Foodie Finds: the Best 7 Fine Dining Places to Eat in Marin County, California

by bgarrity / Jul 12, 2008 / 1 comments

Beautiful Marin County is located just north of San Francisco across the Golden Gate Bridge. San Francisco and the neighboring areas are well known as a food lovers heaven - and Marin County definitely keeps that tradition alive. You will find every type of culinary fare including high-end restaurants, a wide variety of ethnic cuisines and inexpensive family-oriented places to eat.

In this article, we will look at seven of the top fine dining restaurants in Marin County. By "fine dining" we are referring to exceptional food, setting and decor. These are places you will want to go for a special night out, to celebrate an anniversary or a birthday. You can expect to spend over $20 per entree and expect to have a wonderful meal and a wonderful experience.


Love fine dining? 7 best fine dining restaurants in Marin County, California

Photo: wikimedia commons, Andrew Bishop, adapted by Wandering Educators


1. Buckeye Roadhouse
15 Shoreline Highway Mill Valley (415) 331-2600

The Buckeye is a Marin institution having been in the same location since the 1930's. It serves up classic American fare with elegant twists. It ranks on the S.F. Chronicles top 100 restaurants every year. Classic wood paneled roadhouse look with elegant settings. Top dishes we have had there include grilled salmon on risotto with a red onion marmalade. Brick chicken with garlic mashed potatoes and their ribs are slow-smoked on site and a crowd favorite. Leave room for dessert as both my mother and my wife's mother say their butterscotch pudding is to die for.


2. Lark Creek Inn
234 Magnolia Avenue Larkspur (415) 924-7766

Lark Creek Inn was famed chef and food author Bradley Ogden's first restaurant. Located in a converted house nestled in a redwood grove, this is one of the loveliest dining settings you will find. This is the perfect place to celebrate an anniversary or for a romantic evening out. The menu is constantly changing to reflect the freshest seasonal foods, and much of it is locally grown. Here is an example of a recent menu item - Crispy Skin Wild King Salmon, Manila Clam Risotto, English Peas, Wild Florida Gulf Shrimp, Herb & Red Chili Butter - I am heading there now.


3. Sushi Ran
107 Caledonia Sausalito (415) 332-3620

This lovely little Japanese restaurant is also continually in the Chronicle's top 100 restaurants. The atmosphere is not quite as serene or romantic as some of our other choices but the food is out of this world. My wife and I both love sushi and the sushi here is the freshest most beautiful you will find anywhere. In addition to the outstanding sushi they also have a wide selection of other dishes that are best described as Japanese/California fusion. They also feature over 30 different sakes. Sushi and sake - the combo that can't be beat.


4. Gaylord's
201 Bridgeway Sausalito (415) 339-0172

It might seem sacrilegious to some to include a "chain" restaurant in a list like this, but Gaylord's is a very small chain and has some of the best Indian food I have ever eaten. Their location right on the water in lovely Sausalito makes them a must inclusion in our list. Amazing appetizers such as vegetable pakora and crispy vegetable samosa are followed by a huge selection of Tandoori oven dishes and delightful curries. With over 50 entrees you can keep coming back time and again to explore. Don't miss my favorite naan (Indian stuffed bread) - the Kabuli Naan, which is stuffed with nuts, raisins and sun dried cherries.


5. El Paseo
17 Throckmorton Avenue Mill Valley (415) 388-0741

Another long time Marin favorite, often voted the most romantic restaurant in Marin, which has recently undergone some major changes. In the past the restaurant featured classic French cuisine. Now under the leadership of Japanese master chef Keiko Takahashi, they offer a unique blend of Japanese and classic French cooking. With dishes such as Hokkaido Scallops with Sauce aux Epices or more classic Angus Beef Filet Mignon with Sauce Bordelaise, you are sure to have a gastronomical adventure. You have a choice of a 3, 4 or 5 course prix fix menu. All the menu items can be paired with wine from their cellar of over 3000 bottles.


6. Il Davide
901 A Street San Rafael (415) 454-8080

Marin County is home to over a dozen wonderful Italian restaurants. Out of this delightful group, our favorite is Il Davide in San Rafael. They have a wild mushroom and leek appetizer that is one of the best things I have ever eaten. I swear one day I am going to order 3 servings as my dinner. They offer a wide variety of classic Italian dishes - shrimp scampis, lamb osso bucco, linguine alle vongole and linguini alla primavera, as well as nightly specials. A wonderful wine list, featuring Italian wines (what else), compliments the menu and makes for a great night out.



7. Boca
340 Ignacio Boulevard Novato (415) 883-0901

Boca Steak and Seafood is a relative newcomer to Marin, having been established in 2005 by celebrity chef and author George Morrone. It has earned a reputation for outstanding food preparation in a lovely atmosphere. They offer several different cuts of grass fed and grain fed steak, all of which come with four different sauces on the side. They also feature fresh seafood and a carefully selected wine list. This is another place for a special night or to take out of town friends you want to impress.


This is our sampling of the top high end restaurants in Marin County. We want to give a shout out to a couple of contenders that almost made our list and that we love - Insalatas in San Anselmo ( - which serves beautiful Mediterranean cuisine; Frantoio ( a great Italian restaurant in our home town of Mill Valley; and Caprice in Tiburon which has the most breathtaking view you will find anywhere, though we have found the food to be somewhat inconsistent.

As you can see we are truly blessed with an abundance of fine dining in Marin. If you are in our area, I would urge you to make time to enjoy one of our lovely fine dining experiences.


List of more Best Places To Eat




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