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OXBOW PUBLIC MARKET | NAPA, CALIFORNIA

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All this rainy weather has made me think of the visitors to the California Wine Country who have to drive around in deluge conditions like yesterday’s. So I thought it was time to share about the gourmet paradise that is Oxbow Public Market in Napa, which is the perfect place to spend 2-3 hours enjoying good food, drinks and specialty shopping…. rain free.

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Located off of 1st Street, just a short walk across the bridge from downtown Napa, and perfectly nested between CIA at Copia and the Wine Train station, Oxbow Public Market is a smaller version of San Francisco’s famous Ferry Building Marketplace.

Smaller in size it may be, but not in quality and assortment, as OPM features quite a selection of local food vendors, artisan cafes and specialty shops.

Above you can see images of Hudson Greens & Goods, which is essentially a grocery store, but one which specializes in locally sourced, organic fruits & vegetables and a really good selection of dry goods and household items. This is where I know I can often find items I cannot find elsewhere in town, so it has become a bit of a go-to place for me.

Below is one of the newer additions to the space, as it wasn’t there when I first took photos of OPM and had to go back for new ones: Fieldwork Brewing Company, where you can enjoy a rotating selection of craft beers produced in their Berkeley brewery.

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I don’t know about you, but drinking beer makes me want to eat pizza, and vice versa. A few steps this way and… voilá, pizza it is, by Live Fire Pizza, which I have tried and thoroughly enjoyed.

Then, when you are ready for dessert, a few steps the other way and you will find a place where you can satisfy your sweet tooth: Kara’s Cupcakes, and let me tell you, these are really good cupcakes!

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Just behind the grocery store and almost across from Live Fire Pizza you can find another place to satisfy your desire to round out the flavors: the award winning Anette’s Chocolates, made in Napa by Master Chocolatier Brent and his sister Anette. The OPM location is their second and smaller shop, while the larger one – featuring a larger assortment as well as their ice cream – can be found just a few blocks away, also on 1st Street.

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Diagonally from the chocolate, you can find the booze. That is, you will find one of my favorite vendors at Oxbow – which is surprising given that I don’t really drink – and a true treasure trove for spirits and cocktails enthusiasts: Napa Valley Distillery.

NVD is a family-owned and operated micro-distillery based right here in Napa, the first in town since the Prohibition. The actual distillery, with its grand tasting salon, is located across town (that would be 6-7 minutes drive from Oxbow, as Napa is not that big), but I really love their vintage tasting bar at Oxbow, which is quite spectacular and full of treasures. Besides their small-batch craft spirits, here you will find quite a selection of fruit-based distilled spirits, shrubs, tonics and syrups from around the world, as well as several bitters not available elsewhere in the United States.

You can visit the tasting bar at Oxbow any time the market is open (which is pretty much every day), while for a tour and tasting experience at the distillery you will need to set up an appointment, but that’s easily done.

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Right nextdoor you will find The Olive Press, which is a treasure trove of a different kind, but one nonetheless. The Olive Press was the first olive mill in Sonoma, California. Founded by Edward Stolman, it has grown to be the most highly awarded olive oil producer in the nation. The home base of The Olive Press can be found within Jacuzzi Family Vineyards on Arnold Drive in Sonoma, right across from Cline Cellars, all three being part of the Cline family now and owned by Fred and Nancy Cline. OPM houses their Napa location, where you will find quite the assortment of extra-virgin olive oils, vinegars, and delicious dips and spreads, along with quality gift items.

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We now reach the “back” end of the market, or the “piazza”, as it features a food-court-style seating area (both indoors and outdoors on the deck) where you can sit and enjoy the various foods and drinks available all around.

I have not yet stopped by C Casa for a taste, but it is very much on my list, as I have walked past and seen wonderful Dungeness Crab tacos getting picked up by a client, and had I not already eaten, I would have ordered some, too. They feature breakfast and lunch daily with specialty dishes changing seasonally, and their intent is to provide food that is delicious but also healthy. In their case, they do so through the rich flavors of Latin cuisine.

C Casa also has a location at the Public Market in Emeryville.

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Then there is Hog Island Oyster Co., which is very well known in the Bay Area. Based in Tomales Bay, which is where they grow and harvest their oysters, the oyster bar at Oxbow is one of four locations, with one being at the Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco.

I am not an oyster person, but if you are, this is oyster paradise!

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The Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant is a place where it is dangerous to swing by if you love cheese, as their selection will have you swooning. It is also a place where you can sit at their wine bar and enjoy a cheese or charcuterie board with a flight of selected wines.

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If you are ready for a cappuccino or even some drip coffee, Ritual Coffee Roasters is the best place in Napa, matched only by the coffee/espresso at Southside Cafe (not on site, I will tell you about that another time). Seriously, I sometimes make my way to OPM just to get a latte at Ritual Coffee. It is soooo worth it!

They do feature some cookies and pastries, but they have never looked very appealing to me. In any case, it is their coffee that you want to stop by for. Plenty of delicious food to be had all around.

The location at OPM in Napa is one of six, though the only one outside of San Francisco.

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For some ice cream that is not only delicious but also made ethically and sustainably with certified organic ingredients, OPM is home to one of the famous Three Twins Ice Cream locations.

Right next to it is the entrance to Chef Todd Humphries’ restaurant, Kitchen Door, where the menu features an eclectic selection of American and global comfort food, including brunch on weekends. One more place that is on my go-to list.

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As we begin strolling down the other isle, carnivores will start drooling at the sight of Five Dot Ranch and Cookhouse. As you may have figured, other than a little cured meat in a sandwich occasionally, I am not much of a meat eater. But if meat it has to be, it sounds to me like Five Dot Ranch does it right, with holistic, environmentally sustainable practices that include open ranges and pastures, low-stress handling, no antibiotics or hormones etc.

Sounds like a good place for me to indulge in one of my favorite treats: a Reuben Sandwich! And though their beef is available through some of the best restaurants in the extended Bay Area, the Cookhouse at OPM is their only directly owned and operated restaurant.

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Fresh fish can be had right next door at Eiko’s Fish Market. Eiko’s at Oxbow is the second location of the popular Napa restaurant, Eiko’s Modern Japanese Cuisine. The OPM location offers a full service seafood shop, a sit-down sushi bar as well as a grab-and-go Japenese deli section.

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Ronit and Shuli Madmone will be happy to talk to you about all the glorious spices they are so passionate about, and which they carefully and painstakingly source from all over the world. Whole Spice at OPM is quite the food/spice lover destination in Napa Valley. I have spent quite some time perusing the place, and I know I will spend more.

Besides spices, at Whole Spice you will also find a large and interesting selection of salts and mushroom powders.

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And right next door to the spices you will find more delights for the taste buds at Napastäk (which means “the rabbit” in Armenian) Epicurean Boutique, which I always find interestingly stocked and beautifully styled. And just a few days ago, Napastäk also opened a beautiful new shop in downtown Napa. I have only seen a few pics of it on their Instagram stream, but it looks wonderful and I look forward to visiting soon.

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The only non-food stop at OPM is a new-and-used bookstore, an independent one at that. Napa Bookmine at Oxbow is the second location, with their first one being on Pearl Street, also in Napa.

This is actually where I found one of my recent and favorite (non-fiction) books: A Wilder Life, which I loved and love so much I featured it in its own blog post.

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That pretty much wraps up the indoor part of OPM, but there is still the outdoor one! If you step outside and head back towards the bridge, on the corner with McKinstry Street you will find the Napa location of the renown Gott’s Roadside, where you will be able to satisfy your craving for high quality burgers and all the very American fare that goes with that.

This is one of seven locations, with the most recent one in the Bon Air shopping center in Marin.

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On the other side of Gott’s, within a nondescript building also on McKinstry, you will find two more special places. The Fatted Calf on the left, which, as you can imagine from the name, is a charcuterie and butcher shop. This is their Napa retail location, with their other one being in… where else but San Francisco.

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On the right is The Model Bakery, a well known 90-year old tradition in the Napa Valley, now rendered world famous by Oprah when she put their English muffins on her list of favorite things (2016 edition). And she had good reason, as they are truly f-a-n-t-a-s-t-i-c, not to mention addictive. Model Bakery is a good bakery overall, especially their artisan breads, but their English muffins are their biggest seller. I buy them fresh by the bagful (6 pieces per bag) to bring to friends when I visit, but only one or two pieces at a time for me, or I would be eating them non-stop.

This is one of three locations, with the main one being their Saint Helena one, and also a Mini Model in Yountville.

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The delights of Model Bakery pretty much wrap things up where the Oxbow Public Market complex is concerned. That said, know that across the street from Gott’s you can find a some cool wine tasting spots in one direction, and Filippi’s Pizza Grotto in the other. It seemed silly not to mention them as they are right there.

The Oxbow district of Napa certainly isn’t without choices!

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I hope you have enjoyed this armchair exploration of OPM. There are lots of pics, I know, but how could I not show you as much as I could?! And I can’t stand those posts where there are barely a few images. Visuals give you a much better idea than a million words can, at least that is true for me.

One more thing I need to share: in the three years I have lived here, not a lot has changed at OPM, but a few things have. I have also noticed an area closed off where obviously something new is coming, which I will eventually discover. Especially if you should find this post at a later date, do know that, like most of these places, sometimes businesses listed move out and new ones take their place. I try to keep up with the changes and update my posts, but cannot always.

And if you do visit or have already visited OPM, I would love to know what you think and what your favorite things are in the comments. It will help me and also the other readers.

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OXBOW PUBLIC MARKET

610 & 644 First Street – Napa, California 94559 | website | google map

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CLICK ON THE IMAGE BELOW IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EXPLORE MORE OF NAPA & SONOMA VALLEYS

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