Taylor’s Automatic Refresher (aka Gott’s Roadside): Worth the Trip out to Wine Country (and Maybe a Plane Ticket Cross Country)featured
Update: Taylor’s Automatic Refresher is now named Gott’s Roadside — menu is the same
When Hua and I were doing long distance, Tivo was my friend. Don’t judge. One evening I caught a segment of Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives where spiky haired, double earringed Guy Fieri (roll the “r” please) was checking out a “money” classic burgers and shakes drive-in just north of Napa in St. Helena. Just as I was about switch back to the Top Model marathon (don’t judge) something caught my eye. Ahi tuna burger, just kissed from the grill, still pink and perfect inside. This was no ordinary roadside burger joint. OK, Guy, you have my attention.
For some reason, every time I flew in to SF, all I wanted to eat was a tuna burger with avocado. It was as if those ingredients just equated themselves with the West coast and sunshine and vacation and no worries in my mind.
The Food Network will be proud to know that based on this one segment, showing off those ridiculously good looking tuna burgers, I planned an impromptu surprise trip to Napa…with Taylor’s Automatic Refresher naturally at the center of my itinerary. True Story.
It was worth every mile flown across the country.
I finally got my tuna burger fix, and it kind of changed my life. The fresh fresh Ahi tuna is cooked just right (rare) and is dressed with a medley of flavors and textures that dance in your mouth. I sometimes wriggle around in my seat when I am eating something particularly delicious, and trust me, there was a good amount of wriggling going on here. The buttery tuna was cut nicely by the acidity of lime juice and crunch of the colorful red cabbage, Napa cabbage and shredded carrot slaw. A note of soy sauce boosted the flavor and the ginger wasabi mayo with its touch of heat was exactly the right sauce…wriggle wriggle wriggle!
Speaking of uncontrollable urges, as you can see from these pictures, a large part of Taylor’s charm is its set up, and fortunate location of course – I mean come on, you’re in gorgeous wine country and by default should be giddy with anticipation of partaking in the pleasures of this magical piece of land. This drive-in style joint is no dump, and is outfitted with picturesque picnic tables on a cushy green lawn that just makes you want to frolic.
After Hua worked up an appetite, he dove into his Western Bacon Blue Ring Burger, a brilliant combination of open-flame grilled juicy meat, topped with crumbled blue cheese, bacon, pickles, red onion, BBQ sauce, and crowned with a perfect, golden, onion ring. My God, I want to kiss Taylor on the face, whoever he is.
As far as sides go, my favorites were the thick, beer-battered Onion Rings (consistent, crispy and you could actually taste the sweetness of the onion) and the Sweet Potato Fries dusted in chili spice (we dominated those).
When you visit Taylor’s, you must remember that now is not the time to consider things such as calories. Get a Milkshake. They are all made with rich, creamy, Double Rainbow Ice Cream and are so thick you have no chance with that straw. I still dream about the White Pistachio Shake. Decadent, fragrant, and full of whole pistachios – and no weird, fake green food coloring – this is the best milkshake I’ve ever had.
So if you’re around this Memorial Weekend and find yourself with nothing to do…head up to Napa for the day — you won’t regret it.
933 Main Street
St. Helena, CA 94574
Ferry Building Marketplace (for your downtown fix; no green pastures, but some nice sidewalk seating for people watching)
1 Ferry Building, Space #6
San Francisco, CA 94111
Oxbow Public Market (open as of February 2008)
644 First Street
Napa, CA 94581