Napa's dream

A river-centered revival in the heart of the Wine Country

Napa Downtown Trolley
Photo: Lindsay Miller

River floods leave fertile soil in their wake, the silver lining to the havoc wrought. But instead of cropland, the Napa River is repaying its namesake city with a revitalized downtown scene. Though a long-term restoration project is still years from completion, local riverfront culture has already bloomed.

The new gallery-cum-nightclub in the overhauled 1884 Napa Mill complex epitomizes the city's focus on the arts. By day, the space exhibits regional and contemporary artists as MJ Schäer Gallery (9-6 daily; 500 Main St.; 707/251-3726); by night, it jumps as a jazz club, DG's (closed Mon-Wed; admission varies; 707/253-8474). "There's a lot going on here," says Michael Schäer, the gallery's owner. "The whole face of the downtown and riverfront is changing."

Sleek Celadon ($$$; lunch Mon-Fri, dinner daily; 500 Main; 707/254-9690), with its Mediterranean cuisine, relocated to the Napa Mill in September 2002. In fact, the business district teems with good choices: Pilar ($$$; lunch Tue-Sat, dinner Mon-Sat; 807 Main; 707/252-4474) has delicious California cuisine with French and Spanish influences; the menu at elegant new Restaurant Budo ($$$$; lunch and dinner Mon-Sat; 1650 Soscol Ave.; 707/224-2330) features Asian-accented dishes. Plus, don't miss the gorgeous and extravagantly good cakes at Sweetie Pies (520 Main; 707/257-7280).



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