Twenty-five years ago bothers Joel and Duncan Gott had a vision for what they called a “humble roadside stand” that had been on the main thoroughfare of St. Helena since 1949.

While the sign for Taylor’s Refresher still exists on the edge of Highway 29, Gott’s Roadside is what the restaurant is known as today. It was the Taylor family who started the burger joint way back when.

The Gott brothers leased the Napa Valley location in 1999. A trademark lawsuit in 2010 ended with the brothers rebranding the growing chain to Gott’s Roadside Tray Gourmet.

Gott’s Roadside in St. Helena is an iconic eatery in Napa Valley. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

If the name Joel Gott sounds familiar, it’s because there is a winery by the same name. Same person, different business. The winery made its mark with Zinfandel grapes from Amador County.

Gott’s Roadside has a bit of a cult following. Lines are the norm—but they move fast. In 2006 it earned a James Beard award as an American classic restaurant.

It was the perfect dinner spot on a recent trip to Wine Country where part of the festivities included a burger and fry loving friend turning 60.

This isn’t fast food. Well, it was fast. It’s quality food. As many ingredients as possible are locally sourced.

Beside burgers, Gott’s has ahi poke crispy tacos with sushi grade ahi tuna, chicken schnitzel sandwich with harissa and turmeric spiced mayos, and a chicken kale Caesar. Yes, there are choices for a vegetarian. Beer, wine and Strauss ice cream are also on the menu.

The St. Helena location is a park-like setting, with a multitude of picnic tables on a grassy oasis that are spaced far enough apart from others to not have conversations compete with each other. This is in the back of the property so you don’t even know you are not far from a busy thoroughfare.

Gott’s menu in St. Helena seems to have something for most diets. (Image: Kathryn Reed)

It really is good food.

Other locations include:

  • Napa (Oxbow Market)
  • San Francisco (Ferry Building)
  • San Francisco (Chase Center)
  • San Francisco Airport
  • Palo Alto
  • Walnut Creek
  • Greenbrae.

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