Napa Valley, California is one of my favorite destinations for a culinary vacation. Sure, you know the wine lists are going to be amazing at practically any restaurant; this makes sense, seeing that Napa is America’s premiere wine making region. With all those famous local wineries supplying bottles of superb, top-of-the-line wine, the restaurants strive to live up to those high standards. And many restaurants in Napa Valley do just that – for lunch, none better than Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen.
Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is in the Napa Valley town of St. Helena, which is convenient: St. Helena has the best shopping (with the most charming stores) of all of the Napa Valley towns, so lunch here makes for the beginning of a lovely afternoon. The ambience here isn’t as sophisticated and refined as, say, Bouchon or the restaurant at the Auberge hotel – and for lunch, it shouldn’t be. A homey, welcoming decor, along with a friendly staff, almost guarantees that lunch here is going to be a relaxed, highly enjoyable one. That staff, by the way, is also skilled at wine-matching. Their advice is impeccable, should you be uncertain as to what to order with your meal.
Every menu item is fresh and delicious here, but frequent guests know that a first-timer can’t miss the crispy flatbread appetizer. I also recommend the roasted artichoke appetizer, if you’re willing to get a little messy. If you’re planning a big dinner and want a light lunch at Cindy’s, the avocado and papaya salad fits the bill. Otherwise – if you have a wine-tasting tour in the afternoon, and want more padding – try the spice-rubbed quail, steak frites, or Backstreet Burger. All are simply delicious. If you like comfort food for lunch, along with a friendly atmosphere free of pretention, Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is the perfect Napa Valley restaurant choice. Oh, and don’t forget to order the Campfire Pie for dessert! This Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen version of a smore is an excellent way to end one of the best lunches in the wine region of California.