Where to Eat Along the Sonoma Coast

 June 22, 2017
Posted by jenn

From Stinson Beach to Bodega Bay

1 The Casino Bar

The ultimate stealth dining paradise is found inside the funky Casino bar, where chef Mark Malicki produces ever-changing menus exactly based on what he can source most freshly that day. Working on a hamburger griddle with just a dishwasher and a server to support him, Malicki consistently turns out dishes that amaze and delight. (Follow him on Facebook to discover each day’s menu.) When the math is right, ordering Malicki’s entire menu makes a sumptuous dinner for two for just under $100. BYOB or purchase a perfectly fine bottle of local Balleto Pinot Noir from the barkeep for less than the grocery store.

2 Terrapin Creek Cafe

One of the best restaurants in Sonoma County, the Michelin-starred Terrapin Creek is tucked away in a small strip mall, content to just quietly produce excellent dishes in an informal setting. Look for seafood as well as housemade pastas, Japanese-inflected main courses, and a gorgeous reimagining of European traditions.

3 Spud Point Crab Company

Located right down by the working boats of Bodega Bay, Spud Point is famous for its chowder but also rightfully known for the fresh crab they cook right on the spot. Plan to sit outside in the chill at picnic tables and just gorge when the Dungeness is in season. BYOB.

4 Rocker Oysterfeller’s Kitchen + Saloon

With a Nawlins take on California food, Rockers offers one of the sweetest bars on this stretch of coast, and that’s saying a lot. Try hot oysters four different ways or slurp them down chilled, knowing that this is also the place to get gumbo or blackened shrimp with grits skillfully prepared by chef co-owner Brandon Gunther. Situated in an old hotel, Rocker’s has rooms to let and also hosts an annual hootenanny, Oysterpalooza, with live Bay Area bands and plenty of oysters each year at the end of May that just couldn’t make for a better Sunday. Mark your calendars for next year.

5 Tomales Bakery

So popular with the bicycle and motorcycle set that it simply closes when it runs out of food (think: 11am), the Tomales Bakery is a wonder for espresso drinks and lovely flaky things, but also serves robust vegetable-filled pastries for lunch. Three words: Coconut Queen Bars. Go early.

6 Nick’s Cove & Cottages

A reimagined seafood shack with resort cabins, a separate oyster bar, seating out over Tomales Bay, and an adorably dilapidated shack at the pier’s end with a telephone connecting diners to the kitchen, Nick’s is a fine destination for fresh seafood and even fish and chips. Valet parking is mandatory on busy days and reservations require a $25 per person deposit.

7 The Marshall Store

Recommended only for the hardy, the Marshall Store primarily offers customers seats at high wooden tables placed exactly along Highway One, making for a precarious perch. Order fresh oysters, creamy chowder, Dungeness crab, bottles of chilled wine and local microbrews inside and then take your place looking over Tomales Bay, the highway roaring impotently at your back, and let the sun shine down as you shuck and slurp and sip.

8 Tony’s Seafood Restaurant

Tony’s has enjoyed its prime spot over Tomales Bay since 1948. The food hasn’t changed much since then, but there are certainly those who adore an old-style seafood joint and no one can fault the view. Exceedingly tartar-sauce positive.

9 Saltwater Oyster Depot

An oyster depot, a breakfast joint, and a white-cloth bistro all in two adjacent store fronts. Expect berries in season, an excellent wine list daily, and line-caught sustainably harvested seafood so fresh it might flop off the plate. Always plan to have oysters. And dessert. And more wine.

10 Inverness Park Market

From breakfast made to order to amazing midday fare, from achingly fresh produce to locally raised meats, from seafood to microbrews, Latin staples to Italian delicacies, this is the mother of all small town markets. Everything is here and truly, if it’s not—it’s not needed. Stop here to break your morning fast and grab a sandwich for a hike, stop here on the way back to get your cocktail nibbles and fermented beverages. Stop here.

11 Osteria Stellina

This excellent Italian trattoria centers its menu on its wood-burning oven, turning out pizzas, bread, shellfish classics, and deeply satisfying vegetable dishes. Don’t overlook the humble “beans and greens” side dish of cannellinis and braised leaves. With a reliably professional wait staff—a rarity in tourist-drenched West Marin—and a handsome room, dinner here is a true reward for a day spent conquering the coastal hills. Also open for lunch.

12 Station House Cafe

This longtime Pt. Reyes Station stalwart is a reliable place to get breakfast, a burger, and a feta cheese-dressed salad with garlicky carrots and a side of eccentric popovers. The well-established outdoor garden is a splendor in good weather and the bar a true refuge in poor. Open all day, with live music on the weekends.

13 Marin Sun Farms

Eat the world’s freshest hamburger while seated in a butcher shop keeping a careful eye on its cousins in the cold case. (There are salads, too. Promise.) Plus: So much good wine from West Marin’s Pleiades Winery, whose winemaker Sean Thackery ferments his grapes according to methods described by the ancient Greeks.

14 Sir And Star at the Olema

This dinner-only restaurant from the folks who dreamed up the incandescence of Manka’s in Inverness accommodates Saturday night walk-ins with an a la carte menu and reservations with prix-fixe. The Sir and Star’s dark Victorian look is brightened by the kitchen’s excellence. There’s lodging, too.

15 Farm House Restaurant

Standard American food with the added benefit of being the only spot on the coast where you can get French fries smothered in clam chowder. With a full bar, this place is particularly good when you’ve got restless kids who need something to eat that they’ll recognize and fast. There are oysters and local lettuces for the grownups. Adjacent to its own lodge for overnight stays.

16 Smileys Schooner Saloon and Hotel

With no food beyond the odd bag of chips, this is a great old (est. 1851) salty dog bar with pool tables and live music on weekend nights. There are comfy upstairs rooms should you drink yourself into a surprise coastal overnight stay.

17 Coast Cafe

Casual and healthy with an emphasis on vegetables, seafood, and sustainably raised meats, this is pretty much the only eatery in town, so thank goodness it’s really just a fine place to eat. Set adjacent to the Bolinas Museum—a hidden treasure with a great exhibition roster and a shabby chic vibe that Martha would envy—this cheerful spot is perfect for a simple lunch or dinner and a lazy brunch.

18 Stinson Beach Market

This fabulous little tiny country store offers every single comestible necessary for the discrete gourmand, from what’s necessary for lunch on the beach to what’s essential for tonight at the rental. Great wine selection, killer microbrews, and freshly prepped food make it a necessary stop. And sure, pick up a sweatshirt, too.

19 Sand Dollar Restaurant And Bar

The nice wide patio, old poets at the bar, and nightly live jazz means that it doesn’t really matter what’s on the menu. What’s there is ostensibly from the sea, was fresh before it was frozen, and is generally breaded, but what the heck—enjoy the patio, admire the poets, partake of the full bar, dig the jazz.

20 Breakers Cafe

Breakers is all about breakfast and lunch with an emphasis on Mexican-style entrees that involve corn-wrapped fish with cheese. Ordering at the counter offers an informal experience. The deck makes it an acceptable alternative to the Parkside, though it keeps less regular winter hours.

21 Parkside Cafe

Fresh, local, and excellent, this venerable old school beach restaurant has kept up with the times and offers good brewed coffee, killer fresh baked bread and pastries, substantial breakfasts, light lunches, and real dinners — often with live musicians on hand and a fire on the roar. The snack bar window offers a great back-to-the-beach alternative for the sandy set. Highly recommended!

Taken from Eater SF