10 Wine Country Restaurants Open for Dine-In

These Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners are worthy destinations year-round, but now is an important time to support these spots in Napa and Sonoma

10 Wine Country Restaurants Open for Dine-In
Distancing tables is one of the safety measures implemented at reopened restaurants like Salt & Stone in Kenwood, Calif. (Tai Power Seeff)
Jun 4, 2020

It's been a long and difficult road since the coronavirus pandemic closed U.S. businesses in March, but now the country is on a path toward reopening, and that includes welcoming guests back into restaurants. The progress is particularly exciting in regions defined by their wine-and-dining culture, including California wine country. Napa County got the go-ahead to reopen dining rooms on May 19, and as of Memorial Day Weekend, Sonoma County restaurants are permitted to resume dine-in service outdoors—with government-issued safety guidelines. While some restaurants are holding off for now, these 10 Restaurant Award winners are open and ready to serve up world-class experiences.

For the latest and greatest things to see and do in California wine country, see the June 15 & 30 double issue of Wine Spectator. Find more of these destinations in our Napa and Sonoma Restaurant Guide, and to check out more wine-and-food destinations around the world, see Wine Spectator’s nearly 3,800 Restaurant Award–winning picks, including the 100 Grand Award recipients worldwide that hold our highest honor.

Do you have a favorite you’d like to see on this list? Send your recommendations to restaurantawards@mshanken.com. We want to hear from you!

Note: Opening hours and menus are subject to change as the industry continues to adjust to evolving regulations.


Brix Napa Valley

7377 St. Helena Highway, Napa, Calif.
Telephone (707) 944-2749
Website www.brix.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Outdoor garden at Brix Napa Valley
While guests can’t yet visit the bar, Brix Napa Valley’s dining room and patio are open. (Brix Napa Valley)

On May 29, Brix started welcoming guests back to its dining room, gardens and views of the Mayacamas Mountains in Yountville, Calif., a uniquely Napa sight. During the state shutdown, the restaurant offered a shortened carryout menu, while still focusing on farm-to-table cuisine inspired by local flavors. But with open doors for parties of up to six, guests can once again enjoy chef Cary Delbridge’s full range of American dishes, including pan-seared Alaskan halibut, wood-grilled steak frites and braised short rib. Joining these options are 450 selections from wine director Jamie Jamison’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning list. Brix’s 3,000-bottle cellar is strong in Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc from Sonoma, Mendocino and farther abroad, as well as in Golden State Cabernets, Merlots and Zinfandels. This includes bottlings from Brix’s associated Kelleher Family Vineyard and Brix Vineyard.


Dry Creek Kitchen

Hotel Healdsburg, 317 Healdsburg Ave., Healdsburg, Calif.
Telephone (707) 431-0330
Website www.drycreekkitchen.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Even with its breathtaking landscapes and noteworthy wines, Sonoma County still presents an inviting small-town atmosphere, and that’s the tone Dry Creek Kitchen aims to capture at the Hotel Healdsburg. On June 4, the American restaurant invited guests to dine with them outdoors, after months of being restricted to curbside pickup and delivery. Wine director Patrick Holihan’s full list of more than 650 labels was available for takeout, but diners will now be able to enjoy the restaurant’s nearly 5,000-bottle, Best of Award of Excellence-winning collection in person, as well. There’s a wide range of Sonoma wines, including rarer bottlings from wineries Kosta Browne and Rochioli, to pair with chef Scott Romano’s beet-cured ora king salmon, ginger roasted pork loin, charred filet mignon and much more.


Oenotri

1425 First St., Napa, Calif.
Telephone (707) 252-1022
Website www.oenotri.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Red wine and charcuterie at Oenotri
Oenotri dedicates a section of its menu to salumi, where guests can make their own selections or opt for the chef’s choice. (Alanna Hale)

In addition to continuing with takeout and delivery, Oenotri is now accepting reservations to dine on its outdoor patio. Also part of the outdoor space is Oenotri’s on-site garden, which typically supplies the restaurant with 80 percent of its produce during peak season. Expect chef Tyler Rodde’s signature menu of Italian staples like house-made pizzas and hearty entrées to match wine director Thomas Dorman’s 600-label wine list. With the exception of Champagne, the selections are exclusively from Italy and California, and range from options under $50 to benchmark bottles from producers such as Tenuta dell' Ornellaia and Opus One.


Press Restaurant

587 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena, Calif.
Telephone (707) 967-0550
Website www.pressnapavalley.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Chef-partner Philip Tessier of Press Restaurant
Chef-partner Philip Tessier is a recent addition to the team at Press Restaurant. (Lara Kastner)

It makes sense for a top winery in Cabernet country to open its own steak house. Founded by the late Leslie Rudd of Rudd Estate and now owned by his daughter Samantha, Press Restaurant proves this point in St. Helena, Calif., with hand-selected cuts of beef and a cellar of well-aged reds. During lockdown, Press served a to-go menu from chef-partner Philip Tessier and launched multiple charity initiatives benefiting local wineries, its own employees, and the Boys & Girls Club of St. Helena and Calistoga. Today, guests can enjoy wine in Press’ dining room too, with 1,600 options from a 13,000-bottle cellar, which the restaurant claims to be the world’s largest assembly of Napa Valley wines. The Best of Award of Excellence–winning collection features old vintages and verticals from Mayacamas, Rutherford Hill, and more. For those not quite ready to return to the restaurant’s dining room, Press’ pickup options will continue for the foreseeable future.


Torc

1140 Main St., Napa, Calif.
Telephone (707) 252-3292
Website www.torcnapa.com
Best of Award of Excellence

Scallop dish at Torc
Torc’s locally inspired cuisine includes light fare like seared scallops. (Stephanie Amberg)

With blues and rock music playing in its dining room, Torc prides itself on “dismantling the fine dining experience” by serving carefully crafted, locally sourced dishes in a casual environment. Diners can now experience this relaxed ambience again, with chef and co-owner Sean O’Toole’s full menu, including Maryland soft-shell crab, a Périgord truffle grilled cheese sandwich and sweet potato pakoras. Torc’s Best of Award of Excellence–winning wine program is also available, listing nearly 450 labels from the cellar of over 3,300 bottles. Overseen by Sean’s wife, wine director and co-owner Cynthia O’Toole, this includes a strong selection of Napa Cabernets, with a range of older vintages from Grace Family Vineyards. Champagnes, Burgundies and Loire whites are also well-represented, with bottles from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Didier Dagueneau. To ensure guests are safe and comfortable, the restaurant has implemented safety measures such as cleaning its air ducts and adding a purifying system, and requesting that guests social distance themselves and wear masks when not at their tables.


Cook St. Helena

1310 Main St., St. Helena, Calif.
Telephone (707) 963-7088
Website www.cooksthelena.com
Award of Excellence

After operating with to-go and meal-kit programs, Cook St. Helena is back to serving approachable and high-quality dining experiences with limited seatings as of June 3. Indulge in some much-needed comfort food with chef Jude Wilmoth’s California-influenced Italian menu. The dishes are rustic and thoughtful, like burrata with garlic confit purée and eggplant parmesan, plus a handful of house-made pastas and a daily changing risotto. The moderately priced wine list focuses on California and Italy as well, comprising 90 selections and holding an Award of Excellence since 2017.


Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch

738 Main St., St. Helena, Calif.
Telephone (707) 963-4555
Website www.longmeadowranch.com
Award of Excellence

Exterior of Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch
Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch is a charming destination that showcases the wines and diverse products of a family farm. (Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch)

The family behind Long Meadow Ranch—Ted, Laddie and their son Chris Hall—produces organically farmed wine throughout northern California, with vineyards in Napa Valley, Anderson Valley and Marin County, along with ranching cattle, raising chickens and more. As of May 29, guests can dine at the Halls' restaurant in St. Helena, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch, indulging in the ranch's full range of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, honey, beef, eggs and other products. During the state shutdown, Farmstead had continued to serve its farm-to-table dishes via pick-up and delivery. But the restaurant's dining room and garden bar are now offering chef Stephen Barber's menu in-house—including dishes like caramelized beets, grass-fed beef meatballs and a wood-grilled heritage pork chop—alongside some of the 185 selections on the Award of Excellence–winning list, managed by Chris, who doubles as wine director and COO of the ranch. California wines, including those of Long Meadow Ranch, are of course the focus of Farmstead's 3,000-plus-bottle collection, supplemented by a selection of well-chosen wines from Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhône.


Kenzo Napa

1339 Pearl St., Napa, Calif.
Telephone (707) 294-2049
Website www.kenzonapa.com
Award of Excellence

Sign by the entrance of Kenzo Napa
Sushi lovers now have the option to dine with Kenzo Napa on-site or at home. (Kenzo Napa)

As of June 2, guests can return to Kenzo Napa, a high-end Japanese destination from the owners of the nearby Kenzo winery. The sleek space has been rearranged to meet social-distancing guidelines and operate at 50 percent capacity, one of numerous safety precautions outlined on the restaurant's website. Chef Kenji Miyaishi will resume with his traditional tasting menu featuring nine courses highlighting seasonal ingredients. Pair the meal with a selection from the 130-label, Award of Excellence–winning wine program. Run by general manager Tomonori Iwao, it’s strongest in California and France, and includes picks from its sister winery. Patrons who got hooked on Kenzo Napa's to-go bento boxes during the dining-room closure can still order them for pickup from 3 to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday.


Salt & Stone

9900 Sonoma Highway, Kenwood, Calif.
Telephone (707) 833-6326
Website www.saltstonekenwood.com
Award of Excellence

Dining beside a pond with views of rolling hills certainly sounds like an appealing prospect. And now that its patio is open, Salt & Stone has made that prospect a reality in Kenwood, Calif. Diners can revel in Sonoma’s natural beauty as they dig into dishes from chef William Oliver’s menu of American and French classics. This includes duck leg confit, blackened snapper, sole almondine and a range of steak and shellfish options. Bottles are at the ready from general manager Krista McCracken’s 140-label wine list, an Award of Excellence winner since 2018. Salt & Stone’s cellar largely focuses on California wines, including a selection of Sonoma Pinot Noir, Syrah and Petite Sirah, but there’s also an extensive by-the-glass list and additional options from Italy, Germany, Washington and beyond.


Veraison

1457 Lincoln Ave., Calistoga, Calif.
Telephone (707) 942-5938
Website www.veraisoncalistoga.com
Award of Excellence

Red wine, cheese and charcuterie at Veraison
Wine is a key part of dining at Veraison, in the small California city of Calistoga. (Veraison)

For neighborhood dining and a strong wine list, head to Veraison, an Award of Excellence–winning Calistoga spot that reopened for dine-in today. The restaurant earned its award for the 150-selection wine program managed by owner and wine director Daniel Kaiser, excelling in France and California. Kaiser’s picks are moderately priced and the list is organized by flavor profiles. Chef Taylor Jones’ regional cuisine, offered for takeout during the shutdown, is now available in the sunny, bistro-style space.


Keep up with the latest restaurant news from our award winners: Subscribe to our free Private Guide to Dining newsletter, and follow us on Twitter at @WSRestoAwards and Instagram at @WSRestaurantAwards.

Restaurants Restaurant Awards Dining Out Napa Sonoma

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