Napa Valley: Off the menu at Gott's Roadside

Road Journals Blog—Opening high-profile satellites in San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace and Napa’s Oxbow Public Market may have put Gott’s Roadside on the official tourist radar, but for in-the-know regulars who still call it Taylor’s Automatic Refresher, the St. Helena original drive-in grill offers a few unadvertised “secret” items.

Gott's Roadside's Ferry Building location | Steven Damron/Flickr

Off-the-menu extras available to those who ask (or who follow the place on Twitter or Facebook) include spicy chicken tacos with avocado and jalapenos, fish royale—beer-battered ahi tuna on a bun with cheddar and lettuce—and specials from their organic garden such as gazpacho and a fried green tomato BLT with spicy chili aioli.

Since I don’t get up to Gott’s every day, it's tough for me to make a pilgrimage to burger heaven and not order one of their beef patties. After overhearing a few others ordering off-menu items, however, I asked if they could make my cheeseburger with a side of fried green tomatoes, and they happily obliged.

My burger arrived hot and dripping on a house-made toasted egg bun with a slathering of secret sauce, accompanied by thick wedges of heirloom tomatoes coated in cornmeal and buttermilk and fried to a heavenly crunch. My new favorite summer special.

You can get other variations on the burger theme, including (channeling the spirit of In-N-Out) a burger “protein style”—sans bun in a lettuce wrap.

For the full “tray gourmet” experience, order a bottle of Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc to accompany your ahi tuna burger, or bring your own vintage—corkage is only $1!

Q: Do you have any off-the menu secrets to share about your favorite restaurant?

Bonnie Wach wrote about Calistoga as part of a Napa Valley package for

This blog post was first published in February 2011. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.