My Top Five Go-To Napa Restaurants

Food The town of Napa, my newish home, has exploded with new restaurants and food destinations. And this has led to lots of coverage for this 80,000 person place. And it's all good. In fact, I'd argue that Napa is probably the best food town in the Valley at this point (sorry, Yountville).

But as a local, what is needed is a place where you can just "go" and not really have to plan or make an evening out of it or sally around the competitive diners. What you need are casual, go-to places where you know you'll get good food, it's comfortable, maybe its quick and it won't break the bank.

With that, here is my current list of Top Five Go-To Eating Spots in the Town of Napa:

SqueezeInn Hamburger
It's a joint in strip mall on the east side of Highway 29 in Northern Napa. But the burgers are delicious, primarily for the overhang of cheese that falls out a good inch and a half around the circumference of the juicy, fat disk of beef and bread. My doctor tells me I need to work on my cholesterol, so SqueezeInn isn't a regular place for me to hit. But it's always quick, delicious, and a robust meal.
3383 Solano Avenue, Napa, CA 94558-3203—(707) 257-6880 ‎

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Trancas Steak House
Old School Prime Rib House with a vibrant bar, incredible service, big banquets, excellent prices. I don't know how long this place has been in the middle of Trancas in Northern Napa and I don't know if they have the best Prime Rib in the world, as they advertise, but I know I love the place. This isn't fancy beef eating with a la carte items costing $15 bucks a piece. It's a locals joint where you know you'll get great beef and you'll get it quickly.
999 Trancas StreetNapa, CA 94558—(707) 258-9990

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La Taquiza
In the same strip mall as SqueezeInn, this little place serves up a variety of Mexican fare, but really, everyone goes there for the Fish Tacos. The tacos are plump and stuffed with deep fried fish, finished with lettuce and a really delicious white sauce topping that appears to be vinegar based. My usual allotment is three. They are th best fish tacos in a town where you can find many varieties of Fish tacos. It's quick and inexpensive.
2007 Redwood Road, Napa, CA 94558—(707) 224-2320

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I'm guessing that if you did a poll of Napans and asked what your favorite local restaurant is, this place would be in the top 2. It's French bistro that has NEVER missed a note in the many times I've been there. I go there for a quick lunch, for a lounging lunch, for a casual dinner, for a celebratory dinner. The food will be familiar to lovers of French. Best yet, they have the best collection of Pastis in Napa, if not the entire Valley. Great little patio too for the warmer days and evenings.
540 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559—(707) 252-8115

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Everything about this narrow, two story tapas joint rocks. The small plates are innovative, well-linked to their spanish heritage, delicious and addicting. Set in downtown Napa on Main Street it seems to be filled with locals mainly and a smattering of smart tourists. Even if there is a line outside, wait for a place. The wine list is filled with lots of Spanish selections and the house-made sangria is a great quencher. Zuzu is by far my current favorite in a town of great eating. No Reservations taken here.
829 Main Street, Napa, CA 94559-3046—(707) 224-8555


10 Responses

  1. Jack Irby - June 13, 2011

    I know it’s new but you have to try Kitchen Door @ Oxbow. I think it meets all your criteria. In fact, let’s meet for lunch there and catch up.

  2. Annie Nominous - June 13, 2011

    Some places you may have overlooked:
    Neela’s: Outstanding Indian food. No steam trays here…this is the real deal.
    Grace’s Table: A delicious eclectic menu and, quite possibly, the best burger in Napa. Yes, better than the Squeeze Inn.
    Bistro Sabor: The undisputed winner of consistency + value in Napa. Excellent “classier” tacos, papusas, and more. Not quite C Casa caliber, but about half as expensive and more variety on the menu.

  3. Susan Quinn - June 14, 2011

    What is that in the photo that looks so delicious!!?? And where can I get it?

  4. Tom Wark - June 14, 2011

    It’s one of the many dishes at ZUZU that will knock your socks off.

  5. lynna - June 15, 2011

    Oh yeah. Neela’s! When she was in LA, I would always take a cooler and come home with a few days worth Of leftovers. Best California Indian food ever. And like the other reader said. No steam trays here!

  6. sondra - June 15, 2011

    we miss you on this side!!!

  7. Fathers Day Special - June 15, 2011

    Well I think those restaurants are great to have the fathers day celebration, thanks for the post.

  8. Brian - June 16, 2011

    Trancas Steak House has been there a long time. Probably about 15 years. When I was growing up (late 80’s, early 90’s) that building was Pietro’s Pizza. I remember them having some pretty good pizza, but when you’re a kid anything with sauce and cheese tastes good.

  9. ericc - June 20, 2011

    Cafe Sarafornia in Calistoga has the greatest breakfast on the west coast. You can also never go wrong wit hthe tacos at La Luna Mercado in Rutherford.

  10. nuvali restaurants - September 29, 2011

    SqueezeInn Hamburger was my favorite. it tastes different from other burgers.

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