“The first time I bit into a fresh-from-the-sea fish taco on the beach in Baja, there was no forgetting the taste. It was a life-changing experience,” recalled Catherine Bergen, founder of C CASA in the Napa Oxbow Public Market. “Ever since that day, I pestered my family about the dream of opening my own authentic taqueria. It took a team to make it happen, but we’ve successfully reimagined Mexican food that’s delicious and nutritious, even addictive in a good way.”
Back in 2010, that taco dream was a smaller one; the original C CASA — which stands for the founder’s name — was a humble takeaway market stall occupying a mere 400 square feet. Today, it has grown into a full-service restaurant and cocktail bar covering 5,000 square feet of indoor and outdoor dining, complete with river views, cabanas for seating 10 people, and fire pits on the patio. Despite table settings of glassware and linens, the restaurant’s vibe is approachable, casual, and good fun. “It almost feels like having a little vacation, like visiting another country,” suggested Bergen.
Folks who like their six-inch tacos big and overflowing may find themselves reaching for a fork at C CASA. The handmade non-GMO white corn tortillas that Bergen calls “a crucial component” of the house tacos deserve equal credit for deliciousness. Larger than street tacos, artfully constructed and served open-face, one C CASA taco equals two or three street tacos. As for the fillings piled high, the focus is always on “using the freshest ingredients we can find” from only the best purveyors: freshly sourced produce; sustainably fished seafood; responsibly raised and hormone-free beef, pork, and poultry. Vegetarian and vegan options are just as tasty, and everything served at C CASA is 100% naturally gluten-free.
With the larger space, the food has evolved, too. Along with the signature tacos — don’t miss sampling bison chile relleno from the innovative menu — there are super popular shareables such as house-made guacamole, Mexican street corn, and C CASA wings. Start with a Caesar or house salad. Order a chicken rôtisserie rubbed with a custom seven-spice blend, including Ancho chiles, Mexican oregano, and thyme, sizzling from the wood-fired grill. From the expanded fish menu, explore the mahi mahi, salmon, crab, grilled and fried shrimp, and of course, those life-changing Baja fish tacos that got the whole thing started.
TRY A BREAKFAST TACO
While breakfast tacos have long been a Mexican tradition, they were only introduced north of the border during the 1970s. At C CASA, the dish is a hit with diners. Straight from the menu, the description of a beef chorizo and egg taco is tantalizing: “One egg, chorizo, black beans infused with chorizo and goat cheese, garlic aioli, pico de gallo, cotija cheese and avocado.”
Huevos rancheros for breakfast are as popular as ever; all the more so because C CASA serves them on their tasty white corn tortillas. Three-egg omelets with Oaxacan and artisan goat cheeses, oyster and shiitake mushrooms, spinach, poblano and red bell peppers, artisan cotija, fresh cilantro, and scallions are exceptionally Mexican-style.
Hen Pen eggs are delivered weekly from a local, third-generation family farm that raises pasture heritage breeds fed on non-GMO vegetarian diets. These eggs are completely free of hormones and antibiotics.
DRINK IN THE FRESHNESS
C CASA food and bar menus reflect the ever-present quest for freshness. Crafted cocktails involve fresh squeezed juices and purées from sweet pineapples, blood-red oranges, and tropical mangos to infuse tequilas and create delightful drinks. A barrel-aged Smoky Strawberry Negroni made with strawberry-infused Banhez Espadin Mezcal, Campari, Carpano vermouth, and a touch of molé bitters will take the edge off any hot summer day. And don’t forget the CASArita, a house-style margarita made with fresh squeezed lime juice, organic blue agave syrup, Herradura Silver, Licor de Naranja, and lime zest salt on the rim. Alternatively, make it a Spicy CASArita with house-infused serrano pepper Herradura Silver or a CASArita Ultimo with high-end Casamigos Añejo and Cointreau.
Tequila lovers take note of C CASA’s new tequila program. Five different flights consist of three ½ ounce pours to showcase regions, representing a choice of Jalisco highland or lowland artisan producers that exclusively use 100% Blue Weber Agave in the time-honored method. There’s another tasting flight specifically for Oaxacan mezcal. Self-guided tasting notes and paired bites accompany each flight.
Cozy up the bar from 3pm to 6pm on weekdays for C CASA‘s Happy Hour, which includes specials on tequila flights. On Tuesdays, during Oxbow Public Market’s “Locals Night,” Happy Hour is extended until closing time.
To accompany Mexican-inspired meals, the restaurant’s newly expanded wine program includes selected wines sourced from Spain and wine-growing regions in Mexico, including the well-respected Valle de Guadalupe, dubbed as the “Napa Valley of Mexico.”
CELEBRATE FIVE SEASONS
In fact, there are actually five seasons at C CASA, including “Holiday” during which cranberries play a central role. Spring lamb street tacos and spring asparagus quesadilla give way to a summer menu, introduced in June, that features pork belly, cherry tomatoes, lettuce, and avocados, their riff on a BLTA as well as a Seafood Taquito. Fall means sweet potato, black bean and corn salsa quesadillas and winter menus bring Short Rib Tacos with wild mushrooms and horseradish crema.
Come anytime. Open all day for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the Oxbow Public Market location is a festive place for celebrations, although there are options for on-site counter ordering, takeaway party platters, game day parties, and group gatherings. Pick-up and delivery are available, too.
BRING THE KIDS
Keeping it both healthy and yummy, the younger set gets their own menu. Known as Kiddie Combos, there are very popular plates that come with a choice of quesadilla or burrito, tortilla chips and white beans, Fuji apple slices, and Mexican chocolate brownie bites, plus a beverage. When it’s time for C CASA, nobody stays home, as the restaurant is dog-friendly, too.
C CASA is the proud recipient of the 2023 OpenTable Diner’s Choice Award.