10 Reasons to Spend a Day in Downtown Napa
What was once a sleepy town wine-thirsty visitors passed on their way to Napa Valley, Downtown Napa has morphed into a thriving scene all its own. A recent visit was all the proof we needed — new restaurants, cocktail lounges and tasting rooms galore. The post-pandemic boom is here and just in time for harvest. Whether you are visiting a favorite haunt or exploring somewhere completely new, Downtown Napa is the place to be right now.
Scala Osteria & Bar
1141 First Street
Another new addition to the scene, this lively eatery offers traditional Southern Italian coastal fare, while the wine list spans Mediterranean as well as Napa varieties. It’s the perfect spot to linger over a long, wine-filled lunch with friends — an idyllic Italian escape right in our backyard. And if you are looking for a late night go-to, it is open until 11.
1321 First Street, Ste. A
Wine Girl is the girlie daycation experience you have been dreaming of (if Barbie went to Napa this would be her first stop). The indoor-outdoor food-and-wine experience adds an air of whimsy and downright fun in Wine Country. While the food menu isn’t extensive, there is a small selection of appetizers as well as wood-fired pizzas — and all pair nicely with a “winetail” or a glass of bubbly from the list that has wines from California and beyond. And in light of everything, a Barbie shot offered on the cocktail menu might be a non-negotiable.
1564 First Street
Opening this fall, the newest outpost of Gentleman Farmer (the original location is next door to the French Laundry in Yountville), The Bungalow, is sure to be an experience like no other. Open to Gentleman Farmer Wine Club Collective members and their guests, the new space will feature tastings and lunches like the ones currently offered in Yountville — think salon soirees, live music, burlesque and more. Husbands and owners Joey Wolosz and Jeff Durham deliver intricate and 100 percent homemade fare — from the mustard to the terrines.
505 Lincoln Avenue
The upscale American comfort food–themed diner opened this summer and chef Leo V. Varos Jr. has put a creative spin on classic favorites — including Hash Mac (hash-browns-topped mac ‘n’ cheese) and Honey Sriracha Salmon Lollipops. The space overlooks the Napa River with fire pits and lots of lawn games. Fun for the whole family.
Arch & Tower
930 Third Street
Situated in the historic Borreo Building, the recently opened Arch & Tower is an ode to the Robert Mondavi winemaking empire. Not only can visitors enjoy lauded Mondavi wines, there are also plenty of culinary experiences to be had. Try the Legend Lunch, which takes place at a communal table overlooking the Napa River. Wine Country at its finest!
1300 First Street, Ste. 312
One of Napa’s hidden gems, Compline truly redefines farm to table. The owners and chef are passionate about supporting local farmers and producers and every bite is as fresh as the next. If you haven’t tried one of the Farm at the Table dinner series (each one spotlights a local farm) then don’t miss the Full Belly Farm dinner on September 22. And the spot’s accompanying Compline Wine Shop (located steps away), stocks a thoughtful assortment of wines from near and far — along with an inviting bar for tastings.
Morimoto Asia Napa
790 Main Street
Opened last fall and situated on the riverfront, Morimoto Asia Napa is the latest addition to chef Masaharu Morimoto’s culinary empire. The menu features an eclectic take on Chef’s favorite Asian flavors. Dim sum lovers won’t want to miss the “Dim Sum Fun” lunches taking place every Saturday and Sunday throughout September. Take it from us — it does not disappoint.
Need a break from the vino? Explore all things tequila at this bar, which will offer agave cocktails, raw seafood towers and other bar bites.
A newly opened quick-service window offering to-go items from sister restaurants La Taberna and ZuZu as well as pantry provisions.
Michelin-trained chef and Kansas City native Darryl Bell is bringing homestyle barbecue (with all the fixin’s) to the Rail Arts District.