Marin County has no shortage of fabulous and unique restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a great place to grab a bite with friends, or a romantic setting to bring that special someone, here are my top five favorite dining establishments in the North Bay.
Words cannot describe how much I love this place. Located in the Country Mart in Larkspur Landing, Farmshop is sleek, swanky, and sophisticated with an open dining room, super high ceilings, low lighting, and some of the best California cuisine in the area. This farm-to-form restaurant only uses local and organic ingredients, so the menu is constantly changing. And when I say “constantly changing” I mean daily. Every time I go there they’re serving something new and fresh. Of course, anyone who knows me knows I’m a cocktail girl. Farmshop’s drink menu is as delicious as it is extensive, with several beers and wines on tap, plus a long list of signature cocktails. (I love that their cocktail ingredients are ALL California sourced!) This is a great place to impress a date. Just be sure to make reservations or you may never get a table.
In the mood for French food? Check out Le Garage. This French-inspired bistro is located along the Sausalito waterfront in, literally, an old garage. The owners have transformed it into a trendy eating establishment, with minimal decor, dark wood tables, and large glass windows overlooking the docks and marina. The food is mouthwatering good. I recommend either the mussels with white wine or the duck confit. And be sure to save room for dessert. The vanilla creme brulee is — dare I say — one of the best I’ve ever had. Although the fig tarte is pretty darn tasty as well. They also have a wonderful weekend brunch menu.
This might be my family’s all-time favorite restaurant in Marin. Picco is located in downtown Larkspur and offers a full bar, private dining rooms, cozy booths, and a family-style Italian menu. The food is rich and flavorful (I highly recommend the gnocchi), and the desserts are simply divine (the house-made churros and blackberry milkshakes with crème de cassis is my absolute favorite). It’s a perfect place bring a group of friends because it’s low-key and and the service is always attentive and friendly. And you can’t beat the beautiful unassuming Redwood setting.
Whenever I walk into the Panama Hotel I immediately feel welcome. The restaurant exudes a sense of warmth and friendliness with subtle tones, casual elegance, and a very friendly staff. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating. Inside you can listen to live jazz music while you eat, which they have several nights a week. (Great if you’re looking to have some fun!) Outside you can sit in wicker furniture under rows of string lights and surrounded by palms. (Perfect if you’re in the mood for an utterly romantic setting.) The food is sort of a mix of Latin and Mediterranean (I highly recommend the fire roasted poblano chili). The Panama Hotel Restaurant also features artisan wines from small production boutique wineries from around the world. (My favorite is the rose.) All in all, Panama Hotel is a restaurant that everyone in the North Bay should experience at least once.
Stepping into the Pelican Inn feels sort of like stepping back into 16th century England. You almost expect to see William Shakespeare penning a play by the fireplace. The menu is prepared with all local ingredients and features a hearty blend of country English fare: Beef Wellington, bangers & mash, and shepherd’s pie to name a few. And the bar reflects an old pub, with different ales, stouts, pilsners, and an extensive list of wines and ports. Nestled in the foothills just steps from Muir Beach and almost always covered by a blanket of fog, the entire place oozes romance. It’s great for special occasions — birthdays, anniversaries, that sort of thing — or if you’re just looking for a unique evening getaway.