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Shopping in Sausalito and San Francisco

Hi all,

My wife and I are frequent visitors to San Francisco and its environs so we're familiar with things to see, places to eat.

This year is a bit different. We'll be in the area for the month of August ostensibly to see the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger races but also to do some work (SoMa), shoot down to Monterey for car week and return.

I've rented a very modest houseboat in Sausalito. The place has a decent galley. Where do I shop for good fish, cheeses including burrata, wines, meats, fowl, fresh eggs, breads, etc.? We'll be entertaining guests with some frequency so I don't want to disappoint. I intend to make use of the Ferry Plaza but other sources will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your consideration.

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  1. There is a Mollie Stone's right off Bridgeway in Sausalito, that should be good for all your general grocery shopping including a good selection of produce, meat and seafood.

    Fish Restaurant in Sausalito also has a fish counter where you can purchase fish to cook at home. Always top quality.

    Mill Valley is the next town north and west of Sausalito and it's worth driving the mile or two to "downtown" to visit Mill Valley Market which is a specialty market with excellent meat and fish.

    There are also two Whole Foods in Mill Valley.

    The Strawberry Village mall is just 1 freeway ext north of Sausalito and the is a store called The Spanish Table with Spanish ham, cheese, wines and other products if you are interested in that.

    That's just a start, there are a lot of great specialty shops in Marin.

    14 Replies
    1. re: pamf

      Thank you, Pam. This is incredibly helpful.

      1. re: steve h.

        Just steps from Spanish Table is La Boulange and around the corner a Safeway. You're covered!

        1. re: Sarah

          This is shaping up to be a busy, albeit fun, visit. Thanks for your thoughts.

          1. re: steve h.

            I'll mention that La Boulange has gone quite a bit downhill since its acquisition and ramp up of production.

      2. re: pamf

        I'll just add that a good friend recently moved from the city and peninsula to Sausalito, and his take is that everything in Marin especially groceries has 10-20% added. So if you'll be in the city, you might consider stopping in the Richmond district for shopping. There are lots of small produce shops on Geary and Clement plus Russian stores in the 20s.

        I do like that Mollie Stone's and the San Rafael market is fun; but prices are high.

          1. re: steve h.

            In the Richmond, a couple of special stores are First Korean Market, which makes the best kimchi I've found, and Royal Market, which has a lot of great Armenian stuff.

            Last I heard Cal-Mart still has a great wine department. Bryan's Quality Meats in the same shopping center is the best old-school butcher in SF.

            1. re: Robert Lauriston

              "...the best old-school butcher." I like the sound of that.

              1. re: steve h.

                I said that to distinguish them from the good new-school butchers, such as Fatted Calf, 4505 Meats, Avedano's, and Olivier's (which is maybe less new-school than French).

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Got it. I'm familiar with Fatted Calf and I'll research the others.

                  I'm looking forward to shopping/living on the economy even if it's only for four weeks or so. It's a different mindset from being a visitor. As always, I'm sure I'll do better the second time around.

                  Thanks for your help.

              2. re: Robert Lauriston

                Bryan's in Laurel Village is truly a great butcher, and products there are easily worth the higher prices.

                1. re: Tripeler

                  Well ... I shopped at Bryan's for years, and they're great, but I think in terms of quality and craftsmanship they may have been surpassed by the new generation.

                  But that's a question that deserves substantial research before jumping to any conclusions.

                2. re: Robert Lauriston

                  I love New May Wah at Clement and 8th, I believe. Steve, I can't remember if you cook Asian food but this place is great even for window shopping. And you can have dim sum at House of Banquet, our fave place.

            2. re: pamf

              I never thought I could love a grocery more than Sonoma Market...until I discovered Mill Valley Market. It's amazing. And that part of MV is quite charming and fun.

            3. I know you know about Marin Sun's butcher shop in Point Reyes. The new meat kid in town is Belcampo located in Larkspur, just up the road from Sausalito.

              I've not been there, but if you feel like venturing a bit farther than Sausalito harbor, Western Bait & Tackle for seafood.

              The Sunday morning farmers market at San Rafael's Civic Center is second only to Ferry Plaza in the state. You should definitely check it out. There are smaller farmers markets on other days of the week closer to you, but I've not checked them out yet.

              Ponsford's Place in San Rafael for bread

              Emporio Rulli's mother ship is in Larkspur, a good place to keep in mind to pick up dessert for entertaining.

              Vintage Wine & Spirits in Mill Valley is owned by a chowhound with excellent taste.

              Further afield for burrata to Petaluma . . . Rosso pulls fresh mozzarella and burrata on the hour.

              For other local markets besides Mollie Stone's (and to steer you away from WF and Safeway), check out Scotty's. It's been a few years since I was last there, but there will be something unusual in the offerings that continues to set it apart. Likewise or actually even more so, Woodlands Market in Kentfield.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Melanie Wong

                Thank you, Melanie Wong.

                Your insights are most welcome.

                edited to add: a dear friend of ours, a humble guy, is soon to retire from the IASB. He works out of London, maintains a flat in Hong Kong and loves wine. He's an intrepid traveler, an expat, who will be joining us for two weeks in Sausalito. What vintners would you suggest we visit in August?

                1. re: steve h.

                  Live Dungeness crab season will be over, but here's a rec for the seafood counter at the Seafood Peddler in Sausalito.

                  The August event in wine country is Grape to Glass. Looks like the format has changed this year, now a dinner, auction and tasting event in Richard's Grove & Saralee's Vineyard. Since that property has been sold, this might be the last opportunity to enjoy the grove and vines before they're "repurposed".

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    Thanks again, Melanie.
                    I'll report back sometime in September.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      Rec'd this info this morning:

                      "August 17th is the final chapter of Grape to Glass. Rich and Saralee Kunde have sold their beautiful home ranch but there will be one last harvest celebration at the grove. It will also be a tribute to Rich and Saralee Kunde, the 30th anniversary of the establishment of the Russian River Valley AVA and a nod to the original founders of the Russian River Valley Winegrowers. Great food, great wine and one helluva auction. Once again go to RRVW.org for further info."

                      Guess I'll have to go this year too for one last hurrah. I've attended so many fundraisers there over the years. I believe the Kundes had one year of occupancy post-sale. Then the KJ era begins.

                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                        We'll be in Monterey on the 17th for car week. I hate to miss transitional events like this. Please post your thoughts and photos after the event.

                        Best regards,


              2. I got nothing, but I'll swab your decks, help prep the food and sling a hammock above if I can come along! oh who am I kidding, you can find plenty of folks with better creds for that.

                1 Reply
                1. re: hill food

                  Even a bad day on the water is better than a good day at work.

                2. A16 used to FedEx their burrata in daily from Gioia in LA so that it would be fresher than the stuff that comes through their local distributor.

                  I'm not sure there are any particularly good mozzarella-type cheeses made locally. Best of the best local cheese is Andante Dairy.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: Robert Lauriston

                    Cowgirl Creamery has had Gioia Burrata in the past.

                    2 years ago, Andante had hand pulled mozzarella that was very good, but she hurt herself doing it.

                    1. re: wally


                      I'll touch base with the Cowgirls.

                      1. re: wally

                        Lots of places carry Gioia, but freshness is so crucial that overnight direct is worth it.

                      2. re: Robert Lauriston

                        Gioia is pretty good. Maybe ordering direct for overnight delivery is the way to go.

                      3. I really enjoyed the Rainbow Grocery. Purchased cheeses, honey, olive oil, vinegar, and Rancho Gordo beans from the bulk bins. All local and good prices.


                        1. Stop at Heath Ceramics (Gate 5 Road, near your houseboat) and buy enough of their beautiful stoneware to set your houseboat table, and more to ship home. It's not cheap, but check out the seconds, which are bargains. If you're not already familiar with Heath ware, see www.heathceramics.com . You're not having the full-on Marin County experience unless you're eating off of Heath.

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: emu48

                            Bring your own packing materials. Heath just uses newspaper and won't accept returns due to that inadequate protection.

                            1. re: Robert Lauriston

                              Uh, I ordered some Heath stuff a month ago. It came very well packed in ... not newspaper, not foam plastic "peanuts" but in ExpandOS, cleverly shaped little widgets made of recycled cardboard that in effect interlock around the pottery and form a cushioned cell around it, both protecting it and preventing it from shifting position inside the carton. I think your information may be outdated.


                              1. re: emu48

                                I'm talking about the retail shops, not mail-order, which they have to pack well to avoid refused deliveries of broken stuff.

                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                  I would expect most or all ceramics retailers provide less than bulletproof packaging (i.e., newspapers or similar) for goods sold at retail and carried out of the store by the customer. If Heath ships/mails stuff to you, it now gets the most state-of-the-art packaging available.

                          2. No one has yet mentioned Morell's Bread, organic, naturally leavened, baked in a wood-fired brick oven out in the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts. Eduardo Morrell bakes once a week early Thursday morning for pickup in the kitchen. It's a beautiful short drive out there and the bread is great. You sign up on his website (check "Headlands") for a weekly Wednesday email announcing the breads to be baked. You reply to that email with your order. Then Thursday from noon on you pick up your bread, in paper sacks with your name on them, in the kitchen at the Center for the Arts, leaving your money in a cash box that sits in the window sill next to your bread. It doesn't get much better than this.

                            In case folks from the East Bay are reading this, he also sells his bread at some East Bay farmers markets. See his website.

                            A few photos: http://ruthvenphotos2.com/morellsbread


                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Malcolm Ruthven


                              (sorry, 'cause I actually really, REALLY like that combo of anonymous technology and small town trust)

                              1. re: Malcolm Ruthven

                                His multigrain scones are really good if (and only if) you like hearty, chewy, not very sweet whole-grain pastries.

                              2. If you like ice cream, check out Fairfax Scoop (in Fairfax).

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Fairfax Scoop is my favorite ice cream. And if you're in Fairfax, stop into Fat Angel a few doors up the street from Fairfax Scoop. A truly excellent bakery.

                                  Fairfax Scoop
                                  63 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

                                  Fat Angel Bakery
                                  71 Broadway Blvd, Fairfax, CA 94930

                                2. Breakfast.

                                  I'm looking forward to exercising my houseboat guests a bit with a pre-dawn walk across the Golden Gate Bridge with a return from the San Francisco side so we can enjoy sunrise at mid-bridge. I've done the walk from the other side but this is virgin territory from Marin.

                                  I would like to reward two hearty soles with a proper breakfast in Sausalito after all their effort. I believe they will have earned it. Suggestions will be greatly appreciated. My fallback position is heading all the way back to Liberty Dock and cooking a fine meal in our little galley but then I'd have to clean up.

                                  6 Replies
                                  1. re: steve h.

                                    Sausalito Bakery & Cafe has very good food in a very casual (deli) atmosphere. It's across Bridgeway from the recently-reopened Trident. They care about all their food, and everything I've had there has been excellent. I've seen very good-looking breakfast plates served but have never ordered that. I can't past their fritatta. Also lots of beautiful veggies (see photos).


                                        1. re: steve h.

                                          FRED'S Place

                                          1917 Bridgeway, Sausalito
                                          (415) 332-4575

                                          Been twice and it's always fun, great great breakfast, staff that really cares.

                                          1. re: steve h.

                                            Thanks, all.

                                            Coffee and such after a bit of a walk is very welcome.

                                          2. I'm tentative about writing this but I don't get the impression or experience that Marin has the most amazing restaurants, compared to SF so you will probably want to look around when dining.

                                            7 Replies
                                            1. re: c oliver

                                              Hi c,

                                              That's where my modest rental houseboat is.

                                              1. re: steve h.

                                                Yep. Our SF kids are looking to buy in Marin and they do admit that the dining scene isn't all that great. I know you'll have a wonderful time. PS: Isn't "modest Sausalito houseboat rental" an oxymoron? :)

                                                1. re: c oliver

                                                  The dining scene in Marin reflects the demographic. There are a lot of affluent people who dine out frequently and want good food, but not necessarily cutting edge. They are also willing to pay for location and atmosphere.

                                                  So while you might not find anything amazing, there are lots of solid places where you can get a good meal.

                                                  Anyway, steve h. is planning on cooking at home (kudos) and it's a quick trip to the city if you all want to venture out.

                                              2. re: c oliver

                                                Poggio's first-rate. I've schlepped there from Berkeley for bollito misto (seasonal).

                                                If I were staying nearby, I'd try El Paseo. It's on my short list of places to try but I'm never in the area.

                                                West Marin has Osteria Stellina, Sir and Star, and Terrapin Creek.

                                                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                  Anyone tried Poggio since Peter McNee left?

                                                  Note that Terrapin Creek is in Bodega Bay (Sonoma County).

                                              3. The farmers market in San Rafael is Weds and sun, I think with Sunday being the big day!. Driving up, look for the big SR Civic center on the right..designed by Frank Lloyd Wright! It is worth several trips! Great Variety

                                                Also.a bit hard to explain..but as you come out of the civic center to the light, normally you'd take a right to go back to 101. Go straight across with a gas station on your right. behind it is a small meat/family market with lovely produce and a wonderful butcher counter (separately run). Once a week they do smoked Tri-tip that is outstanding!

                                                6 Replies
                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                    Thursday and Sunday. Signs direct you to the market.

                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                      I'm not sure Thursday's is any smaller than Sunday's.

                                                      1. re: Robert Lauriston

                                                        It is a little smaller, the organic dim sum people, Devils Gulch, the cluck chicken woman, an olive oil producer, and some others are only on Sundays. Della Fattoria, Ram Das and some others are only at Thursday's market. There are varying amounts of the crafts people at both markets with more on Sunday.

                                                        1. re: wally

                                                          I go to both markets regularly, and tend to prefer the Thursday market -- Sundays can be a little nuts, especially in August. I also like to get my bread from Della Fattoria, who, as Wally noted, only come on Thursdays. The butcher (Rocky's) at Santa Venetia market is good, but they are closed on Sundays. They also carry local seafood, and do a good job with special orders and requests.

                                                          I don't think I saw it mentioned, but I highly recommend the Asian Market in San Rafael. It's at 5 Mary St., right next to Whole Foods and Peet's.

                                                    2. Another for your shopping list: M. H. Bread & Butter in San Anselmo.