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Looking for somewhere for a birthday meal but disappointed n Marin restaurants

I'm baffled by what people here (in Marin) seem to think is good and the prices they are willing to pay. I've gotten gunshy about going out to eat and coming away feeling that I should have stayed home. What am I missing?

I've had nice meals at Lotus; Le Croissant; Eduardo's (all in San Rafael). That's about it. Sol Food I've found under-flavored and hugely disappointing--I can barely taste the garlic. I don't understand why anyone goes there. Yet Wah--inedible. Tried 3 unmemorable Thai restaurants. Buckeye Roadhouse -- nice but overpriced & bland.

Friends keep asking me where I'd like to eat and I no longer know where to suggest. Really, I'm not that picky, I just like fresh, well-seasoned food at a reasonable price and yes, I expect to pay more for ambience.

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  1. Gosh, this is a bit of a surprise to read. Are you a native of Marin or a new resident?
    Anyway, one of my favorite places is Moylan's brewpub in Novato. They have some great beer, of course, and pretty hearty foods like fat sandwiches and pizza dishes, along with some superior salads. Try it, and I am sure you will like it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Tripeler

      I'm not surprised at all to hear this from a native or a newcomer. Marin (along with Palo Alto/Menlo Park) continue to be rife with high priced and not very tasty food. It takes extra effort to find something worth eating, so I'm glad you've chimed in.

      It's one of the reasons to be so excited about M. H. Bread & Butter,
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/903956

      We haven't had any reports for Farmshop yet, would love to hear what some chowhounders' opinions.
      http://sanfrancisco.grubstreet.com/20...

      1. re: Melanie Wong

        I haven't gone to Farmshop myself but a good friend in Marin has said that it's delicious with great cocktails and lovely ambiance. So it's on my list.

        1. re: rubadubgdub

          We went last night for a birthday celebration and really liked it.

          1. re: pane

            Nice, standing by for details when you're ready.

    2. Are Inverness and Olema too far from you?

      Sir & Star is getting good marks.
      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/8998...

      1. Pico (the restaurant,not the pizzeria) would be my choice for a birthday dinner. For pizza, I like Bar Bocce in Sausalito.
        For lunch, Table Cafe in Larkspur and Comforts (I prefer the restaurant side to the deli side) are both excellent. For lunch or an early dinner, try Kitti's Place in Sausalito, especially the Southeast Asian dishes and daily specials.
        I think Lotus Chaat and Spices serves some of the best South Indian food in the Bay Area and prefer it to the other Lotus restaurant in San Rafael. Great Byriani there recently.
        Bel Campo Meat Company in the Marin Country Mart is where I head when I crave a hamburger or pulled pork sandwich, and El Huarache Loco serves very good Mexico City street food. Haven't tried Farmhouse yet.
        I think Royal Thai in San Rafael is very good, if not very spicy. I remedy that with condiments, and the chef owned, family run Las Camilias has been a favorite for years, though I must admit I haven't been for a while.
        I could go on, and would have included links, but am impeded by this iPad in China. More when I return!

        1 Reply
        1. re: gumbolox

          These are all recs that I would agree with. I get my Asian fix when I am in the city because I find the Asian food really lacking in Marin. I have been gong to Las Camellias for 20+ years and it never fails me. I think Sol food has hurt their business.

        2. I like Poggio. I've gone there from Berkeley for their bollito misto (served only for a month or two in winter).

          1 Reply
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            Just got an email from Poggio in Sausalito for 10 special nights to celebrate its 10th anniversary.
            http://www.poggiotrattoria.com/wpLoc/...

          2. I have a reservation at El Paseo in a couple weeks, based on good reviews from some Mill Valley friends. Tyler Florence has been spending a lot of time there and brought in a new executive chef a few months ago. Has anyone been there recently?