The Best Restaurants In St. HelenaA classic small-town diner, a bacon Bloody Mary, the restaurant with the largest collection of Napa Valley wines in the world, and more.
St. Helena is sleepier than nearby Napa and Yountville, but that just means the seriously good food here is even more special. There’s one main drag through town, which makes it convenient to shop, gallery hop, and eat, plus you’re right at the cusp of some of the best Cabernet pouring wineries in the valley with Rutherford and Oakville just minutes away. Whether you're looking for a grab-and-go meal to bring wine tasting, or a place to wind down and eat afterwards, these are some of our favorite places in town.
If you’re in need of a sandwich, this St. Helena institution is where you want to be. Giugni’s is every bit the old-timey country store you’d expect in a small town, with shelves filled with classic candies, a couple of tables, and a very busy takeout operation. There are no fancy designer sandwiches here: it’s a build-your-own situation with an extensive list of meats, cheeses, and add-ons. The only mandatory move is the tangy Giugni Juice, (a secret sauce with herbs and a red wine vinegar base) with a cult following that gets poured liberally on top of every sandwich—although we prefer it on the side to avoid them getting soggy, especially if we’re taking them on the road.
If you only have the time for one burger while you’re in Napa Valley, make it the one from G&G, made with a mountain of grass-fed beef, gruyère, bacon, and a lethal remoulade, all served with duck fat fries. For an even richer meal, you could add bone marrow on top and order the mushroom soup, a carryover from the previous, famed, tenant Martini House. When it’s warm out, the patio gets busy, but if you’re looking for a night out (or at least the St. Helena version of that), head down to the iconic basement bar and hang out with the locals. The drinks list is long and full of fancy options with floating flowers, like the Mellivora Capensis with honey, chili, black cardamom, and apple-coconut foam.
You’re almost guaranteed to get treated like an old friend at Cook, where the owners roam the small dining room that’s usually filled to the brim with both locals and tourists. Book ahead for a spot (or grab a first-come, first-serve seat at the counter) and order as much of their fantastic, housemade pasta as you can handle. Every dish is a standout, but the ones that keep us coming back are the spaghetti alle vongole, eggplant parmesan, and the cavatelli all'arrabbiata with sausage. They’re only open Monday through Friday, so plan accordingly.
Once the tasting rooms close, locals head to this St. Helena mainstay for a casual, elegant meal of simple but very good American food, like the organic fried chicken, chopped salad, and the “very adult mac and cheese.” The bar area is a great place to post up for a couple drinks, oysters, and a butterscotch pudding served in a waffle cone cup that’s nothing like a supermarket snack pack.
Gillwoods is a classic small-town diner, complete with ‘50s music, paintings by local artists, and exactly the kind of menu you’d expect. You won’t find “reimagined classics” or anything fancy, just piles of pancakes, homemade corn beef hash, scrambles, cinnamon buns, and a bacon Bloody Mary and burger that might just hit the spot the morning after some wine tastings.
GOOD FOR GROUPS
If you’re looking for a casual spot to unwind after a tough day on the tasting trail, you can’t miss at Tra Vigne, which has a menu of great pastas, piadines, and sourdough pizzas with just the right amount of crisp and chew. And although this place is always packed, it’s one of the few places in town you can get into without a reservation. For pizzas, we like the Vespa (with chicken apple sausage and spinach), the Ducati (with piles of spicy meat), or the smoky mushroom bolognese if you’re in more of a pasta mood. The daily Happy Hour has $1.50 oysters, arancini, and wings, and $7 wines by the glass, which is hard to come by here. There’s a big patio where large groups and families hang out, run around the fountain, and play bocce in between bites. If you just can’t drag yourself out the door to another restaurant, takeout here is great too.
As you probably can guess from the name, Farmstead is a farm-to-table spot where you might stumble into a kale patch on your way to the bathroom. They’ve got a busy patio with occasional live music, and a buzzy indoor space that’s great for groups to hang out and share cheddar biscuits, ribs with green apple slaw, and pork chops with grits. They also do a great brunch on Sundays with Bloody Marys floating more of that fresh produce, which you can also find at their stand at the St. Helena Farmers market, which runs every Friday, May-October.
If you’ve spent any time in St. Helena, you’ve noticed the line outside Gott’s, and yes, we’re going to tell you to stand in it (or at the very least order ahead online). It’s gourmet fast food at its finest with a picnic table-style patio, where kids and the occasional wine-fueled grownup run wild. There is no wrong order here, but we come for the burgers (try the California and Western), the fish tacos (poke and mahi), and specialties like the Mexican street corn and chicken schnitzel sandwich. If you go for the sweet potato fries (which you should), make sure to snag an extra side of the housemade ranch, and don’t leave without one of the thick milk shakes. If you miss this location, there’s another at the Oxbow in downtown Napa.
Brasswood checks many boxes with a bakery, bar, restaurant, and tasting room spread across the sprawling grounds, and if you want to dine outdoors in St. Helena, this is one of the best places to do it. The bakery works for a quick breakfast or lunch, with a great egg and potato burrito, woodfired pizzas, and a must-have giant chocolate chip cookie. The bar and restaurant are always buzzing and draw locals with many standout options and free corkage on the first bottle. Start dinner with the off-menu hand-pulled mozzarella, before moving on to the warm brussels sprout salad, duck bolognese, and chipotle ribs (which often sell out). Just make sure to save room for butterscotch panna cotta, as it’s one of the best desserts in the valley.
With the largest collection of Napa Valley wines in the world (over 10,000 bottles), a trip to Press would be worth it for the wine wall alone, but with views of the Mayacamas Mountains, and a dramatic dining room, Press is the spot in town for an impressive (and expensive) celebratory meal. Hit the bar for oysters and excellent drinks, like the Ramble & Bramble with bourbon, blackberry shrub, lime, and ginger ale, or get a spot on the secluded back patio for steaks and one of those local wines.
The Charter Oak is the more casual spot from the people behind The Restaurant at Meadowood, a legendary fine dining option that closed after the 2020 Glass Fire and is yet to reopen. Luckily, The Charter Oak lives up to that pedigree and has become one of our favorite places in the valley. There’s a wonderful garden patio that’s great for a meal or to lounge on bonfire seating while you wait. The inside bar is a fun place for craft cocktails and people-watching, but the focus in the main dining room is the food that’s cooked on an open-flame hearth. Pretty much everything that comes out of the kitchen is delicious, but your order should include the homemade bread, crudité, wings, little gem miso caesar, grilled chicken, and the truly excellent cheeseburger.
It’s tough to top the balcony at Auberge, which is tucked into the mountain and grants some of the best views in Napa Valley. It’s the perfect setting for almost anything, from afternoon drinks to a long lunch, as long as the sun’s still out. The food is solid (always order the fries), but really, the views and the cocktails are the main attraction. Sure, you’ll wind up spending a few hundred dollars here, but you’re paying for the location of your chair, and it’s well worth it.
BREAKFAST & COFFEE
Legend has it that Oprah is so obsessed with The Model Bakery english muffins that she has them flown in, but don’t just take her word for it—even people who live here are willing to brave the out-the-door line. If you’re checking this spot out, you might as well make your time in line count: the breakfast sandwich, served on one of those english muffins, and the giant cinnamon bun are must-haves. No visit should end without the strawberry lemonade and a slab of whatever pie they’re serving up that day, and don’t forget to grab a loaf of fresh bread (or more of those muffins).
Situated in a refurbished gas station (complete with still working gas pumps), The Station is a perfect grab-and-go option for breakfast and lunch, serving everything from organic coffee and baked goods, to bowls, salads, and sandwiches. We love the cherry almond scone that doesn’t skimp on fresh fruit, and the smoked salmon toast with herbed feta, pickled red onion, and a great everything bagel-style spice. If you’ve got time for a proper pit stop, the back patio awaits.
You’ll find this bright green food truck parked next to the Clif Family Winery (yes, the Clif Bar Clif family), making this a great middle-of-the-day stop on your tasting tour. There’s an array of salads and fresh bruschetta, which are all great, especially the porchetta with broccoli and garlic aioli (perfect with a glass of Rte Blanc), and the firecracker kale salad topped with Clif’s own tamari-glazed nuts. Service at the truck can be slow, so definitely order ahead and enjoy the tasting room and outdoor scene while you wait. On Wednesdays they bring in guest chefs to spotlight a rotating roster of cuisines and stay open until 6pm.
Loved by locals who order takeout in droves and cram in on the tight patio, Villa Corona is a great spot for chips and overstuffed burritos and it’s one of the only places in town you can eat for under $20. We like the chile relleno and sopito, or the huevos con chorizo and papa breakfast burrito to get the day started. The portions are serious, so whatever you order, plan for leftovers.
Looking at the menu, you might think that St. Helena Bistro doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, but you’d be wrong. This is less of a scene than other spots in the area, and a perfect place to bring people who can’t agree on what to eat. The menu spans Italian, Mexican, and American options, from fried pickles, to mole chicken enchiladas, and penne bolognese, but the mix works.
When you’re looking for something different from all the American and European food that dominate the valley, try the Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen. This casual spot also does a serious takeout business, for those nights where you can’t pry yourself off the couch. Start with the vegetable momo, with just the right amount of spinach and spice, followed by the lukshya saag in a rich curry sauce, and the machha ra bhanta with fresh salmon. One perk of dining in: you’ll probably make friends with the owner and hear all about his annual trips to Mt. Everest.
Crisp feels a little like a health spa cafe, with a bunch of grab-and-go salads and grain bowls. Pick a few of those up to take wine tasting, or order at the counter and hang out in the brightly lit space, which is right next door to Sunshine, a great local market. You’ll find a variety of smoothies, elixirs, and power bowls, with many vegan and gluten-free options available. We like the line-caught poke bowl, the fingerling potato salad, and usually end up with some doughnuts and a cold brew smoothie to end the meal.
Erosion is all about options, including some you didn’t know you needed. On one side you have a colorful tasting room that doesn’t take itself too seriously with many wines on tap, like Cougar Mom Chardonnay and Afraid of Clowns red. You’ll also find great ice cream like the Shirley Cheesecake with maraschino cherries and graham cracker crust, and some flavors that have wine in the mix. Next door you’ll find a taproom with 35 beers and seltzers on draft, including the Cake Batter at a Brick Wall stout. At the taphouse, try the waffle pretzel sandwich and the queso frijole, and you’ll be ready for wine tasting, take two.