Downtown Joe's American Bar And Grill

Downtown Joe's American Bar And GrillDowntown Joe's American Bar And Grill
Downtown Joe's American Bar And GrillDowntown Joe's American Bar And Grill
Brewery, Bar, Eatery, Beer-to-go

902 Main Street
Napa, California, 94559
United States

(707) 258-2337 | map

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Ratings by Camjmorton:
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Rated by Camjmorton from Virginia

3.6/5  rDev -2.2%

Sep 09, 2014
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Mar 07, 2015
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Sep 10, 2014
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Jun 01, 2014
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Reviewed by FightingEntropy from Minnesota

4.08/5  rDev +10.9%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Pictures at

Planned in advance, we had dinner at Downtown Joe's in Napa after a day of sampling wines in the valley. While we enjoyed the drive and the sampling the valley's wine, especially the port offerings at Prager Winery and Port Works (the only wine we bought), finishing our day at brewpub in the iconic bastion of wine country was irresistible.

Since most of the wineries close early (by 4:30 pm or earlier), we made happy hour and got discounted appetizers for dinner. Garlic Beer Fries were very good and hit the spot, versions of which we've had through out the trip in northern California. The homemade guacamole was fine but below par for what I expected for being out west and the chips didn't support well enough.

Skipped getting samples and went right for the hops of the Tantric IPA: thin white head and a orange marmalade color like Masala Mama; strong grapefruit and apricot in the nose with a floral and spicy hoppiness; blended hop bite and a balanced sweetness; a very strong IPA hidden in the legendary land of vineyards. Gloria's Overdue Porter was solid for the style and warmed nicely as we ate.

On the recom of our solicitous bartender, I finished with the double IPA, Double Secret Probation: delicate stark white lacing over an amber ale with gold highlighted; clean singular hop nose with sweet breadiness and honey underneath; taste is sharp and chewy; slightly hot and a little out of balance. Bartender said the beer's name is an allusion to Animal House. Evidently the movie was filmed at the University of Oregon (Ducks), the alma mater of the actual Downtown Joe. The bartender preferred this over the Tantric because it had more punch (alcohol) but the bar actually sells more Tantric

Another 100 plus degree July day in the inland, we survived only with cranking the air in the car between stops plus the industrial strength misting systems of Sterling Vineyards. As a result, we really appreciated the almost chilly AC in the pub in spite of it being in a historic building (100 year old Oberon building, a Napa landmark according to the sign). Settling into the comfortable restaurant for dinner with seemingly all locals, we enjoyed the food, beer and welcoming feel. Downtown Joe's is a great place to get a post-winery hop fix.
Sep 17, 2013
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Reviewed by colonelforbin from California

3.13/5  rDev -14.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 2.75 | selection: 3.5
Located right along the river in downtown Napa. Great place to stop for a beer before a show at the Napa Valley Opera House. Pretty large space. Wrap around bar with seating for about 15-20, multiples tables in front room, a big room in back and a nice patio with outdoor TVs and a nice view of the river.

Selection was pretty solid when I've been in. Generally between 7-10 or more house beers on tap and some nice guest taps, including Russian River sours.

Service was pretty standard. This place gets busy at times so it can sometimes take a few minutes. Beers are sometimes served in a chilled pint glass, which definitely detracts from the beer.

Quality of the beers has ranged from OK to a little better than average. Their double IPA has at times been quite tasty. Other beers from them have been decent but nothing special or all that interesting.

Worth checking out if you are already in the downtown Napa area, but nothing to go way out of your way for.
May 21, 2013
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Reviewed by bigd03

4.9/5  rDev +33.2%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 5 | selection: 5 | food: 4
I am not a wine drinker. So when my brother decided to get married in Napa, I assumed I was gonna have to learn to choke down some wine...until I came across Joe's! The food was good, and they have a great selection of beers. If you are not sure what kind you want, they have a great little sampler of all of them. I ended up there twice in 3 days to enjoy the tasty IPAs they had on tap including a triple IPA that was not on the menu, that blew my mind. I plan to return to wine I can enjoy some great beer!
Dec 09, 2012
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Reviewed by IronCitySteve from Pennsylvania

3.83/5  rDev +4.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5
Stopped in here after hitting up the Alexander Valley way up in Sonoma County. Near the River Walk area.

A: A pretty standard looking bar with bar and brew souvenirs and items all along the walls. They also had a decent amount of televisions. More than ample seating and we were there around 6pm but it was still not overly crowded. Seemed like there were more 'locals' than tourists in the place.

Q: Brews were made fresh there so no concern about freshness or quality. Tap lines were cleaned as was explained to us by the bartender.

Ser: The service was efficient and the bartender was willing to chat us up since it was not overly crowded. Bartender knew all about the brews and was eager to discuss them.

Sel: They had multiple brews of their own making on tap. They had 8 brews on tap that they make on site and some guest drafts. They had a few bottles as well, including some Parabola and S&N Jack and Ken. They offer reasonable pints and samplers. The bartender gave a few samples to us to try. Went with the Lou Paine Pale Ale.

F: Nothing spectacular, typical bar type food. Was tasty but nothing extraordinary.

Overall, this was a nice break up of our 2 week wine excusrion. Simple, tasty brews and edible food. All and all a good place to stop if you are nearby.
Oct 15, 2011
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Reviewed by flexabull from California

3.8/5  rDev +3.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5
Stopped here after a long day of wine tasting, I was definitely jonesing for a beer by the time we got here.

Nice place, big bar area when you first walk in, opens up to the brewing area, and then a dinner area that overlooks the Napa River.

Quality is good, I had a good harvest ale, then a decent stout.

Service was quite good. Our server was friendly, fun, and pretty prompt.

Food was standard pub grub. Solid, but not great.

Overall this was a pretty nice place. I wouldn't go out of my way to come here, but if you are in Napa and are looking to get away from the wine scene, this is a good choice.
Jan 09, 2011
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Reviewed by WVCanuck from West Virginia

4.3/5  rDev +16.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4
This was an accidental visit of sorts. We were in the middle of a whirlwind tour of Napa Valley wineries and decided to stop in Napa for lunch. As we were returning to our car, I noticed the sign and recognized the name. I realized I had heard discussions about Downtown Joe's on Brewstrong, and decided to take a peek inside.

The bartender gave us samples of all beers on tap. Though all of their beers were very good, the amber ale was, hands down, their best beer. Their porter was great too and my wife's top pick. She's a wine girl, but surprised me by drinking a full pint of the porter.

Fortunately I was able to talk with Brewmaster Colin Kaminsky for quite some time. He gave me an impromptu "tour" of their 7-barrel system and gave me a solid run-down of the local brewery/brewpub industry.

If I ever return to Napa I'll make more time to visit the brewpubs in and around the Napa Valley, and skip the tourist traps... Er, wineries.
Oct 20, 2010
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Reviewed by GeneralZod from California

3.9/5  rDev +6%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 2.5
Screw the wine in Napa... Let's go for the beer!
My wife and found this place as we strolled through the downtown area looking for a place to get smashed. The beer selction is great and the service was awesome. I went during the day, but i heard this place is poppin' at night. I would definitely go back.

ATMOSPHERE: Typical brewery
estaurant. Plenty of seating and a lot of decors on the wall. It looks old, but it is kept clean. It also had plenty to TVs for sport fans.

QUALITY: Great. I tried the sampler.

SERVICE: Excellent. Bar staff was very attentive to take orders and provided a lot of recommendations about their beers.

SELECTION: A very good variety. My favorite was the Tantric India Pale Ale.

FOOD: It was very average. Typical bar food menu. We had the buffalo wings, which were good. Its all microwaved frozen food.
Oct 13, 2010
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Reviewed by TheDeuce from New York

3.35/5  rDev -9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5
Downtown Joe's in Napa...

Visited here on vacation with family, interesting to try this in a wine town.

Atmosphere - the brewpub itself is nothing special the usual signs and posts are about, however, they do have wonderful outdoor seating right by the water. We found a table with an umbrella and took in the view.

Quality - the beer here is not outstanding but it is passable. Tried both the wheat and the amber, both were fine. Still, nothing all that interesting on the list and nothing jumped out.

Service-we had a chatty waitress who was eager to please, maybe a little too eager, still she was prompt and friendly and the food came fast.

Selection - a wheat, amber, IPA, Porter, Golden Ale, that was it. Nothing that jumps out but there is a range.

Food - Garlic Fries were very good, burger was large and passable, wife's salad was fine.

Value - not too expensive, particularly for CA.

Overall- a decent place in a wine town, nice views of the water and ok beer. Worth a stop if you are in the area and want beer but not a destination.
Aug 23, 2010
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Reviewed by John_M from Oregon

3.6/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4
I've been coming here since 1989, back when this was the Willett's brewpub and I lived in Sacramento. At the time, my buddy and I would visit a new brewpub or two every week, and I still remember how surprised (and pleased) we were by this place. The beer was outstanding, the waitresses friendly and easy on the eyes, and there were complimentary gourmet pretzels with coarse grain mustard on every table.

While the current version (Downtown Joe's) is not bad, it's hardly the destination it once was back when it was Willett's. I believe the Golden Thistle Bitter and Tail Waggin Ale are the only two recipes left over from the days when this place was Willett's, though in my opinion they remain two of the better beers on the menu. The oatmeal stout is also pretty good (when available), as are some of the weizens I've had here. On the other hand, the tantric IPA and Ace's High pale ale are nothing special, and I've been less then thrilled with some of their golden ales. As for selection, it seems to vary depending on the season. I've been here when they've had as many as 10 or 12 beers on tap, but most of the time the selection is closer to 6 or 7.

The atmosphere here is really hard to guage, and depending on when you go here will undoubtedly affect the quality of your experience here. This place has become quite popular with the younger crowd on the weekends, with the predictiable frat boy behavior that often goes with it (drinking games, loud conversations, etc.). On the other hand, this place has a very nice, good size outdoor seating area, all the better to take advantage of the typically fabulous Napa weather. On the inside, there is a good size wrap around bar in front of you and to the left if you come in off of Main Street (as opposed to the outdoor seating entrance). The place has sort of warm, informal relaxed vibe, with nice old fashioned looking tap handles. In addition to the bar area, with it's scattering of tables, there is a larger, upstairs dining area in the back. So this place is really pretty good size and is much larger then it appears from the street.

The food here is up and down, but is usually pretty good. Unfortunately, there was a considerable drop off in food quality after this placed closed down as Willett's, but things have gradually improved over time. Not sure if they still do breakfast on the weekends, but in the past I've had some excellent breakfasts here. Otherwise, the food here is a considerable cut above your usual pub grub, though pretty close to the standard norm for Napa.

I think part of the reason I continue to come by here is because of all the great memories I have from when this place was Willett's (some of the best gourmet pizza's and quesadilla's I've ever had). However, the beer is still good enough and the food is not bad. Service can be slow and distracted at times, but usually it's OK. After a full day of driving around Napa Valley and tasting wine, it's still nice to take a break with a glass of beer and some decent pub grub at Downtown Joe's. Cheers!
Apr 20, 2009
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Reviewed by sourdoughsteve from California

4.05/5  rDev +10.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5
A brewpub in Napa? Turns out it was beer country before the grapes arrived. Cool.

Located right downtown on the waterfront (Napa River) amidst a new flood control and downtown renovation area.

The atmosphere was comfy, although the locals clearly were doing their own thing and pretty much ignored the day trippers. No biggie, that's sort of expected, I guess.

It was lunch time so we got a table outside. The food was quite good, and I really enjoyed their "Tail Waggin' Amber Ale". Seemed to be targeted at Alaskan Amber (which I like) so it was a winner for me. Waitstaff out there was quite friendly and efficient.

Didn't try any of their other beers, since I was quite happy with the Ale...

Overall, I'd definitely go back when in that area of the country.
Apr 20, 2009
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Reviewed by Offa from California

3.73/5  rDev +1.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4
This is a pretty nice little brewpub. It has a nice location in downtown Napa in a small, but attractive, old building along the river and the dining room has views across the river. The place is pretty nice, with some neat old elements and a nice bar in the front. it's also quiter and a little less rowdy than brepubs can sometimes be, which can be good or bad depending on what you're looking for.

The food is good, certainly on the better side for brewpubs, but also more expensive than many similar places.

The beers I've had are overall good and the selection seems to be fairly good. However, the selection is not particularly large or unusual, there is hardly anything unique or outstandaing from what I can tell. It is just good, basic, west-coast-style beer.

Service is generally good.

This overall is definitely more oriented to food and a sit-down meal than many brewpubs and the beer is less central to the place. Fitting with that, it has a full bar also serving wine, spirits, and cocktails.
Nov 21, 2008
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Reviewed by rborthwick from Virginia

3.2/5  rDev -13%
vibe: 3 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 3.5
This is really the only choice in Napa when looking for a brewpub. It is a nice place and has a taproom downstairs and a more formal dining room upstairs. My wife and I sat downstairs in the taproom. The atmosphere was good, a typical brewpub. We both ordered the margarita pizzas and they were very good. The food choice is not great though.
Now onto the beer....
Ace High pale Ale - I would rate this one as average, it was good but it is hard to mess up a pale ale IMO. I did taste a hint of 'dirty tap line'
07 Harvest Ale - This one was pretty hoppy but well balanced. It was a good representation of the style.
Porter - This one was not very good. Porter is my favorite style and I must say I was disappointed. It just was not good.
Nov 08, 2007
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Reviewed by Skidz from Wisconsin

3.36/5  rDev -8.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5
This was about the only gig in town for us and there was a hope that the beer would be good...

Walk through the door and you're greeted by a clanging of a bell. Whoopee. The bartender was very chatty, but more like, "I want to get your tips" chatty. And no, I don't want Jagermeister.

The IPA was decent, nothing out of the ordinary, and didn't necessarily sit within the style. The Summer wheat was utterly atrocious and soaked in lemon, tasted more like Lipton iced tea.

Loud DJ on a Tuesday night, with a decent crowd. I suppose it must beer hard to be beer in a town built on wine.
Jun 01, 2006
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Reviewed by kiya from California

3.53/5  rDev -4.1%
vibe: 3 | quality: 2.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5
this is a little brewpub in downtown Napa..
it's in a good central location, and has live bands during the weekend nights.
it looks more like a bar/pub than a restaurant, even though their website suggests that they're a full blown restaurant. their menu didn't look impressive so we didn't get to try the food.

onto the beer...
they have a larger than normal selection for a brewpub on tap. about 8 beers, all brewed on premises. everything from a really light lager to a scotch stout.
i wasn't too impressed with their beer for two reasons..
i felt like many of the beers just weren't hitting the mark they were supposed to for their styles. the ale was too low on the flavor factor, the ipa wasn't hoppy enough, the hefeweizen had a bit of a odd aroma to it, not the usual fruity refreshing notes that accompany a good hefeweizen. i did find one of their ales to be quite good, it was also the only one which seemd to have an ABV that pushed past 5%...
regardless, try them out, they did have good fresh beers on tap, i just wish they were a bit more adventurous.
Feb 24, 2005
Downtown Joe's American Bar And Grill in Napa, CA
Brewery rating: 3.63 out of 5 with 66 ratings