Fueled by genteel indulgences, the Napa Valley has long boasted more fine-dining restaurants than seems even remotely sane for a county of less than 150,000 residents. A few of those restaurants, like Thomas Keller’s The French Laundry, have become international destinations in and of themselves. But neither tourist nor local can live off of Thomas Keller’s food and the local cabernet alone. Just as the world’s wine desires have become more diverse, so have the valley’s dining options, most vibrantly in the once-sleepy, now-buzzy city of Napa. From truck tacos with handmade tortillas to whole wine list pages devoted to riesling, the geek-out options continue to climb.
Napa has no shortage of great taco trucks, but if there’s time for only one stop, make it Taco Addiction. Typically stationed outside the movie theater in South Napa, with guest appearances at hot spots like Cadet, owner Enya Barraza draws crowds with her jubilant spirit and handmade tortillas. Each. Tortilla. Made. To. Order. Highlights include the Negro Modelo-battered fish taco and the home-style barbacoa.
Miminashi is wine-nerd heaven: Of the 100 or so bottles Jessica Pinzon DiFede lists, nearly 30 are riesling or Champagne. She finds that they pair particularly well with the food offered by her husband and partner, Curtis DiFede: precise and inventive izakaya dishes honed through ongoing studies in Japan. Pro tip: The shaved cabbage salad with umeboshi dressing, seasonal fried rice and yakitori are musts—as is the soft-serve ice cream available to go from the walk-up window.
Colleen Fleming and Aubrey Bailey’s downtown Napa wine bar has become a winemaker hangout, thanks to a by-the-glass list that mixes old-school California wines (Ridge Cabernet), wine-geek specialties (Olga Raffault Chinon) and easygoing quaffables (Txakoli rosé). For food, there’s prosciutto and other charcuterie sliced to order, along with a rotating selection of French and California cheeses
For a grab-and-go picnic-in-a-vineyard perfection, stop by the Italian-influenced retail store and take-away shop Foodshed in North Napa. Napa native Giovanni Guerrera opened it in July 2013 after a stint in Italy working for Alice Water’s Rome Sustainable Food Project. Looking to combine great food, community and social responsibility, he partnered with On the Move, a local non-profit, to create an internship program for low-income and immigrant youth. Today, the place turns out some of the valley’s best pizzas, contorni and sandwiches, and funnels the profits back into the internship program. What’s more, beverage director Maddie DeWitt’s all Cal-Ital and Italian wine program has the shelves filled with rare gems like Arbe Garbe’s Friulian-influenced white and Motta’s ciliegiolo from Tuscany.