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. Here are the best dinner restaurants in the North Bay.
Dillon Beach Coastal Kitchen
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
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
Looking for a real getaway? Here you will enter a world so far removed that you immediately breathe deeper. Your phone may not get service, but you won’t care. While you’re taking in the rich, Tomales Bay air, you may get a whiff of their paella, cioppino or beloved cast iron macaroni and cheese (made even better with Dungeness crab) — all of which feature seafood from nearby waters. Aphrodisiacs are also abundant: Local oysters are served raw, BBQ’d or dipped in a Thai green curry sauce. Walk the pier at sunset and end your visit by relaxing into a nightcap or a flourless chocolate torte by candlelight. Hours are 11am to 7pm daily. nickscove.com
Mangia, mangia! It’s easy to do while at this small Sonoma County trattoria serving old-school Italian dishes. Everything from the focaccias to the pastas are made from scratch. Expect heated outdoor seating, great service, a warm and romantic ambiance, a full bar and an extensive wine list. For a brief rundown of their menu: Grilled calamari, spaghetti alla vongole, gnocchi with gorgonzola and walnuts, bitter greens salad with radicchio and endive — our favorites are too numerous to name. Dinner hours are Monday through Saturday 5pm to 8pm. Closed Sunday. cucinaparadisopetaluma.com
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