Alternative titles…. “That Time We Drove 9 hours For Dinner”, “Other Things To Do In The Napa Valley Other Than Eat At The French Laundry”, “Last Minute Napa”
This was such a very last minute trip, I didn’t stress too much over getting the most out of Napa. We did not do our regular “how much can we fit in one day” itinerary like we do on many trips. We drove up on Thursday, and drove home on Saturday. Thursday night was our dinner at The French Laundry. We did not have much spare time between arriving and our 9:00 reservation. Friday was really the only day to worry about, and we just decided to see how the day went without too much of a plan.
We stayed our first night in Yountville, so that we could be within walking distance of the primary objective of the whole trip, TFL 🙂 I’m really glad we did, it was a beautiful walk up and back to the restaurant, and the town is very cute. We did have a bit of a issue with lodging. We were going to stay at the Napa Valley Railroad Inn, since it was the cheapest option, however upon checking-in (I mean letting ourselves into our room) we just couldn’t stay there. The room was dirty and gross (hair in the bathroom, holes in the wall, and a wrapper on the floor). The key to our room was hard to work as well and we did not want to come back at midnight to find we could not get in and no one there to help. However, to their credit they did refund our room. With a phone call to the help number we got confirmation they would refund our night and we checked into Villagio Inn & Spa, that is right beside the Railroad Inn. The cost difference was under $100 so it was 110% worth the hassle. I would not have been comfortable in the first hotel. The Villagio room was very clean, huge, but just a little dated looking. Plenty of space to relax in the room, including a little private courtyard (or balcony).
Yountville certainly is a sleepy kind of town, with very little in way of “nightlife” outside of dining. It seemed like most tasting rooms in the area were only open until 5. I think you would be hard pressed to figure out entertainment in the evening hours after dinner. I was glad we had already decided to stay the second night in Napa.
The next morning, we made a stop at our hotel’s buffet brunch, which looked quite nice, though we only sampled a few items as I wanted to go by Bouchon. We walked around Yountville enjoying the Fall colors and of course stopping by Bouchon…While we did sample the Bouchon bakery when we stayed at the Venetian in Vegas, I was not about to pass up a trip to the original. It was tasty and a lovely way to start the morning. It was super relaxing to sit out in the sun eating and feeding the birds pastry crumbs 🙂 Someone might have been scolding me about feeding the birds, and that someone might have knocked the below onto the ground and we got mobbed. That just MIGHT have happened.
After our snacks we walked back down to get pictures of the French Laundry farm. We checked-out of our hotel and headed to downtown Napa.
There we walked a little more around downtown before heading into the Oxbow Public Market.
The Oxbow Market is sort of like an upscale food court idea. Lots to browse, eat, and drink. Our first stop was at Hog Island Oyster Co, where we enjoyed some oysters on the half shell, baked oysters (SO SO GOOD), and a nice dry wine. We then walked around some of the shops, did a liquor tasting, bought some bitters, and settled outside with a cheese platter and wine. We used that time to find a nearby winery and booked a tasting.
We opted for the winery closest to our hotel. No research on the wine, based solely on location. The William Hill Estate Winery was beautiful, and very relaxing. The service was great and not rushed or stuffy. We should have stuck with their white wines, but we did a mix, two reds and one white. The reds were not that good in my opinion, but the white we tried was great. Still totally worth it for the view and experience. Plus as an unexpected bonus our tasting was buy one, get one, since we were staying at the Silverado Resort.
We then checked into our room, had a little nap, and opened a bottle of wine we had bought at the Oxbow Market. The room was small, but very nice and more updated in decor than the Villagio. Later we headed via Lyft to the Cadet Beer & Wine Bar. This place was so neat, and offered a nice selection of wine and beer. Great service here too…but no pictures. It was so dark and they just did not turn out. P and I both got a flight of wine, and I liked all of the wines served for the flight. It was a great stop.
We then headed to our dinner at Torc. This place got great reviews and we were super happy with our choice. All the dishes were well prepared and had great flavor. We had: Deviled Eggs, Foie Gras (Cooked), Risotto, Short Ribs, and Mac & Cheese. My least favorite was the risotto, it tasted great, and was well cooked, but they added cauliflower to it and it made for a super weird texture. I kept thinking I was getting clumps of uncooked rice. That was my only complaint with the meal. I was stuffed by the time our last course came, so much food! Given that I was stuffed, I was ready to be off to bed.
The next morning we went back to downtown Napa to have breakfast at the Napa General Store & Cafe, before heading back home. The breakfast was good, very solid meal, but not overly fancy. It was a good pick for a sit down but casual breakfast.
The Napa area is just beautiful, and I was so happy we got a little taste of Fall colors. I would certainly love to go back…but maybe not drive 🙂 It was a long, boring drive. We were also fairly traumatized by the amount of pollution you drive through in the Central Valley, and realizing most of what we eat is grown in that chemical bath. This was the worst smog I’ve ever seen, so thick and gross looking. This was also the most farms I’ve ever seen too, it was crazy just miles and miles of farm land.
For more to do in the Napa area, make sure to check out Lauren’s (Eat Drink & Be Lauren) posts on their visit!! They did a bit more planning than we did 🙂
Have you ever been to Napa? If so what is a can’t miss stop? Would you drive 9 hours for dinner?