Hungry Nomad Lynn Houghton visits California’s Napa Valley, where there’s more than great weather on the menu.
Let’s face it hungry travellers; for gorgeous scenery and fair weather you aren’t going to get much better than Northern California’s Napa Valley. But there is also fine cuisine to be experienced here and a recent visit to Yountville threw up an amazing array of Michelin star gourmet restaurants, including Tom Keller’s French Laundry. However, being on a shoestring, it was a trip to nearby St. Helena for me, to the family-run Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet for some munchtastic Mexican grub and generally great American fare. This restaurant won the James Beard Foundation ‘American Classics’ Award in 2006 and it is easy to see why.
Fresh fish tacos, gorgeous green salads, corn on the cob or sloppy burgers, finished off with a fresh lemonade, are just a few of the offerings at Gott’s. Being a Mexican food addict, I couldn’t resist the fish tacos and they were fresh and messy, just the way I like them. Succulent mahi mahi is wrapped in a corn tortilla and drizzled with not too spicy taco sauce. Tomatoes for Gott’s burgers are grown in the garden at the nearby farm and the beef is raised by the Niman family on a local ranch. And, of course, it can all be washed down with a fine Californian wine (but remember to take it easy if you are driving).
Even when eating on a budget, ambience plays as important a role as in a five star restaurant. The Gott’s in St. Helena is a red and white painted former drive-in, boasting an enormous lawn with loads of picnic tables. It’s lovely enjoying your lunch while basking in the California sunshine. There is also a playground for the children; ample parking and the premises are kept squeaky clean.
Our ideal menu for two:
Fish Tacos x2 -
Fresh grilled Mahi Mahi in spicy taco marinade served in corn tortillas with Mexican slaw, salsa & jalapeño, cilantro, sour cream. 2 tacos per order – $12.99
BBQ Chicken - House-smoked, grilled chicken with slaw, bread & butter pickles, BBQ sauce & mayo on a toasted sourdough roll – $10.99
Western Bacon Blue Ring: Beef Burger topped with an onion ring, Point Reyes crumbled blue cheese, bacon, pickles, red onion & BBQ sauce on toasted egg bun – $10.99
Lemonade, old fashioned root beer or iced tea – $2.69 each (regular)
Glass of white wine – Napa Cellars 10 Chardonnay (Napa Valley) – $9.00
Glass of red wine – Chappellet 10 Cabernet Sauvignon (Napa Valley) – $12.00
TOTAL: $74.34, plus service