New to the Table in Mill Valley


Mill Valley is about to see a restaurant onslaught. Bill Higgins and his sons, Tyler and Henry, are opening Floodwater in the former Frantoio space around October. Meanwhile, at the Mill Valley Lumberyard, BŌL Superfood Cafe is serving bowls packed with nutritious ingredients like, spirulina, turmeric and blue algae, and Watershed, the latest project from Ged Robertson (Shoreline Coffee Shop, Small Shed Flatbreads), is also in the works. In the former Balboa Cafe, Gravity Tavern, named for the railcars that once traversed Mount Tam, is opening soon, and The Pilgrimage is under construction where Mama’s Royal Cafe held court for 42 years. The times they are indeed a-changin’.


Joe on the Go

There is no shortage of restaurants named Joe’s in Marin County — Marin Joe’s, San Rafael Joe’s and Joe’s Cafe are just a few. In Mill Valley there’s Joe’s Taco Lounge and Salsaria, opened in 1992 by Joseph David Leis, who savored the memories of the meals he enjoyed in trips to Jalisco and Puerto Vallarta. “The fish taco is the item on our menu,” says his son Gabriel Leis, who worked at the restaurant on and off over the years and now owns and manages the joint. Meanwhile, “we sell a ton of chicken burritos because that is what Californians live on.” Chef José (Angel) Sanchez does not go by the name Joe, but he and other staff hail from the Yucatán and have added Yucatecan influences to the menu of enchiladas, tacos and burritos. The menu also includes a Sloppy José: braised shredded pork shoulder with a chipotle barbecue sauce on a seeded bun.

Recent changes in the Miller Avenue streetscape mean new opportunities for Joe’s. “We have all this new sidewalk,” Leis says. Wheeled out in early April, Cup of Joe’s coffee cart now serves a stretch of Miller that suffered from a coffee drought. Besides traditional Italian espresso made with beans from San Francisco’s Linea Caffe, Leis is serving Mexican hot chocolate and Mexican iced lattes, in a nod to Joe’s Mexican focus: “It’s horchata with an expresso shot.” There will also be grab-and-go breakfast burritos, familiar American-style pastries from Berkeley’s Starter Bakery and bagels from Baron Baking in Oakland. Could street tacos from the shiny new cart be far behind? Let’s see what the local Marinites, who have loved Joe’s just the way it is for 27 years, have to say about that.


Chrisitina Mueller

Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her childrens’ schools, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.