Editors' Picks

French Laundry

6640 Washington Street Yountville


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Considered by many to be the best restaurant in the country, the French Laundry was awarded three Michelin stars in 2007 and has kept them ever since. A meal here is more of a sensory experience, akin to going to the opera or touring the Louvre, than about simply eating. The two nine-course menus are exquisite (expect a three-to-four-hour dining time), and reservations are hard to get. There’s a one-month advance reservation policy, so be sure to plan early.

Chef Thomas Keller presides over the run-like-clockwork kitchen most nights, and his signature dishes, which make the most of seasonal produce, are revelations of taste. Where else can you discover that artichokes have a vast range of flavor and sweetness? But unlike his grand restaurant in New York, Per Se, here the atmosphere is true California, with no pretension permitted. The small dining rooms resemble those in a simple country house. Getting up between courses and wandering out to the pretty enclosed back garden by the kitchen is encouraged, although appropriate attire is required (that means no t-shirts, shorts or tennis shoes).

You may spend hours and a small fortune, but it’s a dining experience you are unlikely to ever forget. The trick: gather a group and book the semi-private dining room, which seats up to twelve and can be booked a year ahead.

Written by Melissa Ceria

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