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Visit Napa Valley's Great Restaurants While You're in Town.

I HAVE BEEN TRAVELING TO NAPA VALLEY on business regularly for the past 20 years. Napa Valley has become a dining mecca with some of the best restaurants in the country.

On my seven trips each year, I often plan my schedule to be there for fried chicken night at Ad Hoc, which is every other Monday. This is very special if you love really amazing fried chicken, but you have to plan your calendar just right. They also make a killer brownie sundae. Ad Hoc is celebrity chef Thomas Keller's family-style set menu in downtown Yountville. Keller is also the owner of the famed French Laundry, which many consider one of the best restaurants in the country. The prices at Ad Hoc are obviously much more approachable than the pricy French Laundry, lhe corkage fee at the French laundry is a whopping $150/bottle. Ad Hoc has a fun, casual feel and the choices change daily. They are open for Sunday brunch.

Chef Michael Chiarello's Bottega has an electric feel and the Italian menu is solid. Bottega is not inexpensive and the prices on the wine list are not shy. It's a fun place to people-watch and when the weather is nice there is some wonderful outdoor seating. The Calabrian chicken under a brick is sensational. The sweet corn Agnolotti and pasta di Uova with butter and sage are delicious. Best to get reservations well in advance at this popular downtown Yountville destination.

Cindy Pawlcyn is one of Napa's frontier restauranteurs. And the food is always good at her restaurants and she has survived the test of time. Mustard's Grill has been going strong for over 30 years and the food is still always reliably good. Located at 7399 St. Helena Highway in Napa, this restaurant is still a hot ticket that captures the essence of Napa Valley. The sweet corn Tamales, Hunan grilled chicken salad, truck-stop deluxe special and seafood tostado are some of the highlights. The "Way Too many wines" list is relatively reasonable with a great selection of the region's wines.

Don Giovanni is popular among locals, still going strong and has delicious Italian food. Located at 410 Howard Lane in Napa, this is an integral part of local dining experience. Start out with a pizza or the Fritto Misto. The grilled pork chop and the spaghetti Bolognese are two of their signature dishes. The corkage fee is $20.

The Rutherford Grill used to have a wonderful complimentary corkage policy but it's now set at a relatively reasonable $15/bottle. The Grill has a very nice bar where a lot of winemakers are drinking beers at the end of the day. Highlights on the menu include their Enchiladas, Rotisserie chicken and grilled chicken salad. They are open for lunch.

Auberge du Soleil is one of the most romantic spots in the Valley. Auberge is part of the namesake hotel, dates back to 1981 and has magnificent views of vineyards in Rutherford. The food is fairly expensive and the menu is not particularly dynamic, but how about those views. Features include the Red Snapper, Lamb in red curry and Potato Gnocchi with wild mushrooms. The corkage fee is a whopping $40/bottle.

Bistro Jeanty in Yountville has authentic french cuisine that is even better than the famed nearby Bouchon Bistro. Enjoy the tomato soup in puff pastry, escargots, steak tartare, Coq au Vin and Boeuf Bourguignon. If you want to eat healthy, start out with the butter lettuce with the mustard vinaigrette dressing. Angele Restaurant in downtown Napa also has wonderful French cuisine.

I am particularly fond of the Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch. Owner Chris Hall is a class act and this Rutherford farm-to-table restaurant has been his passion. The ingredients are authentically farm-to-table and the food is delicious. The appetizers are the best part, including the deviled eggs, chili and meatballs. The cheeseburgers and St. Louis ribs get high marks.

The best pizza in town is at Redd Pizza in Yountville and Oenotri in downtown Napa. Oenotri is typically not open for lunch. The top steakhouses include Press in St. Helena and Cole's Chop House in downtown Napa. The top lunch spots include Tarla Meditarranean Grill in downtown Napa, Gott's Roadside in St. Helena (formerly "taylor's refresher"), Hog Island Oysters at the Oxbow Market in downtown Napa or comfort food at Market in St. Helena.

It's also fun to get gourmet sandwiches to go from the Oakville Grocer or Dean and DeLucas (St. Helena) and eat in the vineyard!

Jonathan Newman is widely recognized as a leader in the wine industry. As chairman of the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, he was the nations largest wine buyer and brought a number of popular innovations to bear, including the Chairman's Selection program and opening of local stores for Sunday sales. Jonathan has received significant industry accolades during his career. Follow him on Twitter at @NewmanWine and visit his website:
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Title Annotation:wine BUSINESS
Author:Newman, Jonathan H.
Date:May 1, 2019
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