Craig Smith

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association.

J.L. Sousa/Register

If you haven’t been to BurgerFi at 967 First St., at the western side of the First Street Bridge, go and sit at the top when you do.

You’ll get one of the best river views anywhere. Watch birds, kayakers and the occasional paddle boarder as you enjoy burgers that contain no steroids, antibiotics, growth hormones, chemicals or additives.

They are 100 percent natural Angus beef patties without all the junk. Besides burgers, BurgerFi is known for what they call the VegeFi burger, Vienna and Kobe-style hot dogs, hand-cut french fries and onion rings, frozen custard and natural sugar cane sodas. BurgerFi is committed to “natural.”

The Napa restaurant features chairs made from recycled Coca-Cola bottles, tables made from recycled wood, and ceiling fans that conserve electricity.

In their words, the place is “less burger joint and more five-star restaurant. There are no shortcuts at BurgerFi – or microwaves, freezers or heat lamps.

All recipes are created from natural, fresh ingredients that require team members to chop, mix, and prepare daily.”

Open daily. Enjoy both the food and scenery.

What a difference…

When the Thomas closed and Ninebark succeeded it, people were skeptical. They aren’t any more.

Two Michelin star winner Matt Lightner is the chef, and he has made believers out of diners since the day Ninebark opened at 813 Main St., across from Veterans Memorial Park.

Michael Bauer, food critic at the San Francisco Chronicle, said that the pickle plate was one of the best things he’d eaten all week. Lightner is also getting raves for his skewer plates. Not just chunks of meat on a skewer, Lightner’s skewer’s present new ways of smoking, grilling and marinating.

Lightner, considered one of the most innovative chefs in the world, started his career in Oregon, spent two years in Copenhagen and Spain, then moved to New York, where he earned his Michelin stars at Atera.

He wanted to return to the West Coast, and jumped at the chance to come to Napa. He describes his food as market-forward, California-inspired. He grows most of his produce at the Copia gardens. Ninebark is open every day except Monday. Check out the menu at ninebark-napa.com.

Happy New Year!

Tarla Mediterranean Grill, 1480 First St., next to the Andaz Hotel, will be celebrating New Year’s Eve. Dine from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. and enjoy the full menu. New Year’s Eve celebrants can select the $75 per person menu, and let Tarla spoil you. The evening’s entertainment includes a DJ and belly dancer.

“We have belly dancing at some of our winemaker’s dinners, and it’s been very popular. We sell out at those every time,” said owner Yusuf Topal. “It’s going to be a very fun night.” 255-5599 or tarlagrill.com.

Hope your Christmas was the best. Happy New Year to everyone, and thank you for your support in 2015.

See you downtown!

Craig Smith is the executive director of the Downtown Napa Association. Reach him at 257-0322 or craig@donapa.com.

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