Set in the small but mighty culinary mecca of Napa Valley, the BottleRock music festival always brings it when it comes to the food and drink lineup, powered by Michelin-starred restaurants, innovative chefs, premium ingredients (from wagyu beef to pig ears), and world-renowned wineries. Yet the sheer amount of incredible options can be overwhelming, so we’ve narrowed it down for you. These are the top food and drink items to seek out over the course of the upcoming Labor Day weekend festival.
Blanchard’s Fried Chicken
10-piece Whole Bird Bucket, $60
Past BottleRocks have slung hundreds of buckets of Thomas Keller’s famous Ad Hoc fried chicken, but Blanchard’s, a cult favorite of Napa locals, will easily fill those shoes in Keller’s absence this year. Master Sommelier-turned-chef Chris Blanchard’s recipe is partly adapted from his southern Grandmother’s. His chicken spends two to three days bathing in whole buttermilk (plus some other aromatics) and is then dredged in flour, spices, copious amounts of cayenne, and some “secret ingredients.” Here’s the slightly tricky part: to find Blanchard’s fried chicken at BottleRock, look for the Mustards Grill booths in both the General Admission Garden and VIP areas. The buckets are perfect for sharing with a few friends — or for making new ones.
Woodhouse Fish Co.
Maine Lobster Roll, $30
Although BottleRock’s culinary lineup is Napa Valley-focused, concertgoers will recognize a few friendly faces from the Bay, like San Francisco’s Woodhouse Fish Co. The Maine lobster roll (pickled lobster meat tossed with celery, lemon aioli, and chives and served in a toasted roll) is a light and refreshing option that won’t give you a stomach cramp if you decide to hit up the silent disco immediately after eating. They’ll have crab rolls too, in case you’re more into that.
Slow Smoked Wagyu Beef Brisket Sandwich, $20
Another tempting option from the Mustards Grill tent (in both VIP and the GA Garden) is the wagyu brisket sandwich. Snake River Farms wagyu beef is slow-smoked for 14 hours and served with fresh coleslaw and house-made pickles. In operation for more than 30 years (back when Napa Valley was known as a culinary desert) you can always count on chef Cindy Pawlcyn’s Mustards to nail it on elevated comfort classics like this.
Sweet & Sour Pig Ears, $12
St. Helena’s Press Restaurant will be serving up one of their staple starters: sweet and sour pig ears made with an espelette glaze and topped with cilantro. This is definitely one of those “don’t knock it ‘till you try it” dishes and in our opinion, well worth a $12 gamble, for Press chef Philip Tessier (formerly of Le Bernardin, Per Se, and The French Laundry) knows what he’s doing. The only catch? You’ll need access to the BottleRock VIP section to snag them.
Loveski Fries, $22
Three Michelin-starred Meadowood chef Christopher Kostow will be previewing his family’s upcoming “Jew-ish” deli, Loveski (set to open in Napa’s Oxbow Public Market by the end of the year), at BottleRock. While the menu does feature a classic roast beef sandwich, it’s the Loveski Fries (crinkle-cut fries, fondue, crispy pastrami, jalapenos) that perfectly fit the bill of BottleRock’s “elevated festival fare.”
Goose & Gander
G&G Jr. Burger, $15
Ask a Napa Valley local where you can get the best burger in Wine Country and chances are they’ll point you towards Goose & Gander. The St. Helena eatery will be cooking up a junior version of their famous, insanely juicy, and messy burger at BottleRock (in the VIP section only), consisting of grass-fed beef, gruyere, bacon, a housemade remoulade, Manhattan pickle, and gem lettuce. They’ll also have the same burger Impossible-style — and the side of duck fat fries ($8) is a must to get the full effect.
Just Pink! California Rosé, $10
If we’re being honest, Cabernet on a hot summer day just doesn’t sound all that appealing. That’s why we’ll be making a be-line for the Fayard Wines cabana and a glass of the Just Pink! California Rosé. Made in a Provencal style from syrah, grenache, and pinot noir grapes, this wine is incredibly refreshing and would be a great pairing with a bucket of Blanchard’s fried chicken or Woodhouse’s lobster roll. It’s also made by one of Napa’s top winemakers, Julien Fayard, who just so happens to hail from Provence.
Ace & Vine
Boba Thai Chai Tea, $8
There’s a surprising number of alcohol-free options at BottleRock (offered at various restaurant tents), so when you’re looking for something that’s just plain refreshing, seek out the Boba Thai Chai Tea from Ace & Vine, one of Napa Valley’s newest restaurants that doubles as the only card room in town. Consider this a preview to your BottleRock afterparty.