The casual vegan dining options in Napa Valley continue to grow as the U.S. vegan population continues to grow. In 2008, we vegans were still only about 1% of the entire population here in the States. In many parts of the country, our dining needs were still often overlooked and ignored. And then something amazing happened…our population began to grow. We are now about 2.5% or almost 8 million people in the U.S. alone! And just as exciting is with all of the groups pushing Meatless Mondays and other campaigns asking us to minimize our meat intake, between 30 and 40% of the entire U.S. population, who do not consider themselves vegetarian or vegan, now are often ordering dishes without meat, fish or fowl when they dine out. To give you an idea of what that means to restaurant owners, over 111 MILLION people are looking for meatless options when they head out to a restaurant. We are now a force to be reckoned with that can no longer be ignored. How exciting is that?!
One of my favorite casual dining options right here in Napa is Melted. Melted opened in January 2014 and offered a vegan, gluten-free sandwich without us having to ask! Their menu stated right at the top of the page that vegan, gluten-free options were available. I just love that! Thanks for making us feel welcome. Paul Slack is the driving force behind Melted. Paul is the descendant of five generations of Napa Valley farmers so it is easy to see where his passion for culinary arts comes from. Following in his families’ footsteps, Paul began organic farming on family land in the Carneros hills. Taking his love for fresh produce and his much-loved family recipes, Paul set off for New York to make his mark in the culinary world. Paul then returned home to Napa and continued to perfect his skills at Morimoto. Within a couple of years, he was ready to share his culinary passion with the rest of us and opened Melted.
If you have not had the opportunity to try the sandwiches at Melted yet, head over there right now! They are a surprising combination of homemade, crisp flavor-filled waffles and fresh, seasonal ingredients that create a treat for your palate. My first experience was the Crawford’s Pantry. It is a refreshing mix of seasonal market vegetables and vegan cheddar cheese. If you are like me and miss an occasional grilled cheese, this is a unique version that will satisfy your craving. If you used to dip your grilled cheese sandwiches into tomato soup, they have that covered too. Each of the vegan sandwiches comes with a small cup of soup for dipping. I have never been much of a tomato soup fan but I have to admit it is tasty and goes perfectly with the sandwiches. After my first couple visits, I noticed that they had added a second vegan option – the Aunt Weaver Stamper. It is a delicious mix of vegan swiss, artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes & walnut arugula pesto. It is now my absolute favorite sandwich. The complex flavors between the tomatoes, pesto and artichoke hearts are just amazing! They now also offer a vegan smoothie. The Dan Rather is a delicious mix of chocolate, peanut butter and banana. So far there is only one non-vegan dessert on the menu but if that changes, I will let you know! The décor of the restaurant is also really hip. It is very minimalistic, white and simple. Just the kind of thing an obsessive compulsive like me likes. No clutter, just a few stools and tables inside and several small tables available outside to enjoy the gorgeous Napa weather and people watching!
After being open only about 10 months Melted also received a mention by Zagat’s for Best Lunch under $10. Zagat is the original provider of user-generated content. In 1979, Tim and Nina Zagat were at a dinner party with friends. During their meal, one of the guests complained about the unreliability of newspaper reviews. Right then and there, Tim came up with the idea to survey their friends on the meal. This led to 200 amateur critics rating and reviewing 100 top restaurants based on the food, décor, service and cost. Today, Zagat now surveys passionate locals about the places that matter most to them. These ratings and reviews help users cut through the clutter to find the perfect place. Hmmm…that sounds a little familiar. I seem to be following in the Zagat’s footsteps!
Melted is located in downtown Napa at 966 Pearl Street and is open all day from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you are placing an order for 4 or more sandwiches, call 707.392.9669 before 11 a.m. and the sandwiches will be ready when you arrive! They also offer catering options for local events. When you visit, please remember to thank them for offering vegan options and always try to support local businesses! And congratulate them on their Zagat review Best Lunches under $10!