Just off of a busy intersection, the Cayetano Juárez Adobe is usually buzzing with activity. The picturesque whitewashed building, surrounded by cacti and agave plants, is a fitting home for a local Mexican eatery. What diners may not know, though, is that the eatery is housed inside Napa’s oldest building.
Cayetano Juárez, a Mexican soldier, built the adobe structure in 1845 as his home. The house was once surrounded by Juárez’s ranch, where he raised horses and cattle. Juárez was a prominent figure in Napa and Sonoma, even becoming alcalde, or mayor, of Sonoma in 1844. Juárez played a part in nearly every major military and political event of the area for decades, including the Bear Flag Revolt.
The house remained a family home until the 1920s, when it became a restaurant. It has since served as a restaurant for more than a century. A massive renovation in 2019 used traditional techniques and materials for much of the rebuilding. Contractors used horse manure, mud, and hay to make adobe bricks that would have been typical in Juárez’s time, while the interior plaster recipe used sand and pine needles. As of 2020, the building houses La Cheve, a brewery, bakery, and restaurant.