San Anselmo Top 5
1 Comforts is a shoe-in for best Chinese chicken salad, but the restaurant’s catering menu, with favorites like the bite-size panko-crusted chicken or tofu okasan, shouldn’t be overlooked. comfortscafe.com
2 Kismet Shoes Seasoned retail veterans Erica Miller and Barbara Dryden’s newest boutique is all about the feet, with trendy selections from sought-after labels like Jeffrey Campbell, Havianas, Sam Edelman, Nanette Lepore and more. shopkismet.net
3 Ross Valley Winery Let the downturn work for you. Owner Paul Kreider sells a recession red wine at 0.1 percent of the Dow Jones Industrial Average for that day. The day’s price is displayed on a blackboard in the front window. rossvalleywinery.com
4 Chocolate Delights Choose among gourmet chocolates from Belgium and Switzerland, order ice cream for the kids, or just try to stump coffee and tea connoisseur Ryan Gellert, the new owner with a Jeopardy-like knowledge of beverage brews. 415.454.3315
5 Seawood Photo Whether you’re an amateur needing a point-and-shoot camera or a professional seeking something more high-end, the shop offers classes, photo finishing, restoration, a darkroom and passport photos. seawood.com
This former railroad town linking Marin and San Francisco is still a hub of activity for locals, with a bustling downtown, hip new restaurants, special shopping options and family-friendly parks.
Start your day in San Anselmo by grabbing a copy of Dave Eggers’s What Is the What, the 2009 pick for One Book One Marin, at the almost 100-year-old San Anselmo Public Library and a quick masala chai, a spiced tea with cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and vanilla, at Teapod Organic Tea Bar. Chai in hand, walk to Creek Park, right in the middle of bustling downtown, just across the street from the old Tamalpais Theatre. Grab a bench and settle in for a morning of bird-watching. If you’re lucky enough to be at the park after night falls during May through October, the area will be busy with families settling in on blankets and lawn chairs for Film Night in the Park season.When it’s time to get your endorphins going, try a $10 community mat class (free to San Anselmo merchants) at Grasshopper Pilates of Marin.
With calories burned, refuel at Bubba’s Diner. The restaurant has an improved approach to comfort food—think organic, locally grown fare and cooking oil that’s recycled to make
biodiesel. Try an oversize Bubba turkey burger with Point Reyes blue cheese and be sure to take an apple pie home for later.
Walk off lunch by spending the afternoon browsing antique stores in downtown San Anselmo, named “Best in the West” for antiquing by Sunset magazine and known as the Northern California antique capital. Stop in at Pavillion Antiques, San Anselmo Country Store and Yankee Girl.
Treasures found, retire for the evening with dinner at Heidi Krahling’s Marinitas, which serves up Mexican regional specialties. Sit at the bar and sip sangria while you sample the tasty shellfish ceviche and meet your neighbors.
San Anselmo may not have a mall, but the easy-to-navigate downtown is a retail haven for those who like a mix of well-known designer and one-of-a-kind. Recently, trendy Kismet boutique expanded to offer the new Kismet Shoes (a not-to-miss location for Nanette Lepore flats and cute clutches); Blanc is staying fresh with Ashley Morgan and Thalia jewelry trunk shows; kids’ versions of designer wear are available at Dixie Park; hippie-chic scarves and airy day dresses are the ticket at Gioia Boutique; and couture pieces for galas and special occasions are at Lea Designs.
Did You Know?
• San Anselmo was a silent film capital in the early 1900s.
• In the old railroad days, The city was known as the Junction, and later the Hub, before becoming San Anselmo.