Wine Country ‘Cue
The Best BBQ Joints in Napa Valley
WRITTEN BY Marisa McCann


Published On: December 05, 2022

Barbecue is perhaps the ultimate American food, with regional styles as diverse as the country itself. So while Texas, Memphis, Kansas City, or the Carolinas might immediately come to mind when one thinks of the nation’s best barbecue, the truth is there are plenty of seriously good BBQ spots worth seeking out in the middle of Napa wine country. From high-class BBQ bistros that pair smoked goodness with an array of the region’s finest wines to down-home joints serving up tried-and-true family recipes, the options are endless up and down the valley.


Beer Can Chicken // Photo courtesy of the Bounty Hunter


Located beside the Napa River on First Street, Bounty Hunter is known for having the best wine and barbecue selections in Downtown Napa. Patrons have access to an impressive library of local and international wines and spirits that can be enjoyed on their own, as part of a tasting flight, or paired with any dish on the restaurant’s delicious menu. Some menu staples include beer can chicken and the group-sized smokin’ BBQ platter with pulled pork, smoked beef brisket, half a rack of St. Louis ribs, and coleslaw. The atmosphere is relaxed and fun with community tables, high tops, wide booths, a full bar featuring an 18-page wine list from around the world, and over 40 American whiskeys available by the glass or for purchase in their retail shop. //


Busters BBQ // Photo courtesy of Frank Family Vineyards


Busters has been an institution for over 50 years, serving up authentic Louisiana-style barbecue in Calistoga since 1965. Located at the crossroads of Highway 29 and Lincoln Ave, this rustic, outdoor BBQ joint transports diners to the south with its bold and nostalgic flavors. Founder Charles “Buster” Davis slathers his secret sauce, passed down from generations, onto tri-tip, pork loin, pulled pork, ribs, and chicken. Patrons can choose to eat inside the wood-paneled dining room or outside on the new hillside patio surrounded by Redwoods. Live blues and jazz music is played outdoors on Sunday nights, where chances are good to run into the legend Buster himself. While adult beverages are unavailable on the menu, Buster’s Real Lemonade is highly recommended by Calistoga locals. //



Hidden in south Napa along Imola Avenue, this fast-casual restaurant is home to authentic Texas-style barbecue. Founded in Dallas by Travis Dickey in 1941, Dickey’s has become a low and slow-smoked barbecue legacy with more than 550 locations within 44 states. Featuring recipes that have been handed down for generations, the Dickey’s Napa menu includes beef brisket, pulled pork, St. Louis-style ribs, cheese jalapeño kielbasa, and hickory-smoked turkey with a variety of homestyle sides from brisket chili macaroni and cheese to jalapeño baked beans. The full menu is available for dine-in, pickup, or delivery and can be ordered online or through the Dickey’s app. //


Photo courtesy of Farmstead


For a laid-back yet Napa-chic experience, Long Meadow Ranch’s Farmstead Restaurant is just the ticket. Their menu, curated by Executive Chef Stephen Barber, celebrates American farmhouse cuisine with organic produce and grass-fed beef and lamb from the family farm, ranch, and vineyards, with items such as farm-fresh deviled eggs with pimento cheese, mini ham sandwiches on homemade cheddar biscuits, and caramelized beets with local goat cheese crema, greens, and chimichurri. In the restaurant’s front yard, a prominently displayed wood-fired smoker delivers intoxicating aromas as it slowly cooks St. Louis ribs, pulled pork, and paprika-spiced chicken wings. Whether visiting for brunch, happy hour, or dinner, their cocktail selections are not to be overlooked with whimsical names such as “Bee in a Bow Tie,” which combines barrel-aged gin and golden moon crème de violette with honey, lemon, pink peppercorn bitters, and egg whites or the “Peachy Keen” which comprises of bourbon, peach, lemon sherbet, and sparkling wine. Farmstead’s locally famous “Big Easy” beignets with bourbon caramel sauce are the perfect ending for sweet tooth lovers. //


Photo courtesy of The Q


After 11 years in Napa’s Bel Aire Plaza, local’s favorite The Q Restaurant moved into its new home on Main Street earlier this summer. Their new digs afford them greater indoor and outdoor dining space, plus a vibrant bar scene. The restaurant’s focus on American heritage and Memphis-style barbecue remains on center stage with popular menu items like fried gulf shrimp with habanero tartar sauce, roasted vinegar chicken, and baked-to-order cast iron skillet cornbread with honey butter. Chef de Cuisine Pablo Cerano is also known for his inventive fusion salads and soups such as beef brisket pho and Asian fried chicken salad. The bar’s craft cocktails and wine and beer list are equally noteworthy and are 50% off from 4-7 pm Monday – Friday. //


Photo courtesy of Red Rock Cafe


Situated on an unassuming neighborhood corner in Downtown Napa, Red Rock is a homey barbecue joint that has been around for more than 35 years. This Napa icon serves up hearty and delicious burgers, zesty barbeque sauce, and fried chicken strips that keep locals flocking. The sports game is always playing on the TV behind the bar, and the quaint dining room is full of red and white checker-clothed tables for families to dine in. Red Rock also provides one of the best on-tap beer selections in town and wines by the glass. Takeout is also a popular option, and the restaurant’s secret barbecue sauce is even available for grab-and-go for only $6 per bottle. //


Photo courtesy of the Rutherford Grill


Centered in the heart of Rutherford, amongst some of Napa’s oldest historic wineries like Beaulieu Vineyard and Inglenook, the Rutherford Grill has quickly become a favorite meeting place among valley winemakers and tourists alike. The island bar is the focal point of the interior dining space, where one can belly up to enjoy craft cocktails and delicious barbecue platters. Two levels of booth seating create a casual and comfortable atmosphere to enjoy an ample menu highlighting modern American comfort food and the best wines of the Napa region. Classic burgers and hearty salads are featured among the Grill’s slow-cooked entrées like Texas Hill Country-inspired barbecue pork ribs and the always popular BBQ combination plate, which includes slow wood-fire roasted rotisserie chicken and pork ribs served with coleslaw. The restaurant also offers an abbreviated but equally delicious menu for patio seating and always provides complimentary corkage to the first 750ml bottle. //



One of the newer barbecue spots in Napa Valley, Stanly Lane Smokehouse in Carneros, is a family-owned deli specializing in pit-smoked meat sandwiches. Signature sandwiches include the “Carnivore,” which piles pulled pork, brisket, bacon, caramelized onions, smoked Gouda, and BBQ sauce on a fresh ciabatta roll, and the “Carneros Cheesesteak,” which presses tri-tip, grilled peppers and onions, Swiss cheese, and garlic aioli between two slices of toasted sweet French bread. Also home to the seasonal Stanly Lane Pumpkin Patch, the Stanly Lane Smokehouse is the perfect fall family destination for dining, pumpkin picking, and enjoying the petting zoo through November 1. //