Whisk your loved one off to France, without leaving Napa Valley. Dinner at Bistro Jeanty should easily score you some bonus points with your other half. Quaint and charming, it has the feel of an authentic French bistro. The dining room at Bistro Jeanty is small and cozy, but on Yountville's many mild nights, dinner on the Bistro Terrace is a lovely place for good food, wine, and nice conversation. The menu varies with the season, but French classics like cassoulet, steak tartare and coq au vin standout. The extensive wine list includes great wines from Napa Valley and various regions of France.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Cozy, wine country dining with French favorites like cassoulet and coq au vin make Bistro Jeanty a favorite spot.
Dana's expert tip: Be sure to ask about the daily specials before you make any ordering decisions.
A food truck for a romantic meal? I know what you're thinking, but bear with me while I explain. The Bruschetteria Food Truck is part of the Clif Family, the folks responsible for those famous energy bars. The kitchen on wheels is usually parked outside the Clif Family Velo Vino tasting room in St. Helena. The patio is a lovely spot to enjoy lunch and wine in the sun. You can also grab a bottle of wine, order of bruschette, salad, and a warm chocolate chip cookie, (maybe two) and take your order on the road for a picnic. There's plenty of nearby options like Bothe-Napa Valley State Park or the Bale Grist Mill. Throw down a blanket and dig in.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The Bruschetteria serves a Northern Italian-inspired menu that's based on what's growing in Napa Valley. Ingredients come from Clif Family Farm and other local purveyors.
Dana's expert tip: A salad and a bruschette selection is a nice combination for a couple to share, but I'd recommend getting two warm chocolate chip cookies.
Harvest Table is the on-site restaurant at St. Helena's Harvest Inn. Menu ingredients are sourced from local growers and the restaurant's culinary gardens. Starters include options like chicken wings with harissa-red pepper sauce, and deviled eggs topped with cornichon and red onion marmalade. Mains include rugosa squash agnolotti, organic chicken breast, and the Harvest Table Burger decked out with fontina, carmelized onion, a house-made bun, and French fries. The comprehensive wine list is multiple pages long, but Harvest Table makes a mean cocktail with fun names like 'Doc Fleming's Milk Punch' and 'Gimme a Dollarhide." Harvest Table is closed on Mondays; plan accordingly to avoid disappointment.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Harvest Table serves delicious food in a relaxed, casual setting. Being able to eat alfresco, on the dining terrace, is an added perk.
Dana's expert tip: Arrive early to wander the redwood shaded grounds and enjoy the curated, rotating sculpture garden.
If you're looking for a romantic meal that's lighthearted and fun, think about Ca' Momi Osteria. The space is sleek and modern, but at the same time comfortable and rustic. Lighting is just low enough to allow the Acunto Napoli wood-burning oven to shine. Imported from Italy, it features a custom mosaic design and is the star of the exhibition-style pizza kitchen. Ca' Momi Osteria serves authentic Neapolitan style pizza. Cooked for 90 seconds in a 900 degree wood burning oven, it's served uncut. (Similar to how pizza is served in Italy.) Along with pizza there are a number of authentic, traditional Italian dishes prepared using local, organic products along with those imported from Italy. Ca' Momi Osteria serves lunch (takeout only Tuesday through Thursday) and dinner, but on Friday and Saturday nights it's open until at least midnight, typically with live entertainment.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Set in a historic 19th century building, Ca'Momi Osteria is a cozy and comfortable spot to enjoy and Italian meal.
Dana's expert tip: Dishes are fun to share, but be sure to order a pizza.
There's something magical about a train ride. Add dining on the train at a table set with china and white linens, and the whole idea becomes even more romantic. The restored Pullman rail cars roll through some of Napa Valley's most scenic stretches. With brass accents, etched glass and plush sitting chairs, riding the wine country rails is like taking a trip back in time. The Napa Valley Wine Train has three kitchens, and all meals are prepared on the train. Don't feel like you have to spend the entire trip at your table. Be sure to wander around and see all of the cars.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The Napa Valley Wine Train rolls through some of the most romantic stretches of wine country while pouring wine and serving gourmet meals.
Dana's expert tip: If your focus is scenery, go for a daylight lunch excursion. If you're going for full romance, vineyards under the moonlight are impressive.
Hop into one of the cozy booths at Miminashi and start ordering. Don't be shy. Dishes here are great to share. Favorites include the Roasted Japanese Sweet Potato with miso butter and fermented chili, and the Vegetable Fried Rice with Shimeji mushrooms, cauliflower, squash, kimchi, Tokyo negi, ginger, and scrambled egg. Omakase, the Chef's selection 5 course menu, is served family style and changes daily. It's hard, but try to save room for dessert. Soft cream flavors, Japan's take on soft serve ice cream, change daily and come with heaping toppings options like chocolate covered waffle pieces, toasted coconut, and miso caramel.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Mouthing watering robatayaki/yakatori, sashimi, and Japanese soft serves generously topped with options including chocolate covered waffle pieces, and sesame honeycomb candy. Enough said.
Dana's expert tip: Save room for dessert. Whiskey butterscotch, pie crumble and rainbow sprinkles are just a handful of the toppings you can have atop Miminashi's soft cream, Japan's name for soft serve ice cream.
Celadon is the type of place that if you didn't know it was there, you might walk right by without realizing what you were missing. Tucked in a shaded, garden-like walkway just off the Napa River, Celadon is located in the Historic Napa Mill. Diners have the option to sit in the courtyard or the dining room, but with weathered brick walls and a fireplace, the rustic courtyard is especially cozy. The courtyard is also a comfortable place to actually talk, a tall order in many restaurants these days. Nice for lunch or dinner with your sweetheart, along with thick and juicy burgers, you can expect options like fried calamari, a grilled double cut pork chop, polenta and risotto.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The courtyard, complete with worn brick walls and fireplace, is the perfect setting for a romantic meal.
Dana's expert tip: Mix things up a bit with a glass of Celadon's Sangria.
Goose & Gander is a favorite spot for locals and St. Helena visitors. A bit off the main drag, when you arrive it feels a bit more like entering someone's home than a restaurant. The menu changes with the season, but favorites like the Martini House mushroom soup, the G&G burger and basque cake are always available. The dining room has a rustic, pub-like feel with leather chairs and dark wood accents. The fireplace adds to the intimate feel at lunch and dinner, but on a nice day head outside to the patio. Along with a yard full of blooming possibilities, there's a pond loaded with colorful koi fish.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Goose & Gander serves memorable dishes and drinks in a cozy setting, perfect for a romantic night out.
Dana's expert tip: Skip the wine and try one of Goose & Gander's featured cocktails.
Congratulations, if you've snagged reservations at The French Laundry, you don't need to do much more to impress. Opened in 1994, Chef Thomas Keller's Michelin three star restaurant is the spot many Napa Valley visitors dream about eating. Serving classic French cuisine, the menu changes everyday. Two prix fixe, nine-course tasting menus (a Chef's Tasting Menu and a Tasting of Vegetables) are offered daily. If a meal here is on your wish list, you have to be organized to succeed. Reservations must be made well in advance. (No walk-in guests.) Men are required to wear jackets for both lunch and dinner service, so be sure to pack and dress appropriately. The French Laundry is a member of Relais & Chateaux, Relais Gourmands and Traditions & Qualit√©.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: The French Laundry is a Michelin three star restaurant. Reservations are hard to get, but guarantee an amazing meal.
Dana's expert tip: The wine list is long, covering wine regions from around the world. Taking a look before you're seated in the restaurant, can help ease the decision process.
Casual, relaxed, and quiet enough to carry on a conversation, the Farm makes date night easy. Located at Carneros Resort and Spa, an upscale property in southwest Napa, Farm serves dinner seven days a week. Couples are welcome to sit inside, but the sheltered pavilion is a nice change of pace. Heat lamps keep diners warm and cozy when chilly temperatures prevail. The a la carte menu includes the likes of oysters, diver scallops, and ricotta gnocchi. The dinner tasting menu is a seasonal five course tasting menu that shines light on one single ingredient. Finding inspiration from the resort garden, possibilities include the likes of corn, English peas, pears, and beets. Couples in the mood to truly indulge should consider the wine pairing.
Recommended for Romantic Dining because: Farm offers delicious food and drink options, but being able to sit outside on a starry night makes it a given for a romantic meal.
Dana's expert tip: Decisions, decisions. Tackle the nearly 40-page long wine, beer, and handcrafted cocktail list. Then figure out what's for dinner.