by Alison Kramer - 89 Reviews - 7 List
Lets face it, wine making and wine tasting are tough jobs, and a hard day's work needs the proper fuel: breakfast. Early morning eateries, oddly enough, are few and far between in a valley renowned for its world class-cuisine. So we've rounded up a gamut of great, oft-overlooked spots to get your stomach going. Whether you crave a lard-laden remedy to that cabernet headache or a luxurious, poolside brunch, this list delivers a breadth of breakfast options to kick off another day in culinary paradise.
Updated: March 01, 2010
Goodbye swank hello greasy spoon! Locals queue-up for a counter spot at this truck stop-style eatery, a veritable dive in the industrial district of downtown Napa. While you won't fine fanciful mimosas or Cal-Italian menu items, the price is right for home-style faves like colossal breakfast burritos or biscuits and gravy. A miniscule dining area means long lines on weekends, but the service is so fast and unstuffy that you'll be tucked into a booth before you know it.
First opened in 1948, this pink-and-white striped landmark in Central Napa draws die-hard locals like flies to a frosted donut. Tourists revel in the charm of being barked at by the less-than-charming waitresses, but locals know they're all dolls at heart. From short stacks to sticky buns to chicken-fried steak, the cheap (think 75 cents a donut) and caloric (don't think about that) food keeps some coming back seven days a week.
Housed in the luxurious Carnernos Inn, this casual cafe keeps prices fair despite the surrounding vineyard oasis. Many Napans capitalize on the restaurant as an ideal meeting point between Napa and Sonoma, so it's as much a local hang as it is a hotel restaurant. The breakfast menu--served daily and extended on weekends--features hearty classics with a California spin. Dishes like eggs Benedict profit from jalape?o hollandaise while lemon-leek cream sauce gives color to green eggs and ham. Hot Boonfly donuts are light and heavenly: a cinnamon-sugared steal at a dollar a pop.
For locals wanting more than a grease trap but less than a gourmet bank-breaker, this is a favorite morning hang. Some come for coffee and a slice of ?best damn lemon cake? to-go, while others linger over the weekend paper and a plate of huevos rancheros. Dishes like cinnamon French toast with sauteed apples or roasted veggie omelette with ricotta salata appeal to the evolved Napa palate.
As the only true French patisserie in the Napa Valley, this tiny spot marks an affordable access point to Thomas Keller's celebrated cuisine. French favorites reign like flaky, larger-than-life croissants and coffee-creme eclairs, while more American offerings include streusel-topped coffee cake, and house-made nutter butters. The garden patio tables make a great vantage point for quaint Yountville happenings, but you'll have to fend off flocks of crumb-grubbing birds.
Now with a second location in the Oxbow market, the up-valley, St. Helena location still reigns as the top local bakery in town. Tourists take-away and locals linger, but both delight in sweet and savory options. Brick ovens from the 1920's fire organic, artisan bread, alongside celebrated pastries like caramel pecan buns, apricot streusel twists and melt-in-your-mouth English muffins. Check out the cold case for picnic makings like composed pasta salads and sandwiches: a surefire money saver on the expensive St. Helena lunch scene.
This restaurant (housed in Calistoga's chic Solage resort) rises head and shoulders above the rest as an elegant spot to start the day. The cosmopolitan menu showcases culinary innovation with local and seasonal touches throughout. Highlights include a warmed pepper frittata with goat cheese and honey toasts, lemon-ricotta pancakes in a blueberry jus, and house-corned beef with roasted chicken hash. If you can ignore the prices (eight bucks for OJ), you'll surely join the ranks that tout this as the best breakfast in town.