When it comes to Napa Valley food and wine planning, be sure not to miss these Calistoga restaurants, which is a little further north and oh so worth visiting. We love visiting the area, especially for its food and wine experiences. See some of our top picks and be sure to head on over to the Visit Calistoga’s Food page for more great suggestions.
French run Evangeline is a lovely gem just off the main drag and a must for the Calistoga restaurants list. Its first reason is its charm in the front enclosed area which feels more like a European-style house than it does a restaurant.
We started with oysters of course — it’s hard for me to resist whenever I see them on a menu. They were a little on the small side since they’re Drakes but scrumptious nevertheless.
I was surprised to see Fried Green Tomatoes on the appetizer list which we didn’t order, mainly because we wanted to keep things light and healthy. They do offer a chilled yellow corn soup with hass avocados and relish however, so if you’re a soup lover, I wouldn’t miss it.
Below, we went for the Skuna King Salmon, which they serve with little gem lettuce, Sebastapol greens, Persian cucumbers and trout roe.
Classically French in every way, their Steak Frites entree was a Creekstone prime flat iron steak with Evangeline steak sauce and Kennebec potato French Fries. Oh so yum!
If you’re not worried about diet, I’d recommend the Shrimp Etouffee or the Black Truffle Handkerchief Pasta. The latter was so tempting; if we weren’t trying to keep our carbs low, we would have happily ordered it. They make it with King Trumpet and Hen-of-the-woods mushrooms, black truffle butter, parmesan cheese and a slow poached organic egg. Wow, right?
In the back, they have a tented area that is heated where they can seat larger parties. Anthony and I couldn’t help but feel as if we were back in France time and time again as we experienced our outdoor dining experience at Evangeline’s.
Even the menu’s font style felt very French, as did its wine and food offerings throughout. For example, there were many Sancerre options, Grenache and Rhone Blends as well as Syrah, which we drank quite a bit of when I lived in London. Also Bordeaux, and Châteauneuf-du-Pape (YUM!)
Of course they also offered some Italian blends, Barolo and Italian lighter reds from Tuscany as well. Desserts are divine especially the creme brulee and apple tarts.
Evangeline’s French Bistro
1226 Washington Street, Calistoga CA
Lovina’s is formerly known by locals as the Calistoga Kitchen. This quaint Calistoga restaurant has a ton of charm, from its corner location on the corner of Lincoln and Cedar to its inside small tables in two small seating areas with a divider separating room. There’s also a cute little bar which is worth noting even if you don’t decide to dine here.
A great appetizer is their House-made seeded Focaccia, fresh oysters on the half shell and their Warm Duck Confit and Lacinato Kale salad which they make with Napa wild mushrooms and toss in an umami dressing.
If you’re hungry and a meat eater, your two must dishes are the Berkshire Pork Chop and the Akaushi New York Strip (loved this dish) with a nice smooth Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Berkshire Pork Shop is served in a slightly sweet tangelo and carrot puree which was to die for, vandouvan spiced cauliflower, celery root and lacinto kale (healthy right?) and the steak is dressed with arugula, parmesan, radishes, asparagus, pickled mushrooms and green peppercorn.
If you are a vegetarian or want something a little lighter, I’d recommend the Spice Crusted Salmon with Bloomsdale spinach or splitting a few of their healthy salads, such as the little gems and avocado plate or their Tempura Maitake mushroom and asparagus salad.
They offer some lovely craft beers on the menu from Fort Bragg (we did a tasting here a year or so ago), as well as crisp Picayune Rose from Sonoma, which is lovely with one of their lighter salads or appetizers. If you’re going for the steak, I’d recommend their Storybook Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel – love this wine!
A promotion they’re running currently is a “no corkage fee” all day on Thursdays. I wish more restaurants would do this. Desserts include a Pear Crumble with oats and pistachio gelato, a Sundae with brittle salted caramel, a Meyer Lemon Bread Pudding which we tried and something they refer to as a Hot Mess. T’was all so scrumptious!
1107 Cedar Street
Calistoga, CA |
Solbar at Solage
For a leisurely brunch, head on over to the Solbar, which offers both indoor and outdoor seating. While the indoor space is trendy, chic and modern with a great bar and lounge scene, if the weather is nice, opt for the patio if there during lunch hours.
Other delicious items on the menu include a chilled sweet pea soup with fresh mint, skyhill goat cheese froth and pickle relish, a locally grown beet salad with avocados, greens and grapefruit (this is oh so lovely and oh so fresh on a hot afternoon) and yellowfin tuna sliders with kohirabi slaw.
If you have kids in tow, they have a great double wagyu cheeseburger as well as steak frites or a roasted marin sun chicken sandwich. While the menu isn’t extensive for lunch, there’s plenty of items to whet your appetite. If you’re a vegetarian, there’s a lovely delta asparagus salad and an avocado-wilted Russian kale salad with pecans and strawberries. All of it was so delish!
Pair all of it with a crisp gold ice tea or a margarita. They’re known for their cocktails, so perhaps you’d like to try one of their cocktails. For example, how about a Kelp-Tomanic, a Sandy Bird, a Green Flash, a Lost Foghorn, Elephant’s Memory or Sex in the Valley, which is made with charbay green tea vodka, thyme, mint, cucumber and house-made lemonade.
Solbar at Solage Calistoga
755 Silverado Trail
Calistoga CA |
Brannan’s on Lincoln
The main drag in Calistoga is Lincoln, which is a wider avenue than most and is home to a number of quaint boutiques, bistros, cafes, art galleries, tasting rooms and antique stores.
Brannan’s offers a great happy hour starting around 3’ish depending on the day. They don’t open until 1 pm for lunch, so bear that in mind if you’re planning this eatery for a mid-day snack.
Our favorite on the menu was their Fried Brussels Sprouts, which they make with Grana Padano cheese, pancetta, maple syrup, currants and pine nuts. They also have Truffle Fries, with a truffle aioli, which is amazing with a dash of ketshup.
They offer both raw oysters and baked oysters Rockefeller as well as Baked Salmon and something they refer to as “Dino’s Sicilian Stuffed Calamari.” Who doesn’t love Calamari? This version is baked in Romesco and served with a white bean salad.
There’s also Crispy Coconut Shrimp which is a great appetizer to share for a table of four or a family and if you do happen to have kids in tow, there’s the Smoldered Mac ‘n Cheese which is a great option with roasted peas, fontina and crispy onions. Whoah Nelly – also great if you’re in need of some good comfort food.
We had to try the Grass Fed Beef Skewers because the preparation sounded so creative. They plate it up with latin street corn, herbed cous cous, cotija and chimchurri. If you want something a little lighter, try their Marinated Baby Beet Salad which is locally farmed and made with honey-tamari pepitas and blue cheese.
Responsible for all of these delicious bites is Chef Colin Curtis and his team. The great thing about this spot is that Brannan’s is right on the corner in the middle of the main drag, so super convenient if you don’t want to drive out of town.
1374 Lincoln Avenue
Calistoga CA |
Other Calistoga Restaurants & Gems
Earth & Sky Chocolates
Run by a husband and wife team who have a passion for baked goods and chocolates, you’ll find this wonderful artisan chocolate shop in the back of the old caboose trains in the center of town. Here, they have other great shops to visit as well as wines you can buy.
This duo has great energy and a commitment to serving high quality chocolates which you can buy individually or in a box.
They make a great gift and there are so many scrumptious flavors to select from, you’ll want to try them all before you leave. My favorite two were the raspberry and Earl Grey. Oh so yum!
Calistoga Wine Tours
Also in the caboose, you can book wine tours to taste some of the flavorful wines locally. Of course you are very close to Napa however there are some smaller lesser known wineries worth discovering, so be sure to do a little research and visit the family run vineyards in the area with smaller supplies.
If you have never tasted Sterling wines, you’re missing out. I’ve known about them for years and we have several in our wine cellar. What makes this place so unique however is not just that their wines are so delicious, but that you can jump on a gondola and taste after an amazing aerial tram winery experience with breathtaking views.
There are several wine tasting experiences you can opt for depending on your budget, but I’d recommend going for the Silver Tasting, where you’ll get to taste some of their finer wines. You can also get a cheese plate to go along with it to make the experience that much better.
We tried the 2015 Russian River Pinot Noir, the 2014 Rockpile Zinfandel and the 2013 Winemakers Select Red Blend. My favorite was the Zinfandel because of its complexity and delicious bold dark fruit. On the palate, you’ll also find blueberries, boysenberries and plenty of jamminess.
There’s also a touch of black pepper, cocoa and toasted oak spices throughout — oh so yum! You can get $10 off or more per bottle depending on the wine if you’re a Club Member.
The views are incredible from nearly every part of the property once you reach the top.
Castello di Amorosa
Imagine finding a castle in the middle of the valley when you least expected it. After all, this was northern California not old world Italy. After decades of researching and studying medieval castles throughout Europe, Italian born Dario Sattui began his marathon building project in 1993.
The result is a beautiful 136,000 square foot Castello which features 107 unique rooms, 8,000 tons of hand-squared stones, 8 levels (4 below ground), 900 feet of caves, a meticulously painted Great Hall, a drawbridge, a moat, dungeon and a torture chamber. There’s also a chapel, and one of the most impressive wine barrel rooms in the states, constructed with ancient brick Roman cross-vaulted ceilings. It’s quite an experience.
Why it landed on the Calistoga restaurants and food/wine guide is because of its premium tasting room and wine experience. Castello di Amorosa has 30 acres of vineyards surrounding its hand-chiseled walls, gates and guard towers, planted with Sangiovese, Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon.
They produce low yields but these hand-crafted Italian style wines are incredibly delicious and include Pinot Grigio, Pinot Bianco and a Super Tuscan Blend. They offer a Reserve Tasting, Tour and Chocolate pairing and food and wine pairings in their exclusive Royal Apartment.
They also offer wine education events. Dario Sattui, the visionary behind it, build this because he wanted to build something extraordinary to honor his Italian heritage and his deep love of medieval architecture and because of his commitment to making superior wines in an incredible setting. He certainly delivered – it’s a must visit!
Castello wines are only sold at the winery or shipped directly to customers’ homes or businesses. They’re not sold to restaurants or stores anywhere in the world.
Castello di Amorosa
4045 St. Helena Highway
Calistoga | 707.967.6272
Along the main drag on Lincoln, you’ll find a few coffee bars and bakeries, so be sure to sample them all. Bella Bakery offers some great savory and sweet pastries, muffins and croissants. You can also sit outside and watch the tourists float by.