Hot Spots

What Not to Do in Napa Valley

by Christina Henry

Don't…
Despair if you can't get into the French Laundry

Yes, we know the French Laundry is the jewel in the crown of the restaurant world. And it's quite a feather in your cap if you can secure a table. But if you've missed that teeny-tiny window for phone reservations two months in advance, failed with Open Table, pulled every string, and still can't make the stars align (or simply don't feel like spending almost $300 per person, before wine, on your meal), don't panic.

Instead…
Consider it a blessing in disguise

You won't be disappointed by Thomas Keller's down-to-earth favorites like buttermilk-fried chicken at family-style Ad Hoc or classics like his pâté de campagne and steak frites at the atmospheric French bistro Bouchon. But there are other culinary stars in the valley, too. The Restaurant at Meadowood resort, in St. Helena, has three Michelin stars of its own, and chef Christopher Kostow (pictured) culls fresh vegetables right from the kitchen garden for his California cuisine. But our favorite splurge-worthy option is two-star Cyrus, in Healdsburg. Every meal opens with a visit from a Champagne- and caviar-laden cart, and chef Douglas Keane's menu of Asian-French-Californian creations may include quail eggs with foie gras and black truffle, or glazed shrimp with banana blossoms. If you're looking for a place that doesn't feel quite so much like a hallowed temple of gastronomy, book a table at Redd and order the duck confit, caramelized scallops, or pork buns. Or spring for the tasting menu, for only $120 including wine pairings.

Next: Bigger isn't always better >

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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