HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


What are the best north bay restaurants for upscale casual $$??

I am trying to find out which restaurants offer the best bang for the buck for a moderatly priced dinner. $8-$15 apps and $18-$30 entrees. I am looking in the north bay area from sausalito to novato, trying to find stuff outside of SF proper. I've tried Poggio, Rustico, BuckEye, Angelos, and a couple others. It would be nice to find a good french bistro though. So much of the food around is italian. Thanks for the help. By the way we just moved here from boston.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Marche aux Fleurs in Ross has good bang for buck


    1. Fork in San Anselmo, Boca in Novato. El Paseo in Mill Valley for French, But I heard its changed ownership. Any update?

      1. Ok, it is REAL casual but pricy, however, since you mention moving from Boston, if you need that fish house East Coast fix ... .Fish in Sausalito ... there's a California twist, but great place on the water.

        If you are a fried clam person, Woodhouse in SF. If you need real down home NE lobster fish and seafood, it is worth a trip to Redwood City for Old Port Lobster Shack.

        Yankee Pier in Larkspur is ok. SKIP ... I mean skip, Lark Creek Inn. VERY lovely, might be worth checking out for a drink, but the food is too unexceptional for the high prices.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          SKIP ... I mean skip, Lark Creek Inn. VERY lovely, might be worth checking out for a drink, but the food is too unexceptional for the high prices.


        2. You East-Coasters sure do have a funny idea about "moderately priced" restaurants. $18-30 mains count as very high-end in my book. Well, okay, $18 would be mod/exp for mains, but $30! Yikes.

          2 Replies
          1. re: oakjoan

            Well ya I guess $30 is alittle high for moderate but I meant that to be the absolute max. I've had some pretty outrageuosly priced dinners in SF that were between $200 and $250 per person, so I would think that 20 to 28 isn't all that bad when you're still looking for excellent ingredients and great service.

            1. re: justmoved

              Recently, $35 for a filet isn't uncommon, and not high end. I'd say you're in the ball park.

              Still not over that 5 mm thick $24 ribeye at Luka's Taproom. And that's low end....

          2. My all time favorite "upscale casual" restaurant is La Gare in Santa Rosa's railroad square. The menu has changed little in my past 27 years of enjoyment. It is family owned and 2nd generation operated. There is little turnover in the wait staff, good service is consistent. My favorites: Escargot, sweetbreads and the creme brulee (but not all blended together).

            The menu is prix fixe, the salad is ALWAYS butter lettuce with a light creamy dressing. Of course there are specials daily.

            1. I have to put in a shout for Fork.

              The Tasting Menu looks to be an outstanding value at 7 courses for $59, but our tablemates declined on our last visit there (the entire table must order it).

              A la carte selections are fresh, brightly-flavored and just plain delicious.

              Their wine by-the-glass selections are strong, and you must not miss out on dessert.

              We went with neighborhood regulars, so our service was over-the-top attentive, with free champagne and amuses thrown in, so I'm not sure what the basic service level was like.

              You can see their menu here:

              They also have an amazingly-cheap $24.95 prix fixe before 6:15 PM.

              4 Replies
              1. re: foodiegrl

                Have you been there since the chef changed at about the beginning of the year?

                1. re: rworange

                  Yes. Three weeks ago. The kitchen not only seemed to be spot-on with flavor & presentation, but the pacing was excellent - especially since 1/2 the table had 3 courses and the other half had 4.

                  1. re: rworange

                    I think they yet another new chef has taken over at Fork. Or will be soon. Not sure of the date. Whether foodiegirl was there to try new chef's offerings or dined on interim chef's final days, I don't know. Wish they would settle down in the kitchen. I really liked Fork in the Scott Howard era, was not quick enough for the Solomon era and have been waiting to get reports since from more adventurous (or unknowing) Chowhounds.

                    1. re: alfairfax

                      I'd second Fork, but you say they have a new chef not yet 3 weeks in the kitchen?

                2. This isn't a dinner spot and the prices are far lower than your range, but I'll mention Cork in Sausalito anyway for when you feel like branching out. The small plates are so thoughtfully prepared and just delicious and the wine list is quite interesting too. Here's the latest report -

                  1. I agree...Cork in Sausalito is great! The owners are a young couple, and both are there every night it is open. Open every night except for Tuesday. Unfortunately, my husband and I go out to eat on Tuesdays, and can't get there as often as we'd like.

                    Since it is mostly a wine bar, and not a dinner restaurant, we've actually stopped in to have wine and chat before dinner. We never leave once we get there! The food is so good and so fresh. Though they don't have an entire kitchen, you won't notice once you start eating. I can eat their finger sandwiches all night...yes, cucumber, marscapone and watercress with the crusts cut off!!! I can't get enough. With those, a panini or two {I can also eat those all night} and their hand-picked cheese platter, I found enough food time after time. We always joke that for not a "restaurant", the food is some of the best around.

                    You will be hard pressed to find friendlier owners/hosts, and they have an amazing selection of wines that not many people will find on their own. Highly recommended!!

                    1. lark creek inn...at the bar. Great food.

                      1. I realize this is an older thread, but in case anyone is searching, consider Cucina in San Anselmo. Excellent food, casual atmosphere and an amazing wine list.

                        1. Well, don't think it is upscale but it fits your moderately priced and casual restaurant criteria: Le Chateau Basque on North San Pedro Road San Rafael. In the warmer months one can dine outdoors.