’s hard to decide on where you should stay and what you should do. So let us recommend a few of our favorite places to stay, play and most importantly - eat! Be prepared this is a long post, but how could it not be? We're telling you about our favorite Napa spots so of course, there’s a ton!



where to stay


6462 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599


In the heart of Napa Valley is the picturesque town of Yountville. This is where famous Michelin rated chefs have their restaurants along Washington Street. The town is what you picture when Napa comes to mind - walkable and charming. It’s a great center point for your stay in Napa Valley, and Hotel Yountville is the perfect place to check-in. 

This boutique hotel feels luxurious and romantic, resembling a European-village style resort. Our room had a fireplace and large jetted bath tub - perfect for relaxing. The French doors opened to our own private patio with a view of a peaceful creek,  for enjoying a Napa Cab or cup of coffee from the in-room Keurig. We were able to borrow the hotel’s bicycles and go for a ride along famous Washington Street to our restaurant. In the early evening, we went for a swim in the heated pool, and relaxed at the cabanas by the fire pit. No need to drive anywhere the next morning, we had a great breakfast at Hopper Creek Kitchen, located at the hotel. The chef’s version of eggs Benedict, served with crispy pork belly, was one of the best things I had on this trip. 

Truly memorable, Hotel Yountville is everything you want in a Napa getaway. 











what to do



1275 McKinstry Street, Napa, CA 94559



Aside from visiting wineries, if there is one thing you have to do in Napa, it would be to experience the famous Napa Valley Wine Train. The fully restored antique train, takes you through the vineyards of Napa Valley as you dine on fine cuisine from Executive Chef Kelly Macdonald. It’s one of the most unique dining experiences because you get to relive what it was like to dine on a luxury dining car like people did in the early 1900’s. 

We boarded the Vista Dome Premier, an elegant, 1952 dining car that’s elevated with a glass dome - giving amazing views of the vineyards passing by. We were greeted with a glass of champagne as we pulled away from the Oxbow district in Napa and headed North towards St. Helena.

The menu is seasonal and features only the freshest ingredients. Our menu choices were delicious! From the flourless yam ravioli and smoked salmon crepe with American caviar appetizers to the wide variety of entrees that featured fresh beef, fish and a vegetable risotto that would make any meat lover like myself happy to order a vegetarian dish! The desserts were equally delicious including the chocolate pot pie.

The Paris love lock bridge has become a staple but since the Mrs. and I haven’t made it to Paris yet, we were able to engrave a lock and hang it right on the bridge at the Napa Wine Train Station. 

The Napa Wine Train is a great experience and a definite must on your next trip!











1240 Duhig Road, Napa, CA 94559


The Domaine Carneros chateau is one of the most beautiful sights and landmarks in the area. Founded by the family behind Champagne Taittinger in France, Domaine Carneros is the premier sparkling winery that impresses on all levels. 

The chateau is inspired by the classic 18th century Château de la Marquetterie in Champagne, France - home of Champagne Taittinger. It’s no wonder, when you pull up past the gates, you feel like you may as well be in a scenic French town. The views from the property are incredible as you enjoy sparkling wines and pinot noir from the terrace overlooking the valley. The estate vineyard is certified organic, so it’s nice to know that the luxury Le Rêve Blanc de Blancs came from an organic vineyard. 

When we visited the winery, lead wine consultant, Michelle, gave us a great tour of the property, explaining in detail how their sparkling wines are made. We were given the opportunity to try different styles perfected by winemaker Eileen Crane, and I can honestly say it was one of the best sparkling wines we’ve had.








1300 Washington Street, Calistoga, CA 94515



Calistoga is a small and quaint town located at the Northern side of the valley. There you can find the world famous mud baths, and if you want a private room experience, the Baths At Roman Spa is the place to go.

The Mrs. and I started our treatment with a mud bath. The combination of Calistoga volcanic ash, natural peat, and geothermal mineral water from nearby springs is what removes toxins and relaxes the muscles. The mud bath is warm/slightly hot and you feel as if you are floating on air. After rinsing off, we soaked in our private mineral baths relaxing away. We cooled down in a relaxation room, where we chilled with cucumbers on our eyes (yes, feel free to take my “Man-Card” away for that) and laid around until our massage therapists came to escort us to our massage rooms. 

The Baths at Roman Spa is a great way to relax and enjoy the natural elements of Calistoga.




109 Wappo Avenue, Calistoga, CA 94515


If you’re too relaxed to drive back to Napa or Yountville, stay the night at the Historic Brannan Cottage Inn. The iconic property, built in 1860 and fully renovated to modern comforts, is an intimate and luxurious inn located in Calistoga. 





where to eat



933 Main Street, St. Helena, CA 94574




I’m a Dodger fan, and in the last 5 years I’ve had to watch our rivals, the San Francisco Giants, win 3 World Series while the Dodgers sit at home during the month of October. You would think as a Los Angeleno I would be jealous of that, but I’m not. I’m jealous of San Francisco Giant fans having a Gott’s Roadside near them!

Gott’s Roadside is one of my favorite burger stands. With four locations in Northern California, the original location, and my personal favorite, is located in St. Helena, just 20 minutes North of downtown Napa.

The service is outstanding at Gott’s in St Helena. Cody and Albert helped us out a couple times and made us and others feel right at home. The vibe of this Gott’s location is very cool and looks like a throwback to a 1950’s hamburger stand where truckers and drivers would stop for lunch. There's no indoor seating, rather their distinct red picnic tables line the grassy field in the back of the restaurant. It has character!


What about the food? I told you I was jealous of Northern Californians, and it’s because Gott’s has the most incredible burgers and fries. The beef patties are 1/3 lb, coarsely ground and cooked to perfection. The special sauce (which tastes better than thousand island and has no relish) is the perfect condiment on the burger. The garlic fries are truly the best garlic fries I’ve had, and that’s because they are tossed in garlic butter and parsley after they have been cooked. Everything is locally sourced, including the offerings of California wines and breweries. Their shakes are even made with Three Twins Ice Cream, located in Petaluma - just an hour away. If you’re not all that into burgers, Gott’s also offers an incredible chicken sandwich, grilled or fried, and an amazing renowned Ahi Tuna burger, as well as salads and tacos.






a few more of our favorites


Dean & Deluca
607 S. St Helena Hwy, St Helena, CA 94574



Purveyors of fine food and wine is written on the outside of Dean & Deluca for good reason. It's the perfect place to grab a made-to-order sandwich or salad for a picnic on a vineyard. Their coffee bar is one of the best in Napa, pulling perfect shots of espresso. This location is like a Whole Foods-meets-Williams Sonoma and then elevated above that!


Bouchon
6534 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599



One of our favorite places to dine, there's no question that Thomas Keller is a culinary genius and superstar. The deviled eggs, steak frites, and croque madame are solid choices. 




Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington Street, Yountville, CA 94599



To this day, Bistro Jeanty has the best Coq au Vin I've ever had. Their famous Crême de Tomate en Croute (a tomato soup covered in a puff pastry) is worth the visit.


Model Bakery
1357 Main Street, Saint Helena, CA 94574



Their famous English Muffin is the thing to get here. Enjoy it with a cup of Blue Bottle coffee. 



V. Sattui Winery
1111 White Lane, Saint Helena, CA 94574



This winery has a deli where you can purchase food and a bottle of one of their exclusive wines to enjoy at their tables by the vineyard.





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