EAT DRINK SLEEP: Travel Guide to Napa Valley in DecemberI don’t know about you, but when I travel to new places half of the fun is all about the FOOD. I’m clearly a planner all the way {ok, usually months in advance}, whether it’s a ladies trip or a romantic getaway, I’m constantly ‘doing research’ on the best places to eat, drink, and be seen. Of course going to Napa was no different, if anything it took my organizational planning skills to a whole new level {p.s. sorry to anyone who has witnessed this while traveling with me}. I’ve put together a mini series, if you will, travel guide documenting bits and pieces from my recent 3-day trip to Napa Valley – EAT. DRINK. SLEEP. – the necessities of course. First up, EAT. Bon appétit!

Etoile at Domaine Chandon reviewEtoile at Domain Chandon Domaine Chandon // 1 California Dr. // Yountville, CA

Fine dining at EtoileDining at étoile is an experience all its own. From the attentive wait staff, panels of glass aiding the view, and impeccably tailored plates of the freshest ingredients, this Michelin star restaurant is quite literally a culinary masterpiece. Known for their signature ‘bubbles & oysters’, naturally I started out with a sampling of fresh Canadian oysters paired with étoile Brut sparkling wine. Following that I sampled the seasonal chestnut soup, braised pork belly, veal topped with pomegranate seeds, and a fun decomposed take on pumpkin pie {my sweet tooth fave}. The overall experience was incredible and it’s safe to say étoile delivered one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten…hands down. I’m looking forward to a return visit.

PERFECT FOR: Special Occasion, Fine Dining, Intimate/Small Groups, Romantic Date Night
PRICE: $$$$
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Mustards Grill

Mustards Grill Review7399 Saint Helena Highway // Napa, CA

Down Home CookinLet’s be real…I’m a foodie at heart. Even though I’ll admit, I’m a bit of a picky eater, I will always try something new at least once. Napa is a mecca for culinary innovation, but even here I can’t resist some good ‘ol down home cookin’. Call it lame, but Food Network, Bravo {Top Chef}, and other foodie channels fuel my love of fun foods and inspire me to test my palette, so when I saw Bobby Flay throw a mention to Mustards Grill in a ‘the best thing I ever ate’ episode I was sold before even walking in the door. Personal Fave: 3 cheese mac & cheese – to die for.

PERFECT FOR: Casual dining, large groups
PRICE: $$
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Oakville Grocery Napa Valley

Oakville Grocery Napa Valley7856 Saint Helena Highway // Oakville, CA

Oakville Grocery Quick BiteIf you’re in Napa Valley and looking for a quick, yet delicious, bite to eat – Oakville Grocery is just the place. Here  you’ll find deli style counters full of fresh, made to order local cuisine including: sandwiches, meat cuts, and all the side fixings you can think of. The weather wasn’t so pleasant during my visit, but they do have a quaint outdoor dining area in the back of the store overlooking rows of vines. Oakville Grocery is also THE place to pick up some little local foodie gifts for your loved ones {or to take home yourself}. All ingredients and foods for sale come from local Napa and Sonoma Valley farmers, artisans, and purveyors.

PERFECT FOR: Lunch, Quick Bite, Coffee/Bakery, Local Gifts
PRICE: $
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Shady Oaks bed and breakfast

Shady Oaks County Inn review399 Zinfandel Lane // Saint Helena, CA

Shady Oaks B&B homemade croissants

Shady Oaks Country Inn is a quaint Bed & Breakfast I had the pleasure of staying at during my trip. Although their breakfast is certainly not open to the public, I just had to include this gem in my EAT guide. Here’s why – Homemade Croissants. Need I say more? Each morning, guests are invited to dine family style with the rest of the house and enjoy a full spread of breakfast delights, paired with mimosas of course…clearly I’m in the right place. Cleanse your palette to begin with fresh red grapefruit, followed by daily baked, literally melt-in-your-mouth croissants paired with homemade jams, butter, and eggs benedict. I could not have asked for a better meal to jump start my day.

PERFECT FOR: Romantic Getaway, Girl’s Trip
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The Culinary Institute of America Napa Valley

Culinary Institute of America header2555 Main Street // Saint Helena, CA

Ah, the CIA. I’m not going to lie, the Culinary Institute of America was a high priority for me on this trip, but in order to try and discover as many restaurants as possible I opted to dine briefly at the CIA’s The Wine Spectator for a small appetizer at the bar. I’d highly recommend this in-and-out approach if you’re looking for simply the experience. The bar is completely open to the kitchen which allows you to view busy student chefs work their innovative dishes to perfection while sipping on a glass of wine and trying a small plate or two.

CIA seasonal eats in Napa Valley

For those of you who may not be as familiar, there of only two CIA locations in the United States: Napa Valley and New York City. Some of the worlds top chefs have studied at these locations and it continues to be of of the most highly esteemed culinary institutes in the world. The fact that they have 2 public dining options {The Winer Spectator & The Bakery Cafe by illy} on site allows visitors the option to choose their own dining experience from casual to a bit more elegant.

PERFECT FOR: Large & Small Groups, Dinner, Fun Experience
PRICE: $$$
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Honorable Mentions

– I received limited amount of complimentary meals, stays, and tours during this visit: all opinions are 100% my own –

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Comments

Loved this post so much I featured it on my favorites this week. Can’t wait to see the rest of the series!

I love this! I’m a major trip planner, too, so I totally understand your need for a travel agenda. 😉 My husband and I are hoping to visit Napa for our 4 year anniversary in June, so this is perfect for jumpstarting my planning! Thanks! 🙂

I love that you included options at every price point and different meals! These are definitely places I’ll look into for my next trip… thank you so much for all the details!

Oh my gosh, this is so detailed and helpful. Next time I go on a trip I’m going to check here first to see if you’ve been:) Great post!!
xoAmy
http://www.dreamingincashmere.com

I’d like to go to all those restaurants! They sound delicious!!

This all looks so good. I think you may have convinced me to book my trip immediately!