The Wine Country region is associated with many things aside from its namesake wine. Kind of Disneyland is more than just rides, people come here for the full experience — the Michelin-star restaurants, the cheese tours, barrel tastings, and lots of photos in sundresses and floppy hats. We didn’t make the rules, that’s just how it is.
But it’s unfair to write off this dynamic area as single-faceted. Whatever your flavor and vibe is, it’s here to be explored. Here are some of the best places to get lunch in Napa Valley Wine Country.
Feature photo: Courtesy of Gott’s Roadside
Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery
One of the most popular and unique spots in Wine Country, the patio of Calistoga Inn Restaurant and Brewery stretches along the Napa River. With its welcoming fire pit surrounded by Adirondack chairs, it’s an ideal place to kick back and relax. Order beer from Napa Valley Brewing Company, the award-winning microbrewery that’s on-site, located inside the historic water tower, and one of their pizzas — the prosciutto topped with arugula is a keeper. Lunch hours are from 11:30am- to 4pm daily. Brunch is served from 11am to 3:30pm Saturday and Sunday. calistogainn.com
The go-to place for to-go sandwiches, Giugni’s always delivers great service and great food. The amount of toppings, cheeses — over 15 kinds including horseradish cheddar — and types of bread can be overwhelming, but no matter the combo you choose, get the Giugni juice. A proprietary mix of herbs, oil and vinegar, this will liven any meal. Equally impressive is the selection of snack-size chip offerings, so be sure to grab one as well. Hours are from 10am to 3pm daily. giugnis.com
This is the first Gott’s location that was opened back in 1999 by brothers Joel and Duncan Gott. Grab a seat at one of the many picnic tables and order to your heart’s content. The menu spans tacos, burgers and other seasonal specialties that feature locally sourced ingredients and purveyors including Niman Ranch beef and Zoe’s bacon. The salads are actually filling here and the California-centric wine list is selected by Joel Gott himself. If you’re further south in Napa and craving Gott’s, there’s also a location in Oxbow Public Market. Hours are from 11am to 9:30pm daily. gotts.com
This Oxbow newcomer is worthy of its own shout out. From matzo ball soup to hand-carved pastrami on rye, to mini potato latkes — you might want to think about skipping breakfast to prepare. Whatever you choose, add on a Loveski pickle. loveskideli.com
Oxbow Public Market
Ok, so putting this place on a list is kind of like using a cheat code. Oxbow Public Market boasts 40,000-square-feet of local food vendors, artisan cafes and an organic produce outlet for local farms. This also includes a scenic outdoor deck with seating along the Napa River, which has made it a central gathering hub in downtown Napa. Some of the many vendors include the Fatted Calf, the Model Bakery, Hog Island Oyster Bar and C Casa. Hours vary, check website for details. oxbowpublicmarket.com
A part of the esteemed Hillstone restaurant group, Rutherford Grill offers the fresh, seasonal ingredients and dishes intended to perfectly complement the fine wines of the region. With a menu consisting mostly of modern American comfort food, people flock here before and after tasting for the french dip, skillet cornbread, and cucumber salad. And while this is Wine Country, the martinis here are not-to-be-missed. Hours are Monday through Friday from 11:30am to 9:30pm, Saturday from 11am to 10pm, and Sunday from 11am to 9:30pm. rutherfordgrill.com