Napa Valley’s True Treasure is in Calistoga

MIMG_8224It’s a good thing all the goodness of Calistoga is within a pleasant stroll of just a few quaint downtown blocks. It’s hard to not overindulge in Napa Valley’s best treasure.

Calistoga’s charm comes in many forms. The quiet streets, friendly people, quaint boutiques, spa treatments, excellent weather, and fabulous wine and cuisine are a few reasons it holds a special spot in so many hearts.

Mud Baths at Doc Wilkinson’s are a cornerstone of what makes Calistoga what it is today.

It should be illegal to visit Calistoga and not partake in one of California’s best traditions where Mark Wilkinson and his family have been providing rest, rejuvenation, and tranquility for generations. Mark’s dad was a famous Chiropractor who began offering the slice of heaven to visitors many decades ago at Doc DWHS-Mens-mud-front-side-51Wilkinson’s Hot Springs Resort. A mud bath and massage, fondly called “The Works” is an experience that cannot be duplicated anywhere else. Soaking in hydrotherapy pools, being wrapped in warm, aromatic linens, soaking in mineral hot springs/mud/and peat moss, and finishing off with an incomparable massage are some of what brings locals and visitors back year after year.

After a luxurious day of “spa-ing” at Doc’s, sitting outside in the courtyard sipping local wines and tasting local cheeses offers a perfect chance to plan an evening stroll and dine in downtown.

When your relaxing mood of perfect bliss has been achieved at Doc Wilkinson’s it’s time to experience the best wine and dining in Calistoga. Stop in Barolo for some wine and appetizers. This sassy, retro wine bar and restaurant is an object of textures and sensory experiences—from the walls to the food. Barolo boasts an excellent full dinner menu that will surprise. But save room and pace yourself for Brannan’s, the dining treasure and pinnacle of Calistoga since 1998.

BrannanAlthough the spectacular elegant and ranch-y atmosphere and stellar service never change the offerings do from time to time, as if there weren’t enough reasons already to return again and again.

You may want to sit at the original 19th century Branswick & Co bar to sip a cocktail or try some local artisan cheeses while soaking in the stunning craftsman interior and frequent live music by accomplished musicians known the world over.

Some newer favorites on the menu include a bucket of steamers prepared with Manila clams, garlic, white wine, parsley and drawn butter.

Recently added entrees include Herb Roasted Chicken with Fingerling Potatoes, Braised Kale, and pan jus, Grilled Pork Chop, brined for 3 days and served with winter squash, pancetta, and apple hash, and finally Salmon filet with a Citrus-Kumquat farro and Swiss Chard.

Brannan’s Chef Joey Lentz pulls out the stops with his creative, elegant, American comfort food, and he is a graduate of the South Central Culinary School in Minnesota and has worked with Meritage Resort in Napa.

Brannan’s is the largest restaurant in Calistoga and is perfect for accommodating large groups or quiet intimate gatherings.

BIMG_8240Excellent food, an award-winning wine list, decadent home-made desserts, outstanding wait service, impeccable management, and live music all add to the greatness. The owners, in addition to being locally and globally active humanitarians, also own an award-winning local winery, so visitors must take time to sample something from their winery as well.

Whether you and your mate are needing a weekend getaway or a quickie shopping and wine-tasting fix, Calistoga has something ever couple can savor and appreciate without the overt commercialism of other parts of Napa Valley.