.Best of Marin 2017: Food & Drink

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A world-class food and drink scene: Just one more thing to love about Marin. From restaurants that offer dinner paired with a stunning view, to bars that serve rotating craft brews, to delis that know to hold the onions for you to farmers’ markets that carry the latest bounty from the fields, you really can’t go wrong when trying to satisfy your appetite. And if you ever find yourself slurping from oyster shells on Tomales Bay, or playing pool and trading stories with new friends at the county’s best dive bar, you’ll know that life is good.—M.O.

Good Ol’ ’cue

Your image of the Best BBQ joint may conjure a clapboard restaurant with a squeaky screen door and great jukebox along a country road somewhere south of Luling, Texas. But there’s no need to go that far. Pig in a Pickle is right down the road in Corte Madera. So what if it’s located in the not-exactly-backwoods Corte Madera Town Center? Good barbecue is where you find it and you’ll find it at Pig in a Pickle. Barbecue is a regional delicacy and Pig in a Pickle plays homage to the diversity of good ’cue with a variety of sauce styles: Memphis, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama and just plain hot habañero. Of course sauce doesn’t matter much if there’s not good barbecue to go with it. That’s not a problem here. The brisket, pulled pork, ribs and chickens are cooked low and slow over white oak. You want side dishes? They have it all—pickles, corn bread, collard green, beans, mac ’n’ cheese, coleslaw and more. And of course there’s plenty of cold craft beer, with rotating specials, to wash it all down.—Stett Holbrook

341 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera; 415.891.3265.

Burger Craving

Marin County is known as a place where residents enjoy a healthy lifestyle. Vegan, organic and gluten-free are all in; eating meat, not so much. But let’s face it—there are times when the only thing that will fill your comfort-food craving is a large, delicious, hearty, juicy burger. And that’s why Phyllis’ Giant Burgers, with five locations (three in Marin, two in Santa Rosa) is this year’s choice for Best Burger. Phyllis’ offers a full range of burgers, in junior or giant size, teriyaki, Cajun or BBQ, and lots of choices for additions like cheese, avocado, sautéed mushrooms and onions, pesto and an extra patty. And if you’re dating a no-red-meat eater, he or she will be happy to know that there are chicken, turkey, fish and vegan burgers, plus lots of foodie-friendly salads like the Cobb, Chinese Chicken, Mediterranean Chicken and more. And don’t forget the fries—French, garlic, curly and chili, plus kiddie-size dogs and burgers for the little ones, and milkshakes and soft ice cream shakes for little or big ones.—Lily O’Brien

8 East Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley; 415.381.6010; 924 Diablo Blvd., Novato; 415.898.8294; 2202 Fourth St., San Rafael; 415.456.0866.

King of the Sandwich

If you’re searching for the Sando King, search no more. Voters have ruled that Perry’s Delicatessen rules, as Marin’s Best Deli. With all of the usual, and unusual choices for meat, cheese and breads, the deli has customers raving about the breakfast sandwiches, like the Trifecta and the Hashfecta, the pesto chicken sandwich and other specialties like the Cubano, the Reuben and the Pastrami Bomb. Drinks, desserts and chips are also available, and Perry’s is known for its friendly staff, reasonable prices and casual atmosphere. Get thee to the deli!—L.O.

909 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael; 415.456.4886.

Chocolate Cure

When it comes to sweet treats, chocoholics will all agree that vanilla and strawberry and lemon are all just fine, but there is only one thing that really hits the sweet spot—IT HAS TO BE CHOCOLATE! And Marin voters this year have spoken—their pick for Best Chocolatier is Pick Me Up Chocolate. Located on Bridgeway, Sausalito’s favorite bayside promenade, Pick Me Up’s goodies in the window will tempt those walking by, and make it nearly impossible not to go inside. Trays and boxes of luscious, handcrafted, organic, artisan chocolates are laid out on tables and shelves. Collections include the 28-piece Big Love Heart Box, containing dark ganaches, milk chocolates, pralines, caramels and more. Simplicity is found with the Little Brown six-piece box. Whatever you choose, do choose to leave your diet plans outside.—L.O.

707 Bridgeway, Sausalito; 415.729.9557.

All Things Sublime

Well yeah, you’re sitting right on the water, checking out all of the boats bobbing in their slips on a breezy afternoon in the North Bay. You’re munching on a burger, enjoying a beer and life is good. There’s a reason Sam’s Anchor Café wins Best Outdoor Dining every year, and it’s because the location is sublime, the eats are first-rate and you can just sit there for hours and hours like Otis Redding, on the dock of the bay, and take it all in, slurping oysters on the half-shell, slamming down onion rings fried to crispy perfection and getting “shellacked” as you watch the prisoners from San Quentin wave at the ferry. Or you can stay home and fire up the 24-7 “Sam’s Cam” on their website and take in the view from the privacy of your own kitchen, sort of like watching the yule log on TV but with better visuals.—Tom Gogola

27 Main St., Tiburon; 415.435.4527.

Brew Time

If you’re looking for late-night drinking and dining in Marin County, it’s not so easy to find, especially if you’re seeking quality, and not just some lonely dive bar. That’s probably one of the reasons that Marin Brewing Company, serving the community since 1989, won Best Brew Pub. Let’s start with the brew. This award-winning microbrewery offers a huge selection of specialty beer and ale, like White Knuckle Eldridge Grade Double IPA, Stinson Beach Peach, Witty Monk, Tiburon Blonde and seasonal specialties like Hoppy Holidaze. And for those with late-night munchies, Marin Brew Co. serves a full menu, seven days a week—until midnight! A huge selection of burgers, pizzas, soups, salads, sandwiches and more are available, while high ceilings and lots of windows give the lively large room an open and airy feeling. On warm nights, you can enjoy outdoor dining before jumping on the nearby ferry to San Francisco.—L.O.

1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur; 415.461.4677.

Beachy Keen

First let us dispense with the bread. The Parkside Cafe’s loaves are legion around the North Bay, and we’re partial to the garden basil pesto half-loaf on the menu, which runs five bucks. The view is fairly spectacular, to put it mildly, at Marin’s Best Beach Restaurant, as you look off into the great Pacific Ocean, marvel at the cool breezes and sandy Stinson Beach and load up on local cod tacos, the potato gnocchi or the BBQ king salmon. We’re also partial to the Bolinas dungeness crab cake—and the dungeness crab and rock shrimp risotto is a stirring encounter with richness and parmesan.—T.G.

43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach; 415.868.1272.

Treat Yourself

When you decide to treat yourself to brunch, you might as well go for the best. And you can’t beat homemade food at reasonable prices. Family owned and operated since 1986, the Half Day Cafe fits all of the above, so it’s no surprise that voters picked it this year for Best Brunch. A lovely and inviting place for a meal, Half Day has a wall of windows looking out into a small courtyard where you can also dine. The food is heavenly. Brunch options include all kinds of eggs—scrambles, Benedicts, Huevos Rancheros, and original griddle treats like Raspberry-Whole Wheat Pancakes, Brioche French Toast and fluffy Belgian Waffles, a Half Day Parfait, with yogurt, fruit and granola and much more. The bakery offers a yummy selection of treats like orange currant scones and cinnamon buns, and you can wash everything down with your favorite espresso drink. Half Day serves breakfast and lunch seven days a week, and brunch on the weekend. And, per the name, this very popular place closes every day at 2:30pm—so plan accordingly.—L.O.

848 College Ave., Kentfield; 415.459.0291.

Sip Supreme

With a chic and cozy space sporting comfortable tables and chairs, and an attractive designer-looking bar, INCAVO Wine Tasting & Collective—which opened in San Rafael last year (there’s also one in Petaluma)—got the nod this year for Best Wine Bar. An array of wine can be ordered by the glass, in a flight or by the bottle, along with a small menu of tasty treats. You can even join INCAVO’s wine club; different levels have different perks. And while you’re relaxing and enjoying some fruits of the vine, live music on select nights adds a nice touch—you can check an online event calendar for the schedule. And if you’re looking for a cozy space for a private party, INCAVO rents out space for events, including baby showers, birthday parties and private dinners.—L.O.

1099 Fourth St., Suite F, San Rafael; 415.259.4939.

The full list of Best of Marin 2017 Food & Drink winners:

Best Bakery/Cafe
Rustic Bakery

Best Bar
2am Club
380 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Bartender
Steven Schaefer, Flatiron
724 B St., San Rafael.

Best BBQ
Pig in a Pickle
341 Corte Madera Town Center, Corte Madera.

Best Beach Restaurant
The Parkside Cafe
43 Arenal Ave., Stinson Beach.

Best Breakfast
335 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Brew Pub
Marin Brewing Company
1809 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.

Best Brunch
Half Day Cafe
848 College Ave., Kentfield.

Best Burger
Phyllis’ Giant Burgers
8 E. Blithedale Ave., Mill Valley.
2202 Fourth St., San Rafael.
924 Diablo Blvd., Novato.

Best Burrito
High Tech Burrito
914-A Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.
484 Las Gallinas Rd., San Rafael.
118 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Business Lunch
Buckeye Roadhouse
15 Shoreline Hwy., Sausalito.

Best Butcher Shop
Belcampo Meat Co.

Best Cafe/Coffeehouse
Marin Coffee Roasters
1551 S. Novato Blvd., Novato.
466 Ignacio Blvd., Novato.
546 San Anselmo Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Caterer
Stacy Scott Caterers

Best Cheese Shop
Cowgirl Creamery
80 Fourth St., Point Reyes Station.

Best Chef
David Haydon, Il Davide
901 A St., San Rafael.

Best Chinese
Jennie Low’s
120 Vintage Way, Novato.

Best Chocolatier
Pick Me Up Chocolate
707 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Cocktails
2233 Larkspur Landing Circle, Larkspur.

Best Craft Brew Event
Fairfax Brewfest

Best CSA
Table Top Farm

Best Deli
Perry’s Delicatessen
909 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.

Best Diner
Dipsea Cafe
200 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.

Best Dining After 10pm
Sol Food
901 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Dive Bar
Silver Peso
450 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Farmers’ Market
Marin Farmers’ Market
3501 Civic Center Drive, San Rafael.

Best Food Truck
Johnny Doughnuts
1617 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best French
Left Bank Brasserie
507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur.

Best Frozen Yogurt
916 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

Best Happy Hour
Servino Ristorante
9 Main St., Tiburon.

Best Ice Cream
Woody’s Yogurt Place
802 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Indian
Lotus Cuisine of India
704 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Italian
Il Davide
901 A St., San Rafael.

Best Japanese/Sushi
Sushi Gourmet
215 Strawberry Village, Mill Valley.

Best Latin American
Sol Food
901 Lincoln Ave., San Rafael.
401 Miller Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Mediterranean
120 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., San Anselmo.

Best Mexican
Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar
2009 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Microbrew
Iron Springs Pub & Brewery
765 Center Blvd., Fairfax.

Best Natural/Sustainable Restaurant
Cafe del Soul
247 Shoreline Hwy., Mill Valley.
1408 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best New Restaurant
Más Masa
31 Bolinas Road, Fairfax.

Best Outdoor Dining
Sam’s Anchor Cafe
27 Main St., Tiburon.

Best Pizza
Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria
1242 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Place for Oysters
The Marshall Store
19225 State Route 1, Marshall.

Best Restaurant
El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Ave., Mill Valley.

Best Restaurant with a View
Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Sandwich Shop
Michael’s Sourdough
999 Andersen Drive, San Rafael.
42 Digital Drive, Novato.

Best Seafood
350 Harbor Drive, Sausalito.

Best Server
Debbie Walker, Poggio Trattoria
777 Bridgeway, Sausalito.

Best Sommelier
Erick Hendricks, Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Sports Bar
724 B St., San Rafael.

Best Spot to Dine Solo
Marin Joe’s
1585 Casa Buena Drive, Corte Madera.

Best Thai
Royal Thai
610 Third St., San Rafael.

Best Vegetarian
Cafe del Soul
1408 Fourth St., San Rafael.

Best Vietnamese
Pho Viet
555 E. Francisco Blvd., Ste. 22, San Rafael.

Best Waterfront Restaurant
The Spinnaker
100 Spinnaker Drive, Sausalito.

Best Wine
Kendric Vineyards
48 Tamalpais Ave., San Anselmo.

Best Wine Bar
INCAVO Wine Tasting & Collective
1099 Fourth St., Ste. F, San Rafael.

Best Wine List
Hilltop 1892
850 Lamont Ave., Novato.

Best Wine Tasting Room
Trek Winery
1026 Machin Ave., Novato.

Best Winery Event
Tiburon Wine Festival


  1. When I see the list of winners, it’s no wonder people complain that the food in Marin is sub-par. If these are what’s rated ‘best of,’ the reputation of sub-par food is well deserved.


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