Unpretentious, overachieving Main St. bistro and local fave.
If there's one restaurant you mention that will earn you a deep nod of approval from St. Helena locals, foodies and chefs, it's Cook. At this modest (by Napa Valley standards) bistro, where impassioned foodies share the tiny space with families with children and white tablecloths with a boisterous bar, one gets the distinct impression that it's all about the food--and it is. Much of the short, simple, loosely Italian menu hasn't changed since Cook opened in 2005, and it consists of a few inexpensive (again, by Napa Valley standards) apps, salads, house-made pastas, entrees and desserts (standouts: chorizo mussels, mozzarella bruschetta, gnocchi, short ribs, flourless chocolate cake). Cook isn't perfect--it can be cramped, the tables near the kitchen get way too hot and service can be a bit no-nonsense for anyone trying to have a special night, but there's a reason this place is both the locals' hangout and a foodie temple.