First Impressions of Oxbow Public Market
I was immediately interested when plans to build the Oxbow Public Market in Napa, CA first appeared in the news. I’d read that the same architects behind the Ferry Building in San Francisco had helped create Oxbow. The Ferry Building is one of my favorite places to go to in San Francisco. The architecture of the Ferry Building is beautiful. Renovations the architects made to the inside of the building to allow for merchants worked in capturing the essence of the building. There is an easy flow moving between merchants situated inside to those situated outside the building. The plethora of food options combines well with opportunities to view the bay and people watch. The Ferry Building is a great place to spend your time eating or buying groceries.
So when the Oxbow Public Market opened in 2008 I was very excited. I visited Oxbow after its doors opened to the public but I found my visit disappointing. In hoping for a recreation of the Ferry Building I’d set up Oxbow to fail. The building itself was great but there just wasn’t the same energy I’d found at the Ferry Building. There weren’t very many tourists or locals roaming the market. A handful of merchants had set up shop. It felt more like a small town’s barn flea market than the upscale food mecca I’d conjured in my head. It was not measuring up to the promises made in the articles I’d read touting the Oxbow Public Market. I left thinking I wouldn’t waste my time ever returning.
Let’s Try That Again
Six years later, 2014, I was in Napa and gave Oxbow one more chance. During those six years I’d been back to Napa a handful of times. I visited the surrounding downtown area and each year that area kept improving. New restaurants were always opening, more shopping was available, and the riverfront generated foot traffic. Oxbow Public Market is close to this area, and I thought it might be worth seeing if it also had gotten better through the years.
Going back to Oxbow Public Market wound up being a fantastic decision. Today’s Oxbow is everything I’d hoped it would be. The building itself, both inside and out, has kept up its appearance, and it looks wonderful. It exudes somewhat of a Pacific Northwest market vibe, something that wouldn’t seem out of place in either Portland or Seattle. The building itself didn’t surprise me but what I didn’t expect to find was how many more merchants now occupied both the inside space plus the adjoining property. There is so much more to experience. The Oxbow Public Market now has a liveliness that makes you want to visit, shop, and hang out.
Highlights of Oxbow Public Market
As of 2015 Oxbow Public Market has 24 merchants. You can buy all of your grocery needs, from vegetables to olive oil to chocolates. At the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant you can pick from a wide variety of cheeses. Or you can dine at a few of the various restaurants offered, such as Hog Island Oyster Bar or Kitchen Door. The talented baristas at Ritual Coffee Roasters will fulfill your caffeine needs by making you a great cup of coffee.
There are so many options available inside Oxbow Public Market but two standout merchants in an adjacent property to the main building. Model Bakery serves artisan breads and pastries. Their English Muffins alone are worth the trip. The English Muffins are soft and fluffy in the inside, with the outside lightly crispy. You can order a half-dozen of these delicacies to go. The English Muffins are ideal for breakfast at home, with either jams or cheeses. You can even order breakfast sandwiches made with the same English Muffins. Next door to Model Bakery you will find the Fatted Calf. At the Fatted Calf you can fulfill all your meat desires. The Fatted Calf is a charcuterie and butcher shop. It offers high quality meats ranging from sausages to pates. If you are unsure which of the many succulent meats to buy you may ask the employees for a recommendation.
My suggestion is to head to Oxbow Public Market in the morning when it first opens. You can buy a baguette from Model Bakery, salami from The Fatted Calf, and manchego from the Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. You are now set for a wine country picnic later that same afternoon.
Oxbow Public Market Information:
Located at: 610 & 644 First Street, Napa, California 94559
For information about the merchants at Oxbow Public Market plus days and hours of operation visit: http://oxbowpublicmarket.com/