Here’s your guide to the best restaurants in downtown Napa for fine dining, cheap eats, and everything in between.
Napa, the small city at the heart of California’s Napa Valley wine country, is fast becoming the hottest foodie destination in America.
Tourists flock to the Northern California county just across the Bay from San Francisco for the fabulous wine tastings at world-class wineries. And Napa’s top-notch restaurants are just as exciting.
I love crossing the Golden Gate Bridge to this region of California–the fresh air and tranquil countryside are a welcome break from city life.
Yet, even in the tiniest Napa Valley cities, you’ll find first-class restaurants–often right next door to a hardware store or backing onto the rolling hills of a vineyard.
Downtown Napa is the best base for a food and wine tasting break in California’s wine country.
It’s small and quiet enough to feel like you’re getting away from it all, and everything is still within walking distance.
There are several Michelin-starred restaurants, a modern food hall at Oxbow Public Market, and a bakery beloved by none other than Oprah herself.
Plus, there are a ton of places where you can go wine tasting without schlepping out to multiple vineyards.
The venerable catering college, Culinary Institute of America, chose Napa for its California campus due to all the buzz the city’s restaurant scene has generated in recent years.
So, whether you’re looking for some cheap eats to fuel your adventures or a once-in-a-lifetime dining experience, head to these spots in downtown Napa for the very best of Californian cuisine.
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Map of Restaurants in Downtown Napa
Hog Island Oyster Bar
Best restaurant for fresh oysters
Address: Oxbow Public Market, 610 1st Street, Napa, CA 94559
Contact info: (707) 251-8113; [email protected]
Best for: Lunch and dinner
Don’t miss: A selection of oysters from local farms
They don’t take reservations
Hog Island Oyster Bar in Oxbow Public Market is locally famous for its oysters harvested from nearby Tomales Bay’s clean, cold waters.
Oxbow Public Market is a massive indoor marketplace with eateries, a charcuterie and butcher shop, and more than one high-end liquor store.
Sit on Hog Island’s sunny patio after a day of wine tasting or inside at the long bar while chefs shuck your oysters right in front of you.
The menu at Hog Island Oyster is short, but you’re here for the oysters, so that’s OK.
Take-out is also available. You can enjoy your fancy picnic of a dozen oysters, a salad or some clam chowder, and wash it down with a bottle of sparkling wine on the Napa River a few steps away.
This restaurant is also a wonderful place to hang out while you wait for your Napa Valley Wine Train, which is just a block away and a must-do food and drinks tour through the beautiful Napa Valley.
Bounty Hunter Wine Bar and Smokin’ BBQ
Best restaurant for delicious BBQ
Swing by Bounty Hunter Wine Bar in downtown Napa for comfort food, an extensive wine menu, and a lively atmosphere.
Whether it’s the 18-page wine list or the mouth-watering smell of grilled meat that draws you in, you’ll be glad you came.
Bounty Hunter is a walk-in-only restaurant, so head here if you don’t have any reservations for the evening.
The BBQ platter has a little bit of everything and is an excellent dish to order if you’re unsure where to begin.
However, the beer can chicken, which arrives at the table perfectly balanced on a Tecate can, is also a fantastic choice. Fried chicken, crisped to perfection, is another local favorite.
Napa Valley Bistro
Best restaurant for great food in a family-friendly setting
Napa Valley Bistro serves up global comfort food in a relaxed space.
Expect international classics, from Chinese chicken salad to Mexican Empanadas, and American favorites like St Louis ribs or the lamb burger.
Dine outdoors on the buzzy streetside seating area or inside the smart dining room.
Since it’s Napa Valley, you can also expect a great selection of wine to accompany your meal.
The restaurant has won several awards for its food, ambiance, and wine selection over the years, including the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence.
This Bistro is one of the best restaurants in downtown Napa for a casual meal with great food, plenty of choice on the menu, and a well-stocked wine bar. It’s ideal if your party can’t agree on a particular cuisine.
Bistro Don Giovanni
Best restaurant for Italian food
This laid-back Italian bistro focuses on great food and wine with friendly service.
If you’re looking for outdoor dining in Napa, get a table on the expansive patio with a fountain, surrounded by trees and a vineyard.
On cooler days, stay indoors by the cozy fire in the flower-filled dining room.
Slow-braised lamb shanks, wood-fired pizzas, and calamari are popular items on the menu, although you’ll also find seasonal specials making it onto the board.
Sweetie Pies Bakery
Best restaurant for a sweet mid-morning treat
Sweetie Pies Bakery serves up sweet pastries, sandwiches, and fresh coffee inside the historic Napa Mill in the heart of downtown Napa.
The savory options are limited (although delicious). However, one glance at the stacks of display cases filled with cookies, cakes, pies, and bars, and you know it’s a day to indulge your sweet tooth.
Balance out the sugar with a coffee and take a seat inside or grab and go for a stroll through downtown Napa.
Best restaurant for a special occasion
French Laundry isn’t technically in downtown Napa, but it made the list because it’s arguably the best fine dining restaurant on the West Coast. Plus, it’s just a 15-minute drive away from downtown Napa in Yountville.
This three-Michelin star venue is a bucket list destination for many. Northern Californians searching for romantic restaurants in Napa Valley head here for special celebrations.
The tasting menu changes regularly, so you won’t necessarily know what you’ll be eating when you make a reservation–And you’ll undoubtedly need a reservation at this popular restaurant, sometimes months in advance.
Dishes combine the best of Napa’s local ingredients with classic French methods.
Angele Restaurant and Bar
Best restaurant for a romantic meal
The menu at Angele Restaurant features fresh seafood and classic French countryside dishes, including favorites like French onion soup and steak frites.
A creative cocktail menu and extensive wine list complement the world-class cuisine.
The restaurant is located in a former boathouse from the 1890s on the Napa River and runs through downtown Napa.
It’s an idyllic setting if you’re looking for outdoor dining on the riverfront terrace or Napa restaurants with a view.
Although it’s tempting to fill up on the perfectly crusty Acme bread, charcuterie, Nicoise salad, and escargot, save room for dessert. There’s usually something creamy and sweet available at Angele Restaurant.
Best restaurant for classic American diner fare
When looking for cheap eats, head to Gott’s Roadside for elevated American diner classic menu items like burgers, hot dogs, and fish tacos in a casual but chic venue. It’s one of the best casual restaurants in downtown Napa.
You can order beer and wine by the glass or the bottle to wash down those crispy tacos or stick to the organic shakes for a sweet treat. It’s the perfect place to stop at when you’re craving high-quality fast food.
Gott’s Roadside is a local chain with a handful of locations in Northern California.
The Oxbow Public Market location is conveniently placed in downtown Napa, next to the Napa Valley Wine Train and the Napa riverfront.
Their delicious soft serve ice cream is the perfect cooling treat for a hot day, so stop by for a cone if you’re not in the mood for a complete meal.
Best restaurant for refined comfort food
Inspired by his world travels, Grace’s Table is Chef Mauro Pando’s take on international comfort foods.
You’ll find empanadas from Argentina, braised lamb from Burgundy, and gnocchi from Italy on the menu.
The laid-back atmosphere makes this local favorite one of the best lunch restaurants in downtown Napa.
Although the recipes draw from across the globe, the ingredients are local. Don’t miss the lavender butter cornbread to start, an unusual but very delicious pairing.
There’s also an excellent cocktail menu, with fresh twists on classic mojitos, cosmopolitans, and margaritas available behind the bar.
Best restaurant for fine dining with a lively ambiance
Torc is fine dining without the pretension, serving beautifully-plated dishes in a lively wine bar setting.
It’s perfect for happy hour or dinner with friends if you’re looking for a high standard of food in a fun atmosphere.
Located in downtown Napa, you can hang out at the bar before or after dinner while trying a cocktail or two or perusing the rare and extensive wine list.
Torc continues to win Wine Spectator awards year after year for its colossal cellar and top-notch service. For the moment, it’s only indoor dining, but outdoor seating will likely make a comeback soon.
Torc also has several smaller rooms for groups, so this is one of the best places to go for private dining in Napa Valley.
Best restaurant for Spanish tapas
Balmy summer nights are perfect for Spanish tapas, those small plates of tasty snacks designed to go down nicely with a refreshing beer or two.
Zuzu’s warm, Mediterranean-inspired dining room welcomes walk-ins, so this is one of the best restaurants in downtown Napa to try if you have no reservations on a weekend night.
Paella is a favorite dish for sharing, available with either the meat of the day or lobster.
Tapas plates are also popular for small bites at happy hour–don’t miss the Spanish ham or the house-cured charcuterie plate.
Best restaurant for a romantic riverfront meal
Celadon is one of my favorite downtown Napa restaurants on the river.
The restaurant is located in the historic Napa Mill, the entertainment hub in downtown Napa, with a charming courtyard, great food, and an award-winning wine list. It’s perfect for a romantic dinner or a night out with friends.
Describing itself as serving “global comfort food,” Celadon’s menu is a world tour of flavors, from crispy pork belly to Moroccan-braised lamb shank and pan-roasted Alaskan halibut.
Reservations are encouraged at this popular restaurant.
Cole’s Chop House
Best restaurant for a classic steakhouse experience
Cole’s Chop House is a favorite local institution in downtown Napa for its old-school elegance and delicious steaks.
Cole’s sources its meats from some of the best producers in the world, importing lamb from New Zealand, pork from family farms in Iowa, and USDA prime beef for its steaks.
Those steaks are the big draw, but some beautiful seafood dishes are also on the menu, including lobster tail, shrimp bisque, and salmon filet.
A carefully curated wine list will pair nicely with your meal. Or,check out the impressive spirits selection behind the bar, which includes most of the whiskey or bourbon you’ve heard of and many more you haven’t.
Charlie Palmer Steak
Best restaurant for surf ‘n’ turf in elegant surroundings
Address: Archer Hotel Napa, 1260 First St., Napa, CA 94559
Contact info: (707) 819-2500; [email protected]
Best for: Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Don’t miss: Filet mignon
Reserve a table here
Following ventures in New York and Washington DC, celebrity chef Charlie Palmer opened his newest restaurant in Napa’s downtown in 2017.
This was after the Culinary Institute of America selected Napa as its West Coast campus, cementing its reputation as America’s foodie destination.
Enjoy American cuisine in this modern and elegant dining room at downtown Napa’s new Archer Hotel.
The delicate filet mignon is an excellent choice, although hungry guests may want to split the 32oz rib steak with an equally hungry friend.
Red meat is the draw at this modern steakhouse, but the wedge salad is a delicious contrast to the entrees. A selection of fresh seafood rounds out the experience.
Best restaurant for superb baked goods
Address: Oxbow Market, 644 1st St., Bldg. B, Napa, CA, 94559
Contact info: (707) 259-1128; [email protected]
Best for: Breakfast and lunch
Don’t miss: Oprah’s favorite English muffins
They don’t take reservations
Model Bakery proudly proclaims itself as the “best bakery in Northern California.”
Where does it get its confidence? Perhaps it’s from Oprah, who included Model Bakery on her famous “favorite things” list in 2021.
Oprah described the bakery’s English muffins as “perfection,” and I’m not about to argue with her.
Although those muffins are great–especially with fluffy eggs and tasty bacon–the other bread, pastries, and sandwiches on the menu deserve praise.
A slice of the brick-oven pizza is also hard to resist if you’re here for lunch. Expect a line as word has spread.
Best restaurant for Michelin-starred food in downtown Napa
Ideally located on the Napa River, La Toque serves classic countryside French cuisine from an a la carte menu or the chef’s six-course tasting menu.
Each dish has a carefully-paired, corresponding wine, so both complement the other.
If you’re looking for Michelin-starred restaurants in Napa, La Toque is a superb option. It has one Michelin star that has been awarded every year it has been open.
The attention to wine pairings makes this a quintessential wine country experience and one of the best restaurants in Napa if you’re also looking to indulge in the region’s wine.
It’s best to get reservations here, although La Toque will accommodate walk-ins when they can.
Best restaurant for Japanese cuisine
Kenzo’s calm, minimalist decor is a welcome retreat from busy downtown Napa.
Sit at the long counter and watch the skilled chefs prepare traditional Japanese dishes like scallop sashimi, wagyu, and authentic sushi. Kenzo offers a traditional Kaiseki prix fixe menu.
This elegant, one Michelin star restaurant is one of the best Japanese restaurants in downtown Napa, if not Napa Valley.
The sake flight is a great accompaniment to any meal, but the wine selection is also excellent and comes from the Kenzo Estate in Napa Valley.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sarah McDonald is a travel writer based in the Bay Area. She writes for the national parenting website Red Tricycle and on her own family travel blog, Tiny Trailblazers. She loves exploring California’s outdoors and has a weakness for a national park gift shop.
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