Napa's Family Friendly Dining (Upvalley: St Helena)

Taylor's Refresher

Taylor's Refresher, Saint Helena, Napa Valley

This old time burger joint has been updated and its gourmet offerings have been raved about in Gourmet Magazine, the NY Times magazine, and the SF Chronicle, among many others. Avoid the long lines at lunchtime and eat an early dinner with the locals and families coming home from work, little league, or dance lessons. Everyone mingles together at the picnic tables in the back. The grass is a perfect place to enjoy Napa's legendary perfect temperatures at dusk. Kids run around on the lawn and they will love the mini-hotdogs, milkshakes, and burgers. Adults will thrill to the fish tacos and the unbelievable wine-by-the-glass menu. You will make friends in the outdoor dining area, and see why the Napa Valley hospitality and lifestyle are renowned and even appreciated by kids. It's not cheap ($15-20 per person on average) but it's so much fun.

Pizzeria Tra Vigne

Don't confuse it with its sister property a block away: the (overrated) pricey Tra Vigne. This modern pizza place features awesome calamari, salads, pizza, and pasta informally served at large comfortable wooden booths, or outside at big shady tables. An enormous lawn lets the kids frolic while they wait for pizza (Margherita is the locals' choice for kids; adults love the Vespa which is a combo of local chicken apple sausage, dandelion greens, and carmelized onions). The evening's thrill for kids is the arrival of the wine train; they can safely approach and see this antique old train rumble through the grounds. Bring a ball for catch on the patio of Merryvale Winery across the way... and bring your appetite for deliciously seasoned modern Italian food. Kids can color or play with their own blob of pizza dough as they watch the cooks move food in and out of the huge brick oven. Plan on about $15 per person; less if you share large pizzas and salads.

Silverado Brewing Company

Just north of St Helena on Highway 29 is an old stone winery (Freemark Abbey) with an attached brewpub. It's large so waits are almost never an issue. Sit inside in the bar area to see the brewery tanks and the huge TVs, or sit in the comfortable simple dining room. You can even sit outside at big picnic tables. The onion rings, buffalo wings, burgers, and mussels are local favorites. It's relaxing and low-key, kids are always welcome and appreciated by the staff. Leave mom at the table to relax with a pint of Blonde Ale, while Dad takes the kids on a stroll around the huge property while your order is prepared.  Runs about $10-$15 per person.