There’s a lot of great food in Napa Valley, and if you have limited timea long weekend, sayyou have to be strategic and smart about it. Binge diningthat’s just indiscriminate and déclassé. You’re a connoisseur. Napa Valley is universally understood as Provence-meets-America. So you want to carefully curate your culinary experience, like a refined European, and you want to be efficient about it, like a can-do American.
Two words are the key to your gastronomic journey: Washington Street. That’s Washington Street, Yountville. You’ve done your window-shopping in charming St. Helena and your spas and mud bath in homespun Calistoga. Now it’s time for the world’s best food crawl. > Start the crawl
Of course, Thomas Keller put Washington Street on the culinary map with the three-Michelin-starred The French Laundry and its everlasting tasting menus. But beyond that, few people know that manicured Washington Street, which runs just east of, and parallel to, Route 29, boasts the most Michelin stars (five) of any street in America. Keller’s Bouchon and Richard Reddington’s Redd claim one apiece, each well deserved. You’ll savor the pan-seared duck breast or the decadent croque madame at the former and the divinely minimalist hamachi and yellowfin tuna tartare at the latter, but there’s much more to come.
Your base is the Villagio Inn & Spa. It’s plush, wonderfully landscaped, and has two serene pools to help you regain your appetite between lunch and dinner. Coming north from San Francisco, you’ve cruised over the Golden Gate Bridge and taken in the sylvan scenery during the hour-plus drive. Now leave the Lexus in the Villagio’s parking lotyou can walk to every eatery on the street.
The inn impresses with a bountiful breakfast spread, but go easy: local berries, some pastry, and a cup of herbal tea to keep things calm and civilized. Begin two of your three mornings with this restraint; the third morning, be slightly gluttonous at Keller’s Bouchon Bakery. Go right toward the venue’s namesake bouchons, those bite-size chocolate brownies shaped like Champagne corks.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What you want to do is arrive on day one early enough to eat lunch at Hurley’s. Grab a seat on the patio and raise a glass of the local Domaine Chandon Blanc de Noirsit’s superb with the squash blossom fritters stuffed with herbed goat cheese and the sesame-crusted ahi. Dinner means the aforementioned upscale grilled ham and cheese (with a fried egg on top) enjoyed within Bouchon’s casual bistro atmosphere.
Days two through four consist of Bottega’s sublime Italian pasta dishes, courtesy of chef Michael Chiarello; traditional country French at Bistro Jeanty; gourmet panini and pizzas at Cantinetta Piero; a pilgrimage to French Laundry; and an alfresco dinner at Bardessono, the sleek, chic LEED Platinum resort that made its brilliant, eco-friendly debut last year.
And yes, Bardessono is technically on Yount Street (right past the intersection of Washington and Yount), but you have to allow for at least a tiny bit of give on such a meticulously planned schedule—one that allows room for a Washington Street wine tasting or two. > Start the crawl