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Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen- a Cindy Pawlcyn jewel in St. Helena

Cindy Pawlcyn, is the genius behind Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen, the chef-owner of Mustards Grill and a James Beard award winning cookbook author.  This is a “must see must do” restaurant in the Napa Valley.


Campfire Pie

I couldn’t resist starting with this unbelievable, yummy, gooey, Campfire Pie.  Oh my.  Toasted marshmallow fluff, fudgy chocolate, almond ding, and Oreo cookie crust.  I will be back for another one of these!  Glad I live close by.




Ok, back to the beginning.  Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen really is on the backstreet, just one block away from St. Helena’s Main Street, aka Highway 29, the main road that connects Napa to Calistoga and comprises the Napa Valley.



This historic 1800’s building has been restored and updated to be accessible.  Yes, historic buildings can be accessible and retain their character.  The entrance is under the covered brick walkway on the right, leading to a brick patio and the back door entrance into the bar and restaurant, all accessible with gentle ramping and wide walkways.



the bar and dining room

the bar and dining room

Crossing a flat threshold through a wide door, we entered next to a dramatic zinc bar and the first of the dining rooms.




another dining room

another dining room

Past the bar is another dining room with cozy banquettes.





We settle into the first dining room where there is plenty of room for me to stay in the scooter instead of transferring.  I’m joined today by Vickie Haraszthy and our server is Rachel Conroy.  Rachel is the perfect blend of friendly and professional, and makes our entire dining experience special.


We start with the first course and I get a little adventurous with an Octopus Ceviche.    Vickie selects the salad with arugula and baby mache.  Delicious.



Vickie and today’s photographer, John Blausey make their main course selections from the enticing menu.



Phil Walsh fillets the Petrale Sole tableside

As soon as I spot the fresh fish of the day, and see that the Petrale Sole will be filleted at the table, my decision is made.   I love a little food theatrics.  Phil Walsh, the Dining Room Manager was the artist with the fork and knife.  Delectable.



Chef Jim Leiken

Executive Chef Jim Leiken

After lunch, I had the honor of meeting Jim Lieken, our chef that had just prepared this fabulous meal.  Coincidentally my next door neighbor from Sonoma, Dan Casabonne, happened to be at the bar with a friend.  He’s the guy between Jim and me.


elevator to restrooms

elevator to restrooms

Next stop the restroom.  Though upstairs, there is a small elevator for accessibility.  My scooter and I fit just fine.



upstairs dining room

upstairs dining room

A grand dining room awaits upstairs.  Known as The Gallery, it is available for private parties and accommodates up to 60 guests.  There are ample accessible tables, and an elevator to get there.





IMG_9019Adjacent to The Gallery is The White Room, a room that can be reserved for private dining parties up to 18 guests.  I actually dined here with a group of girlfriends a few years ago and it was a perfect space.



I get back to my original mission, the restroom.  Both the Men’s and the Women’s are accessible and beautifully decorated.




With lunch complete we head back to the car.  It’s street parking so allow enough time to find a spot.  The first photo is not actually an accessible space, but with a no parking zone adjacent it would work for a side ramp.  The second photo shows an accessible parking space in an adjacent lot, though the position makes it hard to get into.



Downtown St Helena is charming.  We didn’t have time to stroll today, but I encourage you to take time to appreciate the architecture and browse the vast array of art galleries, clothing shops, tasting rooms, coffee shops, home furnishing stores, gift shops, and even an old-fashioned hardware store.  This is not your neighborhood mall.



St Helena is the heart of the Napa Valley and Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is the heart of the heart.  Come for lunch, happy hour, or dinner.  You won’t be disappointed.


Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen

1327 Railroad Avenue, St. Helena, CA 94574


Lunch and Dinner  daily 11:30-9:30

Happy Hour daily 3:00-5:00

Kid’s Menu

reservations accepted

private dining room available

  • the White Room. 2nd floor via elevator. up to 18
  • the Gallery. 2nd floor via elevator. up to 60
  • the Patio. brick patio. up to 20
  • entire restaurant. up to 80-100.



This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Joyce Reply

    A trip to Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen is on the bucket list!!! Thanks for the great pictures! 🙂

  2. Ann Reply

    I’m a wheelchair user and definitely appreciate your post!

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