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Jun 14, 2005 04:24 AM

Point Richmond Restaurants & Spectacular Shoreline Picnic Area

  • r

Point Richmond is a small, quiet, charming, tree-shaded town near the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge with some interesting restaurants and one of the most spectacular Bay Area parks.

The grassy seaside park with tree shaded picnic areas has panoramic views of the SF Bay. There are places where you can stand and see all three Bay Area Bridges at the same time.

I’m new to the area and hope I can get some recommendations on local restaurants. So far I’ve tried
- Hidden City Café which is owned by a former Chez Panisse alumni
- Great American Hamburgers & Pie Co.

What’s the opinion on the following?

25 WEST – On the window it says Asian American Casual Dining

SU ZHOU – The sign says Chinese restaurant and Sushi Bar. That doesn’t seem good, but it actually got a four star rating from the CC Times and two and a half stars from the Chronicle. There are Chinese dishes, a sushi bar and udon noodles. On Friday nights from 6:30 – 9:30 there is a Chinese Harp player. The restaurant is decorated with 200 year old Chinese artifacts and is named after the city the owners come from in Shanhai, In the link to the Chron review it says they serve “unusual food, such as five-spice-seasoned boiled peanuts and mud-baked beggar's chicken with eight treasures”.
Chron review:

SPOT LIQUORS – has a little bar area in front and seems to be popular

ROSAMARIA'S CAFÉ – Healthy Mexican. Very contemporary looking but always seems empty.

RED PEPPER – Hunan and Mandarin

LITTLE LOUIE'S – Deli that always seems to have a lot of business, but it the food didn’t look amazing.

LITTLE CHINA – seems small but it was packed at lunch

KAO SAN – The CC times gives this Thai restaurant four forks and recommends the basil duck.

HOTEL MAC – They had a sign on the sidewalk for a $8.50 blue plate special. The menu has things like flat iron steak, pot roast and seafood tacos with roasted jalapeno cream sauce and pico de gallo. Don’t see many people in there, but the prices are high from the menu link:

EDIBLES – Seems like a little deli off the town square

CAFE ALTURA - It seems to be a nice little deli with a pleasant outdoor patio

ALL'S FARE – in Brickyard Cove, it seems it is a deli that has a bay view and serves breakfast and lunch

The picnic area at Miller/Knox Regional Shoreline located on a lagoon is one of the prettiest I’ve seen. There is also a working Model Railroad Train Museum. Here are two links with more info and pictures of the park and Keller Beach.

There seem to be two stores to pick up picnic supplies:
POINT RICHMOND MARKET – which seems to be a rather ordinary corner market
SANTA FE MARKET – seems like an upscale gourmet market

It is an accomplishment to be such a charming town in an area that boarders on major oil refineries and the place where it seems every car in the US is unloaded from ships waiting to be reloaded onto trucks and trains. I don’t exaggerate; there are tens of thousands of new cars parked over the hill. And even in that area there is an amazing museum – The SS. Red Oak Victory Ship – a rusting museum that looks like it would be fun to explore. It is open on Tuesday, Saturday and Sunday. On Father’s Day, you can have breakfast on the ship. More information in the link about Point Richmond below.

There are all sorts of tug boats, barges and working ships on the road to the ship. There is somewhat of a ship bone yard where the magnificent Wapoma, the last of the steam schooners sits abandoned.

Point Richmond is really a fascinating area. There are some art galleries and there is even a theatre where the musical Ruthless is playing this summer. There are magnificent homes much like Tiburon, some with docks for boats.

You can pick up a pamphlet that has a walking tour of the small town at many of the restaurants. Many of the buildings date to 1900 and you will see saloons, hotels, churches, jails, markets, schools and hospitals. The buildings house businesses now, but they have been preserved. This was the terminus for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad and the tracks are still very active. Winehaven, was one of the largest wineries until prohibition.

I’m hoping to get to know Point Richmond better. I’m going to need to find some good places to eat with all this exploring. So, does anyone have any specific info about the restaurants and markets. What is good? What should be avoided?


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  1. There was only coconut cream pie today.

    The unusually dense custard was chock full of coconut and topped with toasted coconut. The taste was unusual and then a light went on. It was flavored with rum. It was coconut rum pie. It tasted very much like the fillings you get in Italian cakes that have rum custard.

    The thin crust was just sturdy enough to contain the filling. The coconut seemed fresh grated because of the long irregular size. The whipped cream didn’t add a lot to the piece though. It was that standard coffee shop type of whipped cream, the type that might be found on a Denny’s pie. But the pie was house made and this seems like a place to keep an eye out for the pie.

    This is the simplest of burger joints. There are burgers, dogs and sandwiches like grilled cheese, tuna, BLT and ham.

    If you get the burger, ask for grilled onions. Otherwise the burger comes with a thick slice of white onion, tomato, lettuce and mayo. It is served in a paper-lined plastic basket. Other condiments are on the table. It is a good sized burger, classically done.

    Onion rings, fries, chips and chili are also available. The fried fish sandwich was popular on my visit. Beverages include soft drinks, milk, OJ, shakes, coffee, tea and cocoa.

    There are simple breakfast items like omelets, eggs, hotcakes and breakfast sandwiches.

    There was a steady stream of traffic from locals and nearby workers. It’s the kind of the place where everyone knows each other by name.

    It is the type of burger joint you go to on a summer vacation. In fact, if you walk through the tunnel down the street you will come on a grassy seaside park with tree shaded picnic areas that has one of the most spectacular views of the SF Bay. The restaurant has a picnic table outside, looks out on an old baseball field and is pleasantly shaded by a huge tree.

    Searching around on the web, I’m sorry I didn’t get the hot dog. The link at the end by a local resident says the Miller dog is quartered and lightly grilled and served on a toasted burger bun with the same condiments as the burger – lettuce, onion, mayo, tomato. It says they are “so good they're almost a sacrament”.

    Great American Hamburgers & Pie Co.
    35 E. Richmond
    Pt. Richmond, Ca 94801
    It is located across the street from the Richmond Municipal Natatorium.


    2 Replies
    1. re: rworange

      I had lunch at Great American Hamburgers today and for me it's a mixed bag. The burgers are a commercial patty they buy and then fry well done. For that type, they're quite good, but don't expect fresh ground cooked-your-way burgers. I also ordered my burger-joint staple, onion rings. There was nothing resembling an onion to be found in those rings. They were just commercial pulverized-or-whatever rings and not worth eating. I had a very good piece of apple pie with a very good crust. On the whole, if I'm going to have my infrequent burger ration, it will be at a place with better burgers and real onion rings.

      1. re: rworange

        Sorry if it seemed that the burger was anything but what I mentioned, a classic grilled burger. It is along the lines of a joint like Red Onion. Better than a Fast Food burger, but definately not specialty meat. I'm not a fries/onion ring person, so glad I didn't waste the calories.

        I would expect the same of breakfast. Better than Dennys, but if you are looking for Bette's, this isn't the place. Breakfast is probably along the Red Onion lines as well. Actually, if when I think about it this places IS almost identical to Red Onion, but the pie was better.

        Wish I had been there for the apple pie though. I think that may be the thing that this place does really well. I don't order lots of cream pies, but I know apple pie and would be able to give a solid thumbs up or down.

        I am wondering about that hot dog though. Thanks for the report back.

      2. Hidden City Café can match any of the top breakfast spots in San Francisco or Berkeley. It also serves lunch. Chef and co-owner Shellie Bourgault, once worked at Chez Panisse. The food is simply prepared using top notch ingredients. There is a small core of standard dishes, but order the specials that change weekly.

        The Hobbs Genoa salame, mizuna, roasted red pepper, and goat cheese sandwich on lightly toasted buttery slices of Metropolis bread included truffle oil and generous shavings of Pecorino Romano cheese. It was a perfect balance of textures and flavors. Mizuna is a Japanese green that has a taste similar to a mild mustard green. It reminded me of the type of sandwich that Desiree serves.

        It came with spring greens, delicious radish slices, thinly sliced crisp cucumbers and a lovely light herb vinaigrette. Instead of salad there is the option of soup, which was gumbo on Sunday.

        The white peach / strawberry shortcake had the most elegant whipped cream that was like eating lightly sweetened clouds. A scone-like biscuit was cut in half and filled with whipped cream, deeply flavored strawberries and skin-on sweet white peaches which had touch of acidity.

        I slow down when eating food of this quality to savor each bite. By the end of the brunch I was almost purring with contentment.

        The blue corn meal pancakes with strawberries looked amazing. The Huevos Rancheros with salsa and black bens had a huge link of chorizo. The falafel sandwich with raita looked excellent.

        On the regular menu, the Quatre Epice French Toast with real maple syrup is on my must try list. The restaurant is known for its pancakes and the pillowy thick pancakes looked fabulous.

        Most of the items are non fussy breakfast things like omelets, scrambles and pancakes. There was also polenta scrapple and an Atkins scramble.

        The smooth coffee, served in satisfyingly large white mugs, is Max’s Blend from McLaughlin Coffee in Emeryville. The staff is always circling to make sure cups are filled.

        The Banana Millet bread is two thick toasted pieces of light yet buttery banana bread with lots of millet to give it a pleasant crunchiness. There was not a heavy banana taste as you would get from a denser banana bread, I like more banana flavor, yet very much enjoyed the delicate texture.

        There was nothing particularly special about the omelet, but it was well done and satisfying. Home fries were very lightly salted chunks of browned potatoes.

        The house made foccacia reminded me of Linguiria. It had the same thickness. It was cut in half, spread with lots of butter and had char marks from the grill. It had a slight sweetness. The foccacia smelled and tasted like it had some corn meal in it.

        A blackboard had a half dozen glasses of wine priced at $5, mostly Rosemont. There was also Piazanno Rio Camerata Chianti.

        The desserts for the week, whiskey cake, pecan pie and pineapple upside down cake, were also listed on the blackboard.

        Almost as important as the food, the service was big city quality. These were pro servers. That is harder to find the further you get from the metro area.

        Hidden City Café is the perfect melding of small town charm with big city polish. You enter the small restaurant through a screen door. The high ceiling and large windows facing the tree lined square make the space seem larger. There are two round window tables, a total of seven booths on either wall, a counter with four benches and five tables for two down the center of the restaurant. The tables can be pushed together for larger groups.

        Bud vases on each table sprouted bouquets of peonies, daisies and roses.

        It has the cozy feel of a country kitchen crossed with a arty coffee shop. The furniture has a rustic distressed wood look. A wooden shelf runs the length of one brick wall. Under the shelf, copper pots and cookie cutters hung between unframed canvas paintings, On top were little household odds and ends like cookie jars, vases, dishes, egg cups, lots of roosters, a ceramic turkey gravy bowl, a clock and paintings. My favorites were a Pillsbury Doughboy tea pot, and a box game called “Fast Food Franchise”.

        The link below has an old SF Chronicle review.

        Hidden City Cafe
        109 Park Place
        Point Richmond
        PHONE: (510) 232-9738

        Closed Monday
        Tuesday-Friday: Breakfast 7:30-11:15 a.m.Lunch 11:30a.m.-2:30 p.m.
        Saturday-Sunday: Brunch 8 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

        The Chron says it is difficult to find. It is not the restaurant that is the problem, it is Point Richmond. IGNORE online maps AND the I-580 signs for Point Richmond which take a convoluted route, There are Three ways to get there easily,

        1.If you are familiar with the Richmond Parkway, follow it to the end, You will see a gas station at the Quality Inn. This is Garrad. Take a right. At the end of Garrad, take a left, Head to the town.

        2.If you are familiar with Cutting Blvd, follow it to the end. At the gas station it turns into Garrad. Keep going straight to the end. Take a left and head to the town.

        3.From I-580 take the CANAL street exit, NOT the Richmond PKWY/ Pt Richmond Exit. Head toward the Bay, You will see the gas station with the Quality Inn, Take a right, go to the end, take a left and head to the town.


        1 Reply
        1. re: rworange

          Thanks for the update. I used to work in that area and frequented Hidden City often in its first year. It was always a welcome respite from the commute to stop in for their excellent breakfast and I have to say that their Niman Ranch burger was one of the best ways to get your hands dirty and appetite satisfied. Great to know they're still going strong after all these years.

          a sante,

        2. Suzhou sounds interesting, though the juxtaposition of Japanese food would queer the experience for me. Those are typical Suzhou dishes that you pointed to. Suzhou is a lovely city, the home of famous classical gardens, silk-and-bamboo music and lisping maidens.

          "Above is heaven; on earth, Suzhou and Hangzhou."

          BTW I like your new nom d'écran and the fact that you are more diligently using your spell checker. Keep it up!


          3 Replies
          1. re: Gary Soup

            Is rworange the new Krys who went so suddenly absent from this board? These posts have a very familar tone. If so what happened to the tasting menu crawl? I'm still hoping to hear about Fifth Floor.

            1. re: kelly k.

              You didn't miss anything. But The Shadow knows....

              1. re: kelly k.


                Slight life detour for a while. Tasting menus on hold.


            2. I work nearby and eat in Pt. Richmond for lunch, but I'm a seafood-veggie eater only (don't eat beef, chicken, pork).

              Kao Sarn is a good Thai restaurant. It must be run by the same owners as Bua Luang on Solano Avenue, because they have the same menu. Their " house specialities" are good (but a little pricey $9-12). One of my favorites is the Avocado Jumbo Prawns - chargrilled shrimp with fresh unseasoned steamed veggies and peanut sauce with avocado slices. The grilled marinated prawns are divine and also show up in some other dishes there as well. Small curry puffs are a good app. Like a samosa, but smaller (4 per order) and served with cucumber sauce. My co-workers are always fans of the Panang Beef special as well as the Basil Duck. Curries are tasty (except the pumpkin always seems to be undercooked). You get a free small salad (iceberg, raisins, corn, cabbage, carrots & sweet creamy dressing) with your dine in meal. Also, they have a separate vegetarian menu. Can see the Bua Luan menu at the menu page webiste:


              Rosamaria's is healthy mexican food and it tastes like it. No lard or fryers, no refried beans. Unfortunately, the chips are not homemade. The salsas are mediocre (pico de gallo-like mild, green medium, red hot). I like the quesadillas because they are light as air and not greasy. 4 crisp triangles with not too much cheese, I get the grilled shrimp (marinated in citrus, garlic, and scallions). The guac always tastes too limey. They offer a rotating variety of 1 vegetarian tamale everyday. Salads are not exciting, burritos just OK, enchiladas have a pretty good homemade sauce. They have mexican hot chocolate and agua frescas (but it always seems to be horchata - even in this great fruit season). The owner is nice and is always around serving and cooking. A great bright space with Latin and surf decor, magazines to read.

              Cafe Altura is OK. I like to eat on the small back patio on nice days. The falafel is poor - gummy and green (not fried or not fried enough?). The greek salad is good and I like the salmon special when they have it, which consists of poached or grilled salmon, salad of choice, and bread for $6. Basic mediterranean fare, but not even close to the league of Truly Mediterranean.

              Hotel Mac got voted Best Mojito in the East Bay last year by the East Bay Express, butI've never eaten there.

              It looks as if something might finally be happening to the Baltic restaurant and pub, which claimed it was going to be undergoing renovation for the last year. They have a great back patio. Noticed a change of onwership for the liquor license.

              Crossing my fingers for El Molcajete restaurant on Marina Bay Parkway, the new mexican restaurant opening soon, but not soon enough. The kitchen looks to be about 1/2 done.

              Amini's by the Bay (small market with deli) at the marina is good for picnic goodies (deli sandwiches, wine, and great seasoned air-baked curly fries - so good you won't believe they're air-baked). Small patio tables to watch the boats or bask in the sun.

              Basically I find much of the food in Point Richmond to be just OK. I would recommend expanding your dining choices to

              -Solano Avenue

              -Richmond's authentic mexican restaurants

              -El Cerrito (Ba Le for $2 vietnamese sandwiches, Best Burrito, and many Thai choices like Sa Wa Dee or Krung Thep)

              -the Pacific East Mall for a variety of Asian dining and groceries

              -or hopping on the highway to Gilman St. area (Picante, Lalimes)

              1 Reply
              1. re: kimchee

                Thanks so much for the recommendations and saving me some money and legwork.

                Great tip about the seasoned air baked curly fries at Amini's by the Bay. I actually walked in there and it didn't look like much. In fact it didn't even look worthwhile enough to take advantage of the view. I'll take a look again.

                I am more familiar with Berkeley than this immediate area. So far I am THRILLED with Hidden City Cafe. Saves that trip down San Pablo Avenue.

                Thanks to for the Kao Sarn and menu link.

                Other than Portumex, is there any other Richmond Mexican restaurant you might suggest.

                It was no nice of you to take the time to post. It is really helpful.


              2. My friend, who lives in Pt. Richmond, persistently brags that it's "the most desirable neighborhood in the Bay Area." We always laugh, and tickle her a good one. But, by this thread and the responses, you're making it sound like she could well be correct. Thanks for another fine investigative report.