Oxbow Public Market

When I first learned about Oxbow Public Market last summer, I imagined it to be something like San Francisco’s Ferry Building Marketplace: Unique to its locale, full of vendors selling seasonal foods and bustling with visitors.

I visited on a Saturday afternoon, and Oxbow was mostly empty, a far cry from the city’s Ferry Building. I guess that’s partly because there aren’t nearly as many vendors at Oxbow as there are at the Ferry Building, but I probably shouldn’t compare. Napa is not San Francisco.

While walking down its aisles, I could tell that Oxbow is being marketed to tourists, but it’s not quite there yet. A Hog Island Oyster Company outpost was being advertised as coming soon when I visited (and is now open) and the Oxbow Wine Merchant and Wine Bar seemed to be attracting customers. But the Ritual Coffee Roasters outpost was without a queue (unthinkable in San Francisco’s Valencia Street location) and the Fatted Calf had all of two people lined up to order.

I was craving something Latin American, so I had lunch at the market’s Pica Pica Maize Kitchen. I started with the bululu salad.

Bululu salad

The salad was fresh tasting and although I usually don’t like fruity salad dressings, this one packed a punch, and was almost oniony.

Next I had a pelu’a arepa, which was tasty and filling, without being too greasy.

Pelu'a arepa

I finished off with some yucca fries with tamarindo salsa, which was not what I was expecting.

Yucca fries

The fries didn’t have a fry-like texture, and while I absolutely love tamarinds, the tamarind salsa was syrupy sweet instead of tart and sour.

Oxbow Public Market is still relatively new, and things are still changing. I’m hopeful that in time, it will get the traffic it deserves, and in turn, encourage more vendors to move in. Until then, I’ll be at the Ferry Building.

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