Marvelous Memorable Meals in Napa

Food is a significant part of any trip for me.


Sometimes it’s the whole reason for the trip…

This past week’s trip to California was no exception.  There was plenty of wine in wine-country, but the food was equally important.

After a looooong day of travel, all Lisa and I could think of when we hit the valley was wine food.  We’d already scoped out our dinner destination: Farmstead.  Farmstead is a farm (named Long Meadow Ranch) and a restaurant.  They have their own vineyards, gardens, and chicken.  Quite literally, it is a farm-to-table restaurant.

Our sights were set on a runny farm-fresh egg atop a steak tartar with capers, cornichons, tabasco, and toast.  It was fantastic.  The meat was also directly from the farm – the freshness of it made all the difference in the world.  It’s amazing neither of us licked the plate.

Farmstead steak tartare


We split a couple of other dishes as well.

The first was a grilled peach salad with speck (a cured meat similar to prosciutto), arugula, and house made ricotta.  It was good… but the peach to salty stuff was a bit off (the peaches were in too big of pieces).  That purple basil made the dish.  Wil be remebering that in the future!

Farmstead grilled peaches


The second was a grilled artichoke with gribiche (like an aioli) and lemon.  Simple and yet so good.  This preparation always makes me wish I had a grill!

Grilled artichokes
As fabulous as all of that was, the crowning jewel was dessert.  My first birthday cake of the trip was a Scharffenberger chocolate cream pie with graham cracker crust.  It was so fantastically fresh and delicious!

The crust actually tasted like it may have had some coconut, but we were assured it was just a good, old-fashioned homemade graham crust.  We talked about it lovingly for the rest of the trip.

Farmstead birthday


The other food we went on a mission for was a burger from Goose & Gander.  From the moment we walked in I knew we couldn’t have made a better choice.  The outdoor seating area alone was worth the trip.  There were lights strung across the courtyard, quaint iron tables, and tall fence “walls” covered with vines and gorgeous colorful flowers.

First thing’s first though.  A craft cocktail.  Apparently the mixologist is something of a cocktail rockstar, so we were excited to try some creative concoctions.  I went with the “Scarlet Gander.”   It was Hanger One Buddha’s Hand Citron Vodka, ginger, shiso, galangal, lemon, and rhubarb.  Not like anything  I would typically order, but the flavors were so unique I couldn’t pass it up.  It did not disappoint – these flavors were strange but good. 😉

Scarlet Gander


We begin the meal with a salad.  Our waiter recommended we try the watermelon and Rock Shrimp salad.  The melons they used were the traditional pink AND a yellow melon.  It made for a gorgeous plating!

It was served roasted peanuts and a Thai chili dressing that he swore would be a 9 on the heat scale.  It wasn’t even close to a 9, but the salad was still delicious.

Goose & Gander melon and shrimp salad


Now for the reason we came: the burger.  Multiple people told us that the burger here was the best burger around, and that it shouldn’t be missed.  It isn’t the #1 burger I’ve ever eaten, but it’s certainly top 3.  I was really glad we decided to split it… it was massive and that much indulgence would be a stomach ache waiting to happen.

The bun (from Model Bakery) was perfection  It kind of looks soggy in the pic, but it really wasn’t.  It held up to the fantastically juicy grass-fed beef burger, which was topped with bone marrow (meat butter), Gruyere cheese, house smoked bacon, and pickles.  Served with a side of duck fat fries (duck fat = crispier fries).

Goose and Gander burger


Between the craft cocktails, “famous” burger, and duck fat fries, Goose & Gander reminded me a lot of Atlanta’s Holeman & Finch (highly recommended if you are ever here).

We ate a lot more than this, but memories of these meals in particular (and the amazing company) are making my Monday Marvelous.

Marvelous Monday


Moral of the story: always ask the locals what they eat.  You’ll find the coolest places and the must-try dishes.

Have you ever been to the Napa area?  

Are you adamant about researching the must-try restaurants when you travel?



  1. says

    Oh wow. All the food and drinks looks super duper amazing. Totally agree on asking locals for restaurant ideas – they’ll always know best for the most part:)
    I’ve never been to the Napa area, but would love love to go! It seems like a great time.

  2. says

    There’s nothing Rob and I enjoy more than a good burger! A few months ago I discovered a list of London’s best burgers, and we’ve been making our way through them. The good thing about burgers is that even the bad ones still taste good! haha

  3. says

    A good burger almost always hits the spot…I got my fix yesterday and it did NOT disappoint! Hope plenty of wine was consumed alongside all this yum food…only way to do it in Napa 😉

  4. says

    Duck fat fries = the only way to eat fries! I love how some of your selections were strange but good (although hold nothing to some of your creations ha!).

    I find it good to research some restaurants when travelling, but other times, sometimes you find hidden gems by going on a mindless search! Glad you enjoyed the napa area, hope you OD’d on some vino! 😉

  5. says

    I would love to go to Napa one of these days. I’m guess you had a spectacular trip all the way around. I tend to scout out restaurants I want to try before I go on any vacation. Mostly because of finding vegetarian eats, but also just having an idea so you don’t go through the whole what do you want to eat, I don’t know deal.

    • Laura says

      I definitly think its a must-do trip! And you know I always will research food – it’s half the fun of planning a trip. :)

  6. says

    I am slightly obsessed with doing research for restaurants – namely BEFORE I leave, it seems to shorten the time until I get off :-)
    Was that restaurant connected with something German? Cause some of the food names seem to be German. ‘Speck’ is actually the german word for bacon. Funny.
    Besides that, the drinks and food look heavenly!! The burger reminds me of the best burger I ever had at Bareburger in New York City.
    PS. LOVE that pic of you with the birthday cake. Gorgeous.

    • Laura says

      It’s not German, but we are seeing a lot of cured meats in the States these days. I have speck in Atlanta too!

  7. says

    Vishnu and I want to visit Napa ASAP! A trip centered around eating and drinking amazing food?! Count me in! And I agree that no matter where you go, you should ask the locals where they eat. We did that in Turks and Caicos, and it definitely paid off!

    • Laura says

      There’s plenty of other deliciousness to get in to! But I’m willing to bet you could find a wine to love too. :)

    • Laura says

      It would make a fantastic honeymoon destination! There were lots of couples ther ecelebrating marriages and anniversaries.

  8. says

    Everything looks fabulous! I just stared at that tartare and thought to myself, “I’m gonna eat you so hard after this baby is out!” That cocktail sounds incredible too. I normally hate shiso, but I’m sure I couldn’t pass up those unusual flavors either.

  9. Amelia says

    I have never had a fresh artichoke, but that grilled one looks amazing! My birthday is this Friday and I have a grill on my wish list. We’ll see what happens….

    It looks like you had a blast on your trip and I enjoyed living vicariously through your twitter feeds, as always. :) I bet your trainer will be happy to see you get back to your ‘strange but good’ eats this week.

  10. says

    oh man – I went to Napa 2 years ago, and I still dream about the food (and wine) I had there. I was visiting a friend of mine in Marin, and we drove to Napa for the day. First destination? Lunch at Farmstead. One of the greatest meals of my life. (It’s on my blog somewhere) Also, St. Helena Olive Oil co – I have never tasted better olive oils, vinegars, sauces, etc. in my life. I even recreated their amazing butternut squash pasta sauce!

    Now I’m dying to go back, can’t you tell? ha.

    • Laura says

      That’s so neat you went there too! It’s such a fabulous place for fresh, local foods! Definitely bought some olive oils on this trip too. :)

    • Laura says

      I’d say it’s a must-see area of the country – some of the best food and views (and wines) you can get in the US!

  11. says

    I love Napa and Sonoma. Such a beautiful area and I haven’t been a while and want to go back! I usually do research must eat restaurants before traveling. I don’t want to miss out on the good stuff or spend hours and hours debating where we’re going to eat.

    • Laura says

      Whaaaat?! Actually, you don’t need the chocolate part. Just the crust. Maybe the tatare IN the crust. Or not…

  12. says

    Very nice!! Everything looks amazing! Though I have to say I’m a bit scared of the runny egg topped tartare. I had steak tartare for the first time when I was in Minneapolis and I wasn’t really a fan. Tuna tartare is where it’s at in my opinion…or ceviche…or maybe I just have a thing for raw sea creatures! Sushi anyone? Hmm, ADD much? 😉 I’ve never had a fresh artichoke before…I kinda want to reach through the screen and grab yours…especially with that aioli! I’m sorry, I know aioli is just a fancy way of making a mayo-based spread, but it is SO damn good! Oh hell, now I’m thinking about the tomato aioli we had with those corn thingies at Push to Start! Gah, ADD AGAIN!! Lol

    I love researching places to eat when going on vacation but there is also something to be said about “accidentally” finding a gem when you’re just out and about OR getting waiting to get recommendations from the locals! :)

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    So nice to discover somebody with some genuine thoughts on this topic.

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