HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >


My Northbay Joints to Try

Breakfast & Chicken Fried Steak

Marvin's Restaurant
1112 Grant Ave
Novato, CA 94945-3114

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Tapas

    Cafe Saint Rose
    465 Sebastopol Ave
    Santa Rosa, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: Eat_Nopal

      I wouldn't characterize Cafe St. Rose as a tapas place. For one, it's a breakfast and lunch counter and doesn't have a wine and beer license even. And, the menu has many other influences besides Spanish. But the two things I had there would certainly do a tapas specialist proud. Malicki's local anchovies were better than imported boquerones.

      Soft Opening for Mark Malicki's Café Saint Rose -

      1. re: Eat_Nopal

        (Cafe) Saint Rose has moved to Sebastopol!...this weeks menu is all small plates: tapas style. A faithful follower... new phone# 707-829-5898. Check it out!

      2. New York Style Pizza

        NY Pie
        Fourth & Brockwood
        Santa Rosa, CA

        21 Replies
        1. re: Eat_Nopal

          NY Pie - 65 Brookwood Ave, Santa Rosa, 95404 - (707) 526-9743

          1. re: Eat_Nopal

            Parry’s Pizzeria
            234 American Cyn Rd
            American Cyn, CA

            nice format

            1. re: rworange

              Thanks for the suggestion!

              Anybody have suggestions for really good:

              Fried Chicken (specially with Collard Greens)
              Hamburgers (now that Heavenly Hamburger closed in Santa Rosa)
              Authentic BBQ (was not impressed by Colibri Cafe)

              Ethiopian Cuisine (anywhere to purchase Injera?)
              Thai Cuisine (run by ethnic Thais not Chinese)

              Mexican Cuisine... particularly

              Nopales (Cactus)
              Calabacitas (Mexican Zucchini)
              Huitlacoche (Black Corn Fungus)
              Flor de Calabaza (Squash Blossom Soups, Quesadillas & Fritters)
              Black Bean Soup with Epazote
              Mexican Vegetable Soups (Chayote, Zucchini, Green Beans etc., in Dry Chile Broths)
              Birria (Barbecued Goat)
              Barbacoa (Central Mexican Lamb Barbecue)
              Mixiotes (Meats, Vegetables & Sauces cooked in enclosed pouches of Banana, Agave, Hoja Santa or Chaya leaves)
              Molcajetes (Seared Meats & Vegetables served saucy in volcanic molcajetes)

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Oh man, did I have some outstanding birria the other day, but it was in San Pablo and it was de res ... but memorably good. I'll do another post about that. Also the East Bay is the only place I've seen a molcajete. You might look around in Vallejo though since they have some impressive Mexican markets ... and a great palleteria.

                If you do a search on Chowhound about hoya sante there was some discussion about whether it was legal or not. I think Rancho Gordo was going to look into it and see if he could grow some. Rancho Gordo is a farmers market vendor who sells exception Mexican beens and stuff. The only hoya sante I've seen to date was wrapped around a cheese from Texas that is sold at Cowgirl Creamery.

                1. re: rworange

                  Thanks a lot... what is the name of the Birria place in San Pablo?

                  Also, Hoja Santa should be perfectly legal... it actually grows wild all over Texas where it is known as Root Beer plant & which I guess they are finally finding culinary uses for.

                  In Santa Rosa, there is a gem of Mexican market called Lola's where you will find the usual suspects (Calabacitas, Nopales, Chiles etc.,)... but in addition they have a lot of hard to find produce, in great shape:

                  Xoconostles (Sour Cactus Pears)
                  Quelites (Lamb Quarters)
                  Verdolagas (Purslane)
                  Squash Blossoms
                  Papalo (Herb)

                  And a number of regional chiles.

                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                    Note that Lola's has two locations (Petaluma Hill road and Sebastopol Road) in Santa Rosa, and you may find slightly different selections at each.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      Thanks Melanie... I have only been to the Petaluma Hill Rd location... I hear its the newer, cleaner more convenient one. Which is not surprising since it is sparkling and spacious by ethnic market standards.

                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Very cool. The birria place is La Loma #11 (don't go to #5). They may or may not have this every day. It is strictly Spanish. There's a place around here that makes terrific soups, and I suspect this is it, but I seem to hit the place on birria day or too late for soup. Occasionally on the weekend they sell empanadas with rompope. I could kick myself for not snapping one of those up when I saw it since I haven't seen it since. It was in the stratospheric price range of $1.39. Most of the pan dulce there is 25 cents. I'm really getting into these scone-like pan dulce with raisins. They taste exactly like scones and ... 25 cents.


                      1. re: rworange

                        Thanks... the rompope empanada sounds excellent! (I think I am going to make rompope from scratch this Christmas...I better start thinking of what I am doing with the leftovers)

                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                    For traditional burgers, Super Burger on 4th street in Santa Rosa. In Sonoma, Happy Dog (Hwy 12 and Verano Ave), or Babe's just east of Schellville.

                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                      Hamburgers: Phyllis' Giant Burgers on the "Miracle Mile" (4th St. extended west) in San Rafael. If you ask, you get grilled onions on the burger. Still my favorite burger.

                      Authentic BBQ: Can't remember the current name (was called Stim's) in Santa Rosa. Supposed to be authentic Texas bbq. I thought it was quite good. Very juicy brisket. Give it a try. If no one provides the name, I will in a few hours.

                      1. re: Mick Ruthven

                        I think Black Bean BBQ is the new name.

                        1. re: jmarek

                          Thanks, that's right.

                          Black Bean BBQ
                          557 Summerfield Road
                          Santa Rosa

                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            Yeah..that joint replaced Clo's Parkside Grille, which I am sad for. I haven't tried Black Bean yet because it looks kind of funky...like it has a bad vibe. But the other day I was running past it and they had a smoker outdoors, and it was certainly tempting.

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              The nice thing is they still serve Clo's ice cream for dessert.

                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                        Birria is not hard to find on weekends. In Vallejo, I had a lovely pozole that was either green or white but definitely not red and mostly tasted of vegetables, mixiote wrapped in an avocado leaf (if I heard/understood correctly), and lamb barbacoa at a tiny place in a strip mall in a residential neighborhood but the name escapes me...maybe a woman's name. The Delicias Elenitas truck parked on Sebastopol Rd. in what used to be a gas station used to make huaraches, gorditas, and huaraches from fresh masa, sometimes with huitlacoche or squash blossoms. But after the owner opened the restaurant across the street, these are no longer available at the truck and only at the restaurant. I've only been into the restaurant once and find the same item as good as the truck, but that was a couple years ago and you might want to investigate further. I recently had barbacoa in Santa Rosa at Antojitos La Texanita. It surprised me that it was beef and not lamb, but it was tasty nevertheless.

                        Beef barbacoa at La Texanita -

                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                          On Friday I cruised through Vallejo on my way to a meeting in Napa to see if I could find the place mentioned above. It was called Joann's, but unfortunately, the storefront on Mini Drive (~320) was vacant. Previously it was located in the restaurant connected to Los Primos market on Benicia Road that's now Thomson's. I would give anything to find the sweet abuelita who manned the stove there and made such delicious treats for me.

                          The restaurant on Sebastopol Road is La Fondita, here are a couple reports on it.
                          La Fondita (Santa rosa) posts -

                          I've had some really great hamburgers at Western Boot Steakhouse and Zin in Healdsburg, both lunch time only for the burgers.

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            Sounds good but I am usually annoyed by restaurants with misleading names.... like Maya Palenque with no Mayan cuisine... or places called La Fonda that do not serve the food typical of a Mexican Fonda.

                    2. re: Eat_Nopal

                      With this format, it wasn't clear to me if you were recommending these places or asking a question. You should definitely try NY Pie. It has 2 locations in Santa Rosa. Here's my last post on the place.

                      But also check out Downtown Bakery in Healdsburg for the pizza served at lunch time. The chewy, crisp, thin crust is very NY. Also for breakfast, but I haven't had those yet.

                      There's also a NY pizza place in Petaluma over by McNears, but I've not tried it. For a thin crust Chicago-style pizza, don't miss Bricks in Petaluma.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        Melanie...this thread is my personal to do list. As I find enthusiastic chowhound recommendations, I record them here and now I am getting the added benefit of people coming in & deliberating about the various spots.

                        Since we just moved up to Sonoma County from West L.A.; I am trying to rebuild our menu of essential places by category etc.,

                        My local finds so far are:

                        Lola's Market - Petaluma Hill Rd
                        Bob's Fruit Truck - Highway 12 (near Mission Rd)
                        Graffiti Restaurant - Petaluma
                        Annapurna - Santa Rosa (Himalayan)

                        And some reliable, good enough places:

                        Hunter's Steakhouse (Prime Rib & Bailey's Cake)
                        Cilantro - Watsonville (Grilled Red Snapper in Guajillo Sauce)
                        Daphne's (Greak Chain)
                        Rubio's (Fish Taco Chain)

                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                          Here's some shopping ideas. Looking forward to you adding to them. I should add the fig pantry that recently opened in Sonoma.

                    3. Gelato & Casual Italian

                      106 Matheson
                      Healdsburg, CA 95448

                      1. California Cuisine

                        344 Center St
                        Healdsburg, CA

                        1. >Breakfast & Chicken Fried Steak - Novato<

                          I'd sure like to hear your (or anyone's) opinion of the CFS there. I had it a couple of weeks ago and thought it was one of the worst things I had ever eaten. Hard and dry, seemingly more crust than the very thin meat, and only the good gravy made it edible. In contrast, Marvin's in Cotati had great (to me) CFS about a year ago when I went.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Mick Ruthven

                            Personally I think Chubby's Dinner has FANTASTIC breakfast & CFS!

                            Chubby's Diner
                            8776 Lakewood Drive
                            Windsor, CA 94592

                          2. That is convenient...Cotati sure is closer than Novato!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              The time I had the CFS at Marvin's in Cotati, it was a special made with a NY cut. More steaklike therefore, and less like a schnitzel.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Thanks Melanie... do they serve CFS for lunch / dinner or just breakfast?

                                Also...your link reminded me of something... does anyone know of a place that serves good Japanese Curry in the North Bay?

                            2. Salvadoran

                              2042 University Av.

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                Vallejo has several good Salvadoran places depending on what you want. Only one id'd so far in Santa Rosa, Hot Tamales, and the only sampling of a pupusa at the street fair was just ok.

                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                  Melanie you are wealth of valuable info! BTW, I follow your link all the way to Mateo Granados... his website says he is from Oxcutcab, Yucatan... we actually had the pleasure of visiting in 2003 on way to the Uxmal ruins... very pretty part of the peninsula... Orange orchards as far as the eye can see.

                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                    More about Granados cooking if you do a site search or google. Karina's in Petaluma for some Oaxacan treats and Granados are your best bets if you need a change from Michoacan and Jalisco. The search engine is your friend for them, Bovolo, Zin . . .

                                2. Karina's Mexican Bakery
                                  (707) 765-2772
                                  827 Petaluma Blvd N
                                  Petaluma, CA 94952

                                  Open 7 days: 5:30 am - 7:30 pm

                                  1. Barbacoa, Birria, Menudo & Atoles

                                    Antojitos La Texanita
                                    1667 Sebastopol Rd.
                                    Santa Rosa

                                    2 Replies
                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                        That is were I got the idea to put it down on my North Bay restaurant to do list.

                                    1. La Guarecita Taqueria y Mercado
                                      1848 23rd St (nearish the San Pablo Avenue merge)
                                      San Pablo, CA 94806

                                      1. La Boulange (Mill Valley)

                                        Underwood (Graton)

                                          1. CJ's Barbecue & Fish
                                            (510) 235-7471
                                            2401 Macdonald Ave
                                            Richmond, CA 94804

                                            (707) 437-2260
                                            520 Parker Rd
                                            Fairfield, CA 94533

                                            5 Replies
                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                              You may not be aware that Richmond and San Pablo are not considered north bay locations.

                                                1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                  I guess... I should rename it from My North Bay Places to "Places Within The Scope of My Typical Movements"... but that is a little longer!

                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                    There's always the bookmark option. There seems to be some sort of limit though. I am guessing 256 (computer stuff). After that, your bookmarked stuff rolls off the bottom. So I use my browsers bookmark for the categories I want to keep and Chowhound's bookmark for long interesting posts that I want to spend a little time with.

                                                2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                  RE: CJ's Barbecue & Fish
                                                  520 Parker Rd
                                                  Fairfield, CA 94533

                                                  Don't bother, you'll be disappointed. I experienced overcooked, smokeless food smothered under waaaay too much cloyingly sweet sauce. I won't be back.

                                                3. Japan Cafe (Santa Rosa)

                                                  1. Molcajetes (Seared Meats & Vegetables served saucy in volcanic molcajetes)
                                                    Try La Palapa
                                                    590 Lewis Road
                                                    Santa Rosa

                                                    Nopales (Cactus)
                                                    Often at the SR farmers' market
                                                    Saturday mornings
                                                    At the raspberry stand

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Stephanie Sugars

                                                      Stephanie, what else do you recommend at La Palapa? Never tried the place.

                                                      1. Melanie-

                                                        I confess, La Palapa is one of my $5 I wanna-eat-out places - 2 tacos there.

                                                        Phnom Penh Market on Petaluma Hill Road - take-out bun or salad rolls.

                                                        JC Bakery - pizza or savory galette with cookies.

                                                        Saturday farmer's market - 3 bbq oysters.

                                                        Tandoori Express - fresh, handmade parathas.

                                                        Community Market - salad bar.

                                                        You get the idea...broad interest, limited budget. :)

                                                        3 Replies
                                                        1. re: Stephanie Sugars

                                                          Hi Stephanie thanks for your input. Also, have you tried that vegetable restaurant across the street from Tandoori Express.

                                                          (BTW, I am glad I discovered Tandoori Express a couple of weeks ago... it doesn't blow my mind but it is solid take out Indian)

                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                            Yes, Tandoori Express has reliably good naan and parathas, reliably dry steam-table rice.

                                                            Govindas is across the street (in front of Community Market) and is respectable for how many vegetables served for under $10. Not super-exciting, but it's a buffet...so it's up to the customer to set up a pretty plate. Remember it's only open weekdays.

                                                            You asked about Injera & Ethiopian food. For a few years the local Ethiopians served it annually at First Night. Now, you can find it annually at the Glendi - the food faire in early October - located at the orthodox church on Mountain View Avenue in South Santa Rosa.

                                                            Which reminds me, it's time for the bazaars. The other orthodox church just off Stony Point Road has a big bash with Russian Food, vodka, live music, dancing...you get the idea. Wonder if we've missed it.

                                                            Hope you're enjoying Santa Rosa food...the options have expanded over the years, but we still have to support the small, locally owned & run places like Pupuseria Salvadorena off Hwy 12 at Brookwood. They are our treasures to share.


                                                          2. re: Stephanie Sugars

                                                            Thanks Stephanie... I got out to La Palapa last night, here is my report:


                                                            1. Is Pamposh on your List?
                                                              52 Mission Circle, Suite 110, Mission Shopping Ctr
                                                              Santa Rosa , CA 95409

                                                              My friend tells me it's good Indian comfort food.

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: Cynsa

                                                                I tried it already... will not be going back (not as long as Annapurna is still open):

                                                                > Food was Wine Country-ized (i.e., it lost its Indian character... they went too far, and I am an advocate for toning down the quantity of spices in Indian cuisine).

                                                                > The space is cramped, the service (young "hip" Non-Indian college kids) is annoying & clueless, & the owners - the entire extended family just standing around with long faces - doubly annoying.

                                                                > To boot its expensive, the food is not particularly innovative (despite dumbing down the spices).... there is no natural course progression or any intelligent story (which I expect at their prices).

                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                  Nirvana is closed and I expect Annapurna to see the same fate. The service is non existent and the food need a little bit more than detail. Ther server stated that half the crew left their restaurant.
                                                                  I feel downtown only Kabib and Curry deserves some mention
                                                                  However, the best which we go again and again for basil nan and chicken tika masala is Pamposh.

                                                                  1. re: seancordero

                                                                    Never got around to Nirvana... but it had mixed reports.

                                                                    Tried Kabob & Curry.... not sure what to think of it... there was obvious care & quality of ingredients... but I didn't like their approach to flavoring. Certainly seemed off compared to the what I've had in places with big Indian populations.

                                                                    Pamposh is bleh.... some may like it... but its not what I go to Indian restaurants for. Maybe I have been conditioned by the Indian restaurants that Indians actually go to... but Pamposh just seems boring and has no character.

                                                                1. Los Cantaros Taqueria 5412 San Pablo, Oakland.

                                                                  1. Best FAT Burger in Santa Rosa (and Sonoma County) is found at:
                                                                    John Barleycorns on Yulupa Avenue (cross street is Bethards) in the Longs Shopping Center. Now, my mate and I are extremely particular about quality and service (Disclosure: we WILL NOT re-frequent a place if we experience bad service or food. Period. snobs we are Not. I've been a waitress and we both work very hard for our meager incomes so want to choose wisely when we do go out to eat).
                                                                    Fat, juicy burger served with fries or side salad for about $10.00. We discovered by happenstance this somewhat funky place about 8 years ago when a friend & I were shopping in Bennett Valley and she had a Sonoma Express Card with Barleycorns on it. And I am so Grateful ever since!!

                                                                    Consistently High Quality Fat Juicy Burger Made to Order and Pleasant, Friendly Efficient Service.
                                                                    I like my Burgers FAAAT and a little Juicy - and for the past 8 years, they have done it every time, except once when it must've been an off night.

                                                                    I especially love the mushroom burger- the shrooms are saute'd perfectly and are delish w/ just a hint seasonings to enrich their flavor and come overflowing the top of the burger and onto your plate. You can also add grilled onions with the same result in flavor and texture and as of yet, never over cooked

                                                                    Most noticeable when you enter is a long bar that takes up half the restaurant running the length of the restaurant, couple of big screens- with the sound off -on two walls (thankfully they are always muted). But don't be put-off by this atmosphere ( i was the first time i went, but realized the food justified the visit), the food is awesome and you actually can hold and hear a conversation with your dinner guests. The dining area takes up the other half of the restaurant. Seating is available at tables for two & four (accommodations for larger parties is easily done by joining several tables together) and there is one large comfy booth near the entrance.

                                                                    They recently changed ownership and I can report that my mate bellied up and he found the same high quality and service as before- As an aside, when i am in Marin and have a hankering for a burger the only choice hands down is the Wild Fox (can be seen from 101 in Ignacio-behind burger king) for the same reason's as noted above.

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: IJustWant GreatFoodandService

                                                                      Maybe it was an off day, but I thought the burger at Wild Fox was poor. Flavorless and overcooked.