Recommendations for Calistoga?

Hey chowhounds,

I’m going to be staying in Calistoga at one of them hot springs resorts next month and I’m looking for recommendations for dinner places and wineries/tasting rooms to visit.

For restaurants I’m seeking non-asian cuisine…its just that I live in SF and I cook mad Chinese food at home and its me and my wife’s mini honeymoon and I’m not tryna eat some thai food that is good for the area yknowwhatimean?? So fancier dinner, not necessarily michelin or pedigreed tweezer food but just like tasty high level of execution.

For wine I mostly drink gamay, barbera, montepulciano, amarone…lots of Italian because I used to work at an Italian joint and I like dry whites but not chardonnay but I’m open to it all.

Not Calistoga, but I like Farmstead in St. Helena.

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We liked Pico Bar, reminded me of Comal in Berkeley.

We were in Calistoga for 3 days in mid-February. Really enjoyed it, altho we don’t drink so I can’t give you any reco’s for that, sorry!

Best meals: tie between Lovina (dinner + weekend brunch only) and Solbar @Solage Resort (B/L/D/weekend brunch).
Lovina: lovely, casual space; small parking lot. Dinner was amazing: creative, beautifully balanced flavors. Hamachi aguachile and salmon roe beurre blanc sauce on the halibut were stand-outs. Spouse talked to waitress about her experience working there (he got his degree in restaurant & hotel mgmt), saying he noticed how happy all the staff was, and how rare that was. She agreed and said after a number of years as a waitress, this was the best place she had ever worked. Lovine is tip-free; Spouse confirmed that these benefits are in addition to their regular salaries, and reiterated to her how impressed he was. Just FYI, extra tips are allowed, but only in cash.

Solbar: We love chef Gustavo Rios, who was one of the assistants to Brandon Sharp, the original starting chef who won a Michelin star for Solbar, which they promptly lost when Sharp left and an inferior chef took over. Rios took over in 2019. We returned for his house-cured corned beef Reuben, which we agreed was still the best we’ve had in several decades. Didn’t care for the chips this time (too thick, we preferred the thinner ones they gave us back in early 2020 pre-lockdown). Spouse always opts for their mushroom bisque when they have it, which they did - he rates it one of the best. Salads are always good, and the mix of fresh and freeze-dried mandarin orange supremes brought my beet salad up to the 5-star level. It was a stunning variant on a standard CA menu item.

Apple tart was lovely, although butterscotch pudding w/Macallan 12 was a bit too sweet. I thought the Scotch would have been better in the pudding, rather than the caramel sauce atop - butterscotch pudding is sweet and rich enough that I didn’t see much point in an even sweeter caramel sauce sprinkled with toffee “pearls”. It was a little too much ‘gilding the lily’, LOL. Service is always exceptional at Solbar, and parking is easy. Very nice outdoor patio seating, btw. Picobar, Rios’ casual taco cafe, is just across the way and shares the patio.

Fleetwood is located in-between Lovina and Solbar, and totally different. Lively, noisy, casual dining room. Tip: make a note where it is, in the daytime. It has no lighted sign at night! Look for the lights in the motel front desk/lobby area; Fleetwood is next door on the left. The romaine salad was unexpectedly (and not pleasantly) grilled and oily, but the entrees were surprisingly excellent. Spouse had pasta with seafood in a light, delicate cream sauce; the pasta was fresh and a proper al dente. My steak was average CA quality, but perfectly handled; medium-rare and juicy. Lightly creamed spinach and well-sauteed, savory sliced mushrooms were simple but excellent sides. I enjoyed having a whole steak rather than slices, as well!

There are quite a few restaurants up there so hopefully others will chime in with ideas. HTH and you should have good weather, too.


I had a great meal at goose and gander in St. Helena and recommend it.

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There are somewhere between 400 and 500 wineries and tasting rooms in the Napa Valley alone. Given the extreme increase in tasting costs there over the past years it might help if you set a maximum you’re prepared to shell out as you look. One good idea is to start at a restaurant with an extensive local wine list and a good sommelier or steward who can guide you. If you’re staying at a hotel they may also be of help. One more idea: there are a number of places where you can taste wines from a number of area wineries in one place. Most seem to be in downtown Napa but this listing may help.