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Top Yountville Dining: The Keller Constellation

Top Yountville Dining: The Keller Constellation

It’s not an exaggeration to say that Thomas Keller put Yountville on the Napa Valley map for fine dining when he opened The French Laundry in 1994. Now his star has grown into a constellation of four dining options in downtown Yountville, among a litany of other highly regarded restaurants—astonishing for such a small and picturesque place (see also “Stellar Yountville Dining”). Here is our guide to Yountville dining with Thomas Keller.

The French Laundry
Chef Thomas Keller’s debut Yountville restaurant, The  French Laundry, was started in 1994 in a building that was, among other things, a French laundry. Since then, it has earned the reputation as one of the best – if not the best – French restaurant in the United States, consistently earning three Michelin stars. From the beginning, Keller created a beautiful home-like environment for imaginative meals and distinctive wines served by an attentive staff. The menu is different each night, with the choices always offering something wonderful. The food and wine there is not inexpensive, but it is genuinely worth it. The food is served in smallish portions, with no single ingredient being repeated during the course of a meal. As you might have guessed, reservations are difficult to get. A tip: buy their wine, as the list is amazing, and the corkage is $150 per bottle.

6640 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599
For reservations call (707) 944-9280

Bouchon Bistro
Chef Keller was so successful with The French Laundry that he opened a bistro called Bouchon a few steps up the road in another elegant, yet eclectic location. Bouchon offers fine dining both indoors and outdoors on their patio. It is open for lunch, dinner and late night, as well as brunch on weekends. It also offers Michelin-award winning food and wine, but has an everyday menu from which you can select. The offerings go from pan-seared eye of the rib and sauce Béarnaise to sturgeon caviar with toasted brioche and crème fraîche or Maine Bouchot mussels – all with an array of soups, salads and desserts. The wine list is comprehensive, and the corkage is $35 per bottle. There is also the famous Bouchon Bakery, which is housed across the patio and is part of the experience. From the time it opens in the morning, through lunch and into the early evening hours, people line up at all hours to savor its delectable baked goods and exquisite coffee.   

6534 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599
For reservations call (707) 944-8037 or contact Open Table

Ad Hoc
Ad Hoc is still a further alternative restaurant in Yountville, opened by Keller as an homage to the American food he grew up with. Ad Hoc was originally housed in a “temporary” building in 2006, which soon became its permanent home (with some upgrades) as the locals and tourists grew to love it. That is how this less-expensive bistro made it to become a place where family-style comfort food dinners are served in a friendly atmosphere. Each dinner consists of a four-course meal that changes daily. Again, the restaurant has earned accolades such as a three-star rating from the San Francisco Chronicle, among others. The beer and wine list is long and excellent, and the cocktails are imaginative and delicious. There is corkage of $35 per bottle, but the wine list is good enough and well priced enough that you don’t have to bring your own. This is the casual way to enjoy a Thomas Keller meal.  

Addendum is an addition to Ad Hoc, serving boxed lunches to go from Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. For $16.50 guests have a choice of either their famous buttermilk friend chicken or barbecue pork ribs or pulled pork sandwich, each accompanied by two house-made sides.

6476 Washington St., Yountville, CA 94599
For reservations at Ad Hoc and Addendum call (707) 944-2487 or contact Open Table

Pick the Thomas Keller restaurant that suits your mood and occasion, but make your Yountville dining reservations well in advance. Just remember, there’s a good reason they’re so popular.

By Thomas Pickering

Napa Valley resident Tom Pickering is a grizzled 25-year veteran of writing about food and beverage. He has traveled to Ireland, Scotland, England, France, Italy and China to write about everything from the perfect pint of Guinness and single-malt Scotch whiskey to pasta truffles and tongue of chicken. Tom currently writes winery newsletters, websites and general copy for a range of customers.

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