Best Lunch in the North Bay

Need a mid-day pick me up north of San Francisco? Whether you are looking for a post-hike or post-beach refuel, a refreshing salad or an indulgent fix, these places are sure to please. From small bites to full-scale meals and a variety of cuisines, we’ve got you covered. These are our North Bay Best Breakfast winners for 2023, selected by our editors — look for our readers’ choice winner, selected by our audience.
Feature Photo: Rustic Bakery

Southern Marin

Sausalito – Mill Valley – Tiburon

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Photo: Courtesy of Cavallo Point

Cavallo Point Farley Bar

601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker, Sausalito


The deck is one of Marin’s most popular for its stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge and San Francisco but on a fog-whipped day, sitting inside by the fire is extra-sweet. Savor some umami fries (that porcini dust!) and a glass of wine from the Wine Spectator Grand award-winning list; stay for a hearty meal of vegetable pot pie or tamari-glazed black cod. Hours are 11:30am to 10pm Sunday through Thursday, 11:30am to 11pm Friday and Saturday.

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Kitti’s Place

Kitti Suthipipat and his wife Payao (known to most as Mama) know Thai food. Classics like Pad Thai, Tom Ka and Thai iced tea have turned local customers into regulars. But their Asian chicken (or tofu) salad provides a refreshing crunch and their curried turkey burger with sauteed onions and mango chutney packs a flavorful punch. Start by sharing the chicken potstickers (or vegan potstickers, when available) with ginger soy sauce, or keep them for yourself — they’re that good. When you show up, you’ll need to be patent, they have local following, comprised of many local top chefs, so it can get crowded. Check their website or Instagram for weekly specials. Hours are Monday through Friday 12pm to 6pm.

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Photo: Courtesy of Depot Cafe and Bookstore

Depot Cafe and Bookstore

With patios on either side and the broad sweep of historic Lytton Square out front, a spot at Mill Valley’s renovated train depot is a fine place to do some people watching. Hikers coming off Mt. Tam, young families and tourists keen to see a piece of Marin history stop by for Cibo Bakery’s pastries and fresh coffee or a happy hippie salad with a draft beer or glass of wine. Hours are 8am to 5pm Sunday through Wednesday, 8am to 8pm Thursday through Saturday.

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Photo: Courtesy of Floodwater


Sip a quarantini at the lively bar on game night or any night or stop in for a burger, house made fettuccine, or the famous Shorty’s tall Reuben with just the right amount of Russian dressing to sate any hiker after a day of hiking Marin’s peaks. Hours are 4pm to 9pm Monday through Thursday, 12pm to 10pm Friday and Saturday, 12pm to 8pm Sunday. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Piatti


At this welcoming neighborhood Italian trattoria that opened in 1987, pasta is made in-house every day to be enjoyed in winning combinations like mushroom campanelle with kale, sofrito, oregano, pecorino and walnuts, or prawn spaghetti with broccoli rabe, basil, saffron, chili and garlic. (Gluten-free penne and spaghetti is also available.) Fans also enjoy the warm focaccia and pizzas. The selection of Italian and Californian wines pairs perfectly with the food, as do the signature cocktails like the Piatti Spritz, made with aperol, prosecco, grapefruit bitters and rosato brut. If you have room for dessert, try the zeppole — warm, fluffy Italian donut holes dusted with orange zest. Sit in the recently remodeled dining room or on the waterfront deck. Hours are Monday through Sunday 11:30am to 9pm.

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Located in the heart of the Mill Valley Lumber Yard in Mill Valley’s original sawmill building, Watershed serves seasonally-inspired and sustainably-sourced California cuisine. From starters like grilled broccoli with almonds and grilled lemon to fluffy, crisp pancetta and peach pizza, they have nailed a contemporary twist on rustic flavors. Side note: the thick-cut fries with herb aioli are worth a trip alone. Sit outside by the creek, relax with a locally-crafted beer or a glass of wine and take in a prime view of Mt. Tam. Hours are Monday through Thursday 11:30am to 8:30pm, Friday 11:30am to 9pm, Saturday 10:30am to 9pm and Sunday 10:30 to 8:30pm.

Central Marin

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

Photo: Courtesy of Comforts


Since 1986, this family-owned restaurant has been feeding locals a global mix of comfort food favorites prepared with many local and sustainable ingredients. The menu of soups, salads, entrées, house-baked pastries and desserts changes regularly — recent offerings included a seasonal vegetable quiche; roast chicken enchiladas and bacon fried rice with veggies, soy-oyster sauce and fried eggs. One item that’s a sure bet, however, is Comforts’ Chinese Chicken Salad, which is so popular that the restaurant even bottled the dressing for customers to purchase. Cafe hours are Wednesday through Sunday 8am to 2:30pm. Take-out hours are Monday through Friday 8am to 5pm and Saturday and Sunday 8am to 3pm.

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Photo: Courtesy of Restoration Hardware

RH Marin

Never mind the view of Mount Tamalpais, the shaved rib eye on charred bread or the classic lobster roll. See and be seen in a restaurant on the top floor of RH’s gallery where ladies who lunch give each other the once over while ensconced on plush sofas under glittering chandeliers. Hours are 10am to 9pm daily. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Farmshop Marin


Gather with friends from around the Bay for shareable dishes like the seasonally-changing avocado hummus (deserving of a shout out for its cheffy flavor and freshness) or wild mushroom pizza with buffalo milk mozzarella pulled from the beehive oven. The patio is umbrella-shaded and the coffee and pastry bar has plenty of seating, too. Lunch hours are 11:30am to 2:30pm weekdays, brunch hours are 10:30am to 2:30pm weekends, dinner hours are 5:30pm to 9pm every day. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Rustic Bakery

Rustic Bakery

A cracker made in a Marin kitchen morphed into a bakery business with locations in Larkspur, Tiburon, and Novato. The pastries and bread, including the legendary croissants and pain de mie, are hand made in the store, the breads a noble foundation for avocado toast or a club sandwich. The lemony, anchovy-spiked Caesar dressing is worth standing in line for. Hours are 7am to 5pm daily. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Sol Food

One of the most popular restaurants in Marin County, Sol Food is known for their Puerto Rican cuisine that gets customers lining up around the block. Established in 2004, they got their start serving the community at the San Rafael farmers’ market — now they have two brick and mortar locations. Rice, beans and plantains are at the heart of their menu, but toasted sandwiches and plates with pollo, camarones, pork or steak are also available. Want vegan and/or gluten-free? You’ll find plenty of satisfying items on their menu. Pro tip: a side of pique — a vinegar-based sauce made with hot peppers — is almost always a good idea. Hours at both locations are Monday through Friday 11am to 9pm, Saturday and Sunday 9am to 9pm.

West Marin

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

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Tony's Seafood Restaurant

Are you a seafoodie? How does mouthwatering fish and chips, smokey BBQ oysters or rich clam chowder sound? They offer plenty of worthy non-seafood options as well, including a three-cheese grilled cheese and a little gem Caesar salad. If you’re not already hooked, the waterfront views will seal the deal. Located right on the Tomales Bay, sunny days here are tough to beat — they also attract a lot of patrons, so plan accordingly. Good news: cocktails are available while you wait for your perch. Hours are Thursday through Tuesday 11am to 5pm. Closed Wednesday.

More Local Favorites in the North Bay

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