.To Dine & Dream in Marin

The Bungalow Kitchen & AC Hotel San Rafael

Spin a compass in Marin County and odds are one will find a world-class experience wherever it points. To leverage one’s geography and options, start in the middle of everything—the AC Hotel San Rafael.

Modern, sophisticated and boasting an expertly curated collection of original artwork, the hotel brings contemporary swagger and exceptional convenience to downtown San Rafael. The minimalist elegance of the guest rooms offers comfortable respite for travelers, revelers and on-the-go worker bees like me who appreciate a strong wifi signal and a thoughtfully stocked mini-fridge. The deluxe bedding is nice too. Ditto on-site amenities like a fitness center, parking and car charging.

Mornings at the AC Hotel San Rafael start with a culinary journey at the AC Kitchen, where European-inspired fare and coffee offer a delightful wake-up call (literal ones are also available). Likewise, evenings are best spent at either the AC Lounge on the ground floor or Above Fifth, its rooftop bar, which boasts craft cocktails and tapas and views of Mt. Tamalpais. Moreover, the hotel is within walking distance of numerous eateries. That said, if one is inclined to give the compass a spin, consider venturing southeast to The Bungalow Kitchen in Tiburon.

music in the park san jose
music in the park san jose

Opened in 2021 by culinary icon Michael Mina, rising star chef Daniela Vergara has recently taken the reins, bringing her global palate and fresh perspective to the restaurant. Vergara’s culinary journey reads like a foodie’s dream. After cutting her teeth in the MINA Fellowship program, she impressed diners with her interpretations of French, Hawaiian and Egyptian cuisines. Soon, she was leading the kitchen at Mina’s Estiatorio Ornos in San Francisco, a position she held until its closure in April 2024. Now, her mission is clear—elevate the menu with seasonal, California-inspired dishes that celebrate the bounty of Northern California.

“During my time with MINA Group, I had the opportunity to present my take on globally-inspired dishes—but this is the first time I get to showcase seasonal California cuisine,” says Vergara, one of the youngest executive chefs with MINA Group. “Its location on the waterfront and proximity to some of the most unique farmers and purveyors in Northern California make The Bungalow Kitchen a quintessential California dining experience. I am inspired by this space every day and look forward to continuing to get to know the community here.”

The new menu at The Bungalow Kitchen reads like a love letter to California’s culinary landscape mixed with Vergara’s myriad influences: Dive into the King Crab Pasta, elegantly tossed with arugula pesto and topped with crispy squash blossom on tonnarelli pasta. Sail away with the Salt-Baked Sea Bream, paired with shaved zucchini and drizzled with oregano and lemon vinaigrette.

Indulge in the Peking Duck Confit Bao Buns, bursting with hoisin BBQ sauce, jalapeño and cucumber. For a spicy twist, savor the Jalapeño Lobster Toast, adorned with ginger aïoli, togarashi and cilantro. Or delight in the Ahi Tuna Tartare, a tantalizing mix of garlic, Asian pear, pine nuts, mint and a kick of habanero-sesame oil.

With these two destinations, Marin serves up a perfect pairing—a sophisticated stay and an unforgettable dining experience. To dine and dream indeed.

The Bungalow Kitchen is located at 5 Main St., Tiburon. bungalowkitchen.com; the AC Hotel San Rafael is at 1201 5th Ave., San Rafael. bit.ly/ac-sr.

Daedalus Howellhttps://dhowell.com
Daedalus Howell is the writer-director of the feature filmsPill Head and the upcoming Werewolf Serenade. Learn more at dhowell.com.

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