This post is part of an ongoing partnership with The Getaway , the celebrity-guided travel series produced by Food Republic parent company Zero Point Zero Production. This week’s episode, featuring actor Kyle MacLachlan in Napa Valley, airs at 9 p.m. EST, Nov. 12, on Esquire Network.
Travelers head to Napa Valley primarily for one purpose: wine. Even some Old World partisans who previously dismissed the region’s gulpable goods are now changing their tune about the level of quality coming out of California today. So, yeah, you’re going to be sipping some luscious liquids when you visit. And there is no shortage of great tasting rooms in which to imbibe. (Here are acclaimed travel writer Brad A. Johnson’s Top 5 for Napa and Sonoma.) But, what to do in between tastings? Surely, bountiful Northern California offers other palate-pleasing adventures beyond the fermented fruit from its vines. Herewith, a few suggestions:
1. Drink Something Neither Red Nor White
Sure, it might seem like sacrilege. (When in Rome, who wants to eat Indian food?) But, what better way to recharge your palate than to take a break from the grape and indulge on something else entirely? Chantal Martineau has some great recommendations on where to drink when you’re sick of wine in wine country, places like Scott Beattie’s artisanal cocktail den Goose & Gander in St. Helena, or Pancha’s, a delightful dive bar in Yountville. Or, better yet, head to the esteemed French Laundry and do the unthinkable: order some whiskey. Thomas Keller says it’s all good.
2. Eat Some Fried Chicken
Napa is home to some of the highest temples of haute cuisine in the world. Everyone knows the French Laundry, of course. There’s also the Restaurant at Meadowood, proud owner of three coveted Michelin stars. But, those experiences require more than a hearty appetite. They take effort, wrangling for reservations often months in advance. And, of course, money. Lots of it. The least expensive tasting-menu option at Meadowood costs $225 per person. And that doesn’t even include wine. But, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars to taste one of Napa’s single-most famous dishes. Head to Ad Hoc on fried chicken night for Thomas Keller’s renowned buttermilk-dipped bird. Or, pick some up at Addendum, the seasonal lunch spot out back, where the signature chicken costs just $16.50. Worried about wheat? Don’t be. You can even get it gluten-free. For more dining recs, check out Brad A. Johnson’s Top 5 picks in Napa and Sonoma.
3. Shop The Market
Rachel Singer has some great ideas for delectable detours away from the valley’s winery circuit. One of these is the Oxbow Public Market, located right in the town of Napa itself. If you like to eat and drink, this 40,000-square-foot marketplace has it all, with local and artisanal vendors selling everything from cookware to exotic spices. There’s also a butcher counter, an oyster bar, a coffee shop and an ice cream parlor. And, on Saturdays, a local farmers market sets up right across the street.
Here’s a clip of actor Kyle MacLachlan checking out the sprawling market with winemaker Carissa Mondavi on The Getaway:
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