Posted in Blogging Marin on Friday, August 21, 2015 by MCVB Staff
By Megan Eileen McDonough
San Francisco is known for its creative food scene, and we’re not just referring to the city itself. In fact, some of the Bay Area’s best eateries are located in Marin County. Mill Valley, in particular, is gaining serious street cred for its innovative cuisine and inventive recipes, which is why we’ve compiled a few of our favorites. Whether you’re in the mood for Asian fusion or good old American fare, these eight restaurants won’t disappoint.
For Elegant Ambiance: Frantoio Ristorante
This family-run business has been a Marin staple for close to 20 years. Dining on Italian cuisine in a comfortable setting, customers get to taste the restaurant's award-winning extra-virgin olive oil, too. By using natural and locally sourced ingredients, the menu helps support local businesses while still staying true to the family's Italian roots. The decor is almost as impressive as the fare. Peaked wood beam ceilings and crafted lighting contribute to a rustic yet chic contemporary design aesthetic.
For Dinner With a View: Mountain Home Inn Restaurant
Surrounded by redwoods and mountains, it’s hard to find any fault with Mountain Home Inn. Inspired by the area’s beautiful landscape, the hotel also boasts an eco-friendly theme, with pesticide-free gardens and fresh cuisine. Hotel guests can enjoy breakfast while watching the sun rise over the bay, and come nightfall, the restaurant transforms into a romantic, candle-lit dinner spot. The three-course menu features a variety of entries like grilled salmon, wild mushroom ravioli and seafood paella.
For Pizza and Pasta: Piazza D'Angelo
This family-owned restaurant opened its doors in 1980, when brothers and co-owners Domenico and Paolo Petrone relocated from New York to Marin. Before that, they lived in a small town in southern Italy, hence the pizza-heavy menu. You can't go wrong with their tagliatelle bolognese or the spaghetti gamberi e vongole with Manila clams, Gulf shrimp, garlic, parsley and chile flakes.
For Live Music: Sweetwater Music Hall
The Sweetwater Music Hall cafe serves as an entrance of sorts to the larger music venue. Decor is rustic yet finished-looking and the atmosphere feels relaxed. The menu is reflective of the season and many ingredients come straight from the farmers’ market. Sweetwater follows a FLOSS philosophy: fresh, local, organic, seasonal and sustainable. Grab dinner and then listen to some live tunes.
For Organic Fare: Cafe Del Soul
After a hike in the great outdoors, the last thing you want to stuff your face with is fried food, right? Cafe Del Soul is a go-to spot for brunch and post-hike lunches. The fresh juices are great for rehydrating your body after a workout and the wraps are packed with protein. All recipes are made in-house and by hand, and for celiacs, there are gluten-free snacks available. Dishes are vegetarian to begin with but you can add free-range chicken or organic tofu, too.
For Asian Fusion: Avatars
Avatars is arguably the best place to eat Asian fusion fare in Marin County. The staff caters to various dietary restrictions and describes the food as "flexible," meaning there are vegetarian and vegan alternatives available. The Basic Punjabi Burrito is a safe bet. It's wrapped in whole wheat Indian bread and comes with fresh curried garbanzo beans, basmati rice, herb salsa, fruit chutney, carrot pickle, nonfat yogurt and tamarind sauce.
For Bubbles and Bites: El Paseo
What do you get when a celebrity chef and a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer open a restaurant together? El Paseo, of course! The joint venture of Tyler Florence and Sammy Hagar is now one of the top steakhouses in the area. The building itself has quite an interesting history. It was originally built in the mid-1940s, with bricks that were reclaimed after the 1906 landfill in San Francisco. The California king salmon and Akaushi steak frites are menu heavy hitters.
For Beer: Mill Valley Beerworks
Craving a beer with your lunch? Then head straight to Mill Valley Beerworks. Besides brewing its own beer, its food menu is fairly extensive. Located in the heart of Mill Valley, the restaurant offers a rotating menu made with local ingredients. Even better, there are beer and wine pairings. For light snacks, order the cheese tasting dish or the pâté and charcuterie plate. If you’re in the mood for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the Nutella and toast.
For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page, or download the mobile app.