Best Dinner in the North Bay

Best Dinner in the North Bay

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Clean Plate Club

The job of delivering the best possible content for our restaurant recommendations can not be left to one person. Click here to meet the team behind the Clean Plate Club.

Locally-sourced food, incomparable ambiance and creative seasonal dishes — these are all qualities that the top North Bay dining experiences have to offer. Our restaurant picks fall somewhere on the spectrum of romantic date night restaurants to hip eateries for meeting up with friends and other loved ones (including kiddos). So let’s get to it. 

These are our North Bay Best Dinner picks for 2023, selected by our editors — look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience.

Featured Photo: Farmhouse Inn

Southern Marin

Sausalito – Mill Valley – Tiburon – Belvedere

Photo: Courtesy of Buckeye Roadhouse

Buckeye Roadhouse

Marin’s OG steakhouse with lodge-style dining room and bustling bar boasts a smoker out back that turns out epic chicken wings and barbecue baby back ribs in equal measure. A classic wedge salad is the perfect entree to a 12-ounce rib eye or filet mignon but some return just for the sesame-crusted ahi tuna salad. Lunch hours are 12pm to 4pm Saturday and Sunday, dinner hours are 4pm to 8:30pm daily. buckeyeroadhouse.com 

Photo: @bungalowkitchentiburon

Bungalow Kitchen

Michael Mina landed his first restaurant in Marin, with a bar-lounge upstairs and seated restaurant downstairs and the same views of San Francisco from both decks. Favorites like Mina’s ahi tuna tartare and lobster pot pie pair nicely with an aptly named City Lights cocktail, shot of tequila or zero-proof Forget Me Not with cucumber and tonic. Brunch hours are 11am to 2:30pm Saturday and Sunday, dinner hours are 5pm to 10pm daily. bungalowkitchen.com 

Photo: Courtesy of The Junction

The Junction Beer Garden / Pizzahacker

226 Shoreline Highway, Tam Junction, Mill Valley

415.888.3544; 415.662.3212

Thirty taps pull a rotating assortment of mostly Californian, small batch beer, kombucha and cider, perfect for pairing with a classic margarita pizza or a Romeo pizza with grass-fed meatballs. Take your brew to the expansive back garden to enjoy at a picnic table but bring a jacket for those chilly afternoons by the bay. Hours are 11:30am to 9pm Monday through Thursday, 11:30am to 10pm Friday, 11am to 10pm Saturday, 10am to 8pm Sunday. thejunc.com, sites.google.com/site/pizzahacker 

Photo: Courtesy of Madcap

Madcap

The one-Michelin rating earned by the restaurant is reflected in each dish on the 11-course tasting menu that reflects chef Ron Siegel’s passion for Japanese flavors. Once seated in the small dining room, sit back and enjoy treats like Santa Barbara sea urchin with white ponzu, somen with shrimp hasami or duck breast with black truffle and caramelized sunchokes. Hours are 5:30pm to 8:30pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5:30pm to 9pm Friday through Saturday. madcapmarin.com 

Photo: Courtesy of Poggio Trattoria

Poggio Trattoria

Deep and tufted red banquettes frame a room that opens on one side to a streetside patio where locals and tourists flock for a la minute Italian cuisine and great people-watching. Grab a Negroni from Tony at the bar while seated on a cushy stool, then shift to a table for a plate of vitello tonnato or a mista salad with fresh herbs sourced from the hillside garden. The pappardelle with braised lamb and pork ragu and the in-season seafood are musts. Breakfast hours are 6:30am to 11:30am daily, lunch and dinner hours are 12pm to 9pm Monday through Thursday, and 12pm to 9:30pm Friday through Sunday. poggiotrattoria.com

Photo: Courtesy of Aubrie Pick

Sula

No one wants to say goodbye to a favorite haunt, but the transformation at Cavallo Point’s new signature restaurant Sula is turning heads. Long known as Murray Circle, Executive Chef Michael Garcia remains at the helm of Sula; standout menu items include Lobster Velouté, Wagyu Filet of Beef, and Pan Seared Scallops. Try to save room for dessert — the Sticky Toffee topped with orange zest ice cream is a winner. It’s big enough to share, but that doesn’t mean you’ll want to. Hours are Thursday through Saturday, 5pm to 10pm. dineatsula.com

Trattoria Servino pasta dinner in Tiburon
Photo: Courtesy of Servino

Trattoria Servino

Chef Massimo Covello is back at the stoves, cooking up California fresh fare which tilts southern Italian. The heart of the menu is the house-made pasta program, such as chicken liver-stewed mezzalune pasta in a mushroom sauce or pappardelle with an eight-hour beef ragu. A crudi menu — halibut with mango chutney, carpaccio with rolled beef, arugula, and trule oil– is listed alongside dishes that have carried over from the previous menu such as roasted half chicken a jus with herbs and broccolini. Seasonal cocktails from returning lead bar tender, José Valdiviezo, like a spritz with house-made limoncello or a white Negroni with gin made on the Amalfi Coast, lean into Old World flavor. Enjoy one, or a glass from the extensive list of Italian wines, when the enoteca opens at 4 p.m. The Servino brothers, who also run Cae Acri down the street, will continue the dinner program at that location, too. servino.com 

Fresh dinner from Paseo Bistro Mill Valley
Photo: Courtesy of Paseo Bistro

Paseo Bistro

The bistro along ‘el paseo’ exudes the same charm as its predecessors with a French-inflected menu from executive chef Sylvain Montassier. That translates into dishes of tuna tartare with chicharron and shiitakes, squid ink linguini with local crab and mussels or a Devil’s Gulch pork chop with crispy spaetzle and cabbage. Sip a classic cocktail in the Paseo bar or savor chocolate fondant with salted caramel ganache in one of the inviting exposed brick and wood dining rooms. paseobistro.com

Steak on a skewer from Show de Carnes Brazilian Steakhouse
Photo: Courtesy of Show de Carnes

Show de Carnes Brazilian Steakhouse

Flip your coin to green to begin the flow of 17 cuts of meat from an all-you-can-eat Brazilian steakhouse with all the steak, lamb, pork and salmon that carnivores can handle. For vegetarians and pescatarians, a gourmet salad bar sports 55 offerings — everything from sushi and ceviche to more traditional green salads — and can be ordered separately. A full bar and 200+ wine selections round out the offerings. showdecarnesusa.com

Colorful, fresh dish from Ditas
Photo by Mimi Towle

Ditas

Perched above The Trident on Sausalitoʼs expansive waterfront, the restaurantʼs interior design from Petalumaʼs Maureen Kelsey includes stone table tops, velvet chairs, hand-woven wall coverings, and glass accents in an understated palette. The tasting-menu-format restaurant from chef Aiki Terashima (The French Laundry, Morimoto Napa) leans international with dishes like spicy kimchi and tofu stew and truled mushroom paté, with an expansive wine and cocktail list from cocktail consultant Zach Taylor (3 Proof, Hawthorn). ditasmarin.com

Central Marin

Corte Madera – Larkspur – Kentfield – Ross – Fairfax – San Anselmo – San Rafael

Photo: @cucina_sa

Cucina sa

Families flock here for the fresh pastas (bombolotti al sugo, gnocchi a la bava) and pizzas. But the wide bar and upstairs lounge makes it easier than ever to share a plate of carpaccio di zucchini or petrale sole served piccata style. Lunch hours are 11:30am to 3pm Tuesday through Sunday, dinner hours are 5pm to 8:30pm Tuesday through Thursday, 5pm to 9pm Friday and Saturday. cucina-sa.com 

Photo: Courtesy of The Baan Thai Cuisine

The Baan Thai Cuisine

A perennial go-to for locals since it opened in 2013, The Baan Thai Cuisine serves all the curries, stir-fried noodles, and spicy soups and salads you would expect at a traditional Thai restaurant, but the elevated execution, beautiful presentation and excellent service sets it apart. Among the fan favorites are the crispy, sweet corn cakes; Thai samosas filled with taro, sweet potato, pumpkin and corn; spicy drunken noodles; and yellow curry. Make sure to try their in-house specialty tom yum and tom kha wheat beers. Dinner hours are Tuesday through Sunday 4:30pm to 9pm. Lunch hours are Tuesday through Friday 11:30am to 2:30pm and Saturday through Sunday noon to 3pm. thebaanthaicuisine.com

Photo: @alittlerestaurant

Stillwater

Now with its own heated parklet and open-air back patio strung with market lights, Stillwater provides an upscale atmosphere filled with warm, rustic tones. The music always creates a good vibe and the menu matches their eclectic taste. You’ll find items like fish (or roasted sweet potato) tacos with pineapple salsa, a fried chicken sandwich on a poppyseed bun, a cheeseburger 3.0, and a little gems and avocado salad with a sweet and sour vinaigrette that puts other leafy meals to shame. Also of note — in an otherwise dated bar scene (hello, hippy Fairfax), this little restaurant serves up craft beer, specialty cocktails — their “No Voodoo” drink with mezcal, green chartreuse, fernet, lime and lemongrass hits all the flavor profiles — and has a walk-up wine window. Hours are Tuesday through Friday 4pm to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 12pm to 9pm. Closed Monday. stillwaterfairfax.com

Piles of fresh pasta on a wood table at La Gastronomia di Porchetta in Fairfax
Photo: Courtesy of La Gastronomia di Porchetta

La Gastronomia di Porchetta

After 15 years at Sausalito’s Osteria Divino, chef Elena Fabbri, who grew up in the restaurant business in Tuscany, decided that focaccia sandwiches with porchetta would be her niche, launching a catering company that highlighted the dish in 2017. (Her husband, Gustavo Mutul, runs Pibil, serving Mexican and Italian pork tacos and sandwiches at the San Rafael Sunday farmers’ market.) Cooked on the in-house rotisserie, pork belly is cut right at the ribs to remove the loin. It’s a one-two punch that makes Fabbri’s porchetta juicy, crispy, irresisitible. Fabbri’s full-service restaurant, which opened last spring, leans into Tuscan flavors with a complete menu of antipasti, primi and secondi. The porchetta — on a sandwich at lunch, with eggs at brunch, with Brussels sprouts and roasted squash at dinner – is destination dining-worthy. 
lagastronomiadiporchetta.com

Shrimp soup from Laos Kitchen San Rafael
Photo: Courtesy of Laos Kitchen

Laos Kitchen

A sit-down restaurant in downtown San Rafael blends owner Manivone Vongsouthi’s Thai/Lao heritage in dishes of nam kao todd with homemade Lao sausage and plates of papaya salad studded with Thai green eggplant. Large plates of kap piet sem and kao prik sem feature house made noodles and Vongsouthi makes all the curry pastes in house, too, and garlic lovers will swoon over plates of garlic fish. There’s even Lao beer. laoskitchensanrafael.com

Cafe Villa pasta and wine
Photo: Courtesy of Cafe Villa

Cafe Villa

Chef de cuisine David Sypnicki changes the menu of burgers, sandwiches and small plates at the Italian trattoria adjacent to Villa Inn to meet the season. Pappardelle with braised beef and kale and local rock cod with spicy tomato-fennel broth are signatures and the short-rib and brisket burger is not to be missed — try one with a house made limoncello or a Nonna Joe with whiskey, sweet vermouth and Campari. cafevilla.net

Marché Restaurant Ross
Photo: Courtesy of Marché

Marché

Into the former Marche aux Fleurs space comes Marché from owners Darren and Alicia Banks. Their focus on seasonal ingredients in plates of avocado toast with Urfa chile, shishito peppers with togarashi, house-made gnocchi with shiitakes, and corn and duck confit with green lentils is Californian all the way, and the Tuesday night tradition of fried chicken with cornbread and cole slaw remains intact. marchemarin.com

Northern Marin

Novato

LaVier Latin Cuisine at Toast restaurant in Novato, California.
Photo by Debra Tarrant.

LaVier at Toast

In the evenings from Sunday through Wednesday, LaVier Cuisine from Chef Guillermo Lara operates as a popup within Novato’s Toast restaurant. Delicious Latin fusion fills the large space in the Hamilton Marketplace. Tacos, ceviche, camarones and plantains complement homey curries and Thai influence. Pasta and plate entrees round out the sophisticated menu, with plenty of options for a range of diets. yelp.com/biz/lavier-cuisine-novato

Egg rolls and a vermicelli rice bowl at La Maison de la Reine Vietnamese Restaurant in Novato, California
Photo courtesy of La Maison de la Reine.

La Maison de la Reine

Not just serving up Vietnamese classics on their lunch and dinner menus — though they do serve great pho, banh mi, vermicelli noodle bowls and so much more — La Maison de la Reine also offers 15 kinds of boba and milk tea, including some dairy-free options. And vegetarians have plenty of options to choose from, making this restaurant a great stop in Downtown Novato. lamaisondelareine.net

West Marin

Stinson Beach – Point Reyes – Marshall – Tomales – Lagunitas-Forest Knolls

Photo:@dillonbeachresort

Dillon Beach Coastal Kitchen

1 Beach Ave., Dillon Beach

Highlighting the extensive bounty of the North Bay’s local food shed, Coastal Kitchen at Dillon Beach Resort serves up a curated menu ranging from fish and chips with tarragon remoulade to pulled pork sandwiches with cabbage-fennel slaw, seasonal veggie plates with tzatziki and hummus, and perfectly crispy fries. They also have a kids menu featuring items that coax “the magic word” from anyone’s lips — read: the “Mac and Cheese Please” dish. Located on a mile-long private beach, the restaurant has nearly panoramic views of sand dunes and waves. Fair warning: a pre- or post-dinner walk may be in order. Hours are Friday through Sunday 12pm to 7pm. dillonbeachresort.com

Mozzarella Naan from Arti Natural Indian Cafe in Lagunitas, California
Photo courtesy of Arti Cafe.

Arti Cafe

We love the mozzarella-topped quesadilla/pizza/naan cultural mashup that emerges from the tandoor fragrant with fenugreek, chaat masala and fresh coriander leaves and the lamb wrap infused with masala and tamarind chutney, a plentiful repast to be enjoyed on the sunny patio. The gluten-free onion fritters are a must for first-timers, while experienced eaters will savor the mushroom makhani and malai kofta —they’re mild and slightly sweet. articafe.com

Grilled cheese, fries and beer from Giaco's Roadhouse in San Geronimo, California
Photo courtesy of Giaco's Roadhouse.

Giaco's Valley Roadhouse

Guided by a family ethos for locally sourced and ethically produced food, owners Andrew and Susi Giacomini and chef Alejandro Cano serve food and cocktails all day at a restaurant and bar near downtown Woodacre just off Sir Francis Drake Boulevard. That means Stemple Creek eggs in a breakfast dish of steak and eggs and Pt. Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company toma on a lunch order of grilled cheese. Dinner is served three nights a week in a spacious room with a fireplace or on the shaded back patio. giacosroadhouse.com

Sonoma

Tuna carpaccio from Oyster Sebastopol
Photo by Martha Cromar

Chef/owner Jake Rand, who also owns nearby Sushi Kosho, is making a case for seafood as a reason to head north at his latest spot at The Barlow. Sit at the marble bar or at one of the French-style bistro tables to experience Randʼs hi-lo menu that spans the global seafood cannon. Crispy oysters bedeck a heap of impossible to stop eating duck fat fries, Spanish octopus is grilled “a la plancha” with shiitake dressing and black garlic aioli, bluefin tuna arrives square-shaped, topped with crispy capers and yuzu aioli. Pair your meal with a glass of wine from the mostly French list. 
perch-tan-xtpt.squarespace.com

Meat with carrots and potatoes at Wildgoat Bistro in Petaluma, California
Photo courtesy of Wild Goast Bistro Facebook.

Wild Goat Bistro

It’s only the freshest ingredients at this charming bistro in Petaluma’s historic mill building near the river. With a seasonal menu that highlights local agricultural producers, Wild Goat Bistro keeps a current and delicious selection of meat, produce and wine. Dinner picks can range from Neapolitan pizzas to mouthwatering short ribs and beautifully crafted salads. wildgoatbistro.com

Mendocino

Photo: @cafebeaujolais

Cafe Beaujolais

Known far and wide for their wood-fired brick oven breads, Cafe Beaujolais provides a complimentary breadbasket that is anything but an afterthought — and should not be skipped. Elegant yet relaxed, this California French culinary destination serves simple yet innovative dishes including lamb barbacoa quesadillas with tomatillo salsa, customizable Beaujolais bowls, garlicky kale pizza (all pizzas are available until 5pm, for an early dinner), smash burgers and plenty of vegetarian and vegan options. Due to Covid, dinner is take-out only, but their garden out back is available for those who want to nestle into a quiet, sun-soaked spot to enjoy their meal. Hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11:30am to 7pm. Closed Monday and Tuesday. cafebeaujolais.com

More Local Favorites in the North Bay

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Meet our always-hungry team of foodies who compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite eat@localgetaways.com.

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