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New to Marin (Mill Valley)...having second thoughts about leaving the East Bay

My husband and I just moved to Mill Valley. We'd love some suggestions on how to replace our regular favorites in Oakland and Berkeley. (We do realize that some days we'll have to bite the bullet and pay the bridge toll!) We generally eat for about $25-40 for two for dinner (generally no alcohol, usually no dessert, and veggie entrees tend to be cheaper) but we're also looking for places where we'd spend more for when we feel like something a little nicer. We mostly eat vegetarian (I'm very strict, he's not) and our favorite kinds of restaurants are:

1. Indian (What is the best Indian in San Rafael? Are there any places to avoid?)

2. Various Asian cuisines, Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, (especially hole in the wall...we love Shan Dong in Oakland), Nepali, and Japanese too. Any place for amazing avocado rolls in Marin? We usually do Cha-Ya in Berkeley.

3. Pizza/Italian (We like Lanesplitter and Trattoria la Siciliana in Berkelely, and of course Arizmendi Pizza)

4. Breakfast (We love Aunt Mary's Cafe in Oakland, Ann and Rick's and La Note in Berkeley)

5. Mexican (of all kinds, authentic to totally mex-american/tex-mex)

6. Anything else you think is worth trying (with plenty of veggie options).

We've tried Pearl's Phat Burger (loved it) and Small Shed flatbreads (yummy, a little pricey...but welcome to life in Marin!).

We'd appreciate any suggestions within about a half hour of Mill Valley. It's hard to know where to start when you are in uncharted territory!

Thanks so much,
Ms. Veg (and her husband)

Pearl's Phat Burgers
8 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

Shan Restaurant
5251 Stevens Creek Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95051

3265 Lakeshore Ave, Oakland, CA

Aunt Mary's Cafe
4307 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

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  1. Yes you are going to go through some withdrawal pain.

    Some options to consider:

    Sol Food - San Rafael
    Arizmendi - San Rafael
    Picco - Larkspur
    Pizzeria Picco - Larkspur
    Taqueria El Farolito - San Rafael
    Brick and Bottle - Corte Madera
    Fish - Sausalito
    Le Garage - Sausalito
    Boca Pizzeria - Novato
    Om South Indian - San Rafael
    Table Cafe - Larkspur
    Fairfax Scoop - Fairfax

    Fairfax Scoop
    63 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

    Pizzeria Picco
    320 Magnolia Ave, Larkspur, CA 94939

    Le Garage
    85 Liberty Ship Way Ste 109, Sausalito, CA

    1002 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94915

    Brick and Bottle
    55 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA 94925

    Boca Pizzeria
    454 Ignacio Blvd, Novato, CA 94949

    2 Replies
    1. re: Scott M

      Thanks Scott! Any favorite veggie dishes at any of the places you listed?

      1. re: Scott M

        That's a very good list. Do try Sol Food, a very casual (order at the counter) Puerto Rican cafe with two San Rafael locations a block apart, one the original and tiny, the other large. Good veg as well as lots of good chicken. Arizmendi is new in San Rafael and of course you know what it is. Le Garage is probably my current favorite place in Marin, a French bistro at a non-touristy Sausalito boat harbor. Om is very good South Indian (of course heavy on veg) and unique in Marin as far as I know. Fairfax Scoop is my favorite ice cream, period. I mentioned Tony Tutto pizza below, great artisan pizza in a super-casual place.

        Fairfax Scoop
        63 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

        Sol Food Puerto Rican Cuisine
        901 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael, CA 94901

        OM South Indian Cuisine
        1518 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

        Le Garage
        85 Liberty Ship Way Ste 109, Sausalito, CA

        Tony Tutto Pizza
        246 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

        1002 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94915

      2. I've had a couple of good meals at Vin Antico.

        Vin Antico
        881 Fourth St, San Rafael, CA 94901

        1 Reply
        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Oh Robert...it's like being back in the East Bay seeing your posting! Please open up a restaurant here. Preferably in our house! We're looking forward to trying Locanda de Eva next time we're back east.

        2. Lotus Cuisine of India is best Indian in SR, 8.99 buffet good to get a feel of the food, but the bengan bharta(eggplant) is the best dish on the menu and is NEVER on the buffet. Also the basil pesto naan is to die for. The roof retracts on warm nights, it is a lovely setting, servers are professional.

          (Om is good - some dishes just ok- have good dosa)

          Sushi-Ko, Larkspur Landing - pretty good sushi.
          We've tried a few different places as well, no favorites, maybe others can speak to their faves.

          Thai - Royal Thai is our favorite - try Salmon Yaang (BBQ) for your husband, Tofu Kra-Prow Krob(pressed fried tofu with cashews, basil.) and Pineapple Fried rice(Veggie) with glutens.
          and Kaeng Daeng Pak(red curry with pumpkin and mixed veggies) is best veggie curry.

          Tha Siam at larkspur landing is cheaper, and good.

          Mulberry Pizza off 101 Smith Ranch Road(should be about 20-25 mins if no traffic) has vegan cheese and the best pizza crust. They also sell slices if someone doesn't want the vegan cheese or they do half-half. I get the greek, substitute eggplant for the pepperoni with vegan cheese. (Specify no feta if you don't want that either.)

          San Jose Taqueria on 4th street under the freeway (Cash only) best burritto's (Al pastor for your husband) Also have Chile relleno for you. Free Salsa bar - complete with soccer on tv and blaring jukebox. Make sure to tip for best service if you are white.

          Yet-Wah, now that Jenny Lows closed - go to place for hot and sour soup. Good veggie options.

          Saigon Village at 720 B street in SR has ok Vietnamese - I haven't tried their veggie menu yet, but noticed the last time we carried out they had a menu available. Their pho and chicken bun for your husband is acceptable if you don't feel like driving over to EB. Usually we just get food from SF - on Irving, since my husband drives by on his way home every night.

          Sol, the best veggie sandwiches, also specials. Their chicken is fabulous. Salads are great.

          Falafel Hut on 4th st has spicy falafel, ok mediterranean plate.

          San Jose Taqueria
          2257 Mason St, San Francisco, CA 94133

          Saigon Village
          720 B St, San Rafael, CA 94901

          Falafel Hut
          1109 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

          Lotus Cuisine of India
          704 4th St, San Rafael, CA 94901

          Royal Thai Restaurant
          610 3rd St, San Rafael, CA 94901

          Tha Siam
          1813 Larkspur Landing Cir, Larkspur, CA 94939

          1. Lotus Indian in SR for Indian
            Comfort's in San Anselmo for breakfast and lunch
            Orchid Thai in San Anselmo for Thai
            Le Croissant in SR for breakfast & lunch
            Rumi in SR for Persian
            Insalata's in San Anselmo

            Le Croissant Restaurant
            150 Bellam Blvd Ste 210, San Rafael, CA 94901

            Orchid Thai Restaurant
            726 San Anselmo Ave, San Anselmo, CA 94960

            1. Right in Mill Valley is my favorite pizza place, Tony Tutto. It's picnic-table casual, owned and run by a gracious and interesting couple, and they grow some of their fresh herbs right there.

              Tony Tutto Pizza
              246 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

              1. the buckeye roadhouse has maybe the best brunch in marin county

                1. Haven't been in a while but longtime favorite, Avatar's in Sausalito..."Marindian" cuisine...veg friendly.

                  Breakfast faves Fred's and The Lighthouse, both Sausalito.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: HDinCentralME

                    Punjabi Burrito in Mill Valley, sister of Avatar's and next door to Small Shed, has great takeout -- plates or "burritos" wrapped in paratha.

                    1. re: maxie

                      I have been to Punjabi Burrito before, and it should definitely not be missed. Quite an interesting menu reflecting the small but historic collaboration between Mexican and Punjabi residents of California.

                  2. Thank you, everyone! These suggestions are exactly what we're looking for. Last night we had pizza from Tony Tutto in Mill Valley, and they were spectacular. We had one with smoked mozzarella and one with hot peppers, and we'd order both again in a heartbeat. The crust was the perfect amount of chewy, and the ingredients were top quality and so thoughtfully matched. About 10 minutes after we ordered, they ran out of pizza, so we felt especially lucky to have gotten there when we did. Picnic tables outside, a few tables inside, we opted to take it home. I had a nice glass of red wine ($6.25) while we waited for our pizza. The place was filled with families and free range organic children, and the atmosphere outside was like a neighborhood party. This will definitely go into our regular rotation!

                    1. Eduardo's in San Rafael has fantastic soups, salads, and homemade dill bread. Great breakfasts. Really great everything, and right on-budget; you could even have dessert at your budget!! Casual, though...worth it.

                      Eduardo's Restaurant
                      4200 Redwood Hwy, San Rafael, CA 94903

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: mamachef

                        A lot of great suggestions above. A few places not yet mentioned:

                        I like India Village in San Rafael - my favorite Indian restaurant in Marin.

                        For brunch, Half Day Cafe in Kentfield is a decent option, though there can be a wait on weekend mornings.

                        Gira Polli in Mill Valley - great for roasted chicken and pastas.

                        For budget Chinese, there's Little Mandarin in San Rafael. No ambiance, but decent food for dirt cheap prices.

                        For something nicer, try Tommy's Wok in Sausalito.

                        Half Day Cafe
                        848 College Ave, Kentfield, CA 94904

                        Gira Polli
                        590 E Blithedale Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                        India Village
                        555 Francisco Blvd E # 22, San Rafael, CA

                        Little Mandarin
                        534 3rd St, San Rafael, CA 94901

                      2. All of Scott M.'s recs are good to very good. In Sausalito, I would add Sushi Ran, pricey (less so at lunch) but worth every penny and the Spinnaker, not for the food which is only ok, but for the breath taking views from every seat, drinks and easy parking. Thai Terrace also in Sausalito has ok to good food, Arawan Thai has a great lunch deal and the food, while certainly not the best is satisfying.

                        There is a Chinese resto just up from the Tam Valley/Route 1 crossroads, I think its called Yan Can Wok that is quite good...for Marin Chinese food. Light, fresh and reasonable prices.

                        Dipsea Cafe, also in Mill Valley is good for breakfast/brunch, (try the gravlax platter or any of the eggs benedict preps; I don't like the pancakes but lots of other folks do) with good portion size, creek side dining (lots of egret sightings) and, again for Mill Valley, good but not great prices. Lots of families and kids.

                        I do like the blueberry pancakes and chicken sausage at Toast in downtown MV but their overall menu can be hit or miss as can be the service. There is an In n Out in the Strawberry Mall, nuff said. Harmony Chinese resto is overpriced and under delivers. Tho' certainly pricey, the Buckeye Roadhouse generally delivers high quality, somewhat creative comfort food (the oysters bingo are a really tasty version of oysters rockefeller) in a great setting with occasional Barbara Boxer sightings and great service.

                        Generally speaking, Mill Valley/Marin restos do not hit the culinary high notes of some in the East Bay and SF and our local eateries are about as diverse as our local population. But good, even great meals can be had and even at good price points. Welcome to the nabe.

                        Buckeye Roadhouse
                        15 Shoreline Highway, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                        Dipsea Cafe
                        200 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                        Sushi Ran
                        107 Caledonia St., Sausalito, CA 94965

                        Arawan Thai Restaurant
                        47 Caledonia St, Sausalito, CA 94965

                        Thai Terrace
                        1001 Bridgeway Ste B1, Sausalito, CA 94965

                        Yan Can
                        3927 Rivermark Plz, Santa Clara, CA 95054

                        4 Replies
                        1. re: annabana

                          Noticed the sign when we drove by on Friday, Young Can Wok.

                          Young Can Wok
                          252 Almonte Blvd, Mill Valley, CA

                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                            I'm surprised no one has mentioned my favorite Sausalito spot Kitti's Cafe, at the north end of Bridgeway in an unremarkable little strip mall near the Shell station. They have swell noodle salads for around $6 per,and a regular menu and weekly specials that really are special. The general flavor is Thai-Californian. Chef Kitti is also an undisputed master of soup and stock, and the soup of the week is always worth a taste. Also when available the fish tacos and these things they serve in crisp coconut fritter shells with chicken and rock shrimp. I wish I lived closer.

                            1. re: little big al

                              Haven't been there, but you're not the only one who feels that way. Let's link it up --- Kitti's Place.

                              How is Foodniks these days?

                              Kitti's Place
                              3001 Bridgeway, Sausalito, CA 94965

                          2. re: annabana

                            A note that Dipsea Cafe is now serving Greek food at dinner Wednesday-Saturday or Sunday. They stay open continuously from breakfast, and late afternoon is a great time to enjoy the space.

                            I had delicious moussaka with Greek salad. Reheated, but so was the moussaka at the Greek diner in upstate New York I always loved. Strawberry shortcake was fresh and huge. Service was warm and attentive. And decent wine for $6 a glass.

                            This is the kind of place you could catch up with a girlfriend or take your mother, and hear each other. And unlike weekend brunch, weeknights at the Dipsea are quiet and calm. Check it out.

                            Dipsea Cafe
                            200 Shoreline Hwy, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                          3. Ah, it's a hard adjustment especially coming from a the East Bay, but there are some good places once you poke around enough. Glad you tried Small Shed Flatbreads & Tony Tutto's, those are two of my favorites in Mill Valley. I'd also add Joe's Taco Lounge, the food is good and inexpensive, not great like you'd get in the Mission district in San Francisco, but very reliable and tasty and they have some good vegetarian options. Dish is also good, though meals there seem to add up quickly. For a lot of vegetarian options, Cafe Gratitude in San Rafael and/or Cafe del Soul in Mill Valley are both good. Bungalow 44 has really good food too, a little pricey but you can eat some appetizers at the bar for not too much. For breakfast, Fred's in Sausalito is great, also I know a lot of people who are devoted to Toast though I've never been there myself. For pizza, in addition to flatbreads and tony tutto, for more traditional new york style pizza i like west brooklyn pizza in san rafael. We've also actually had good experience with India Palace, in the bottom of the travelodge next to goodman lumber. Again, it's not as good as what you can get in the east bay, but it was still very good.

                            Small Shed Flatbreads
                            17 Madrona St, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                            Bungalow 44
                            44 E Blithedale Avenue, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                            Joe's Taco Lounge
                            382 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, CA 94941

                            1. Oh, and keep in mind that when you are in Mill Valley you are only 15-20 minutes from the great restaurants on Clement & Geary Streets in San Francisco. You do have to pay bridge toll to get there, but it's often worth the trip if you're really craving great asian food.