The Best Restaurants In CalistogaA courtyard patio with Creole-French food, New Haven-style pizza, a bar with the occasional Elvis impersonator, and much more.
Calistoga has exploded over the last few years with new restaurants, tasting rooms, and a restored train depot that highlights the town’s history. Whether you come here for relaxation, wine, or the mineral pools and mud baths that made Calistoga famous, there’s a lot to love in this city.
The scene is more casual than the rest of the towns that make up Napa Valley, which along with the food, is part of the draw. You’ll find everything from pizza and pasta places to resort restaurants, and some of the best outdoor dining situations in the Upper Valley. When you're prepping or winding down from wine tasting, these are some of our favorite places to eat.
Part of the Indian Springs Resort, Sam’s has one of the best outdoor dining scenes in Calistoga, and is located on a beautiful property with palm trees, hammocks, and lawn games everywhere. Prepare to sink in around the bonfire or take a seat under the massive clear tent that keeps the outdoor space open (and heated) year-round. The brunch and dinner here are excellent, with options like the better-than-it-should-be breakfast pizza, and grilled avocado toast on seeded bread. At dinner, get the grilled pork chop with polenta, and the hearty roasted cauliflower steak in a spicy tomato ragu. Regardless of when you eat here, all meals should end with the candy cap churros served with a dulce de leche dip we dream about.
Set within a historic house along Lincoln Avenue, Lovina works great for a low-key brunch or dinner on the garden patio. The food is excellent here, just go knowing that the prices might be a bit higher than you’d expect—think $35 egg benedicts and $19 desserts. At brunch we love the steak and eggs, breakfast burrito, and the “fishie” benedict. All the dinner dishes are impressive, especially the little gem salad, heritage pork and beef bolognese (with vegan and gluten-free options available), and beef tenderloin medallions with gnocchi. Cap things off with the bread pudding and Hot Mess flourless brownie with housemade marshmallow fluff. Seating is very limited, so make sure to book ahead if you want to come here on the weekend.
There is no way you can walk by the Calistoga Inn, with its huge patio, bonfire, and inside/outside wraparound bar, and not stop in for a drink. While we love dropping by with a friend for a beer flight and cocktails, like the passion fruit caipirinha, the garden out back works great for larger groups and kids. When it comes to the food, go for the gnocchi with mushrooms, spinach, and corn truffle puree, and the trout pizza if it’s on the menu.
The courtyard patio at Evangeline is tucked away from the town's main drag and makes for a perfect brunch spot with standouts like the chicken and waffles served with a delicious gravy and maple syrup that ties it all together. Dinner is a relaxed scene where you’ll find Creole dishes like gumbo ya-ya and shrimp etouffee with hush puppies, and the not-to-be-missed Skuna king salmon. If you’re visiting during the summer, strongly consider taking one of Evangeline’s picnic boxes filled with a bucket of fried chicken and seasonal sides over the bridge to join the locals for a free concert at Pioneer Park, every Thursday night.
Mangia Mi might feel like one of those places that play up the Italian stereotypes, with a Vespa parked out front and the “get sauced” tagline on t-shirts. But we’re willing to overlook all that for an order of Momma’s Meatballs and the excellent homemade pastas that change daily. Everything is delicious, but you should prioritize the tagliatelle alla vodka with sausage, Romano eggplant stack, and the garlic and parmesan focaccia. They’re also known for crispy New Haven-style pizzas, like the signature Mikey’s Mambo Italiano, with spicy Calabrian chili honey drizzle and layers of meat, which pair perfectly with $3 PBRs at Happy Hour. This is somewhere you’ll definitely need a reservation for, and they only take bookings over the phone.
This spot is owned by the same folks behind Oakville Grocery, and it’s located within a historic train depot and rail cars at the end of town. You’ll find just about everything you need here, with a café that serves excellent baked goods, sandwiches, and gourmet sides sold by the pound. There’s a lot of history on display, including the mural that wraps around the patio out back, and that’s exactly where you should post up for local microbrews and brick-oven pizzas like the 1868 with rosemary ham and wild mushrooms. Inside the rail cars you’ll find boutique shops, more food, and soon enough, a saloon and champagne and caviar bar.
Fleetwood is part of the Motor Lodge hotel and sits between the geothermal pools and a giant set of red lips (Rolling Stones style). It definitely makes for an interesting place to lounge, before or after having some of the best wood-fired pizzas in town. The crust comes lightly charred and toppings range from pesto with Italian sausage to Hen of the Woods mushrooms with thyme and truffle fontal. We also get excited about the smoky grilled romaine salad with olive oil-drenched sourdough toast and the overstuffed short rib tortelloni in a rich bolognese sauce. Drop by for a cocktail during Happy Hour (only on Sunday, Monday, and Thursday from 4pm to 6pm) for $7 glasses of wine, strawberry lemonade cocktails, and rosemary truffle popcorn.
If you’re looking to watch whatever sports game is on, come to LAB where they have 10 TVs, a beer garden, and 20 craft beers on tap. There’s often live music on the weekends, and a menu with 10 types of wings, jalapeño poppers, fries, and burgers made with beef brisket short rib. The flatbreads are another highlight, especially the barbeque chicken and reuben with housemade pastrami. The local market next door is a great spot to stock up on things to fill the fridge at your Airbnb or picnicking supplies.
Sushi Mambo used to have a location in downtown Napa, but they closed and moved to Calistoga in 2016. There’s not much of a scene here, but that’s OK since it’s an ideal spot to relax and have some high-quality sushi and other Japanese dishes. There’s no wrong order here, with two pages of sashimi and simple rolls, but we tend to gravitate towards the more creative ones like the Diablo, which combines a spicy tuna and hamachi roll, and then gets topped with salmon and albacore sashimi, and a sriracha hot sauce. This is also one of our go-to spots for takeout in the area.
The Best Restaurants In Yountville
Hydro is a longstanding Calistoga spot and one of the only bars in town. The scene is really all over the place, with both locals and bridal parties looking for a casual place to drink and have a burger. Every Sunday a swing band takes the stage, and occasionally, you might even catch an impressive Elvis impersonator. The food goes one step beyond basic bar food, especially when it comes to the pozole, vegetarian lasagna, and the giant brownie sundae. Join the locals and come here to party, but it’s also a good low-key lunch and Happy Hour (3-6pm Mon-Fri) option.
When we’re tired of long and elaborate lunches, this is where we come for a quick bite in a space that feels straight out of the ‘50s. There’s everything from pulled pork sandwiches and tacos to Thai chicken pizza and tasty burgers with onion rings and BBQ sauce. This isn’t exactly a dining destination, but it works great when you want something casual before a day of wine tasting.
Located within the Auberge property Solage, this popular spot is great for a leisurely lunch and cocktails on the patio overlooking the pool. Go for one of the bonfire seats, or sit at the bar for mountain views and a limoncello cocktail. Always order the Parker House rolls, truffle fries, and the delicious petrale sole fish tacos with a spicy aioli and sweet and sour cabbage. We also love the breakfast here, with standouts like the lemon ricotta pancakes and the cinnamon sugar doughnut holes with chocolate and coffee dipping sauces.
Whether you’re staying at Solage, or looking to unwind after a day on the tasting trail, it’s hard to beat Picobar. Check out the woodwork on the walls before settling in on the couches with a glass of housemade sangria with mezcal and the whipped avocado with goat cheese. Move on to a michelada, a few tacos (we like the crispy avocado and soft shell crab), and the torta cubana while playing bocce in between bites. End with an order of the churros with chocolate dipping sauce, which will make you forget you came to Napa for the wine.
This spot is part of the reimagined Dr. Wilkinson’s Resort, which gained a following in the ‘50s for its mud baths and mineral pools. It’s a great place for lunch or an early dinner that feels a lot like being at a cookout at your best friend's place with the added benefit of being waited on as you chill by the bonfires and play cornhole. New Mexican dishes like the green chile stew and flat enchiladas are standouts, along with the grilled fish tacos with jicama slaw, and a weekend-only roasted green chile flatbread. And in case you forgot you’re in California, you’ll find a dip flight with herbed hemp hearts and harissa carrot hummus and a wellness drink menu with elixirs and house-blended medicinal teas. End every visit with a slice of their signature chile apple pie with cheddar crust and a red chili honey drizzle.
A QUICK BITE
This spot is named after a real-life Buster, who’s often seen behind the grill and has been firing up Louisiana-style barbeque in California since the ‘60s. Whether it’s the pulled pork and tri-tip sandwiches with pineapple slaw and baked beans, or the barbeque chicken and homemade sweet potato pie, all the food is good and worthy of a pitstop at some point during your visit. There are some picnic tables and indoor spots, but you should also know that this place attracts some of the best jazz and blues musicians in the Bay Area for jam sessions on the patio every Sunday afternoon.
The Best Restaurants In St. Helena
If you’re looking for grab-and-go tacos and burritos, come to this Mexican market at the tip of town. You’ll also find things like quesadillas, tamales, and fresh shrimp and fish ceviche served by the pound—all of which you order at the deli counter. The market itself is filled with Mexican snacks and candies sure to silence any kid, and with prices that are a fraction of what you’d pay anywhere else ($3 tacos and $12 plate dinners), it will silence the grownups too.
BREAKFAST AND COFFEE
Part of the historic Brannan Country Inn, this spot is away from the busyness of Lincoln Avenue and has a great garden patio with excellent coffee and baked goods. It’s exactly the type of place where you come to slow down, appreciate the surrounding trees, and sip your matcha over homemade quiches and frittatas. We also love it for a simple lunch, with options like the everything avocado toast and warm roast beef and mozzarella sandwiches served with a chewy chocolate chip cookie.
It’s hard to walk by, smell the morning buns, scones, and pain au chocolat, and not stop in to check out Bella Bakery. The panini and focaccia pizzas are a great primer for wine tasting if they’re available when you go, and if you have an occasion to celebrate during your visit, the designer cakes and fruit pies are excellent.
If you’re tired of the fancier breakfast and brunch options in town, Sarafornia is a casual diner that has been flipping pancakes and burgers for the past 40 years. Along with all-day breakfast options, like the homemade corn beef hash (a must) and the biscuits and gravy, you’ll find choices like braised pork tostadas and Italian sausage sandwiches. Pancakes are sold by the piece and there’s always a daily special like pumpkin and pecan options.