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Friday Fishwrap: Random Jottings at Week's End
Oxbow Public Market

by Stephen Eliot

Downtown Napa has been undergoing a much ballyhooed cultural revolution of sorts over the last couple of years, and, while the makeover has moved in fits and starts, there are signs aplenty that the face of the city is finding permanent change. The Copia Center for food, wine and the arts is gone, and a fair number of new storefronts are still looking for tenants as the economy remains less than robust, but a good number important new restaurants and culinary attractions now dot the cityscape, and Napa has in and of itself become a destination not merely somewhere to pass through on the way to wine country proper.

One of the more significant stops, and one that we make on a routine basis ourselves, is the Oxbow Public Market on First Street. Oxbow is a complex of restaurants and culinary shops that has seen shaky times since its opening in 2007, but is now fully occupied and at looks to be on solid grounds. Bay area residents familiar with the collection of like-minded eateries and purveyors in San Francisco’s Ferry Building on the Embarcadero will not miss the similarities, and, like the former, the place offers a wide range of temptations to the culinary inclined. Oxbow Wine and Oxbow Cheese Merchant head up a list of must-visit speciality merchants housed within the market’s main hall. Five Dot Ranch and Kanaloa Fish Market respectively offer natural beef and environmentally responsible seafoods of the exceptionally high quality, while Three Twins Ice Cream, The Olive Press, Tillerman Tea and Ritual Coffee Roasters are of themselves each worth a stop. And, on the west side of the market, The Fatted Calf is an altogether remarkable charcuterie and butcher shop that earns our highest recommendation.

If feeling at all puckish while shopping, there are more than a few on-site purveyors of tasty, not-too-expensive bites, and we rarely stop by without slurping down a few oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company. C Casa offers up a range of innovative tacos, and Gott’s Roadside on the corner can be counted on for one of the best burgers around. And, it looks like upscale fine dining will arrive soon as just last week, it was announced that Chef Todd Humphries and Richard Miyashiro formerly of St. Helena’s Martini House are joining the Oxbow family and will be opening a new restaurant sometime in the near future.

Of further note yet, there are special events and entertainment on an ongoing basis, from Friday Night Music to special wine tastings such as Oxbow Wine Merchant’s Holiday Bubbles event on December 30 to Food Truck Friday wherein Oxbow teams with Dim Sum Charlie’s to bring food trucks from throughout the Bay area to offer roadside dining from 5:00 pm until midnight on the first Friday of each month.

Yes, there is no question but that Napa is no longer just a place to get gas on the way north, and whether on your way to the vineyards or on your way home, the Oxbow Public Market is a stop not to be missed.


by Ron Washam, HMW
Posted on:12/24/2010 1:52:20 PM

So let's see, if I'm feeling Puckish, does that mean I'm feeling peckish for Wolfgang's food? So I guess when I'm feeling Childish I crave some of Julia's cuisine.

by Stephen Eliot
Posted on:12/24/2010 8:03:36 PM

Mea Culpa. Holiday apologies for a less than keen eye, but, hey, was your mother an English teacher or what? Feliz Navidad, Ronaldo...and thanks for making me smile.

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