It’s a reasonable question: a Chowhound user who is planning to visit Napa likes the idea of visiting The French Laundry, but the specter of a quadruple-digit bill makes Thomas Keller’s famed restaurant a no-go. Are there any undercover bargains in Napa that are worthy of a special-occasion meal?

Napa expert CarrieWas218 says don’t bother seeking out a lesser-known restaurant in Napa: The area is well trod by tourists, locals, and day-trippers from the city. For her money, tapas at ZuZu make a memorable, affordable special-occasion meal. On another note, if you’re willing to eschew Keller’s precision for hearty French fare like onion soup and sole meuniere, Bistro Jeanty fits the bill.

As far as a tasting menu experience, you’re not likely to find budget versions in Napa. Look south, to Commonwealth in San Francisco and Commis in Oakland, both of which offer tasting menus for under $100 with optional wine pairings for an additional fee.

ZuZu [Napa Valley]
829 Main Street, Napa

Bistro Jeanty [Napa Valley]
6510 Washington Street, Yountville

Commonwealth [Mission District]
2224 Mission Street, San Francisco

Commis [East Bay]
3859 Piedmont Avenue, Oakland

Discuss: Is there such a thing as a poor man’s French Laundry in Napa?

Photo from Commonwealth

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