2.18.2022-2.20.2022. Napa + Yountville.

2022 seems to be trying for the worse year in my lifetime award. Well, bravo. Apologies for the lack of new inspirations as of late. But as you can see, the world has gone mad a few times over.

Back in February, I decided to meet a friend in Napa for the weekend as she was moving to Tokyo and that was the only weekend she had available. Seeing that she was doing make up for a wedding up in Napa, I suggested that we meet up that way to have a girl's night out. Since I had credit card points to use and I could do with a getaway from my tiny apartment and San Francisco.

I have never stayed in downtown Napa before and oh boy was I in for an eyeful. I opted for Archer Hotel in downtown Napa as I wanted a nice room with a bathtub. That tub turned out to be ridiculously huge. I could have fit 3 of me in there easily.

Archer Hotel 1230 First Street Napa, CA 94559 707.690.9800

Since this is my first time actually staying in downtown Napa, here are a few things I have picked up. If you want a nice meal, you will need a reservation well in advance. It will be extremely difficult to just wing it there. The only thing you can wing is likely an early breakfast to miss the hungover crowd. But seeing that Napa is like the Disneyland of wine and hoards of people travel from all over (including from around the world), it is rather packed. It was a reminder of why I am always on the Sonoma side instead. I remember driving back from dinner on a Friday night and thinking: what is this drunken hot mess with all these adults here? And boy, did I get an eyeful! So if you are more into the quieter less Vegas-esque wine country experience, downtown Napa is not for you.

Luckily for me, I wake up early since I don't really drink and I was a party of 1, I was able to wing it for an early breakfast at Grace's Table and sat outside.

I walked all over downtown afterwards and went to the farmer's market and also saw my friends' restaurants. Since I am not a drinker, I have no insights for you in terms of tasting rooms sadly. However, you should definitely do your homework ahead of time and get yourself reservations as soon as you can for best pickings and for a more enjoyable trip overall.

Then I drove to Yountville to meet up with my friend and also to go for a stroll in one of my favorite quaint towns as it was in full spring bloom glory. Even despite its crowdedness with tourists from all over it could not ruin my mood. Hilariously, I was not able to find a cafe to have a cup of tea/coffee as it was only all tasting rooms and restaurants. I have to say, I had never seen Yountville so busy before and the line at Bouchon Bakery was the longest I have ever seen throughout the years.

I was able to meet up with my chef and food purveryor friends for dinner at La Calenda in Yountville for some great Mexican. I mean, is there a bad meal in Yountville really? I have tried for years and I have not had one still.

Then I finally had dinner at the classic Bistro Jeanty. I have always wanted to have a meal there but never made it, so we were both very excited to finally try this staple in Yountville. There is a reason why this is a classic and staple: It's extremely consistent throughout the years, and the menu is filled with classic french bistro offerings that never disappoint. Naturally, we had most of it.

With luck, I was even able to score a last minute reservation at Bouchon Bistro for lunch with another friend to wrap out my weekend. It's always a treat especially since I refused to line up at the bakery for my usual  loot to bring home. But I do recommend it as the bakery does have amazing pastry offerings, hence the long line.

If you are planning on a trip to famed Napa Valley, please do your research. It's a rather large area with different offerings and hundreds of wineries. But beware that people from all over the world come to visit as it's a crowded travel destination. So give yourself plenty of time for research and for your desired reservations. And even then, you may still not be able to get them. Personally, I am always on the Sonoma side as I tend to be more bohemian and am more into the farming sides of Northern California, also, my friends own Scribe Winery. I also really love Healdsburg as it's another quaint town with amazing food and ambiance. All my chef and food purveyor friends that live in Napa county all gush about how nice St. Helena is. I have only been there once for a wedding weekend and I was rather drunk and hungover for the majority of it. So anything I say about St. Helena is at best suspect. A big part of the fun about all my trips is the research. Dig in. Find things that speak to you. Get excited. Enjoy!