As you prepare your visit to the top of the Napa Valley in Calistoga, you will, no doubt, plan to visit wineries, tasting rooms and spas. In between imbibing and detoxifying, the practicality of nourishment is necessary. But, in the form of a foodie experience, replenishing your energy level can be a lot of fun, especially with the plentiful dining options in downtown Calistoga. Below is a guide with suggestions on where and what to eat in Calistoga so you can plan out your perfect foodie itinerary.
Day 1: Start at the Top
Check into your hotel and begin getting settled in Calistoga. Consider staying at Craftsman Inn, a beautiful Craftsman-style bed and breakfast that features a delicious gourmet breakfast every morning made with recipes from the owner’s published cookbook, Inn Food. If a full breakfast at your hotel is a must-have for you, also try the Calistoga Wayside Inn, Chelsea Garden Inn or Fanny’s, all quaint beds-and-breakfast located close to town. On the other hand, if you prefer to begin the day prepping a homemade meal from scratch, you will love the Chanric Inn, a stunning historic home with contemporary decor and a fully equipped kitchen.
Your palate will acclimate to the seasons of Northern California with lunch inside or on the outdoor patio of Solbar at Solage, an Auberge Resort. Executive Chef Massimo Falsini creates inventive, yet classic Napa Valley dishes utilizing farm-fresh, seasonal ingredients to serve unique, flavorful dishes, and a few recipes in a nod to his Italian roots.
Noteworthy: Book a Calistoga Balloons hot-air balloon ride package that includes brunch aprés-balloon ride at Solbar.
As you stroll along Lincoln Avenue for shopping and tastings, you might begin to experience a craving for some chocolate, especially if you explore the Train Depot, where earth & sky chocolates produces an extraordinary selection of artisan confections. At Monastery Books & Gifts, you’ll also find scrumptious olive oils, vinegars and cookies handmade by the Russian Orthodox nuns of Holy Assumption Monastery. Cal Mart grocery store also carries locally made toffees and brittles by Regina’s Heavenly Treats.
How Low-Country Can You Go? In a blend of low-country, creole and French cooking, Evangeline is the place for a weekend brunch or any night’s dinner. Chef Gustavo Rios is a chef with culinary chops for serving dishes that exceed expectations. Every Thursday in the summertime, Chef Gustavo is best known for his fried chicken boxes which you can pre-order for take-out to enjoy at Concerts in the Park. Outside of the Thursday concerts, throughout the year are special fried chicken nights.
Noteworthy: Search Eventbrite to sign up for alerts to Evangeline Fried Chicken nights and select from two seating times.
Day 2: A Melting Pot of Choices
Breakfast like a local at Café Sarafornia, where the story of Calistoga and how it was named is explained in the form of artwork on the wall. Wander through town and, if visiting on a Saturday morning, check out the Calistoga Farmers Market.
Start off with a wine and olive oil tasting at Vincent Arroyo Winery, which was named the #1 Vineyard in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure. Follow it up with a Reserve Tasting Experience and artisan cheese pairing at von Strasser & Lava Vine Winery.
When you’re ready for lunch, farm-to-table dining is at its most charming at Lovina (formerly Calistoga Kitchen). This intimate restaurant seats guests inside or outside in the garden patio and serves seasonable dishes crafted by chef owners Jenna & Shaun, according to what is available and delicious that week. For brunch/lunch, the duck confit spinach salad is sure to set the stage for a five-star experience.
Indulge your sweet side with a Chocolate & Wine Pairing at Madrigal Family Winery, featuring hand-painted truffles from earth&sky chocolates. You can also experience a “Calistoga Winery Lifestyle Lunch” at Madrigal, which includes wine tasting paired with a locally prepared lunch of sandwiches, sides and dessert.
The French viticulture term to describe a grape’s energy running from its roots to the grape, ultimately turning the grape red, is veraison. Veraison is also the name of a French-inspired restaurant on Lincoln Avenue, inside the Mount View Hotel & Spa, where the highlight is a seat at the raw bar to slurp oysters on the half shell. Veraison also offers house-made charcuterie and artisan cheeses to enjoy pre- or post-dinner of coq au vin and other French specialties. If Italian cuisine is more your style, try the pizzas, pastas and delicious polenta at Bosko’s Trattoria.
Noteworthy: Visit the Veraison website for upcoming events that include Bubbly Mondays, Brown Bag Club, Throwback Thursdays, and Winemaker Dinners.
Day 3: Keeping it Light
Following two days of indulgence in wine and food, take it easy today and detox a bit (so you can retox at the first opportunity!) Relax in the steam room at Indian Springs Resort & Spa, followed by a Chardonnay Sugar Scrub blended with shea butter for rich moisturizing and ultimate hydration. Hang by the mineral pool and meditate at the Buddha Pond, in the sun or shade, to catch up on your relaxation.
Sign up in advance for a cooking class at Napa Valley College or the world-renowned Culinary Institute of America, which also features a great kitchen and spices shop and a restaurant called Gatehouse.
Opt out of a full, decadent dinner and transition your plans to an early happy hour of cocktails, fried pickles, fish tacos, flatbread and more at Johnny’s Restaurant & Bar, or pizza and craft beer at Sam’s Social Club at Indian Springs Resort & Spa.
Head home full of good food and good vibes and dream of your next visit to Calistoga!
Noteworthy: Grab takeout from Buster’s BBQ, Cal-Mart Deli, Palisades Deli, Napa Valley Heritage Catering or Sushi Mambo and head to Old Faithful Geyser for a picnic, some bocce ball and to say hello to the Tennessee Fainting Goats on property.