Marin County restaurants and dishes

Best Restaurants in Marin County, California

Located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, Marin County is a charming oceanfront strip of Northern California that boasts a variety of stunning landscapes, hill-hugging towns, and epic seafood restaurants that serve oysters, clam chowder, and Dungeness crab rolls. While many of the best restaurants in San Francisco are truly world-class, nearby Marin County has its own superb array of locally owned eateries and markets with distinct character reflecting the unique spirit of this wooded peninsula.

While Marin County welcomes many visitors, here you’ll always find popular establishments bustling with locals and loyal regulars. The bayside restaurants are very seafood-focused, but you’ll also find great Italian cuisine, sushi joints, and steakhouses tucked amid the hills below Mount Tamalpais. Whether you’re passing through on a California road trip or just looking to escape San Francisco for the day, these are some Marin County restaurants that you need to know about.

As a California resident, I have had the pleasure of visiting Marin County and trying several of these restaurants. Beyond my personal experiences, reviews from reputable sources were used in the curation of this list; more details about my methodology are included below. 

Nick’s Cove

Nick's Cove pot of seafood

Nick’s Cove & Cottages / Facebook

Situated along the pristine coastline of West Marin’s Tomales Bay, Nick’s Cove is a premier spot for waterfront dining and lodging. While locals flock here, it is also one of the most popular destinations for visitors — and even if you don’t have a chance to stay in one of the cozy cottages, simply dining at the restaurant and walking along the pier at sunset is worth the trip. A strong sense of community exudes from Nick’s Cove, and you can enjoy live music here on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

When it comes to the food, the smoked black cod dip is a legendary appetizer, while the fried smelts with parsley and tartar sauce provide a savory and crispy snack. Of course, you can’t go wrong with the buttery lobster roll, and the clam chowder is the perfect side for a cloudy bayside evening. While dessert isn’t always necessary, the s’mores tart is worth saving room for.

nickscove.com/restaurant

(415) 663-1033

23240 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940 

Madcap

Madcap dry aged ribeye

Madcap / Facebook

Backed by chef Ron Siegel, Madcap fuses American, French, and Japanese cuisine in a unique and artful manner, right in the heart of quaint San Anselmo. Considering that this is one of the fanciest restaurants in Marin County, it is often the site of special events or celebratory dinners, with tasting menu prices starting at $140. The eight-course menu is offered Tuesdays through Thursdays, while the $165 11-course menu is served from Tuesdays through Saturdays.

The menu changes based on the seasons and availability, but masterful presentation and innovative flavor combinations are always guaranteed. Expect a lot of seafood courses that use ingredients like Hawaiian bigeye tuna, king salmon, Sonoma duck breast, and black cod. There is also a daily beverage pairing to suit the freshest specialties, but a bottle of wine from the carefully curated collection is essential.

madcapmarin.com

(415) 453-9898

198 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, San Anselmo, CA 94960 

Hog Island Oyster Company

Hog Island oysters on table

Hog Island Oyster Co. / Facebook

There are a handful of Hog Island Oyster Company restaurants scattered across the Bay Area, but the Marshall location on Tomales Bay is special. Here visitors are able to get a close look at how oysters are raised and harvested in the adjacent waters of West Marin’s lengthy shoreline, and guests can dine on the fresh oysters and other seafood while taking in far-reaching views from the outdoor deck at The Boat Oyster Bar. The vibe here is extremely casual and laid back, and the wooden picnic tables here are spacious enough for larger groups. 

If you are visiting on a Friday, Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, reservations are required, but guests can walk in on Thursdays. Oysters are a no-brainer, but other can’t-miss shared plates include the halibut ceviche, house-smoked black cod dip, and the locally-sourced cheese board.

hogislandoysters.com/restaurants/marshall

(415) 663-9218

20215 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940 

Poggio Trattoria

Poggio Trattoria braised short rib

Poggio Trattoria / Facebook

Whether you’re planning a special date night or simply craving a more formal and elegant ambiance, visit Poggio Trattoria to experience one of the most revered Italian restaurants in Marin County. The rustic decor and wood-paneled walls are contrasted by bright white tablecloths, creating a cozy yet elevated ambiance. Expect your food to be made with locally sourced ingredients and organic vegetables, all of which lead to a menu that changes daily. This is Northern Italian fare with love and care infused into each bite.

Though nothing beats wine with pasta, consider branching out with a craft cocktail, like a limoncello spritz or an espresso martini. The burrata is a timeless appetizer, while the grilled octopus is cooked to tender perfection. Poggio’s pizzas are wonderful for sharing, but should you prefer a more protein-forward main course, the seared Alaskan halibut and oak-grilled half chicken are both excellent entrees. For dessert, delight in the traditional tiramisu or lemon mousse along with a cappuccino.

poggiotrattoria.com

(415) 332-7771

777 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 

Station House Café

Station House Café mussels

Station House Cafe / Facebook

If you’re looking for a busy and bustling place for cocktails and bites in Point Reyes Station, look no further than Station House Café. The modern interior of industrial decor sets the scene for live music, a packed bar, and farm-to-table cuisine in the heart of Point Reyes’ downtown strip, and though it has moved locations since opening, the business was originally started in 1964. The restaurant prioritizes using locally sourced ingredients and supporting local farmers, resulting in fresh flavors and high-quality dishes that range from salads to sandwiches to pasta.

The fried oysters are a fun way to switch things up with this beloved bivalve, but the popovers in the Station House bread basket are sure to win your heart. For your main course, consider sharing a Caesar salad with the linguini and clams, or indulge in the Station House burger made with locally raised beef and served with a side of crispy fries.

stationhousecafe.com

(415) 663-1515

11285 Hwy 1, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 

The Marshall Store

oysters at The Marshall Store

Food & Farm Tours / Facebook

The Marshall Store is a must-visit market and restaurant that sits right on the shore of Tomales Bay. The outdoor patio is the perfect place to post from with one of the locally loved sandwiches, but oysters are a must-order (as is the case with most restaurants along Tomales Bay). All of the oysters served are sourced from Tomales Bay Oyster Company, and if you’re not a fan of fresh oysters, you can also enjoy them grilled and served Rockefeller or Kilpatrick style, or cooked with house-made chorizo butter.

Another staple to start with is the grilled garlic bread — made daily at the nearby Route One Bakery & Kitchen — ideal for dipping in the classic New England clam chowder. However, the house-smoked tri-tip sandwich is one of the most popular entrees, with the Dungeness crab sandwich being equally delicious. Don’t forget to grab a huge chocolate chip cookie for dessert.

themarshallstore.com

(415) 246-9306

19225 Hwy 1, Marshall, CA 94940 

Sam’s Anchor Cafe

dishes at Sam's Anchor Cafe

Sam’s Anchor Cafe / Facebook

While dining at Sam’s Anchor Cafe, guests are treated to epic views of Angel Island, Alcatraz and the San Francisco skyline. The outdoor deck boasts heated benches, allowing you to enjoy the marina views and crisp bay breeze no matter how chilly it is outside. 

This restaurant is a Tiburon classic, with seafood acting as the star of the show. After snagging your ideal spot on the deck, kick things off with a beer or refreshing glass of Sauvignon Blanc. For starters, order the fried calamari, garlic prawns, and New England-style clam chowder. You can also enjoy fresh oysters or ahi tuna poke for a lighter first course.

Once you’re ready for the main event, the smoked lobster roll is the ultimate choice for seafood lovers. Other menu highlights include the fried chicken sandwich, Sam’s grass-fed beef burger, and beer-battered fish and chips. Sam’s Anchor Cafe is also open for brunch, with the aforementioned menu still items available along with more classic breakfast dishes like eggs Benedict and brioche French toast.

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samscafe.com

(415) 435-4527

27 Main St, Tiburon, CA 94920 

Tony’s Seafood Restaurant

Tony's Seafood Restaurant outdoor dining

Hog Island Oyster Co. / Facebook

Located in Marshall on the picturesque shore of Tomales Bay, Tony’s Seafood Restaurant is a nautical-inspired spot owned by Hog Island Oyster Company. Originally founded by Croatian fisherman Anton “Tony” Konatich in 1948, this eatery keeps things classic with the comforting cuisine that West Marin is known for. No visit to Tony’s is complete without an order of both fresh and BBQ-grilled oysters; the oysters cooked in garlic butter are also popular.

The Hog Island clam chowder is one of the best chowders you’ll find along the bay, and it is filled generously with Manila clams, bacon, and potatoes. The clam pasta is another local favorite, but if you’re in the mood for something hearty and filling, the signature grilled cheese sandwich hits it out of the park — and dipping it in the clam chowder makes for a decadent combo.

hogislandoysters.com/restaurants/tonysseafood

(415) 663-1107

18863 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, CA 94940 

Cafe Reyes

plate of fresh oysters

Sean Troncoso / Facebook

Situated in the heart of Point Reyes Station, Cafe Reyes is the ultimate place for pizza in West Marin. The Neapolitan-style pizzas are wood-fired and made from scratch, resulting in a puffy crust and topped with locally sourced ingredients that are sure to make your mouth water. First and foremost, choose your beverage — Cafe Reyes has a solid selection of wines sold by the glass and bottle, along with 10 beers on tap.

The Margherita is a classic that never gets old at Cafe Reyes, while the Estero is a white pizza made with mozzarella and Point Reyes blue cheese. No matter what pie you order, consider customizing it with additional toppings like roasted garlic, dry-cured salami, or white anchovies. The menu features a few different salads for a light side dish, and despite the fact that Cafe Reyes is best known for its pizza, you’ll also find fresh oysters here, in true Marin County fashion.

cafereyes.biz

(415) 663-9493

11101 Hwy 1, Point Reyes Station, CA 94956 

Saltwater Oyster Depot

Saltwater Oyster Depot po boy

Saltwater Oyster Depot / Facebook

Saltwater Oyster Depot is yet another top-notch seafood joint in West Marin. Located in downtown Inverness, this charming eatery has been around since 2012 and remains reservation free, meaning you’ll have to take your chances by walking in at your leisure and hoping for an open table. It is also important to note that Saltwater Oyster Depot only takes cash and Venmo, so keep that in mind before planning your visit. The menu changes regularly due to what is caught daily and seasonally available, but obviously, oysters are a must.

Though raw oysters are refreshing and briny here, you can also try the broiled oysters that can be cooked in miso or served Korean BBQ style. After you’ve gotten your oyster fix, enjoy delights like zesty cucumber gazpacho with cilantro and jalapeño. The king salmon is one of the best entrees, but if you’re over the seafood, opt for the duck breast. When it comes to wine, consider pairing your meal with a bottle of California’s finest, and do your best to save room for the chocolate pot de crème as dessert.

saltwateroysterdepot.com

(415) 669-1244

12781 Sir Francis Drake Blvd, Inverness, CA 94937 

Scoma’s Sausalito

jumbo king prawns at Scoma's

Scoma’s Sausalito / Facebook

Soak in the sunset panorama by the bay at Scoma’s Sausalito. This waterfront restaurant in a landmark building offers meals that are as beautiful as the views. 

Like many bayside eateries, Scoma’s serves up a huge selection of high-quality seafood, but one thing that sets this place apart is its dedication to sustainability, serving fresh fish caught by environmentally responsible producers. With that in mind, start with an order of Dungeness crab and Oregon bay shrimp cakes before indulging in a cup of Scoma’s Boston-style white clam chowder.

Though it’s always worthwhile to inquire about seasonal specials, some solid entrees include the sweet sea scallops, pan-seared sesame ahi tuna, and curried cashew ling cod. The steak and lobster is a luxe main course for those looking to splurge or celebrate something special. For dessert, order the tiramisu or panna cotta.

scomassausalito.com

(415) 332-9551

588 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965 

Buckeye Roadhouse

Buckeye Roadhouse dining room

Buckeye Roadhouse / Facebook

Buckeye Roadhouse has been a Mill Valley staple since opening in 1937. The dining room boasts genuine vintage charm, while the menu revolves around modern American fare complemented by high-quality, locally sourced ingredients. You’ll always find the homey bar filled with locals looking for a craft cocktail or an exquisite glass of wine. The oysters bingo is a house-favorite appetizer, but other can’t-miss starters include the crispy onion rings and pan-roasted artichoke with a creamy tarragon dip.

For your main course, red meat is a solid choice. The marinated skirt steak is full of bold flavors, but the barbecued baby-back ribs are a local favorite. If you prefer a more elevated cut, opt for the bacon-wrapped filet mignon and a side of Parmesan truffle fries. Though Buckeye offers plenty of savory dishes that will fill you up, do your best to save room for the Key lime pie or chocolate mousse for dessert.

buckeyeroadhouse.com

(415) 331-2600

15 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941 

Sushi Ran

assorted Sushi Ran specialties

Sushi Ran / Facebook

Caught a craving for sushi while in Sausalito? Sushi Ran is an acclaimed restaurant that serves fresh fish in a Japanese-inspired setting of zen bliss. Professional consistency is a driving factor in Sushi Ran’s success, and locals can always expect fast service and delicious nigiri. Before diving into the sushi, kick off your meal with a bottle of sake and an order of tuna carpaccio topped with blue cheese cream. If you’re more interested in something cooked, the roasted cauliflower with curry-oyster sauce is another great appetizer.

The nigiri and sashimi offers are divided by fish variety, with each kind of yellowtail, tuna, salmon, and mackerel laid out clearly. Choose your favorites, or order one of the sushi platters for a diverse display of fish. The maki rolls are also worth exploring, with the soft-shell crab and salmon citrus being great options.

sushiran.com

(415) 332-3620

107 Caledonia St, Sausalito, CA 94965

Luna Blu

Luna Blu pistachio-crusted halibut

Luna Blu Restaurant / Facebook

Luna Blu specializes in seafood-centered Italian cuisine in Tiburon. The cozy and casual atmosphere creates a sense of home, while the spacious open-air dining area offers harbor views that are just as enticing at night as they are during the day. 

The wine list features a decent selection of California reds, whites, and rosé, but you’ll also find plenty of wines from Italy. If you prefer a cocktail, options range from sweet to strong, though many dishes pair well with Luna Blu’s classic dirty martini.

The linguine alle vongole is a traditional dish made with fresh clams and a zesty white wine sauce. That said, the risotto with Parmesan, tiger prawns, and prosciutto is a hit that shouldn’t be missed. Order a bowl of the homemade crab bisque as your starter, along with a side of Brussels sprouts and pancetta.

lunablurestaurant.com

(415) 789-5844

35 Main St, Tiburon, CA 94920

Methodology

Marin County on the bay

Dianebentleyraymond/Getty Images

As a California resident, I have the pleasure of being able to visit Marin County and explore its beloved restaurant scene. Though I haven’t visited every eatery on this list, the ones where I have dined left a lasting impression. 

Since this area is famous for oysters and seafood dishes like clam chowder, restaurants specializing in these offerings were recognized and highlighted. I also took each restaurant’s atmosphere into consideration when choosing this list. For places that I have not been able to visit personally, reputable online reviews and ratings were used as resources, as well as professional assessments from established sources like Michelin Guide. 

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