In one of wine country's capitals, delectable eats and sips blend with lively restaurants and shopping.
All along its revamped riverfront and throughout its downtown core, Napa deftly mixes old and new. Traditional pizzerias and neighborhood watering holes commingle with chic shops, Michelin-star dining spots, trendy tapas bars, wine lounges, and boutique hotels. While the facades change, the town’s heart retains its local, folksy flavor.
St. Clair Brown Winery
Sample handcrafted wines in a greenhouse, or sit outside in a modest urban garden—the source of produce for the kitchen’s small plates. Across the street, in the building that holds St. Clair’s wine cellar, plans are in the works for a second, more formal eatery and a microbrewery. stclairbrownwinery.com.
Napa Valley Distillery
Break up the winetasting with a sampling of spirits at the counter of Napa Valley Distillery’s Tasting Room & Vintage Bar Shop at the Oxbow Public Market. Experts pour up to six liquors, including 80-proof apple brandy and vodka distilled from Napa sauvignon blanc grapes. The rest of the store brims with bottles of cocktail bitters, syrups, and other elixirs, their flavors ranging from celery to citrus. napadistillery.com.
Cadet Wine & Beer Bar
Buy a bottle, pick a record. The Cadet DJ or bartender spins visitors' selections as they gather at the long communal bar to pair salumi and cheese with one of the 150 wines by the bottle, four on tap, or numerous ciders and beer. cadetbeerandwinebar.com.
Building on the popularity of their hot spot ZuZu, the owners debuted this bar offering pinxtos, or Basque tapas. Inspired by the cuisine of northern Spain, especially the town of San Sebastián, delicacies such as grilled fish bocadillos and crispy pig ears complement an expansive wine list and wine-based cocktails, as well as sherries, ports, and vermouth. latabernanapa.com.
The second-floor dining room is the centerpiece of this three-story restaurant, which opened in October. There, chef Matthew Lightner, who earned two Michelin stars at New York City’s Atera, showcases inventive, family-style dishes such as skewers of cedar- and pine-scented trout over eggplant and wild mushrooms. The top floor features a rooftop lounge with views of the Napa River.
In its 6,000-square-foot warehouse two miles north of downtown, Tews Treasures gathers a wondrous, ever-changing trove of unique used furnishings—a midcentury modern sofa with cobalt blue cushions, an oval mirror in a frame adorned with expertly painted flowers, an unfinished flowerpot shaped like a hippo. It also sells locally made jewelry, upcycled decor, and artwork. You may not know what you’re looking for, but there’s a good chance you’ll find it here anyway.
Photography by Marlene Goldman (bitters, wine server); Kelsey McClellan (pickle plate); courtesy of La Taberna (small plates); Cadet Wine & Beer Bar (records)
This article was first published in November 2015. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.