Oxbow Public Market

Visiting Oxbow Public Market

Browsing at the Oxbow Public Market
Browsing at the Oxbow Public Market. Prayitno/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

You might think Oxbow sounds more like an instrument in a bovine orchestra than a place for great food, but you'd be wrong. This exciting downtown Napa food spot takes its name from the big loop the Napa River makes nearby, called the "oxbow" because it's shaped like an old-fashioned, U-shaped yoke for a team of oxen.

In an area known for its cuisine, the Oxbow Public Market has proved to be a good spot for small, gourmet food shops to take root and flourish.

It's also a great reason to get yourself off the highway and into the town of Napa instead of just speeding by on your way north to those fancier places in Yountville and St. Helena.

If you're part of a hungry group who can't agree on what kind of food they want, Oxbow Market is perfect. Everyone can make their own choices, and the convene at a table to enjoy their meals together. People enjoy the scenic outdoor deck, with seating along the Napa River.

The market also makes a perfect place for casual ice cream or cupcake dessert after a meal downtown.

People who go to the Oxbow Market praise its cleanliness, the quality of the food, call it super cute - and of course, they take pictures of their food to post on social media. After all, the camera has to eat first, doesn't it? To see some of what they like, search for the hashtag #oxbowpublicmarket on Instagram.

In words, here's a sampling of what could eat at Oxbow Market in just one visit: oysters, then duck mac and cheese and a taco bun.

But that's not all. Continue with a sushi roll, and finish with some ice cream.

Oxbow Public Market Vendors

Oxbow Public Market tenants include satellite locations of many Bay Area favorites such as Gott's Roadside (formerly called Taylor's Refresher), Hog Island Oysters and Kara's Cupcakes, along with other artisan food shops.

The list of names at the Oxbow Market continually evolves, with new and interesting places moving in all the time. You'll find a current list on the Oxbow Market website

Oxbow Public Market is perfect for a serious cup of morning coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters. Later in the day, you can get a casual meal or snack. It's also fantastic for a bit of serious food shopping at the cheese vendor, butcher shop or to get yellow curry powder from Whole Spice.

You'll find quite a few shops selling cooking tools and decorative items, too. Visitors also say they can't resist buying gifts for other people or getting things for themselves. 

Tips For the Oxbow Public Market

  • Browse the entire market before settling on something. Otherwise, you may end up eating that carnitas taco when you really wanted the Japenese noodles.
  • Bring a cooler for shopping. With items like cheeses, meats or chocolate to buy, it will help you keep that yummy purchase fresh on your drive home.
  • Go for Happy Hour. Most days one of the vendors offer Happy Hour prices, with specials on drinks and food. Check for current events.
  • Avoid the crowds. Weekends are particularly busy time. If you can, go during the week.

What You Need to Know About Oxbow Public Market

The market is open 7 days a week, but their hours vary.

Entrance is free.  Check​ their current hours.

Getting to Oxbow Public Market

Oxbow Public Market
610 First Street
Napa, CA 94559
Oxbow Public Market Website

The Oxbow Public Market is just across the river from downtown Napa. It's a short walk or drive, and you can take the First Street bridge to get there. There's a small parking lot next to the market and parking is free. 

If You Liked the Oxbow Public Market, You May Also Like

The Ferry Building Marketplace in San Francisco is very similar to Oxbow Market and even has a few of the same eateries, including Gott's Roadside and Hog Island Oysters. The  Farmers Market in Los Angeles is full of small eateries and souvenir shops, but the  Grand Central Market in Downtown LA is making all the buzz these days, with lots of innovative food stands in a historic building.