The Best Date Night Spots in Napa Valley

  • Food
  • by WC STAFF
  • on JANUARY 12, 2016
  • 176
  • 0


Share with your friends

For a first date, something lively might be in order. For a fifth date, a dash of candle-lit intimacy sounds appropriate. For a fifth anniversary? An old standard with sentimental value. Whatever the romantic occasion, Napa Valley hosts a variety of restaurants known for their cozy aesthetics, stellar food, and of course, world-class wines. Here’s a short-list of some perennial favorites for whichever iteration of date night you have in mind.

Wine Country-Luxe

Image Source: FARM

FARM at The Carneros Inn
4048 Sonoma Hwy
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 299-4880
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 267 reviews
Reservations: Highly recommended

Located inside The Carneros Inn, FARM is an upscale American farm-to-table eatery that offers hyper-local fare in an exciting, pairing-centric “dinner tasting” format–a novel take on the traditional prix-fixe. An innovative cocktail menu and an extensive wine list featuring some of the area’s finest varieties rounds out the offerings at this seasonally inspired, breezy venue. Book a reservation for an intimate table under the cathedral ceiling of the dining room, or take your drink and appetizer outside to the alfresco lounge for a sampling of the equally refreshing evening air. Insider tip: Arrive before your reservation for a glass of wine and a bit of friendly competition on the bocce court.

Relaxed Italian Fare

Image Source: Ciccio

6770 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 945-1000
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 142 reviews
Reservations: No reservations taken, but plan for a wait

Ciccio opened with a bang in fall of 2012, and since then, this market-turned-restaurant has earned its place on Napa Valley’s must-try lists. Needless to say, timing is of the essence in this no-reservations-accepted Italian eatery, but the best things in life, as they say, are worth waiting for. In this case, savory pizzas and sumptuous, sultry pastas in a relaxing, converted general store setting where conversation can dwell for as long as a bottle of a bold Napa Valley red will allow. Insider tip: If there’s a wait, snag a cocktail from the dedicated Negroni Bar Menu, which features seven variations on the classic Italian cocktail.

French Cuisine Without the Fuss

Image Source: Yelp and La Toque

La Toque
1314 McKinstry St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 257-5157
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 336 reviews
Reservations: Required

Affectionately referred to as a locals’ French Laundry, La Toque delivers classically prepared French cuisine in a modern, wood-lined setting, inside downtown Napa’s Westin Verasa hotel. A Napa Valley maestro, Chef Ken Frank serves from a menu that evolves daily: the tasting menus provide an intimate, sharable tour of Frank’s creative mind, and a la carte blink-and-you’ll-miss-them masterpieces, like dry-aged duck breast with poached pear and red wine tatin tantalize the senses. Pairings aside, feel free to collaborate on an ideal bottle–there’s no better way to get to know someone than by their taste in wine (or so they say), and there isn’t a dud on the wine list. Insider tip: Arrive early for a belt at the innovative Bank Bar, home to one of Napa Valley’s best-kept secrets as far as cocktail programs are concerned.

The Comeback Kid

Image Source: Yelp

Carpe Diem Wine Bar
1001 2nd St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 224-0800
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 430 reviews
Reservations: Not needed for the bar, recommended for dinner

Lovingly restored following earthquake damage, Carpe Diem Wine Bar boasts a staff as enthusiastic as their regular clientele in an atmosphere that is at once sophisticated yet casual, innovative yet approachable. Chefs Kendall and Martin work in tandem to provide a menu of bite-sized eats (opt for the rotating gourmet taco selection) that are substantial enough to reach the expectations established by the wine list: while extensive, neither intrudes within the bounds of comfort–best to allow yourselves to be carried away, one bite and one sip at a time. Insider tip: The cheese selection is a big deal here: it’s hard to go wrong with the burrata or Quack and Cheese.

New Spot on the Block

Image Source: Facebook

813 Main St
Napa, CA 94559
(707) 226-7821
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 2 reviews
Reservations: Not needed for the bar, recommended for the restaurant

NINEBARK is one of Napa Valley’s newest stars, a reputation owed to a blend of casual and upscale. Each of its three floors offers a different story: casual bar on the first; seated dining on the second; rooftop bar on the third. Open-air seating on the third floor patio, with twinkling lights strewn throughout, grants a sense of tranquil romance within eyeshot of the Napa River. Insider tip: Order the Between the Vines cocktail. It’s made with a base of Mezcal, which lends an intriguingly smoky flavor.

French Bistro Classics

Image Source: Bistro Jeanty

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington St
Yountville, CA 94599
(707) 944-0103
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 1,416 reviews
Reservations: Highly recommended

A French bistro seemingly plucked from the quiet side streets of Paris, it’s hard to imagine a establishment that carries, as quintessentially, an I-saw-it-in-the-movies-once air as Bistro Jeanty. Cozy and elegant to a beautiful fault, the atmosphere is backed up by such standby provincial classics as Coq au Vin and Steak Frites, seasoned and cooked to understated perfection. The sum creates an effortlessly special spot–that little tucked-away place where anniversaries come and go with the passing of the years. Insider tip: The tomato soup, served under a flaky pastry puff crust, is as fun to eat as it is tasty.

Incredible Food to Match the Views

Image Source: Yelp

Auberge du Soleil Bar
180 Rutherford Hill Rd
Rutherford, CA 94573
(707) 963-1211
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 686 reviews
Reservations: Not needed

Perched atop a tranquil hillside in Napa Valley, this Michelin-starred restaurant offers panoramic views of Napa—a picturesque setting for a memorable, utterly romantic meal. The same magic is touted at the restaurant’s bar, with wraparound decks to a western view. Obviously, snag a seat at sunset for a breathtaking vista. Insider tip: Opt for a glass of the proprietary sparkling wine, the Auberge du Soleil Private Reserve Non-Vintage Brut. It’s unique, it’s refreshing.

A Hidden Gem

Image Source: Yelp

1345 Railroad Ave
St Helena, CA 94574
(707) 963-8931
TripAdvisor: 4.5 stars, 180 reviews
Reservations: Required

Terra is owned by partners Hiro Sone and Lissa Doumani, who have over 60 years of combined experience in the highest echelons of the culinary and pastry worlds. The restaurant turns out refreshing, unique dishes in continental style with the slightest homage to Japanese cuisine; they’re matched by equally fine desserts (the black pepper panna cotta in particular is worth saving room for). Well-known in local and San Francisco culinary circles, Terra is still inexplicably flying under the radar for most visitors to Napa Valley, so now’s the time to give it a whirl. Insider tip: Go “Terra-lite” by visiting Bar Terra instead. It’s a more casual offering that still offers the best of the kitchen.

Havanna Vibes

Image Source: Yelp

Sam’s Social Club
1712 Lincoln Ave
Calistoga, CA 94515
(707) 942-4913
TripAdvisor: 4 stars, 83 reviews
Reservations: Not needed for the bar, recommended for dinner

Sam’s Social Club recently opened at the gorgeously renovated Indian Springs Resort & Spa in Calistoga. A step through the front door transports visitors into a modernist’s version of 1940s Havana, with potted palms, eclectic artwork, and cane furniture filling the sunlit main room. All the while, the outdoor terrace feels miles away from the bustle of the street, evoking the romantic charm and rum-dashed mystique of old Cuba. Order a cocktail from the bar and start your evening on a fine note. Insider tip: Try the Aqua Caliente, a zingy blend of house-infused habanero vodka, passion fruit puree, and demerara sugar.

Fresh ingredients, stellar wine lists, exceptional service, and panoramic views are the norm in Napa Valley, making it a memorable spot to share with someone special. Do you have a favorite romantic spot in this nook of the world?