Not many chefs can say they earned a Michelin star before the age of 30, but Christopher Kostow can. Kostow—currently at the helm of the three-Michelin-starred The Restaurant at Meadowood—can also say he was this year’s James Beard Award Winner for Best Chef: West. The Chicago native has come a long way since working at San Diego’s George's at the Cove in 1999—he’s worked his way up the ranks at a slew of award-winning restaurants, including Le Jardin des Sens in Montpellier, Daniel Humm’s Campton Place Restaurant in San Francisco, and Chez TJ in Mountain View.
“Napa Valley is so fortunate in that we have a great abundance of local artisans, purveyors, and wilds to work with,” says Kostow. “St. Helena also has an incredibly close-knit sense of community one may be surprised to find in a tourist destination city.”
Napa Valley’s best restaurants, according to Kostow:
- Cook: "Always a favorite of mine in St. Helena. My wife and I go here for quiet date nights."
- Gott's Roadside: "They have the best burger ever. This is the only spot I go for cheap eats. It's just one of those great burger joints where the food is always consistently good."
- Himalayan Sherpa Kitchen: "St. Helena is a small town and not extremely ethnically diverse, yet they do thankfully have a fantastic spot for Himalayan food. My wife loves the lamb momos."
- Redd: "We recently went here for brunch on one of my rare days off. Ended up staying the entire afternoon. The brunch is great, sitting outside on the patio under cool, shading tents."
- Giugni W F & Son Grocery Co: "It's been around forever, and has that nostalgic quality that some New York delis have: old bric-a-brac on the walls, assembly-line-style prep, and you had better know your order when you get up there. This is a perfect to-go sandwich spot."
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Best Kept Secret
“It’s not a dining destination per se, but I’m always recommending Bale Grist Mill as a must-see for visitors. I am surprised how many people still don’t know about it or have never been. Once an operating mill from 1846 into the 1930s, it was restored and converted into a state park. You can visit and watch how the mill grinds grains into flour, and purchase some to take with you. Rye, spelt, corn. It’s fascinating to see the craftsmanship involved in the process of making flour.”
“I usually have a scotch neat after work at The Restaurant. But on days off, we've grabbed pre-dinner cocktails at Redd Wood's bar, which I really enjoyed."
Where to Stay
“Meadowood, of course. It may be a biased opinion, but it is truly situated on some of the most stunning property in the Upper Valley.”
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