Bubba's Diner in San Anselmo
Finally tried this place after passing by many times. They have several stickers in the window promoting their affiliation with local and organic groups (Marin Organic, et al.). They serve straight-forward, American diner food with a little flair using fresh, mostly organic ingredients. On the recommendation of the show "Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives", we tried the ahi tuna pot stickers and the soft-shell crab BLT. We also ordered a PB&C shake (peanut butter & chocolate) and a pulled pork sandwich with sides.
The shake was the star of the show. Made with clover organic, it was a perfect blend of not too much PB & a nice dose of Chocolate. The shake was appropriately made to order and served with the remaining amount in the mixing cup. It was enough to share for 2. Creamy, delicious, and amazing.
The rest of the food was good, but I found that the diner style preparation dulled some of the more subtle flavors in the quality ingredients. Most of the food was cooked on the same flat top so it all had a common diner flavor. The ahi tuna pot stickers were fine but we had to concentrate pretty hard to detect the tuna flavor through the fried taste and ginger. We appreciated the homemade dumpling dough and the vinegar/soy dipping sauce was really nice. They were served on a bed of sauteed spinach that was a good (garlicky) side dish on it's own. The pulled pork for the sandwich was reheated and slightly caramelized on the flattop with onions. Again, no big pork flavor thanks to that grill, but a decent sandwich with the bbq sauce (not sure if they made it themselves). The roll was really good and might have been the best part of the dish. Finally, the best of the savory dishes was the soft shell crab BLT, also served on very good bread (didn't catch the make & model of that though) with garlic basil aioli. They deep fry two crabs and pop them into a traditional BLT. It had a distinct fryer flavor so the smaller bits of crab didn't taste like crab at all. But when we got a mouthful of crab with the tomato and a little bacon it was quite delicious. The only complaint about this dish is that it's not on the menu and we were surprised by the $18.95 price when the bill came (it is listed on the website though). So now you know about that.
Side notes: The fries had good flavor but some were a bit limp. The fresh fruit side dish was a pleasant surprise. I expected the standard diner honeydew, cantaloupe, pineapple, grape melange. But no, their fruit side salad was fresh papaya, mango, and pineapple. Very nice. The pickle spears were nice and crisp too.
The ambiance is old school diner with several counter seats, a few booths, and a couple of 2 tops in the window. The staff was friendly and on the ball the whole time with refills and answers to questions. The biggest appeal of this place is their commitment to the local, sustainable movement. If you care about eating local, you'll probably like Bubba's. The food was solid even though it didn't blow us away, we left satisfied and feeling good about supporting local food.
566 San Anselmo Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960
Sitting at the counter was illuminating. I was going to order the soft-shelled crabs until I saw the cook putting bacon into the frying fat to finish crisping it.. that immediately took the fried green tomatoes, french fries, and fried calamari off the list of probabilities. So I opted for the ahi potstickers, which were only very very lightly browned and, by the time they arrived on the (non-garlicky) spinach, had no crispness whatsoever. I didn't know the sauce was supposed to have ginger in it, and certainly didn't detect any. Wasn't sure if there was even any rice vinegar. I think Bubba's has changed hands twice in the ten years I've been going there and the quality of food has been steadily declining. My partner liked his blueberry pancakes tho, of course, they were cooked on the same griddle the bacon par-cooked on, and he also noted the berries were from Maine- not too local. The place had three unoccupied tables and several free bar seats at the time of our meal, which took over 30 minutes to arrive :(. Also, I was charged $4.95 for a side of COLE SLAW :(