Napa is known for its terrific cuisine as much as its wine, but a long meal isn’t always an option for lunch. Four new places have made my lunch hour a lot more fun and delicious, and have added to my regular stable of choices. If you’re near downtown Napa, consider these as tasty pit stops to fuel up during your next wine country adventure.
Foodshed Take Away
3385 Old California Way, Napa, CA 94558
The slightly funky set-up of Foodshed combines made-to-order dishes with a display case of salads, pastries and desserts, along with prepared, heat-and-serve dinners to go (my favorite is the balsamic braised pork). The pizza slices are generous, tasty and inventive: A burrata option is indulgent, and a slice with béchamel and potato is the perfect comfort food. Salads are fresh and crisp, the polenta almond cake is not to be missed and there’s a fun selection of wine bottles sold at retail, most in the $15 range.
3824 Bel Aire Plaza, Napa, CA 94558
Working my way through the diverse menu, it didn’t take long to fill up my frequent-eater card at Heritage Eats, a new high-quality, fast-casual concept from chef Jason Kupper and partner Ben Koenig, who met when they worked together at the Thomas. The food is global, the meats and produce are sourced locally and the breads are all baked in house. You can order from a predetermined “Good Calls” menu with items like a chicken tikka masala wrap, falafel pita or Jamaican jerk chicken tacos in steamed bao buns. But I like to go off script and make my own combinations, like lemongrass pork on rice with quinoa tabbouleh, Asian pickled veggies, crunchy slaw and “Boom” sauce. With six different proteins and dozens of add-ons and sauces, the combinations seem infinite. The wine list has about a dozen options, including a handful of split bottles.
Rae Set Asian Grill & Craft Beer
3150 Jefferson St., Napa, CA 94558
Napa has been lacking in Asian food options for a while, and Rae Set is a yummy, welcome addition. From my first visit, I was hooked on the fusion food and friendly service. My favorites so far are the Tsukune burger—a chicken-and-pork patty with glazed onion (order it with a fried egg)—and the Thai chicken sausage skewers. Pho, noodle bowls, Char Siu chicken buns and pork belly sliders are all solid, as is the homemade Sriracha hot sauce. There is a tidy list of wines by the glass, a solid lineup of sake and 100 different beers.
Napa Palisades Saloon
1000 Main St., No. 100, Napa, CA 94559
Napa needed a place like Palisades—a casual spot with an industrial, rustic vibe—to meet up at and nosh on modern gastropub cuisine, like Reuben croquettes, chorizo fries or a pimento cheese fondue served with fried pretzels and apples. The Saloon burger is elevated with stout braised onions, the falafel burger is accented with goat cheese and cucumber, and a mac-and-cheese dish sneaks in broccoli. Most wines are around $40 a bottle, with some good selections on tap in the $8 to $10 range, and there are a couple dozen selections of draft beers and ciders.