C Casa: Napa, CA (in the Oxbow Public Market)
This taqueria is one of the many delightful eateries in the Oxbow Public Market, which is just across the river from Napa’s main downtown. On C CASA’s website it describes itself as an innovative kitchen and warns eaters that they’ll become addicted to the food served up. After a dinner of guacamole, chips, a piled high taco and a pineapple agua fresca, I agree that C CASA is an innovative kitchen and a great restaurant.
The menu and website mentions that sustainable ingredients are used (grass fed beef, free range chicken, etc.) But I didn’t notice any producers or suppliers listed on the website or menu. I have no doubt that they are doing what they are saying, but it could be great to know which sustainable producers they are supporting.
I was impressed by the innovation of C CASA. The menu is filled with unique taco creations. I had fresh guacamole and a spiced lamb taco that was piled high with mixed greens. It wasn’t the easiest taco to eat because it was very tall, but I didn’t mind using a fork to scoop up the yummy bits. I quickly crunched through my chips and guacamole None of the flavors in my meal crunched me over the top, but I appreciated that there were so many different flavor combinations offered.
There were a few creations posted that weren’t on the regular menu. When I visited a few weeks ago, I think it was an Asian fusion type of taco. I noticed that just now on the website they are offering two dishes as their ever changing Seasonal Dishes. There’s a crab salad with ruby grapefruit, avocado and fresno peppers all tossed with a jalapeno lemon vinaigrette as well as a duck taco with blood oranges, goat cheese, avocado, and a meyer lemon serrano salsa.
Also they have rotiessere duck and chicken. If I lived in the area, I’m sure I’d stop by every once in awhile to get a whole roasted duck to go. (I used to get this from my neighborhood roast duck vendor when I lived in Dalian, China.)
Pleasant Suprise: YES
For those of you who try to or have to eat gluten free, you know how difficult it can be to find baked goods that are devoid of gluten. I was super excited to see that C CASA offers a number of gluten free baked goods and sometimes even dairy+gluten free ones. When I visited, they had a massive chocolate-y gluten free brownie. If I hadn’t already eaten enough chips and guac to feed a small family, I’m sure I would have tried a gluten free baked good. ;)
The Oxbow Public Market is basically a giant food court. It’s lined with a variety of restaurants, and there are open seating areas scattered throughout the middle of the market. Some restaurants have their own designated seating areas. And some also have outdoor dining, I noticed that C CASA has patio space set aside for their customers, but since it was a rainy day I wasn’t keen to eat outdoors. Since it could be hard to find seating and because the noise level varies depending on the time of day you visit, I’d say the atmosphere (and that of the entire Oxbow Public Market) is fairly comfortable, but not cozy. Also, the service at C CASA was friendly and prompt, which always makes for a pleasant dining experience.
Overall Rating: 11+
I would certainly return to C CASA if I lived in the area because there are many menu items and specials I’d love to try. While I didn’t get much of an impression of being connected to the food (there weren’t any locations of farms listed on the menu), this is the type of place I hope to encounter with increased frequently. People often rely on fast food chains, but I hope consumers can come to rely on places similar to C CASA… places with fresh options, sustainable ingredients and creative menu items. It’s tons more fun to eat healthy quick food than greasy factory made fast food.
If you live near Napa, stop by C CASA and think of me as you enjoy a creative taco, piled high with fresh and sustainably raised ingredients!