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San Rafael?

Going to be in San Rafael for about 5 days. Would like some suggestions for breakfast, lunch and dinner in the general vicinty. We love everything, so please make all suggestions, from dives to nice restaurants. TIA

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  1. Sol Food -- good for lunch, Cuban sandwiches, and norcal versions of el salvadorean food

    Royal Thai -- good for dinner

    Lotus -- Indian

    Also, you are close to San Anselmo. Check out:

    Bubba's Diner -- good breakfast, local, fresh ingredients

    Insalata's -- upscale dinner

    Comforts -- good for lunch, take away deli-style counter with lots of salad, sandwich, and hot entrees.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Shane Greenwood

      They say Puerto Rican. Sol Food site is colorful but slow for navigation.

      1. re: wolfe

        You're right, duh me. Was typing faster than my brain. As mentioned in some other posts, it is Puerto Rican inspired, but with some decidedly inauthentic touches.

        1. re: Shane Greenwood

          Sol Food is pretty good, but it is not at all Puerto Rican food. It's closest to Cuban, but I'd describe it as pretty far from what any Caribbean would recognize as their own.

          That being said, it's pretty good! Also, if you go to the small branch on 4th Street instead of the one on Lincoln, the waits are WAY shorter.

    2. I second Sol food and add Om South Indian on 4th St.

      3 Replies
      1. re: saffrongold

        I'll third Sol. And don't let the long lines discourage you. The move people through pretty quickly.

        1. re: Civil Bear

          i randomly came across sol on the way back from sonoma and was pleasantly surprised (because i didn't know it was chow-approved; my eye was caught by the lime paint alone). the lime drink was delicious, as was the tomato-shrimp and rice dish. i would definitely return to explore more of the menu if i was in the area. the staff was also very friendly.

          i also love that they framed the nasty letter threatening them with consequences if they didn't repaint the restaurant to a more neutral color.

      2. Pier 15 for breakfast. ( East Francisco blvd turn at Mazda dealership)
        Pancho Villa ( Sir Francis Drake in Fairfax for dinner)
        Chateau Basque ( San Pedro Rd)dinner
        Fabrizio ( Magnolia in Larkspur)lunch or dinner
        Bobbys diner ( 4th and E)

        2 Replies
        1. re: Giselle

          Both Pier 15 and Chalet Basque are good for outdoor dining for breakfast and lunch. Maybe spring will kick in by the time you get here, making that a realistic option.

          Also, Le Croissant on Bellam has, IMO, the best breakfast in Marin. And mighty fine lunches, too, of the soup, sandwich, and salad genre. They also have outdoor dining, although the view is of the action in the Canal District - not exactly scenic.

          1. re: Giselle

            This might not be fair cause it was years ago, so who knows but I want to get it off my chest (tounge) :-)

            At one time it was some of the best authentic Mexican food around. Had a craving for "the real thing" so made the long drive to Fairfax instead of 16th & Mission in the City.

            Food "looked" great but it was unbelievably bland. Too many "white folk" from the Mid-west had come through these parts so they took the great spicing AWAY. Well, I thought, I can remedy that. "What kind of hot sauce do you have?" Hot sauce? We don't have ANY" "NO hot sauce at all??" "I'll see whats in the kitchen". So, he comes out with a bottle of Tabasco !!! UNBELIEVABLE. That didn't even do the trick. What a shame. High quality food with 0, nada, zero spicing. Pleeze, send Dorothy BACK to Kansas and bring Dolores up from the Canal.

            Pancho Villas Restaurant
            1625 SIR Francis Drake Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

          2. Pasta for lunch at Il Davide. Best food buy in Northern Calif!


            1. Om
              Il Davide
              Vin Antico
              Mauna Loa Hawaiian Barbecue
              Golden Orb Piroshki
              Taqueria El Farolito
              Thai Smile
              Pier 15 (breakfast)

              3 Replies
              1. re: TerriL

                Yes Golden Orb is good but it should be noted that it's for takeaway only, or v. casual chowing on a stool.

                1. re: TerriL

                  Vin Antico was good enough that I went back once and would again.


                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    I ate there recently and was not impressed enough to go back. Room, service and ambiance all good but food was very average to poor and expensive for lunch. The pizza is about the size of a tortilla and $12. The bucatini creamy sauce was runny and bland with spongy bacon. The sandwich was good though, crunchy grilled bread, tasty short bread filling, good potato chips and a generous fresh green salad. With 1 soda and those 3 items, bill was $38 without tax.

                    I do like Bay Thai, a tiny mostly takeout spot next to the Golden Orb in the 800 block of Fourth Street. Still waiting for Arizmendi to open...

                2. Trivia night at the Mayflower is fun; the bar food is fine but not a destination by itself.


                  1. Marinitas in San Anselmo (on Sir Francis Drake) is good for upscale Mexican and great margaritas.

                      1. If you have a car, you're also close to Larkspur. Pizzeria Picco, Emporio Rulli, and Left Bank are all good bets. I have not yet been to the Tavern at Lark Creek, but have heard good things.

                        Pizzeria Picco
                        320 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA 94939

                        Emporio Rulli
                        464 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA

                        The Tavern at Lark Creek
                        234 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA 94939

                        2 Replies
                          1. re: dolcevita_sf

                            Had a nice lunch at Left Bank, yesterday - beautiful weather, very nice to sit outside. Very good service, very Marin atmosphere. Good place to take visitors.

                            We ordered the Charcuterie Maison (Pate and Sausages Platter) They had sold out of the Smoked Garlic Sausage with Pistachio but we did have the Rustic Pate (Good), Pork and Duck Rillettes (Eh... would not order again) and the Chicken Liver Mousse (Outstanding) - This platter was served with a grainy mustard, a radish/olive/cornichon medley, and a small amount of a delicious chutney. The toasts served alongside were perfect.

                            Bread served on the table (2 kinds) was of very good quality.

                            The Steak Tartare appetizer was good, well prepared, but did not knock me out. Nor did the Lamb Sandwich (seriously overcooked), the Boudin Blanc White Pork Sausages were cooked perfectly but lacked excitement - the addition of a little of the chutney (that was served with the app) helped a lot. The Salad Nicoise with grilled Ahi was fine, just not anything special.

                            The French Onion Soup was the best I've had ANYWHERE. I'd return to Left Bank anytime for this soup - such a delicious stock - which may have been made with duck?

                            The Cappuccino, French Onion Soup and Chicken Liver mousse were all outstanding. I would return to Left Bank for these, and would also like to try their brunch.

                            Left Bank Brasserie
                            507 Magnolia Ave., Larkspur, CA 94939