Now celebrating its third anniversary at the , offers up everything from cheeseburgers and shrimp tacos to white pistachio milkshakes and root beer floats. Oh, and great Napa wine. I sat down with Braun Broehl-Phifer, general manager of what might be the best comfort-food hangout in Napa.
Julie: How do burgers and fries fit into the gourmet arena of the Oxbow Public Market?
Braun: We have gourmet type food served quickly. That’s our philosophy.
Julie: As your website says, “artisanal and fresh ingredients.”
Braun: We have gardens in St. Helena. Most of our tomatoes last year came from our gardens. We’re able to do several garden soups with food we produce ourselves.
Julie: How would you like someone to describe their experience when they walk through the door?
Braun: Fun. Laid back. Casual. Food and beverage people- we’re different sorts of creatures. People always say that it looks like everyone’s having a lot of fun working here.
Julie: Always good to have a party atmosphere at work.
Braun: And we want to re-educate people on the food and wine experience.
Julie: Can you elaborate?
Braun: From the time they walk in until the time they leave, we educate people on why we serve the foods we do and why we’re so passionate about it.
Julie: Passion for burgers?
Braun: All the beef is vegetarian fed, free range. And we’re coming up with a wine and food pairing for the public. It’s all about education.
Julie: Great place for tourists. If I walk in from the Midwest (which I am), I’m not intimidated when I look at the menu.
Braun: We have a lot of tourists, maybe they saw us on the Food Network. We like to give them the whole Napa experience.
Julie: Nothing better than a burger with a cab sauv. Or a root beer float.
Braun: The owners say they wanted to create college hangover-type food with a twist.
Julie: The food must attract families.
Braun: I would say probably 70 percentage of our business is families.
Julie: Well, it’s definitely a kid-friendly menu!
Braun: Absolutely. Especially on Locals Night.
Julie: Tell me more.
Braun: Every Tuesday from 5 until closing, the entire marketplace has Locals Night. Each vendor comes up with its own special.
Julie: Give me an example of your Tuesdays locals special.
Braun: Well, we used to pick a different burger each week, but most people really just want a cheeseburger, when it comes down to it. So we decided to make it real simple-- half-price cheeseburgers or veggie burgers and $2 fries. And beer and wine for $3 a glass.
Julie: So you’re from Phoenix, live in San Francisco and work here. What’s your take on Napa?
Braun: Napa is close-knit, our locals who come in here are very passionate about the food experience and it’s really cool, they all know each other. I see every walk of life.
Julie: What’s your favorite thing on the menu?
Braun: On the menu, my favorite is probably burger-wise the Wisconsin Sourdough. But since we eat here every day, we modify things. One of my favorite things is a cross between the ahi burger and poke taco.
Julie: I want that.
Braun: It’s awesome.