With Napa Valley’s most planted grape variety being Cabernet Sauvignon, it is befitting that many of the area’s restaurants have burgers on their menus. Whether made from ground beef, lamb, pork, premier cuts of ribeye, or even plant-based meat options, they all present ideal pairings. Combine this with a renewed desire for comfort food, Napa Valley’s burgers are evolving into house specialties and favorites among locals and tourists alike. There are so many delicious options from which to choose; here are some of the best that Napa Valley has to offer.
1042 Freeway Dr, Napa // andiescafenapavalley.com
Family owned and operated Andies Café is one of Napa Valley’s local hangouts serving hungry Napans family-friendly “American Cuisine” for over two decades. Along with their popular sandwiches, salads, and break- fast burritos, the burgers are plenty. With 14 options on the menu, the stars are the wide selection of beef burgers, all made with ground chuck, which is ground fresh daily, generously portioned at 1/3 pound, and presented with a myriad of unique topping combinations. A crowd favorite is the brunch burger, topped with a fried egg, bacon, and hash browns. For those not eating red meat, Andies offers several turkey burgers and a vegetarian Garden Burger, which is also a favorite among her most discerning carnivore clientele. This year, Andies Café owner Susie Kastella is proud to be celebrating the restaurant’s 25th Anniversary. Local fans attribute the restaurant’s successful longevity to Kastella’s special sauce—her care and support for the people around her and her dedication to the local community.
813 Main St., Napa // avownapa.com
AVOW’s Chef Mike Williams shared his philosophy, “Food is an incredibly special thing. To me, food is what binds us. We connect over a bite; we feed our loved ones because we want to make them feel loved.” His approach to burgers exemplifies his conviction in creating nourishing food that brings people together. Williams takes great care to combine flavors, textures, and what he calls an “over-the-top wow factor” when taking that first bite. The restaurant’s signature eight-ounce AVOW Burger is topped with raclette cheese, bone marrow aioli, caramelized onions, and Dijon mustard on a pretzel bun. Williams also considers his Brunchwich a style of burger, made with a sausage patty in lieu of beef, and topped with bacon, ham, cheddar cheese, a fried egg, and maple reduction on a brioche bun. A Bacon Cheeseburger and Spicy Burger are also available. AVOW has a daily lunch special called “Burger and a Brewski,” which includes an AVOW Burger, fries, and the featured beer for $20.
BRASSWOOD BAR + KITCHEN
3111 St. Helena Hwy N, St. Helena // brasswood.com
St. Helena’s Brasswood Bar + Kitchen’s is a restaurant where wine country’s terroir and flavors come to life. Led by Executive Chef David Nuno and his veteran team, they bring decades of experience to the kitchen to create a celebration of cuisine through locally produced meats and produce. What distinguishes Brasswood’s Ribeye Burger from other restaurants is the use of high- quality ribeye, which sits atop a hearty, house-made brioche bun that holds up to the burger’s juicy richness. It is topped with cambozola, little gem lettuce, grilled onions, and pasilla aioli, accompanied by a side of truffle parmesan fries and a house pickle. Avocado, bacon, or an organic egg are available for an additional charge. Vegetarians may substitute the burger with the restaurant’s portobello mushroom stuffed with oven-roasted wild mushrooms, eggplant, red peppers, fontina cheese, parmesan, and salsa verde. The burger is available for lunch and takeout.
933 Main St., St. Helena // 644 First St., Napa // gotts.com
Founded in 1999, Gott’s Roadside is one of the Napa Valley’s most iconic brands, with two locations, the original in St. Helena’s former Taylor’s Refresher location, and the second at Napa’s Oxbow Public Market. Designed to be reminiscent of an American roadside classic restaurant, it offers enduring comfort foods like tacos, salads, milkshakes, and of course, burgers. The burgers include locally sourced ingredients such as the 100% Niman Ranch Angus beef, Panorama Baking toasted egg bun, lettuce and tomato, and their secret sauce made with Sir Kensington’s ketchup. Gott’s specialty is the California Burger, with a fried egg, Cowgirl Creamery’s Wagon Wheel cheese, Zoe’s bacon, arugula, balsamic onions, and mayonnaise on a toasted sesame brioche bun. For seafood lovers, the Ahi Burger is also on the menu: sushi- grade ahi tuna seared rare and topped with ginger wasabi mayonnaise, Asian slaw, and cilantro on a toasted egg bun. Gott’s was also an early adopter of the Impossible Burger for customers who do not eat meat and has options for dietary restrictions like gluten-free bread and dairy-free modifications.
NAPA PALISADES SALOON
1000 Main St., Ste. 100, Napa // napapalisades.com
Napa Palisades Saloon and Beer Company, founded in 2014, opened the brewpub doors in 2015 to offer the Napa community “pub grub” that rivals some of the Napa Valley’s best restaurants. Under the culinary helm of Partner and Executive Chef Tim Brown, it offers two burgers. The first is the Saloon Burger, made with white cheddar, stout- braised onions, house-made Grandma Brown’s pickles, and “The Sauce,” a proprietary concoction with a smoky flavor. The second is the lamb burger topped with feta cheese, roasted red peppers, wild arugula, and Sambal mayonnaise. The restaurant sources potato buns from Napa’s Alexis Baking Company because they stand up to the burgers’ weight and juiciness. While the Saloon Burger is the restaurant’s house specialty, co-owner Chuck Meyer’s favorite is the lamb burger. “The meat is a special blend of lamb, spices, and chopped veggies that are an amazing blend of flavors just in the patty itself. I have many friends who swear by it. It has its own following, and they are devoted,” said Meyer. For vegetarians and vegans, the menu also has a Beyond Burger.
NAPA VALLEY BISTRO
975 Clinton St., Napa // napavalleybistro.com
Napa Valley Bistro, under the leadership of Executive Chef and Principal, Bernardo Ayala and business partner, Ernesto Martinez, is one of downtown Napa’s charming and beloved local and tourist favorites, worth veering off Main Street to discover. The dining ambiance is casual and comfortable with a sense of understated elegance. The lunch menu uses local meat and other ingredients. It includes the Bistro Burger – made with Painted Hills grass-fed beef, bistro dressing, lettuce, tomato, onion, and house-made pickles atop a brioche bun and the Fallen Hills Lamb Burger, a first-place winner in a recent “Best of” competition in St. Helena. The award-winning lamb burger is topped with sweet heirloom tomatoes, wild arugula, creamy feta cheese, and earthy rosemary aioli, with a side of potato chips. Cheddar, jack, gruyère, Point Reyes Original Blue Cheese, applewood smoked bacon, and avocado are optional toppings for both burgers.
SQUEEZE INN HAMBURGERS
3383 Solano Ave, Napa // squeezeinnhamburgers.com
When Napan Jay Bakker was in college at Chico State, his friend at Sacramento State took him to the original Squeeze Inn in Sacramento, California. “I thought nothing of it, but once I tried it, I knew it was some- thing special,” said Bakker. When he graduated from college, Bakker contacted the owner, Travis Hausauer, to see if he might be interested in franchising the brand. They reached an agreement, and in 2006, Bakker became the owner of Squeeze Inn’s second location in Napa. Featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” Napa’s Squeeze Inn Hamburgers’ claim to fame is the crowd-favorite Squeezeburger with its beloved Cheese Skirt, a pile of fried shredded cheddar cheese that stretches a few inches beyond the burger and sesame seed bun. The Squeezeburger can be made without the bun or the cheese skirt for their gluten or dairy-free customers. For vegans and vegetarians, Squeeze Inn also offers a Gardenburger.
Other Burgers Not to Miss
Napa also has a couple of burger joints that are off the beaten path. The first is GOOSE AND GANDER, tucked away on Spring Street in St Helena. They are best known for their haute selection of burgers made from grass-fed beef and topped with such foodie delicacies such as bone marrow and duck egg. – 1245 Spring St., St. Helena // Winter hours have changed. Check website for current hours of operation. // goosegander.com
The second is the ORIGINAL RED ROCK CAFÉ, nestled into a corner of a shopping plaza on Lincoln Avenue. Red Rock has six burgers on the menu made with beef, chicken (grilled or fried), fish, turkey, and veggies and is best known for its wide selec- tion of condiments and toppings which can be customized to suit any craving. // 1010 Lincoln Ave., Napa // backdoorbbq.com
Angele // angelerestaurant.com
Big D Burgers // facebook.com/bigdburgersnapa/
Charter Oak Restaurant // thecharteroak.com
Compline // complinewine.com
Downtown Joe’s // downtownjoes.com
Nation’s Giant Hamburgers // nationsrestaurants.com
Norman Rose Tavern // normanrosenapa.com
Article By: Elizabeth Smith