Napa is a fantastic destination for foodies. From restaurants, farmers markets, and food festivals to culinary schools and food-and-wine pairings, Napa offers a wealth of opportunities to enjoy, explore, and celebrate food. No matter what else you have planned on your Napa vacation, you'll want to save room for a little bit of food-related fun.
The Napa Valley is known for hosting an excellent collection of restaurants, both in quality and variety. Whether you want French food in Napa, steakhouses, or sushi restaurants, Napa Valley has them all. Yountville in particular is known as a gourmet destination, with excellent restaurants such as The French Laundry and Bouchon, and there are also plenty of excellent choices in Napa, St. Helena, and Calistoga.
If you're trying to decide when to go to Napa, the weather isn't the only consideration, as there are numerous fine Napa food festivals throughout the year. The Napa Valley Mustard Festival, held from late winter through early spring, includes numerous events related to food, wine, entertainment, art, and cultural activities. Another of the popular Napa food festivals is the gourmet A Taste of Yountville festival in mid-March, during which more than 35 local wineries, restaurants, and olive oil and mustard producers offer tastings. In mid-May, the Calistoga Wineries Spring Celebration features barrel tastings, hot food, and live music.
Napa Valley food and wine pairings are found at many Napa Valley restaurants and wineries. Whether it's a recommendation on the menu at a fine French restaurant or a special tasting at a winery that pairs wines and cheeses, you can get expert advice on what foods and wines go well together. Of course, you can always do some experimenting on your own with food in Napa by packing a picnic lunch and a few bottles of local wine.
The Culinary Institute in St Helena is another great place for food in Napa Valley, and the historic hillside property offers a beautiful backdrop to culinary education. This branch of the Culinary Institute of America is a great place to learn about food. Students learn about diverse cultural cooking and baking traditions, sustainability, and nutrition, and visitors can learn new techniques at a cooking demo. The Culinary Institute in St Helena is also home to the excellent Greystone Wine Spectator restaurant, which highlights California cuisine.
The downtown Napa farmers market is a great place to sample great food in Napa. The market is held on Tuesdays and Saturdays, and you'll want to arrive early to enjoy the biggest selection—the first buyers show up at 7:30 am, and the market wraps up at lunchtime. Among the varied products at the market, you'll find fruits, vegetables, olive oil, baked goods, chocolates, jams and preserves, tea, and flowers. The local vendors can suggest the best ways to prepare their products, and this market is a great way to enjoy the variety and quality of local Napa food.
From the Culinary Institute in St Helena to the French Laundry in Yountville, and from the farmers markets to Napa food festivals, the Napa Valley hosts an amazing variety of opportunities for enjoying food. The trouble for visitors is picking which of the many to visit during their vacation, but whatever they choose, it’s sure to be an unforgettable meal.