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Dinner in Marin on Saturday night

Going to the Bob Newhart show on Saturday night at the Marin Veterans' Memorial Auditorium in San Rafael. Any suggestions for a good restaurant pre-show? Criteria would include: not too fancy, entertaining out of town guests, fun atmosphere, NON-chain restaurant, full bar (beer and wine would be acceptable if the place is REALLY spectacular), close to the theater or on the way.


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  1. Chalet Basque is about 10 minutes away. Not fancy, you can sit on outside patio, full bar.

    Le Chalet Basque Restaurant
    405 N San Pedro Rd
    San Rafael, CA 94903
    (415) 479-1070

    1. Another option very close to the Civic Center is Avance. It's a Spanish/tapas place also about 10 minutes away.

      Haven't been there in a while, it it used to have good food and a fun atmosphere - cool tiles, sometimes live music, etc.

      Avance Tapas Bar & Restaurant
      200 Merrydale Rd
      San Rafael, CA 94903

      (415) 472-7101

      2 Replies
      1. re: ducky

        Avance is now Gaspare's -- pizzas, pastas and more. An offshoot of the one on Geary/24th-ish in SF.

        1. re: Sarah

          Worst Italian food I've ever had, the price is not comparable with the food they serve.
          So many better Italian restaurants in Marin.

      2. Avance closed a while ago. Vin Antico at 881 Fourth Street in San Rafael is one of the younger places. Nice atmosphere and very good food. Rafters nearby is OK for pub grub. For an old style Italian dinner with a full bar available, try La Toscana on the Redwood frontage road across from the civic center. It is a pretty reliable neighborhood spot.

        1 Reply
        1. re: marian

          La Toscana is horrible and shouldn't be allowed to be called Italian food.

        2. Both Chalet Basque and LaToscana tend to fill up on nights when something's happening at the Auditorium or at the Jewish Community Center. Make sure you have reservations.

          1. As suggested, the near spots fill up on show nights, but Boca is not far away and meets your criteria. Timewise, Boca is about the same as Chalet Basque in time to drive and park.

            1 Reply
            1. re: OldTimer

              Not really. Boca is 5 miles away. Chalet Basque is one mile away.

            2. Haven't been there yet, but Wild Fox looks like a good dinner house. Only 3+ miles away.


              1 Reply
              1. re: Sharuf

                There are sort of mixed reviews on Wildfox. Someone liked it. I found it unexceptional but that was long ago and it was room service to the motel next door.

                There's always Mezzo Mezzo in San Rafael. No full bar though.

              2. Louts in San Rafael is a great place. Indian, good for groups, if it's nice out they'll open the retractable roof a little. It's a short (6 mins according to google) drive away. Lotus fills up so call early to see if you can get in when you want.


                Royal Thai (two blocks away) is a good fall back option if you can't get into Lotus.


                1. This used to be a favorite. I haven't been in a couple years, as I moved out of the area, but it's worth a call.

                  Il Davide

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: javacan

                    This place is exceptional Italian and the service is outstanding.
                    Two words Molto Bene!

                  2. In central San Rafael is Maria Manso World Cuisine--- about a 10 minute drive away. Not sure how crowded it gets on the weekends as I have only been there during the week. Awesome food-- beer and wine only. They just put in place a pre fixe menu, so there is good value to be had also. Boca is also awesome if you want meat

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: marin eater

                      What have you tried at Maria Manso? I just had the Cubano and would say to avoid that. This is a place I'd like to like ... so any recs are welcome.

                      1. re: rworange

                        I wanted to like this place, too. But after a number of times, I haven't found anything to like.

                      2. re: marin eater

                        Your suggestion on Boca is sort of misleading...as is their ad. They are not just excellent meat, but also serve chicken and fish. Best calamari appetizer around. Good seafood pasta dish, also.

                        1. re: marin eater

                          they just featured this place on check please bay area... i was working so i didn't catch all of it.. but something about a fried fish, flan, the flourless chocolate cake isn't all that good, and the service is good.. and the drinks are good... apparently it's open until 2 am...sounds interesting, but seeing that i'm all over the place, it seems to be quite a trek when i am in the bay area...

                          1. re: kinipela

                            Everybody on Check Please, loved, loved, loved the place. In fact, the first airing of that episode is what convinced me to try it out. One guy liked the cowboy steak and plantanos. The fish has a salad in it. Another guy liked the mojito.

                            Even if my experience was better, it is not a destination place, IMO. Possibly good if living in the area and dinner might be better than lunch. Check Please is not correct about the late hours.

                            Here's a few Chowhound thoughts on lunch

                            My original query after the first Check Please airing. Also has links to the MM website and a Marin IJ review. They really are very nice people.

                        2. Cucina in San Anselmo! Excellent reasonably priced Italian food. Just a bit out of the way but well worth it.

                          510 San Anselmo Ave.
                          San Anselmo, CA, 94979

                          1. I like Jason's. Fresh. Excellent wine list. Pasta. Seafood. All very, very tastey.