House of Better Is Calistoga’s Secret, Five-Star Summer Dining Destination
Creative director Trevor Logan shares what to do in town — and his recipe for a superior white bean dip
When a classic property famous for its mud baths and mineral water pools in wine country approached Trevor Logan about creating the menu for its new restaurant, he didn’t hesitate, jumping at the chance to bring Southwestern comfort classics to Napa Valley. It’s a trick he’d pulled off before: Logan ran the now-closed NoPa staple Green Chile Kitchen for a decade and a half, and he’s credited with introducing San Franciscans to New Mexico cuisine, specifically to vitamin C-rich green chiles. He knew Sonoma well, having opened a Chile Pies Baking Co. location in Guerneville in 2018. All this made him a natural choice to helm House of Better, the casual, counter-service dining destination at Dr. Wilkinson’s Backyard Resort & Mineral Springs, a fixture in downtown Calistoga since the 1950s.
“When the chance to creatively direct Dr. W’s restaurant came up, it was a no-brainer,” Logan tells InsideHook. California has now been Logan’s home for decades, but his heart is forever in New Mexico. It’s where he fell in love with flavors synonymous with the state (“powerful and intoxicating, piñon pine is enough to inspire you for decades”) and where he created his NYTimes-recommended green chile apple pie. “In the ’90s, you just couldn’t get New Mexico-grown green chiles in California, so my friends and I would bring suitcases full of them back to San Francisco,” he says. “We’d have these green chile gatherings in the city. That’s how Green Chile Kitchen got started.”
In addition to his pies and New Mexican-inspired dishes, Logan also brings an interest in nutrition to House of Better. A graduate of Berkeley’s holistic nutrition school Bauman College, Logan added favorites from his San Francisco pop-up Booster Foods Nutrition Kitchen to the menu, along with Green Chile Kitchen best-sellers like the carne adovada and green chile stew. “I’ve always been curious about the healing power of real food, hence the booster bowls and the herb and maitake salad, but House of Better is a combination of everything I’ve done thus far,” he says. “The casual backyard setting also lends itself beautifully to grabbing a bite by the pool or at the bar in your robe after a spa treatment.”
Logan added several zero-proof alternatives to the bar program (kombucha on tap, Kin Euphorics, hemp-infused sparkling waters from Calistoga brand Calm Moment) alongside his herbal elixirs and blended adaptogen teas. A super fan of medicinal mushrooms (including reishi and all-star Lion’s Mane), he’s also seriously into seaweed, which is sourced from a sustainable mom-and-pop foraging outfit on the northern California coast and is used across his house formulations. They proved so popular among guests that he founded My Medicine tea last year. “We started putting sampler tea bag packs in the guest rooms and cottages at Dr. W’s but also sell loose-leaf blends in the spa and front desk boutique,” he says. “After back-to-back days wine tasting in the area, it can be nice to take a break from alcohol.”
See below for Logan’s cool Calistoga picks, plus his go-to white bean dip recipe with fire-roasted green chiles.
“Mud baths are what put Calistoga on the map, and they still use the original Dr. W’s recipe with volcanic ash, peat moss and mineral water,” he says. “I’ve had a lot of treatments at the spa, but The Works is my favorite. It starts with a mud bath, a mineral bath and a steam sauna, followed by a blanket wrap to relax, and [a] cool down in the first hour. The second part is an hour-long Swedish massage.”
“Calistoga is not lacking in personality — it’s a little more laid back than other Napa hubs, and Tank captures that spirit,” he says. “We carry their wines at House of Better and often send guests over to the tasting room, where they create these delicious one-off wines with wonderful artwork on the labels and fun names like pét-nat sparkling chardonnay Hippie Sippy, white zinfandel Trailer Park Pretty and red blend Out of the Closet.”
“This is the go-to hike when you want to walk but might not have all day,” he says. “You park and access the trailhead at the end of town off Lincoln Avenue, and it follows an old stagecoach road and is where the Silverado and Lincoln trails meet. There’s history, plus these beautiful, sweeping views of Napa Valley.”
“The menu at Evangeline is predominantly Creole but with New Orleans and other influences,” he says. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here because their gumbo is delicious. They have a beautiful, ivy-covered patio where you can sit outside, and it transports you to another place.”
“My number-one retail pick when walking along the main street,” he says. “Blackbird’s owner is very sweet, and it’s a wonderful space that carries beautifully curated household goods and home decor.”
“Great for take out and picnic provisions, but they have a wood-fired pizza oven too and you can sit down and dine in the back,” he says. “It’s the second-oldest train depot in California and the end of the Napa Valley rail line, so the building has a lot of history. It’s wonderful to see it rebooted.”
“A great, newish spot for anyone who hasn’t been here in a minute,” he says. “It’s located across the street from Solage and has this beautiful patio that feels elevated yet casual, much like Calistoga. It’s where I enjoy going with friends and co-workers for an appetizer, glass of wine or zero-proof cocktail.”
White Bean Dip with Fire Roasted Green Chiles and Pinon Nuts
- 2 cups Rancho Gordo Alubia Blanca white beans, soak in water overnight
- 3 roasted Anaheim green chiles
- 2 roasted serrano peppers
- 4 bay leaves
- ½ cup white onion
- 4 cloves garlic
- ½ cup pine nuts
- Olive oil
- Liberal pinch of salt and pepper
Set aside ¼ cup of white onions, one of the roasted chiles and pine nuts.
Boil the rest of the ingredients until the beans are soft. Strain and then blend together.
Sauté with the remaining ¼ cup white onions, olive oil, plus salt and pepper to taste.
Toast pine nuts in a separate dry saute pan until brown.
Coarsely chop the remaining green chile.
Put the mixture in a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and top with the remaining roasted chopped chile. Sprinkle with the toasted pine nuts. Add a squeeze of lemon, if desired.
Serve warm or chilled with veggies or chips. Enjoy!
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