You might think Oxbow sounds more like an instrument in a bovine orchestra than a place for great food, but you'd be wrong. My favorite 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.
What Is There at Oxbow Public Market?
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 here.
I like the Oxbow Public Market for a serious cup of morning coffee at Ritual Coffee Roasters, 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.
What People Think of Oxbow Public Market
I'm not alone in my praise of this place.
Yelp reviewers give it 4.5 stars on average, with close to 800 reviews. They praise its cleanliness, the quality of the food, call it super cute - and of course take pictures of their food to post on social media. Here's a sampling of what you can eat from a Yelp reviewer: "After sharing 16 oysters with my brother we made a stop over to Carpe Diem for a duck mac and cheese, and taco bun.
Then Eiko's for a sushi roll, and then finished it out with some ice cream!" Or take a look at the place on Instagram using the hashtag #oxbowpublicmarket. Most reviews also claim how they couldn't resist finding gifts for other people, or just for themselves
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 a casual ice cream or cupcake dessert after a meal downtown.
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.
Check current hours. Entrance is free.
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 theses days, with lots of innovative food stands in a historic building.