Downtown Napa’s West End is reinventing itself

The long-neglected west end of downtown Napa is undergoing a resurgence, sparked by a stylish hotel that has blazed a trail for new restaurants, wine-tasting rooms and retail shops. No need for a car; you can walk to everything in this six-square-block area. Adding to the buzz is the Uptown Theatre, a restored Art Deco gem that is now an intimate concert hall featuring such name acts as Chris Isaak, Mother Hips and “Weird Al” Yankovic.

The bed

The Avia Napa (1450 1st St.; (707) 224-3900; rooms start at $240) is the centerpiece of the West End. The 141-room boutique hotel has an eclectic mix of styles, from modern to rustic. Be sure to follow the black marble staircase to the second-floor deck, which has a party vibe with shaded cabanas, fire pits, porch swings and rocking chairs — but alas, no pool. We booked a basic guest room but were upgraded to a mini-suite because our room wasn’t ready. The 385-square-foot rustic-chic studio suite had a king bed with a chocolate brown leather headboard, hickory hardwood floors and a small living area with a sofa. The bathroom was a marvel of marble with a large countertop and an enormous shower complete with a redwood stool and a waterfall shower head.

The meal


Breakfast at the Avia can’t be beat. Start with a Green Smoothie (organic apples, pears, bananas, kale, spinach and apple juice), then go decadent with a plate of yummy roasted plantain buttermilk pancakes ($7-$17). Good lunch or dinner options are across the street. Oenotri (1425 1st St.; [707] 252-1022) is a popular place for salumi and pizza ($10-$29). Norman Rose Tavern (1401 1st St.; [707] 258-1516) serves killer lamb burgers in an inviting setting ($9-$23). A terrific inexpensive option is Bistro Sabor (1126 1st St.; [707] 252-0555), which specializes in Latin American street food ($5-$13) and has salsa dancing on Saturday nights. (The West End is compact, and Bistro Sabor and Wildcat are just steps outside its somewhat fuzzy boundary lines.)

The find

Two, actually: You can create your own wine blend to take home at District 4 (1405 2nd St.; [707] 254-4906), as well as do tastings from four local vineyards. Wildcat Vintage Clothing (1210 1st St.; [707] 224-3162) offers a fab mix of used and new retro as diverse as bowling shirts and wedding dresses, cowboy boots and bathing suits.

The lesson learned

Planning pays. If I had checked the Uptown Theatre schedule, I would have bought tickets and come a week later to see Lyle Lovett.

The tab

Besides gas for the 800-mile round trip, we spent about $650, including $500 for two nights at the Avia (AAA rate with breakfast included) and about $150 for dining out.