Best Kids’ Meals in Napa Valley
BY ANTONIO GALLONI & GIULIO GALLONI | SEPTEMBER 26, 2018
Traveling with young children in wine country isn’t always easy. Neither is finding places to eat that can satisfy the desires of both young diners and their parents. In this article, my son, Giulio, and I profile six of our favorite dining destinations in Napa Valley that serve outstanding kids' meals and also offer plenty for the adults. Our criteria in evaluating these six restaurants are quality of food, menu choice and service.
Best Kids’ Menu
Gott’s, Mustards (tie)
Mustards, Solbar (tie)
The Grill at Meadowood
The Kids’ Burger at Mustards
933 Main St
St. Helena, CA 94574
Tel. +1 707-963-3486
Founded in 1949 as Taylor’s Refresher, Gott’s is a must-visit for kids and adults alike. The menu features a long list of roadside classics, ranging from the tried and true to a number of modern California creations. Salads and a handful of vegetarian options round out the menu. Outdoor picnic tables completes a dining experience steeped in 1950s Americana.
For Kids – I love the burger and the fries at Gott’s. It’s one of my favorite places in Napa Valley. (GG)
For Adults – The burgers are delicious. Lighter choices include the Ahi Burger and the Mahi-Mahi Tacos. The Coho Salmon burger I had recently was fabulous. And, then there are the onion rings. To die for. A small selection of beer and wine is just enough to complement the menu. (AG)
Burger, Ahi Burger, Fries and Onion Rings at Gott’s
The Grill at Meadowood
900 Meadowood Lane
St. Helena, CA 94574
Tel. +1 877-963-3646
Chicken Tenders, Carrot Sticks and Fries at The Grill at Meadowood
The Grill is the casual restaurant within the Meadwoood resort complex. Outdoor tables provide striking views of the nine-hole golf course and surrounding woods. The kids’ menu covers all the basics, but isn’t going to win any awards for creativity. Service is exceptional.
For Kids – The Chicken Tenders are delicious, as is the burger. I also like the carrot sticks and fries. Best of all, the Grill has very efficient and courteous service. (GG)
For Adults – A very relaxed, clubby atmosphere makes the Grill the perfect place to watch sports on TV at the bar or sit down for a full meal. Everything at the Grill is impeccably prepared and presented. The Mahi Tacos and Ōra King Salmon were both delicious on our last visit. When I want to indulge after a long day of tastings I go for the Wagyu Burger. The Grill offers a small but well-chosen wine list that is consistent with the spirit of the cuisine. (AG)
7399 St Helena Highway
Napa, CA 94558
Tel. +1 707-944-2424
Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustards is a Napa Valley institution serving what she calls “deluxe truck stop classics.” Always bustling, Mustards is also a very fun place for lunch or dinner. We like Mustards for many reasons, including a kids’ menu that treats children like serious eaters. Sure, a delicious burger is offered alongside other staples, like the grilled cheese sandwich and mac and cheese. But younger patrons can also choose the BBQ Grilled Chicken with Mashed Potatoes, the Smoked Baby Back Ribs with Housemade Potato Chips, or the Little Trucker For Two - a grilled hanger steak with fries. The menu promises “nothing green, just steak and taters!” Adults will find similarly hearty fare, along with some lighter choices, such as the Ahi Tuna Crackers and several salads.
Mustard’s Ahi Tuna Crackers, Wasabi Cream, San Bai Su
For Kids – The burger at Mustards is one of the absolute best in Napa Valley. Mustards also has outrageous desserts. This year I had The Ultimate Sundae, which is ice cream with chocolate, whipped cream and cherries in a tall glass. The Lemon-Lime Tart I had last year was amazing. (GG)
For Adults – I always look forward to Mustards, and the Seafood Tostada in particular. The Onion Rings with Housemade Tomato-Apple Ketchup are addictive. For food and service, Mustards is hard to beat. When it comes to wine, it is a different story. Reds by the glass are often served warm. The wine list is large but not especially well organized. There are plenty of excellent choices and hard to find bottles, and yet their prestige feels somewhat diminished by a lack of cohesion in the presentation of the selection. (AG)
687 St. Helena Highway
St. Helena, CA 94558
Tel. +1 707-967-0550
Leslie Rudd passed away earlier this year, but not before making a lasting contribution to the culture of Napa Valley wines. A serial entrepreneur and active philanthropist, Rudd owned numerous food and wine businesses over the years, including Dean & DeLuca and Oakville Grocery, along with the Swanson, Covenant, Edge Hill wineries, and the crown jewel Rudd Estate in Oakville. In my opinion, though, Rudd’s biggest contribution was his vision in creating the most comprehensive Napa Valley-only wine program anywhere in the world. Much of the current rediscovery, appreciation (and accompanying high prices) for Napa Valley wines from the Golden Era of the 1960s and 1970s started here.
The main dining room at Press might be a bit much for some children, but the smaller tables by the bar are the perfect spot for an informal meal. There is no kids’ menu per se, but there are plenty of choices to satisfy even the most finicky of palates. To be sure, Press is a splurge, but it’s worth it.
Bryan Flannery Filet Mignon, String Beans, Crispy Beef Fat Fries
For Kids – I love the steaks at Press. Our filet was cooked perfectly. We shared it, but I could have eaten the whole thing myself. And the fries were awesome. Press is just the best. Great food, great service and great people. (GG)
For Adults – I love the informal vibe at the bar, which is a very nice place to have a glass of wine and a quick dinner. The menu is terrific and versatile. A salad and appetizer makes for a very nice light meal. Readers will also find a selection of fine meats from celebrated butcher Bryan Flannery. Meat entrées are served with no sides, so those need to be ordered separately, which I personally find a somewhat of a nuisance at these prices. On our last visit the wine list looked a little picked over. Sourcing older Napa Valley wines has become very hard, but at the same time, the list was a little slender in more than one area. To be fair, that is only in comparison to the recent past. The list at Press is still absolutely remarkable for its depth. (AG)
6755 Washington St.
Yountville, CA 94599
Tel. +1 707-299-5030
Chef/Proprietor Richard Reddington’s Redd-Wood offers a casual alternative to his more upscale Redd, which is just a few blocks away. The menu is built around a core of pizzas, but also offers a number of appetizers, salads, pastas and mains as well, with plenty of kid-friendly options.
Redd-Wood’s Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil Pizza
For Kids – The Fresh Mozzarella, Tomato and Basil pizza is fantastic. I really like Redd-Wood. The food is delicious and the people are very nice. (GG)
For Adults – Redd-Wood is a terrific choice for informal dining. The salads are fine lighter choices, but I also like the pastas quite a bit, while the pizzas run the gamut from the simple to the hedonistic. Other menu highlights include the fritto misto and roasted chicken entrée. The wine list is small, but chosen with purpose and care. I never have a problem finding something fun to drink. And Redd-Wood has one of the most fun bar dining scenes in Napa Valley. (AG)
755 Silverado Trail
Calistoga, CA 94515
Tel. + 1 866-942-7442
Located in the Solage Resort, Solbar is one the best choices for dining up-Valley. Solbar’s outdoor dining area, with a view of the pool area and fire pits, is very relaxing, while the inside dining room is a bit cozier in feel. The kids’ menu has a number of options, from the standard fare to more creative options, like the Chicken and Fish Tacos and the Steamed Vegetables with Brown Rice. Adults order from a menu divided into ‘healthy, lighter dishes’ and ‘hearty cuisine,’ with plenty of options on both sides. A menu of sushi, poke bowls and assorted lighter dishes is offered in the lounge.
Solbar’s Beignets with Dipping Sauces
For Kids – The grilled cheese sandwich at Solbar is yummy. And the beignets with dipping sauces is one of the best desserts in Napa Valley. Solbar has great service, too. (GG)
For Adults – It’s hard to choose at Solbar, as so many dishes are delicious. The flavors are pure and fresh. Yellowfin Tuna Sliders and Petrale Sole Tacos have both been terrific on recent visits. Wines by the glass (full or half) feature heavily in a large wine list presented by color, weight and variety. I find lists organized by structural themes (rather than region) not intuitive and hard to navigate. Nevertheless, Solage’s list has a lot of terrific choices, including many half-bottles and wines by the glass for diners who don’t want to drink an entire bottle. (AG)