Posted in Blogging Marin on Tuesday, December 29, 2015 by MCVB Staff
By Megan Eileen McDonough
Located 30 miles north of San Francisco in Marin County, Novato is a picturesque city that boasts an impressive culinary scene. Besides a stunning year-round landscape, the city is quickly becoming a foodie destination, with a clear focus on seasonal fare. Sourcing organic ingredients is a top priority for local chefs, which means that menus change every few months.
From quirky decor to inventive recipes, there’s always an element of surprise when you step into one of Novato’s most beloved restaurants. Here are six of our top picks (plus two bonus spots!) to get you started on your culinary adventure.
For Italian Fare: Pasta Pomodoro
Conveniently located at the Vintage Oaks Shopping Mall, Pasta Pomodoro sources fresh ingredients from local partners: Capay Farms, Coke Farms, Dwelley Farms and Riverdog Farms to name a few. All the tomatoes used in the pizza and pastas are grown locally in Salinas. Start off with the savory tortellini soup and move on to the butternut squash ravioli or artichoke and mushroom pizza for your main dish.
For Fresh Beer and Live Music: Hopmonk Tavern
There’s no better remedy for a busy day at work than a night of live music and cold brews. Hopmonk Tavern’s outdoor beer garden is a hit with locals, thanks to Novato’s great year-round weather. The food menu is fairly extensive, especially their shared plates like crispy calamari, sausage bites, tacos and sliders. There are currently 20 fresh draft beers, including the home favorites, the Hopmonk Tavern Ale and Hopmonk Dunkelweizen.
For Old-Fashioned American Favorites: Rickey’s Restaurant & Bar
Serving old-fashioned and affordable American favorites, Rickey’s Restaurant & Bar is a fixture in Novato’s restaurant scene. They use the freshest ingredients in their dishes, often opting to source from local suppliers. Menu items range from bite-sized appetizers and small-portion entrees to large seafood and meat dishes. If you’ve saved room for dessert, try their warm apple crisp à la mode with vanilla bean ice cream.
For Fine Dining: Wildfox Restaurant
Don’t leave town without splurging on a decadent meal at Wildfox Restaurant. Serving everything from fresh mesquite-grilled steaks and smoked chops to rotisserie meats and wood-fired pizzas, there’s something for every taste and temperament here. For lunch, try one of their homemade soups or split a few of their shared plates. Come dinner, their pan-seared salmon steak is a safe bet, as well as their bistro steak frites.
For Gluten-Free Treats: Flour Chylde Bakery
Don't let celiac disease get in the way of enjoying your favorite sweet treats. Flour Chylde Bakery specializes in gluten-free cakes, pastries, bread and tortes. Everything is made from scratch and sold fresh. Choose among a selection of delicious desserts or opt for some savory baked goods. Come lunchtime, the place is a popular spot to grab a sandwich, organic salad or frittatas. It’s a perfect pit stop for the busy traveler.
For Hot Drinks: Dr. Insomniac's Coffee & Tea
With a name like Dr. Insomniac's, it's no surprise that this joint specializes in caffeinated drinks like tea and coffee. In fact, it's been voted the best coffee shop in Marin for four years running. Naturally, mornings can be pretty hectic, with the line stretching out the door. Whether in the mood for a hot cup of freshly brewed coffee or a healthy fitness shake or fruit smoothie, there's a drink for every craving.
Here are two extra ways to make the most of your Novato foodie adventure.
For travelers seeking an interactive experience in Novato, consider embarking on a mushroom foraging excursion. Winter is the best season to hunt for mushrooms because of the wet weather conditions. San Francisco-based company ForageSF offers expeditions that take participants into West Marin and the Sonoma Coast. The day tour includes a leisurely hike through nature with an expert guide.
Wine & Beer Tastings
Northern California is home to some great-tasting wines, and next to Napa, Novato comes in a close second. Start your day at Trek Winery, a family-owned tasting room located in the Old Town. A mix of modern decor and earthy accents like bar tables and an outdoor patio (it's heated in the winter!) make for a cozy retreat. For one of the best beer experiences in town, swing by Baeltane Brewing. Their artisanal brews are truly one of a kind.