Most of us have a favorite dining spot we return to over and over again. For my money, Bistro Jeanty never fails to entertain or to provide exemplary French food in an authentic, unpretentious atmosphere.

Mike and I have been going there for years, and it’s still our number one go-to stopover after a day of wine tasting in the Napa Valley or even as a special trip. We’ve even spent New Year’s Eve at Jeanty—twice—it fits like an old friend. As soon as you walk in the door, you are magically transported into a rustic French village, where peasant food handed down through the ages is served alongside more contemporary dishes.

There’s something for everyone at Bistro Jeanty. A nostalgic respite for Francophiles, a warm and cozy dining room for a special date, a convivial bar scene (if you are fortunate enough to catch one of the six empty bar stools, where conversation always involves other patrons as well as the bartender); a boisterous communal table for ten, and a few two and four tops sprinkled about. And in summer, you can escape the heat under the covered patio and watch the world go by.

We like to be spontaneous, and since you need a reservation to get in to Jeanty on weekends and often on weeknights as well, we frequently opt for a very late lunch or a very early dinner. The menu doesn’t change, except for specials, and it includes the old standbys like Coq au Vin and Bouef Bourguignon, and also the exotic: Rabbit, lamb’s tongue, pork belly and veal kidney dishes. Then there are the bread-sopping comfort meals—rich tomato soup topped with a puff pastry crust, fresh mussels in red wine, pork roasts in tasty au jus.

I love that we can linger over a bottle of wine—unhurried by waitstaff, keeping the table the entire night while sampling a variety of dishes from appetizers through dessert. These special occasions are generally a budget buster ($150+ for two) but we can also slip in early for a dozen oysters and a glass of French Chablis before continuing on to a less pricey local eatery, or have a rich, steaming bowl of soup and shared salad at the bar and walk away completely satiated.

A 40 minute drive from Benicia, Bistro Jeanty competes with Redd, the French Laundry, Bouchon, Ad Hoc and other well-known Yountville hotspots, but it still holds its own and then some, packing in the crowds and delivering delicious, regional French food seven days a week for the past thirteen years.

Bistro Jeanty
6510 Washington Street
Yountville, CA 94599