EAT + EAT Feature
Dining Alfresco
Take it Outside: Stunning Venues for Alfresco Dining


Published On: May 03, 2023
Photo above courtesy of Picobar at Solage

As spring blossoms in the Valley, ‘tis the perfect season for alfresco dining. The warm, sunny days beckon any excuse to spend more time outside, especially when it comes to eating and drinking. Whether extending a lunch hour to multiple hours on the patio, clocking off promptly at 5 p.m. to enjoy an aperitif or two overlooking the vines at sunset, or throwing on a sweater and taking dinner under the stars, there’s no shortage of opportunities to indulge in outdoor culinary experiences in Napa. From riverside terraces to sidewalk seating, flower-wrapped patios, and airy gardens, here are some of the best venues to dine alfresco.

The Restaurant at Auberge du Soleil: Reputed in Napa as the Valley’s first fine-dining establishment, opened in 1981 by French restaurateur Claude Rouas, The Restaurant is certainly a dining destination year-round. In the warmer months, however, the Terrace allures with its sweeping vista of the Rutherford landscape and executive chef Robert Curry’s prix-fixe lunch (two- or three-courses) and dinner (three-, four-, or six-course). Though the menus are seasonal and ever-evolving, guests are guaranteed unparalleled views and a regal ambiance— sure to feel like the king or queen of the hill —while dining at the elevated Terrace. This spring, The Restaurant debuted a redesign by Suzanne Tucker, bringing a lighter look that includes repositioning the bar to face outward toward the view. And for the fourth year, the resort will celebrate Rosé All May, including specialty programming like rosé cocktails featured throughout the month, and for guests, a selection of still and sparkling rosés available upon guest check-in, a welcome bottle of rosé delivered to each room, rosé sangria at La Plage adults pools, and rosé-themed spa treatments. //

The Grove at Copia: Run by The Culinary Institute of America (CIA), the Mediterranean-inspired menu at The Grove is sure to impress, and they have the setting to match it. Santorini-ocean-blue pillows adorn the patio furniture tucked under olive trees, and rows of garden beds showcase herbs and vegetables used in their farm-to-table dishes. Even though The Grove is located in downtown Napa, the serene shades of its green surrounds reflect otherwise. //

The Grove // Photo by Emma K Morris

Bear at Stanly Ranch: Rustic wooden tables accented with various grasses and succulents make this patio worth returning for, especially for their popular dishes like sourdough bread, crispy rice, and short rib. Stanly Ranch also hosts seasonal culinary activations that expand their alfresco offerings, including The Window, their newest culinary concept of a grab-and-go lunch experience with a rotating weekly theme. Their Grange Harvest Dinner Series returns for a less regular, therefore, more coveted experience hosted at the onsite chef’s garden. //

Photo courtesy of Bear at Stanly Ranch

Farmstead: Though the interiors of this former nursery barn are cozy and seemingly bring the outdoors in with their whimsical plant displays, Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch does have designated patio seating, too. Diners will feel like they’re on a friend’s front porch with the open seating that encourages camaraderie between guests and spills out onto the restaurant’s green spaces. For an even more casual setting or simply to start alfresco dining in the morning, Farmstead’s Café is tucked under a blue spruce tree in a tranquil corner of the property. It is perfect for coffee or an informal lunch. //

Picobar: Overlooking the pool deck at Solage, with a rolling mountain backdrop, executive chef Gustavo Rios brings his native Mexico’s coastal Ensenada to Calistoga. Warm weather menu highlights include whipped avocado, Gulf shrimp ceviche, and the SOL Original Tacos, while popular cocktails include the Green Flash (cimarron blanco tequila, house-made jalapeño herb syrup, lime) and Eddie’s AP (la luna cupreata mezcal, lime, our al pastor syrup, pineapple, tajin). //

Brix: Part of Yountville’s cult institutions, Brix offers a farm-to-table dining experience amid two acres of gardens and orchards, with another 14 prime Napa Valley acres past the vegetables and herbs. Though it’s worthy of lunch or dinner reservations, it’s also an ideal spot to settle in with a bottle of wine and enjoy slow sips with friends—the Kelleher family owns Brix, so opt for their highly-rated, estate-grown Cabernet Sauvignon. //

Brix Patio on the vineyard // Photo by Bob McClenahan

Celadon: Not only does this international restaurant, featuring flavors from the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Americas, offer an outdoor patio, but it’s also located along the preserved Napa riverfront. Meander through a biophilic archway and settle into a seat on the greenhouse-styled patio, outfitted with a fireplace for any lingering chilly nights throughout the season. //

Oxbow Public Market: Branded as downtown Napa’s “local gathering spot for great food and wine,” the 40,000-square-foot marketplace also offers one of the most scenic outdoor decks with seating along the Napa River, as well as various alfresco seating nooks to enjoy the variety of local vendors at this community hotspot. Hog Island Oyster Co. is particularly lively in the warm months, but diners can also pick from pizza to burgers, pastries to sushi. //

Oxbow Market Patio on the Napa River // Photo by Bob McClenahan

RH Yountville: Tucked off Yountville’s Washington Street, RH’s stone facade, glistening glass chandeliers, and live olive trees envelop guests for a design-forward dining experience. Even if guests don’t reserve a table on the open-air patio, RH ensures they feel like they’re eating alfresco with oversized glass windows that maintain a bright, airy, modern ambiance to match the artisanal plates served from brunch to dinner. Don’t miss out on the wine list, as RH Yountville hosts a stunning two-story wine vault at the landmark Masonry building. //

Calistoga Inn: Whether seeking a relaxed dinner energized by live music or a casual after-work brew, at Calistoga Inn, there are two options for diners preferring alfresco space. The main restaurant’s patio features a new indoor/outdoor bar that hosts live music every evening from May through October between 6 and 9 p.m. And The Beer Garden is a setting of teak-planked picnic tables, perfect for enjoying a cold beer from the onsite micro-brewery, Napa Valley Brewing Company, and a casual bite. //

Bistro Don Giovanni: This Italian restaurant draws inspiration from its restaurant garden to maintain a daily changing menu, and with outdoor seating available in the garden, guests can feel inspired, too, knowing that many of the ingredients are harvested from their viridescent surroundings. At the centerpiece of the alfresco dining experience is Bistro Don Giovanni’s Commedia dell’arte fountain, with characters of a traditional 16th-century Italian theater swinging from poles and stilts that spark conversation. //