Sunday, February 20, 2011

Oxbow Market, Part 1: C Casa

Oxbow Market is... well, how can I make a long story short?

Oxbow Market is basically a collective of gourmet restaurants and shops; a sort of a Napa, upscale, niche-target food court /market. It is located near downtown Napa, but just east of Soscol Ave. and the Wine Train tracks, in the area of the COPIA building. (COPIA was a similar experiment, which attempted to merge high-end food alongside wine tastings and education, but the experiment had far too much money pumped into it to recoup its losses, and failed to the tune of bankruptcy and closure... alas, I never even got to give it a try)

I've been to Oxbow Market once or twice before, but really just to look around... the one restaurant here that kept being recommended (through local wine tasting rooms) was C Casa, an upscale taqueria. I guess I had never been tempted, due to the high prices -- $8+ for a taco is a bit prohibitive considering you can get them for $2 each (sometimes less) at local taco trucks and taquerias.

Still, I figured it's one of those things I should at least give a shot, and we happened to be in the area today so... why not?

I'll tell you why not: this place was a madhouse! Here I was, thinking that being the middle of the winter offseason might deter tourists a little bit. Word to the wise: tourists are never deterred from visiting Napa. So here I was, weaving my way between the privileged and the wanna-be-privileged, waiting in line for an expensive taco ("Gluten free!" the sign reads. Umm... I may be confused, but aren't tacos -- normally served on corn tortillas -- always gluten free??) and looking around to see no open tables available.

Still, within twenty minutes, Sarah and I had our gourmet tacos and found a small nook to sit at outside of the bar area in the middle of the cattle call. To be fair, they were well-presented and delicious: mine was a lamb taco with juicy meat and some mint and cilantro; Sarah's was a blackened prawn taco with some fresh-tasting and heavy-duty shrimp in there. The servings were not filling -- after all, they are pretty much normal-sized tacos, meaning you would need at least 2 for a full meal, but I don't think that warrants spending nearly $20 per person.

Verdict: Tasty gourmet tacos -- perhaps overhyped and overpriced, a yummy snack but doesn't fill you up for the price.

The crowds were a bit much and I actually was feeling pretty claustrophobic, so we didn't stay long -- on a warmer day, we might have headed to C Casa's outdoor eating section, but it was not one of those nice, warm days (and if it were, that area would probably be teeming with people, too!)

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