Despite my love for wine, travel, and the sunshine of California, I have not ever been to Napa Valley. Sad panda.
Just another reason to visit: Austin hotspot and “Best New Restaurant” James Beard Foundation Award nominee La Condesa just opened an outpost (view my coverage of the Austin location’s drinks here and food here). La Condesa Napa Valley, 1320 Main Street, St. Helena (707.967.8111; www.lacondesanapavalley.com) still features the vision of executive chef Rene Ortiz, blending traditional and innovative Mexican, an extensive tequila selection, artisanal cocktail menu, and California-driven wine list.
“The Napa Valley is one of the most beautiful places in the country, and its breadth of produce and ingredients is unparalleled,” says owner Jesse Herman. “We’re excited to work hand-in-hand with the region’s growers and producers to combine the flavors of the Napa Valley with the spirit of La Condesa.”
La Condesa Napa Valley sources locally whenever possible and Ortiz has designed many new menu items that highlight ingredients from Northern California and Bay Area purveyors. The Napa Valley location also serves favorites from the Austin menu, including Taquitos Arábicos (seared venison, pickled cucumber, chipotle harissa, fennel pollen yogurt and cilantro rolled in a bacon-fat tortilla); Hongo Y Huitlacoche Huaraches (crispy masa flat breads topped with wild mushrooms, huitlacoche, yellow corn, farmer’s cheese, queso chihuahua, epazote and a dash of truffle oil); and Cangrejo Tostadas (lump crab meat, green mango, grapefruit, tomato, chives and chipotle mayo).
Food is cooked over a wood-fired grill imported from Texas to add an essential Lone Star flavor to the menu. La Condesa Napa Valley’s menu of unique cocktails is overseen by the 2011 42Below Cocktail World Cup national champion, Nate Wales but still features faves like El Cubico and all fresh juices.
The interior of an historic building has been retrofitted to reflect the interior, quirky Mexican of the Austin location, including the whimsical art of Ortiz’s brother.
The restaurant is open nightly for dinner, from 5-10p, Sunday through Wednesday and from 5-11p, Thursday through Saturday. Lunch will be served from 11:30a to 2:30p, Monday through Friday; and brunch service will be available from 10a to 3p on Saturday and Sunday. Take me there!