Napa Valley has plenty of lunch options, including several upscale restaurants that promote seasonally changing menus based on locally grown and/or raised ingredients.
But what if you’re not in the mood for a surprise? Or you don’t feel like having to think? What if you just want a great meal that the people who live and work in Napa Valley eat all the time, one that is pretty much guaranteed to be on the menu no matter which month it is?
Well, here you go then! If you are a just-tell-me-where-to-go-and-what-to-order mood, these are the top ten sure-fire lunches in the Napa Valley (in geographical order from North to South):
1. Tri-Tip Sandwich at Buster’s Southern BBQ. This is one of the three best places for BBQ in Napa Valley. If you are a fan of Links you may want to consider those instead, but the Tri-Tip Sandwich is a consistent favorite at this rustic, aromatic joint. 1207 Foothill Boulevard, Calistoga (707) 942-5605
2. Cheeseburger at Gott’s Roadside. You can settle for a great basic Cheeseburger made with Niman Ranch beef, or opt for another option (Double Cheeseburger, Bacon Cheeseburger, Blue Cheese Burger, etc.). Stellar food, great fries and thick shakes (including Blueberry, Mint Chip, or Espresso Bean) or wine can complete your meal. There’s a second outlet at the Oxbow Public Market in the city of Napa with the same menu, but it’s more fun at this original location (and in case you didn’t know, Gott’s used to be known as Taylor’s Refresher). 933 Main Street, St. Helena (707) 963-3486
3. French Dip Sandwich at Rutherford Grill. Yes, this is part of the Hillstone chain including Houston’s and Bandera restaurants but the food always seems better at this Napa Valley restaurant. The line for a table can be insane come lunchtime so do what the locals do and just grab a seat at the bar. Same menu, great service. The Chicken Sandwich (now off the menu – what’s up with that?), and the Hamburger are excellent backups, but if you like French Dip sandwiches with lots of meat then just commit to that. Zingy horseradish sauce and plenty of au jus make the dish complete. 1180 Rutherford Road, Rutherford (707) 963-1792
4. Carnitas Super Burrito at La Luna Market and Taqueria. This little Mexican market has been in Napa Valley for over 40 years and the taqueria in the back is a major part of their popularity. The Carne Asada Tacos are a worthwhile alternative, but you should just go for it with a hefty burrito. 1153 Rutherford Road, Rutherford (707) 963-3211.
5. Roasted Turkey and Pesto Sandwich at The Oakville Grocery. Plenty of great sandwiches here (including an excellent Vegetarian with portabello, roasted vegetables, fresh mozzarella, arugula, and basil pesto aioli) but the Turkey and Pesto can’t be beat. Play it safe and call in your order ahead to avoid the lines. 7856 St. Helena Highway, Oakville (707) 944-8802
6. Fried Chicken at Addendum. The Fried Chicken at Ad Hoc became so popular when it showed up on its daily changing menu that it helped start this to-go expansion. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only from 11 to 2 you can get the fried chicken as part of boxed lunches to go. Come and order while in line, or you can call in advance to place your order. 6476 Washington Street, Yountville (707) 944-1565
7. Seafood Tostada at Mustards Grill – The actual seafood selection changes each day but this dish will make you want to return frequently. The Mongolian Pork Chop and Grilled Hangar steak are both excellent here, but for lunch you should aim for the Seafood Tostada. Plan ahead if this sounds good – reservations are practically mandatory and the bar counter for drop-ins is a great option but not that large. 7399 St.Helena Highway (Highway 29), Napa (707) 944-2424
8. Pastrami and Swiss on Rye at Genova Delicatessen. For an old-school italian delicatessan with numerous meat, cheese, bread, and side salad options to choose from, this is the place to come to. Pick up your number and be ready for a line, but you will ultimately be rewarded with a well-made classic deli sandwich. 1550 Trancas Street, Napa (707) 253-8686
9. Oysters and Prosecco at Pearl. On Saturdays fro 11:30 am to 2:00 pm, take advantage of the Oyster Extravaganza at this packed-with-locals favorite where all oysters are only $1 each and a glass of Prosecco is only $5. The restaurant has a great menu in case someone in your group doesn’t like oysters, but if you do, this is an opportunity you just shouldn’t pass up. 1339 Pearl Street, Napa (707) 224-9161
10. Funghi Pizza at Azzurro Pizzeria e Enoteca. There are ten other pizzas on the regular menu, but the Funghi is the best. Roasted mushrooms, Tallegio cheese, and thyme on a fabulous crust make a winning combination and if you want to add a salad to your meal then ask for their wedge salad (iceberg lettuce, Pt. Reyes Blue Cheese dressing, and Hobbs bacon). 1260 Main Street, Napa (707) 255-5552
If you are hungry in Napa Valley and don’t feel like spending a lot of time deciding on a lunch destination, just pick one of the above. You’ll be glad you did.