Discover what Downtown Napa Valley has to offer! Our latest trip brings us to the West Coast, where we come across new local wines, meet travel friends, and eat delicious seasonal foods. Grab this guide and take it on a trip with you – I’ve narrowed down the top places where you MUST eat, drink, and shop at!
JAX White Mule Diner
The atmosphere at JAX White Mule Diner is comfortable, approachable, and all around the perfect diner environment. They serve breakfast everyday until 3pm, so if you’ve drank a bit to much wine the night before and woke up on your hotel bed later in the morning and starving, this is the restaurant for you. Off the beaten path, this is a diner you have to be searching for and one that’s definitely worth the detour (although it’s really easy to find!) Settle into any of their stools and peruse the menu – which has something for everyone. Going the healthy route? Order the JAX Scramble with eggs whites and fresh vegetables. Not caring about calories? Order the Chicken Fried Chicken (pictured below on the left corner). Gorgeously fried chicken slathered in luscious gravy, alongside eggs your way, hash browns, and toast. You can’t go wrong with that now, can you?! Oh well – the one way to go wrong is to forget to get an order of their warm beignets; they are to die for!
Visit JAX: 1122 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559, USA or give them a call 707.812. MULE (6853)
Oxbow Public Market
Whenever I visit a new city or town, I make sure to stop by a local market. It’s the one place I buy culinary souvenirs (because who needs another keychain or postcard?) and the one spot where I can meet local artisans and farmers, as well as chefs. The Oxbow Public Market is a 40,000 square foot space that includes an outdoor deck with scenic views of the Napa River and houses a variety of food vendors, restaurants, cafes, and organic produce markets within its walls. Don’t miss Anette’s Chocolates for a taste of their gorgeous products and make sure to take home a jar of their Italian Cherry Merlot Fudge Sauce – it’s divine!
Visit Oxbow Public Market: 610 & 644 First Street Napa, California 94559
Napa Valley Distillery
Inside the Oxbow Public Market lies the local Napa Valley Distillery Tasting Salon & Vintage Bar Shop. This is THE spot you want to make sure and stop by if you’re a fan of artisanal spirits and cocktail essentials. We had a chance to taste a flight of their most popular products and learned how to properly taste spirits, the main thing being that you should NOT swirl them. Being located in wine country, apparently everyone is obsessed with swirling everything from their water glasses to their vodka tonics, but when you swirl a spirt, the aromas disperse and are lost. Also, if you’re still shooting vodka like you’re still in college, stop. The best way to taste a spirit is the following: take in a deep breathe, drink half a shot, and let that breathe out. You’ll taste all the flavors and aromas of the spirit, without the usual burn.
Visit the tasting salon at the Oxbox Public Market: 610 & 644 First Street Napa, California 94559
If you’re looking for the ultimate lunch spot in Downtown Napa Valley, Fish Story restaurant was my favorite on a sunny Napa day. Located right on the Napa River, you can dine outdoors if the weather permits (which in Napa, is basically everyday!) and you’ll enjoy their delicious food in the fresh open air. All their fresh fish is sourced with accordance of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, as well as sourcing their meats and produce as local as possible.
Visit Fish Story: 790 Main Street at Third, Napa, CA 94559 (located at the Napa Riverfront)
Uncorked at Oxbow
Owned by Celeste Carducci-Ahnfeldt and husband Bruce Ahnfeldt, owners of Ahnfeldt Wines, McClelland-Priest Bed & Breakfast Inn, and Uncorked at Oxbow, the latter being the spot we visited during our trip. It’s the perfect spot to relax and sip on some new wines, as well as chat up with the owners, who know everything and everyone in Downtown Napa. They’ve got a wine club which would make the perfect holiday gift and if you’re looking for a romantic getaway, their McClelland Priest Bed & Breakfast is just the spot.
One of two restaurants I loved for dinner, the first one being The Thomas. A funky, trendy spot, it’s a restaurant where you can go either on a romantic date or with a group of friends to celebrate life. Basically, I’d have dinner there every night if I lived in Napa and eat through their menu. Having a chance to taste their charcuterie, their feature of local cheeses, as well as their entrees and amazing desserts, it’s safe to say that The Thomas is the kind of restaurant I love. Showcasing local ingredients with techniques that are playful and modern, yet not overdoing it on the fads, it plants and harvests gorgeous bounty in the restaurant co-op garden at COPIA. That being said, you know it’s all fresh! A must visit in my book.
Visit The Thomas: 813 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559 or make reservations at 707-226-7821
Another dinner restaurant favorite was TORC and when I say favorite, I mean I wanted everything off their menu! But I’m obsessed like that and when I discover a new restaurant that does everything so well, I need to taste it all – which was attempted and done thanks to my fellow travel writer companions that didn’t mind sharing a bite or two of their dishes with the hungry food writer. TORC is described as an American restaurant with global influences, which I complete agree with. Chef Sean O’Toole, who has a resume that could be a culinary encyclopedia, created a menu for us that was fun and delicious, with interjections of his food philosophy. My dinner that night consisted of a local pumpkin soup with thai basil, wild striped bass with cranberry beans & calamari, and a sweet treat of a meyer lemon creme brûlée – and it was all divine! My fellow friend across from me let me try her lunga di napoli risotto, the creamiest non-cream risotto I’ve ever tasted. Do yourself a favor and make reservations ASAP.
Visit TORC 1140 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559 or call to make reservations 707-252-3293
Cadet Wine & Beer Bar
End the night at Cadet and you’ll be surrounded with like-minded people, if your mind is all about drinking special beers, wines, and spirits. If you’re single, this is the spot to meet other singles. If you’re married, this is the spot to bring your special someone after dinner. Seriously, the vibe at Cadet is hip, modern, and creative. They’re serving beverages they feel strong connections with and host pop-ups and events monthly, so be sure to check them out.
Visit Cadet at 930 Franklin Street, Napa, CA 94559
Make downtown Napa Valley a must-see destination!
Disclaimer: Downtown Napa invited me on a trip to experience these establishments and discover how the restaurant and wine community is flourishing in the area. Opinions are 100% my own.