When it comes to world-class destinations for food and wine, Napa Valley certainly tops the list. From wineries and tasting rooms that attract oenophiles from all parts of the globe and award-winning restaurants where chefs share their interpretations of California and globally-inspired cuisines to weather that spoils both locals and tourists all year long, it is no wonder this renowned wine country welcomes more than three million visitors a year.
Whether you are coming to Napa for the first time or have it on your yearly travel rotation, certain spots are favorites among locals that offer a first-hand experience to enjoy the fun and laid-back vibe of the city.
One of these experiences is Oxbow Public Market in the heart of Napa. Serving more than 19,000 visitors daily, the market has become a local and tourist favorite and home to 20 unique merchants, including artisanal and craft food producers.
“The original vision for Oxbow Public Market was to create a unique marketplace with a curated roster of individual vendors that bring their considerable talent to the market. We have expanded on that by evolving to meet the wants and needs of our local community as well as the expectations of the tourists visiting the Napa Valley,” says market manager Gabe Carlin.
Creating the Oxbow Public Market Experience
Since opening in 2007, Oxbow Public Market’s town square environment prides itself on making sure there is something for everyone.
“Oxbow Public Market has done a wonderful job of collecting an exhilarating yet diverse set of best-in-class tenants, each of which has contributed to the market’s reputation as ‘the’ place to go for great food and wine. One of the appeals of Oxbow Public Market is the ability to find something for everyone in a group in a single compact location,” says Carlin.
“Whether that’s the authentic yet reimagined Mexican food menu at C CASA, fresh oysters and other seafood dishes from Hog Island Oyster Co., empanadas from El Porteño, a variety of mouth-watering pastries and breads – including Oprah’s favorite English muffins – from Model Bakery, or a romantic picnic with sandwiches or homemade bagels from chef Christopher Kostow’s Loveski Deli, frosé and small bites from Bar Lucia, a wide selection of wine and cheese from Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant, or Berkley-made craft beers from the popular Fieldwork Brewing taproom, everyone in the group will find something that exceeds their expectations.”
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Carlin also shares that Tuesday nights are deemed Locals Night and take place each week from 4 p.m. to closing. Every Tuesday, guests enjoy a variety of merchant specials ranging from a $1 draft beer at Loveski Deli to $2 mini cupcakes at Kara’s Cupcakes and a host of discounts or free merchandise from exceptional tenants like Ritual Coffee Roasters, The Olive Press, Napa Bookmine, and Anette’s Chocolates.
Shop Local, Be a Local
With various accommodations nearby, including The Westin Verasa Napa, Hudson Greens & Goods is known for its organic fruits and vegetables, curated pantry and household items and juice bar. Catering to both locals and tourists alike, its bountiful offerings seen as you walk in the entrance are perfect if you need to pick up a few things to prepare a meal at home or have a little nourishment inside their hotel room.
Create a taste of Napa’s food scene in your own home or Airbnb with ground and blended spices from Whole Spice. The spice company is also popular with professional chefs from acclaimed restaurants and culinary programs in the area—the market neighbors The Culinary Institute of America at Copia.
Another stop to make as you take your time to peruse around the market is The Olive Press. Founded in Sonoma, the company’s award-winning olive oils are fragrant and delicious. You can easily get caught up sampling selections that include jalapeno, basil parmesan, garlic rosemary, bourbon and white Champagne, making it hard to walk away.
Catch the Market Buzz
Each month has something special to offer to those visiting Napa, but Carlin shares that there is something extra special about the weather and energy between April and October.
As the market prepares to welcome those looking to retreat from colder weather, there are a few exciting new happenings on the horizon.
Beginning Thursday, October 26, Kansas City native and Napa transplant Darryl Bell will introduce diners to Stateline Road Smokehouse through a collaboration with current restaurant vendor Milestone Provisions, who will soon leave the market. The announcements of Bell’s upcoming brick-and-mortar location in Napa in 2024 caused quite a buzz. As the finishing touches are being made on the permanent location, Bell is bringing his talent and an abbreviated version of Stateline for market guests to enjoy.
“Having a gifted ‘chef-in-residence’ like Darryl Bell is definitely a win-win for everyone. While similar to a pop-up shop, a chef-in-residence takes the idea to a new, much more exclusive level. It allows us to curate the very best new talent in the area, introducing our guests to a popular up-and-coming brand, and it allows the restaurateur to continue to test the waters in the market, building a strong following before opening a more permanent location. We are thrilled to welcome this creative collaboration to the market,” Carlin says.
Michelin Star chef and proprietor Mourad Lahlou of San Francisco’s Aziza is scheduled to open Moro Napa, which promises to be a trendy gathering place where guests can enjoy Moroccan street food reminiscent of the Medina in Marrakesh, with live fire, spices and fresh local ingredients as the main focus of the menu.
Oxbow Public Market is located at 610 and 644 First Street in Napa and is open daily from 7:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. For more information about vendors, visit oxbowpublicmarket.com. For new vendor additions and market happenings, be sure to follow along on Instagram.