“To complement your shrimp tacos, may I suggest a Rombauer 2009 Chardonnay?”
I must be joking, right? Sampling fine wines at a fast food joint?
Nevertheless, that’s what goes on every day at Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena, California.
Moreover, this Napa Valley institution serves up some outstanding meals. We’re not talking 5-star Thomas Keller Wine Country dining, but any top chef could enjoy this food.
Why? Because James Beard Foundation America's Classics winner Gott’s Roadside knows that fine meals start with high-quality, fresh ingredients, a major reason for its success.
Gott’s sources its all-natural, vegetarian fed beef (with no antibiotics or added growth hormones) from family-owned farms. Many vegetables come from its Napa Valley garden. Six times a week, freshly caught fish comes from San Francisco. An upscale local diary supplies the ice cream, and on and on.
And, yet the bill adds up to only a fraction of the cost of most Napa Valley dining experiences.
Above: A group of friends from Vancouver have their wines and glasses at the ready, while waiting for their food at Gott’s.
At Gott’s Roadside, leave the typical choices for elsewhere. Instead, seek out the many out-of-the-ordinary treasures on the menu.
Here, you have a choice of 12 kinds of burgers, including an ahi tuna one.
Gott’s makes great fish tacos, but with shrimp and ahi poki (raw tuna) ones on the menu, you won’t have to stick to the usual fish. From salads to desserts, Gott’s serves up something different.
Above: Seeing green? Those are Gott’s garlic fries, with parsley.
Always in my experience friendly and helpful, Gott's employees (and Taylor Automatic Refresher ones at this same St. Helena location before the name change) bring out food items on large metal trays. Drinks come separately.
The employees here are simply outstanding in every way.
Above: This customer made a huge mistake ordering regular fries instead of the utterly fantastic sweet potato ones.
Oh, you crispy beauties, I love you!
I’ve added ketchup, but these sweet potato goodies come dusted with chili powder, as well as with a side of Gott’s own ranch dressing. Yum!
On the left, I had issues with Gott’s California Grilled Chicken sandwich, but even here the superiority of the ingredients stood out.
The top-quality chicken was delicious, the lettuce as crisp and tasty as if it had just come from the garden, and the tomatoes absolutely outstanding with that rich heirloom flavor and juicy texture that I have never experienced with genetically engineered ones.
Nevertheless in my opinion, although a fantastic chicken sandwich, not nearly enough guacamole and jack cheese were used to make their California flavors “pop.”
The white pistachio shake at Gott's.
I ordered this White Pistachio shake super charged with Oreos infused throughout. Even so, my long-time Gott’s favorite tastes great without them.
Pumpkin shake at Napa Valley's Gott's.
All right, I cheated on White Pistachio with this pumpkin shake. I won’t do it again—well, at least until next October. In spite of my sinful ways, the pumpkin shake tasted absolutely heavenly.
Look for signs listing specials like the pumpkin shake and fried green tomatoes not on the regular menu.
Fresh, of course.
Don’t let summer weekend and grape harvest season queues at Gott’s intimidate you. They do move. You receive food prepared to order—no holding trays here—but have to devote a little extra time.
You can grab a paper menu to study while standing in line.
There’s extra parking out of sight of the highway on the south side.
This prep area reminds me of a beehive, incredibly busy for months on end.
Gott’s proves a majority young labor force can prepare and serve quality food and have fun doing it.
Although you can dine on tables in front or under a shelter attached to the kitchen, I much prefer the two more serene picnic areas in back.
During the winter rainy season, Gott’s puts up a big tent in one of the picnic areas.
The Napa Valley Wine Train rolls past Gott’s Roadside.
Due to a legal dispute, Taylor’s Automatic Refresher changed its name to Gott’s Roadside.
That was a huge blow because the old name represents a tradition going back to 1949. So many outstanding reviews of Taylor’s Automatic Refresher have appeared in top publications like Gourmet Magazine, and now the name changed.
However, be assured that nothing has changed at Gott’s in terms of the quality of the food and dining experience. The Gott brothers, owners since 1999, are still in charge.
Above: Happily, Gott’s still keeps this small Taylor’s Automatic Refresher sign in front because it was designated an historic landmark.
The photos above show the original location in St. Helena, my favorite because of its outdoor setting:
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA
From the city of Napa, take State Highway 29 north through Napa Valley to the south side of St. Helena. You will see Gott’s Roadside on the left side of Highway 29, also called Main Street, in St. Helena.
Gott’s at the Ferry Building
One Ferry Building, Space 6
San Francisco, CA
In San Franciso, you’ll find Gott’s on the ground level of the Ferry Building near north end. Enter from the hallway next to Ciao Bella Gelato.
Parking does not come easily or inexpensively in this neighborhood.
Instead, from along Market Street or from Fisherman’s Wharf, take the “F” historic streetcar line to the east end of Market Street. Unlike the other streetcar lines and BART, the “F” line runs at street level.
Or, from stations throughout much of the Bay Area, take BART rapid transit to Embarcadero Station. As you emerge, you will see the Ferry Building at the end of Market Street.
You can also easily walk to the Ferry Building from Financial and South of Market (SOMA) district hotels.
644 First Street
The Napa branch, found west of the Silverado Trail (Highway 121) near downtown Napa along First, adjoins the Oxbow Public Market, which Alysia Gray Painter of NBCUniversal called 40,000 square feet of "pure foodie wonderland."
Pure foodie wonderland also sums up Gott's Roadside.
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