For reasons of produce, lifestyle and inspiration, many chefs and restaurateurs dream of working in California’s Napa Valley. For that, I tip my hat to them because the region’s competitive bar is constantly climbing. The market’s fine-dining restaurants—Auberge du Soleil, The French Laundry, Terra and La Toque, among many others—have become nearly as well known worldwide as its wines. But admirable service and noteworthy foods are not limited to such star-scoring establishments, ...

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