“If you go to our own local market in Napa called the Oxbow, there’s a spice company there, and you get to open up all the lids and smell the spices,” says Pam Starr. “I like to go and be inspired by different smells. They invite everybody to come in, and they have these huge wonderful jars in multiple colors, and you can just crank off the lid and hold the lid up and smell it. I have to say I really love doing that.”
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Foodie Heaven at Oxbow Public Market in Napa, California
Oxbow Public Market is an excellent introduction to the food and atmosphere of Northern California. The market supports sustainable, local agriculture and production. There are many shops and food purveyors, mostly casual offerings where you pick up your food and find a table, but there are also some sit-down restaurants. The choices all highlight food from the region and include multi-ethnic California cuisine, fresh oysters, organic gourmet ice cream, artisan cheeses, Napa Valley wines, and local olive oil. When the weather is nice, sit on the back terrace that overlooks the Napa River. Oxbow also makes a great place to buy gifts—try Anette's Chocolates and the Olive Press for distinctive local products that you can take home to friends and family. A wonderful farmers market takes place next to Oxbow on Saturdays from May 1-Oct. 31 from 7:30 a.m. to noon. Oxbow Public Market is open 7 days a week. Each purveyor has its own hours, but all are open 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. There are also Happy Hour and locals' events throughout the week; more information about these can be found on the website. Parking is ample and free. You can leave your car there and walk to the rest of downtown Napa, which is just 3-4 blocks away past wine tasting rooms.
One of the best places to get a taste of Napa is Oxbow Public Market. Like a smaller version of San Francisco's famous Ferry Building, the 40,000 square-foot market space is filled with great purveyors such as Kara's Cupcakes, Three Twins Ice Cream, Hog Island Oysters, and Five Dot Ranch. I like to go early and get a latte from Ritual Coffee Roasters, and then slowly taste my way around the market.
Oxbow Public Market passionately supports sustainable agriculture and local harvest. It promotes a healthy environment and social and economic equity within the community. What better place to break for lunch than one that provides a unique atmosphere to diners and shoppers? Also, there are so many choices to pick from. We love walking to Oxbow to enjoy some Hog Island Oysters and cupcakes from Kara's. What? No one ever said you couldn't do cupcakes and oysters.
Oxbow Public Market makes for a great first stop before you head to the wineries. Get your morning latte at Ritual Coffee Roasters and put together your own picnic for the day. It's also a great place to wind down before you drive back to the city. On our last trip to Napa, we decided to have an early dinner here. Gott's Roadside is terrific for their burgers while the grilled oysters at Hog Island Oyster Company are the best. If you're with a group, I recommend getting different items from different vendors and enjoy it family-style at one of the communal tables at the patio.
The Napa Valley Distillery became the first distillery to open in Napa since prohibition when they began distilling vodka and gin from Napa Valley grapes in 2010. Tours will be offered beginning in 2014, but in the meantime you can find their wares at The Oxbow Public Market alongside an extensive collection of bitters from around the globe, barrel-aged cocktails and vintage barware.