Life in Marin can be a foodie’s dream, with world-class chefs creating magical meals out of fresh, locally grown produce. Whether I’m socializing with friends or helping a client get to know towns like Sausalito and San Rafael, where to eat is often a topic of lively conversation. Sometimes it can be hard to decide whether to check out the chef’s special at a favorite eatery, or head out in search of a new discovery. But these are “good problems to have” when living in the North Bay. Here’s a list of ten of my favorite restaurants in Marin County.
Picco has been one of my personal favorites since it opened its doors in 2005, bringing in people from all over the Bay Area. Arguably one of the best restaurants in Marin, Picco is always bustling with people and is extremely popular. However, the staff is always extremely attentive and it never gets too noisy inside, even though business never seems to slow down.
Bruce Hill, who is also involved in three San Francisco restaurants, Bix, Zero Zero, and Fog City, is the brains behind Picco. The menu features a wonderful selection of dishes, from “for the table” items to share, to wonderful, locally sourced main courses. Some favorite dishes are the oysters, ahi tartare, and the freshly prepared risotto.
If you have heard of San Rafael, odds are you have heard of the famous Sol Food. Sol Food brings in customers from all over the Bay Area, as well as tourists from further afield. Featured on multiple TV shows highlighting cuisines from around the United States, the restaurant offers delicious Puerto Rican cuisine.
Sol Food started off as a pop-up at the weekly farmer’s market on 4th Street in San Rafael. It soon grew to take over a small 12-seater building in San Rafael, before popularity demanded further expansion to a new location in San Rafael, as well one in Mill Valley. The heavenly chicken, bistec, and multitude of other dishes validate why Sol Food is as well known as it is. Be sure to try the tasty, spicy “Picco” sauce, as it adds even more flavor to the already incredible food.
In 1937, the cozy Buckeye Roadhouse came into being as a hunting lodge turned German restaurant. In 1989, the Buckeye was bought and converted into an American restaurant, emphasizing California cuisine. The food they create is timeless, and the location is full of classic old-school charm.
Some of my favorite dishes include the famous Buckhouse oysters bingo, marinated flat iron steak, and their smoked chicken wings. Much of the staff has been working at the Buckeye for at least a decade, and can be trusted to provide recommendations on request.
The restaurant has embraced its hunting lodge beginnings and maintains the warm aesthetic, with a stone fireplace and wood panelled walls. An upscale casual destination on any road trip, the Buckeye is always buzzing with families, especially during the holiday season.
You can’t miss the Barrel House Tavern, located on the edge of the Bay, overlooking Sausalito and San Francisco. Not only does the restaurant have breathtaking panoramic bay views, but the food is spectacular. The Barrel House has historical significance as well, as it was the first ferry terminal in service to and from San Francisco. This welcoming waterfront restaurant prides itself on its locally sourced seasonal menu and its relaxed, yet stimulating setting.
Barrel House Tavern’s freshly prepared cod and risotto are two favorites, as well as the clam chowder. The ferry is located right nearby, so visitors can enjoy a nice day in the city and end with a tasty meal at Barrel House Tavern.
Focused on providing the freshest foods with the highest quality, Farmshop prides itself on its locally grown ingredients, honoring the farmers and artisans who make their food so spectacular.
Located in the Marin County Mart, Farmshop offers every kind of meal you could imagine, including breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, drinks, cheese and desserts. Their pizzas are razor thin and delicious, and the avocado hummus and jidori chicken are popular favorites too.
Conceivably one of the best sushi restaurants in both Marin and San Francisco, Sushi Ran continues to impress. The restaurant has stayed on top for about three decades and continues to rise. Located in Sausalito’s, Sushi Ran serves the freshest fish and other ingredients to create their remarkable sushi. The sushi menu is innovative, the chefs are not afraid to take risks, and these risks pay off. Sushi aficionados take heed, Sushi Ran is no run of the mill sushi joint.
Located in the heart of Sausalito, Poggio offers mouthwatering Italian food made with local ingredients. Proprietor Larry Mindel has launched over 30 Italian restaurants and has won numerous culinary awards, including the Caterina de Medici Medal, which made him the first American and first person of non-Italian descent to receive this honor.
Poggio is well priced for the quality of the food and the atmosphere adds to the dining experience. The diverse menu features housemade burrata, wood oven pizza, pastas, meats, and more. The service never disappoints, as the servers are extremely attentive and willing to help you with your every need.
For those who enjoy great music and great food, Terrapin Crossroads is the place for you. Founded by Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh, it serves as both a music venue and restaurant. Phil Lesh & Friends and other music groups perform at this venue and it is also used to host many community events, including trivia nights and holiday dinners.
In addition to a music hall named, “The Grate Room,” Terrapin Crossroads also consists of a large bar, a lounge, a large dining room, and outdoor seating and dining along the canal and docks. Serving both brunch and dinner, the menu features a variety of foods including pastas, fish, burgers, and pizza.
This local gem situated adjacent to downtown San Anselmo is known for their amazing Mediterranean inspired cuisine. Owner Heidi Krahling first opened Insalata’s in 1996 and has been creating delicious dishes since then.
Some of the favorites consist of the Moroccan lamb meatballs, grilled ahi tuna with moroccan spiced chickpeas, and the fattoush salad. The restaurant’s ambiance and open style kitchen add to the already spectacular cuisine. The awarded restaurant stresses the importance of growing and coming together as a community, and each member of their team puts their heart and soul into the food they cook.
One of the Bay Area’s Top culinary destinations, Murray Circle is situated below one of the most beautiful views in California. Located in Cavallo Point, Murray Circle keeps the integrity of the historic building it is housed in and embraces Marin’s beauty.
The balcony, which showcases breathtaking views of the bay, has large benches with heaters and blankets for cold nights. The service is attentive, friendly, and are extremely helpful. The eclectic menu features fresh fish, oysters, tamales, and more. Murray Circle also offers a chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings, which is well worth a visit.
Thinking about making a move in Marin? I’m always excited to talk to food-loving clients. If you consider eating well to be one of life’s great pleasures, you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Marin County Real Estate Agent
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services
Telephone: +1 415.606.1466
Fax: +1 415.479.5067
DRE #: 01914618