Kelley's No Bad Days Cafe Review
Napa, CA 94559
Google maps to Kelly's No Bad Days Cafe
Hours: Tue - Sat 5:00 pm to 10 pm. Fri & Sat lunch 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Kelley's No Bad Days Cafe food
More often than not, Kelly's has the best fried calamari appetizer in Napa. The batter is flaky and crisp and not too heavy, the calamari is still hot, we really like its seasoning, and the spicy aoli sauce is good too. Sometimes, one of these elements might be missing, but it's one of our favorite appetizers in the area. We've had the giant prawn appetizer which was just fine, but we often turn back to the fried calamari.
Entrees are a little on the limited side, but it's a small kitchen and better to have a few things done well than a huge menu where the good stuff gets lost in the mediocre. California cuisine with some Asian influences here and there. The thick, juicy pork chop is very good with a peanut sauce and was the first dish I had there and is still one of the best pork chops in the area. I've had the shrimp pasta dish which was fine and a nicely grilled ahi tuna steak there as well.I've heard others rave about her salads, but I'm not a salad sort of guy.
Some folks think she has one of the finest burgers in the area, and we've tried those out too. Pricey at starting out at ~12 and then $1.50 for cheese, bacon, or avocado (ack). That being said, we did have it, and it was a pretty good burger, cooked to order (medium). And it was a real bun. A lot of burger places put as much thought into the bun as the lettuce, but the better places have great buns.
Although Kelley's food is usually good, there have been stretches where the quality has gone up and down yet. It's a small place and at one point she was doing the bulk of the cooking, moving from dish to dish frenetically (even as restaurants go) while holding 5 conversations with the customer eating area that sits right next to the open kitchen. We've been there while she's broken in new staff, and the consistency wavered then as well. In fact, at one point, they had closed down lunch as they tried to get things back on track because they weren't happy with the product that was being put out. But the locals love her all the same, and things have evened out since then.
Desserts are solid at Kelly's. You should save some room. You don't want to go too late as the desserts can sometimes go fairly fast.
Kelley's No Bad Days Cafe settings and service
Kelley's is pretty small and not noticeable while you drive by. It's one of those hole in the wall places that doesn't get a lot of tourist walk-in traffic because it's a little outside the normal downtown Napa area, there isn't a meaningful outside presence to speak of, and it's kind of tough to find. At night, it's a little better since it's one of the few stores open in the area, and the crowd inside gets outsiders curious.
Although the eating area is larger than it used to be, the restaurant is still pretty small (and crowded during heavier nights). The outside seating area is basically 3 tables squished against the window. The inside has a bar seating area which gives you a great view of the open kitchen and access to Kelley. There are some seats across the bar and then a main dining area behind it.
Kelley's is the first higher-end restaurant we ate at when we first moved to Napa. No particular reason. We were in downtown running "just moved in" errands, wanted a quick bite to eat, and I had a great pork loin with peanut sauce and their calamari which I fell in love with. And I was thinking “wow, look how good the food is here that I can just randomly pick this hole in the wall and the food's great!”
The service can sometimes be spotty during the heavier times. The young staff can end up forgetting about you for stretches. Could the service be better? Yeah, probably. But you kind of go to Kelley's to hang out with friends with fine food. It's not really a sort of place where you go if you're on a strict schedule.
Kelley's look and feel are very much a personal expression. The place is very casual and full of quirky knick-knacks and gags (you will actually want to spend time in the bathrooms so that you can read all of the gags). It's definitely a point of view. Speaking of which, she really dislikes the Bush administration, and SUVs (particularly Hummers), and there are plenty of gags and homemade homages lying around to express it. I think it's funny, but maybe others from the red states might not agree. Here's the deal. She doesn't care; she has a strong locals base. And the locals don't care either. There is something cool about that.
There's live music occasionally. Sometimes it's a bit overpowering due to how small the restaurant is. True to Kelley's form, everybody in the restaurant did end up once having to do a big sing-along of "Let's Talk Dirty in Hawaiian." If you want a straight-laced environment, this might not be for you.
Price of our meal
Appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, 2 entrees, 1 dessert (w/tax & tip) : $120
Appetizer, 2 glasses of wine, 2 lunch entrees (w/tax & tiup): $85
Kelley's is a little on the expensive side for the food being offered. But the casual setting and friendly mood is worth something. There are a lot of good restaurants in the area, but few of them have Kelley's laid back vibe. It s a local's favorite and one of ours too. There's just something fun about eating there.