Darryl Bell Beef Brisket Sandwich Stateline Road Smokehouse
Kansas City Barbecue and Wine with Chef Darryl Bell

From an outsider’s perspective Napa Valley has an unusually strong BBQ culture. There’s Buster’s in Calistoga and Napa’s Red Rock/Back Door BBQ, The Q (now on Main Street in Downtown Napa), Bounty Hunter and North Napa BBQ. Not taking a backseat are Food Trucks such as LUX Brazilian Barbecue and Sticky Business. They all have well-deserved followings. Skilled chefs with an itch to mix it up will dabble in barbecue on their California cuisine-focused menus, and there’s no shortage of caterers in the area focused on barbecue: Ring of Fire has successfully fused barbecue with Napa chic.

Makes sense: Our long al fresco dining season, and meat-friendly red wine (read Cabernet Sauvignon) industry and party culture make barbecue a natural. How long before “Napa Barbecue” has a Wikipedia definition? Well, I’m particularly taken with the new kid on the block, Stateline Road Smokehouse, and the serious cooking chops of its Chef/Co-Owner, Darryl Bell.

This is Dan Dawson, aka Dan The Food & Wine Man. I used to be “just” Dan The Wine Man, but I’m making a change by putting food and wine on equal footing in my blogs (or column, as the case may be). I’m putting the two together and finding the most tasty and intriguing intersections of the two. I often finish my columns with an invitation my wine shop/wine bar, Outer Space Wines, where I put my recommendations to the test. Putting my mouth where my keypad is, if you will.


Chef Darryl Bell

Chef Darryl has mastered Kansas City-style BBQ from seasoning to wash to long smoke to final saucing (I make it sound so easy.) Born and raised in Kansas City, he soaked in its history, music and cooking growing up. He learned cooking at home, school and restaurants in K.C. before moving to Napa for a job at Bouchon Yountville. His cooking externship of sorts included stints at Alinea in Chicago, Michael Troisgros in Tokyo and Etoile at Domaine Chandon. He recently left the Chef de Cuisine position at Press St. Helena to focus on Stateline Road and be more available to his young family. A gentle giant of sorts, his soft voice, midwestern ease and cool confidence make him a natural for hospitality and business. If I wanted to get back into the restaurant cooking business I would gladly work under Chef Darryl.

Stateline Road Smokehouse will open on Vallejo Street in Napa’s Rail Arts District sometime between August and October hopefully. Meantime, the brand and the business thrive in other ways. The 816 Barbecue Sauce is fantastic: best I’ve ever had. Buy it solo or as part of a Grill Kit Set at You can just let Chef Darryl do the cooking if youwant: Find him at the Napa Farmers Market or scheduled pop-ups throughout Napa Valley serving barbecue brisket sandwiches,  pork ribs and other dishes we’ll see at Stateline Road Smokehouse once it opens.

Dan Dawson and Darryl Bell in front of smoker Outer Space Wines Stateline Road Smokehouse
Dan Dawson and Darryl Bell in front of smoker Outer Space Wines Stateline Road Smokehouse

Wine and Barbecue

I grant you there are “givens” in choosing the best wine/wines with barbecue of any style. There’s your peppery Zins with a sweet core of fruit, the smoky, peppery spice of Syrah and the blatant boldness of Petite Sirah all match great and have their respective fans. And Napa Cabernet Sauvignon…of course Napa Cabernet Sauvignon. Super barbecue and Napa Cab have been matched a million times in Napa Valley at restaurants, food & wine fundraisers and winery events. No complaints from me on this pairing but it’s not my first choice. Here’s why.

I saw Bonnie Raitt at Napa’s Oxbow Commons recently. Great show. I went because I wanted to hear her voice, guitar and stories and feel her spirit. Her back up band were to a person amazing musicians and were there to make Bonnie better. Never too much. Now, if Lizzo had jumped out and they sang a couple of duets, that would be amazing but rather odd, too. That’s what Napa Cab and Chef Darryl’s barbecue is like to me. The two together are too much. For the best of barbecue I want back up wine. (To turn the pairing project around, I make a great Napa Cab the Bonnie Raitt, or Lizzo, and choose the back up musicians to back her up.)

Give these a try with Stateline Road Barbecue…you WILL try these if you come to one of Chef Darryl’s pop-ups coming soon to Outer Space Wines.

For another opinion I asked The Q Restaurant’s Gene Tartaglia what his favorite wines are with his Memphis-style barbecue (sauce less sweet, more tangy). He says, “While I am not abject to a balanced, lower alcohol Zinfandel with BBQ, Memphis style lends itself to other opportunities, not having to battle a spicy tomato based sauce. My go-to choices are Provence Rosé, Pinot Noir, Red Burgundy, Gamay and Southern Rhone Valley reds.” The barbecue is different, but our wine recommendations are similar because the Stateline Road sauce is impeccably balanced and as some would say, “not too sweet.”

Darryl Bell Jeremy Threat Stateline Road Smokehouse Pop Up at Outer Space Wines
Darryl Bell and Jeremy Threat of Stateline Road Smokehouse At The Napa Farmers Market

Where can you try Stateline Road Smokehouse?

Besides his dependable Saturday appearance at the Napa Farmers Market, Chef Darryl has is popping up around Napa Valley regularly. He’s at Loveski Deli February 27 and 28, Bay Grape Napa on March 26 and taking on three days of Bottle Rock on May 26, 27 and 28.

Outer Space Wines has two Stateline Road Smokehouse pop-up dates scheduled for Outer Space Wines. Darryl will set up in the alley adjacent to Outer Space and serve Baby Back Ribs on Sunday March 12, noon to 3. On Sunday, April 9 he’ll return to serve Barbecue Beef Brisket Sandwiches. I’m selecting Wines to Match on both days. $25 gets you Darryl’s barbecue plus a glass of wine (or two half glasses if you prefer). Buy tickets now for March 12 at

Dan Dawson is a wine and food professional in The Napa Valley.  He is owns and operates Outer Space Wines wine shop, wine bar and event space at 974 Franklin Street in Downtown Napa. Come visit – gravity boots not required.  

My Food & Wine blog was published in The Napa Valley Register on Friday, February 24, 2023.