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Nice restaurant in Marin?

I need a recommendation for a restaurant to send my friends for their birthdays somewhere in Marin County. They are a couple who are so busy lately that they need a nice night out together. Not too pricey but price shouldn't be the ultimate factor. They live in Fairfax but will travel - especially if I'm buyin' :). Any help is appreciated!

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  1. Picco in Larkspur. A little pricey but very tasty.

    1. Insalata in San Anselmo would be a good place.

      1. Both Picco and Insalata's are worthy. I also recommend highly Marche aux Fleurs in Ross.

        1. Both Fork in San Anselmo (closeby) and Boca in Novato are good. Boca is more than just a premium steakhouse.
          http://www.bocasteak.com/

          5 Replies
          1. re: OldTimer

            Could you tell us more about your experience at Boca, pretty please?

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              For you, Melanie, I'll tell the truth. I was taken aback by the pre-opening hype about Boca. with a bit of special resentment at losing Orsi's, out favorite lunch spot. For years, my wife and I would split calamari and a salad. Having no experience with "George", I only knew that he was a celebrity chef who dared open a seafood restaurant next door to Tadisch. Well...out of idle curiosity, we went to Boca (my son had been and gave a good report). It is excellent, in all ways, with some pluses. Half price bar menu during happy hour, and early-bird prix fix Mon-Thur. It may well be the best calamari I've had in a while, the Boca salad is superb and very generous. Steaks are great, and there are many non-beef dishes. We were in Napa for the weekend, and I thought Cindy's BRK was a bomb, but we finally got to Zinsvalley and thought it was as suggested, a sleeper. Nice spot, enjoyed the American Kobe Bavet. For your info, Adriano Orsi has bought Pier 15, and may do OK if he can get the bar flies to go somewhere else so diners can park. This is my full report for now. I will hibernate for the winter and start eating in the Spring.

              1. re: OldTimer

                Thanks for the lowdown on Boca. Glad you enjoyed Zinsvalley, haven't been there for a couple years myself.

                Have a good nap!

              2. re: Melanie Wong

                Decent steaks, interesting sauces, disappointing duck fat fries. Good for Marin, but not worth a road trip. (Full disclosure - My steak standards are Peter Luger and The Palm -- so most places pale in comparison.)
                We started with the empanadas - mixed basket - some flavors good, others just ok, Jalapeno Creamed Corn was fairly good (not fresh corn when I had it. Sauces were two kinds of Chimichurri, Bearnaise and Cognac Green Peppercorn Sauces.

                Better than Izzy's (except for Izzy's potatoes gratin which are wonderful).

                Overall, Boca was good, not great. A good choice when in Novato, considering the other choices.

                1. re: Bob Copeland

                  Somewhere in between Peter Luger and Izzy's...that works for me. Thanks for the details.

            2. I'll add Il Davide in downtown San Rafael. It's been quite good Italian for several years in an unusual-for-Marin urban atmosphere.

              1. Buckeye Roadhouse in Mil Valley still delivers good american food with some upscale touches. Not cheap but not nearly as pricy as Lark Creek Inn.

                1. I'm partial to ambience if I'm taking anybody out to celebrate. The most atmospheric places in Marin are:

                  El Paseo in Mill Valley -- charming, charming French country-inn ambience (despite the name). They have a new owner, and haven't heard any reports yet.

                  The Pelican out at Muir Beach -- a 16th century English pub and inn.

                  Then there's also the Caprice in Tiburon, sitting out over the water. Terrific at sunset to view the city across the way.