It is always great to get back to wine country to visit some of my favorite restaurants and discover new ones. Most of the dining options run wine country fresh and veggie centric but I have a few favorites that veer into more international territory.
Tarla, in downtown Napa, is always a breath of fresh air. The Turkish restaurant bills itself as Mediterranean. The dips are always a great way to start a meal: a trio of tzatziki, hummus and babaganoush. I also love the zucchini patties and the lamb burger is divine (get it pink in the middle). The wine list also used to feature a few great Turkish and Lebanese sections but that is, sadly, no longer the case.
Another great destination is Cook in the tiny, charming hamlet of St. Helena. This tiny sliver of a restaurant in downtown bills itself as Northern Italian but offers up a menu that includes salads and hearty meat dishes. Where the kitchen excels is the pastas. The house made spaghetti with clams, and shrimp in a spicy white wine herb broth is a stunner. Having lived in Italy I am picky about my pasta.
A new discovery from my most recent visit the Meritage Resort & Spa in Southern Napa. This hotel is quite the little gem with a handful of wine tasting rooms featuring brands like the Anarchist and the Trinitas brand which is partially made from the vineyard next to the hotel. The spa even does treatments with body oil made with grape extracts!
The whole resort is somewhat hidden just south of the town of Napa near the local airport and an office park. Olive & Hay features wine country cuisine like a big plate of Burrata and perfectly al dente Linguini a Frutti di Mare. Where chef really excels is with meat and his American Wagyu New York Strip was amazingly tender and finished with truffle butter.
One of my favorite places to eat in the town of Sonoma is LaSalette just off the main square. Grabbing a bite on the restaurant’s terrace on a sunny day is a treat. Caldo Verde, the traditional Portuguese soup made with potatoes, linguiça and collard greens is delicious. So is the juicy dish of pork and clams. The wine list of offers a nice selection of Portuguese reds and whites, as well as Ports.
Heading up to Healdsburg I always love to have a glass of wine at Willi’s Wine Bar. The outdoor patio is shady and welcoming. A new discovery I made this trip was Spoonbar, the restaurant at the H2 Hotel just a block from the Plaza.
The Tomales Bay oysters are small, briny and delicious. The beet salad is crunchy and topped with candied walnuts as well as goat cheese. I also adored the spicy Cioppino loaded with prawns and clams and served with crunchy focaccia.