With the transformation of downtown Napa comes some great food and dining options.
Oxbow Public Market: This was one of the highlights of my stay. I actually went twice. It is a new attractively designed artisanal food hall opened in 2008. Some of the stalls open early so you can catch breakfast before heading north to the vineyards. There are over 20 restaurants and merchants.
Make sure to check out Model Bakery which has a breakfast and lunch menu in addition to bakery items. There’s also Whole Spice Napa Valley, Ritual Coffee Roasters and Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant. Restaurants include Hog Island Oyster Bar, Gott’s Roadside and Fieldwork Brewing Company and Eiko’s Modern Japanese Cuisine. The attractive Kitchen Door restaurant in the rear of the market will be moving to their own location on First Street downtown.
New spots opening at Oxbow include Moro for Moroccan cuisine and Lovesky Deli, casual Jewish deli.
Before or after you visit Oxbow Public Market, make sure to visit the new Railroad Arts District, which has a number of outdoor murals along with two local wineries St. Clair Brown Winery & Brewery and Robert Craig Winery.
Morimoto: I really liked the vibe of Morimoto also along the river at 610 Main Street. The chef is Masaharu Morimoto of Iron Chef fame. The outstanding, sleek design was by Thomas Schoos who also designed the fun Hotel Vertigo in San Francisco. I found the sushi bar was the place to be. They also have a great outside patio.
Angele Restaurant & Bar: This is a well-known French bistro in downtown Napa. It has a warm, inviting interior decor in a 1890’s former ship chandlery for buying supplies. There is also a lovely patio for alfresco dining. I had a wonderful duck breast, with a baked apple and apple compote, spinach, rice with duck confit, a fried spinach ball and a small roulade with duck sausage. 540 Main St.
Sweetie Pies Bakery at 520 Main or the Vintage Sweet Shoppe, for chocolates and wine, are good places to indulge.
Napa Valley Coffee Roasting Company: Located at 948 Main St., this is a casual, local coffee roaster and cafe. Their larger store is in St. Helena.
Other restaurant choices to consider are Norman Rose Tavern at 1401 First. Their lamb burger is a favorite according to articles I have read. Celadon, at 500 Main, Suite G, in the historic Napa Mill adjacent to the Napa River Inn, looks great also. It has the perfect patio for outdoor dining. They specialize in global comfort food.
Other spots getting great reviews include Compline Wine Bar – Restaurant & Wine Shop at 1300 First Street #312. It is recommended by Wine Spectator, Food & Wine Magazine and Wine Enthusiast. Oenotri has great pizza and Southern Italian fare at 1425 First St. Bounty Hunter Wine Bar & Smokin’ BBQ is a popular restaurant and wine bar. TORC features innovative fresh, local, and seasonal food. Carpe Diem is a wine bar with casual dining. Zuzu is recommended for Spanish tapas and paella while Grace’s Table features, French, American and Italian dishes. Gran Eléctrica from Brooklyn now has a Napa location featuring Mexican street food, margaritas and wine. For fine dining, La Toque at the Westin Verasa Napa, has a Michelin star and an award winning wine list.
I am a big fan of the Culinary Institute of America and have been to their campuses in San Antonio, TX and Hyde Park. They also have a campus in Napa, The CIA at Copia, where you can dine in one of their restaurants, attend wine tastings or take a class.
A new spot getting good press is Le Paris at 828 Brown St. for French pastries, desserts, sandwiches, and coffee.