Thinking About Ordering In This Christmas? 9 Marin Restaurateurs Share Their Most Popular Dishes for the Holidays

While we all love home cooked meals — shared with our loved ones — sometimes, as in nowadays, take-out can equal love, too. Here are a few Marin restaurateurs showcasing their most popular dishes for group dining that can be ordered during the holidays.

The Baan Thai Cuisine

San Anselmo

The Baan Thai Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

The Baan Thai Cuisine has been serving up fresh locally sourced Thai food since 2013, and offers a healthy alternative to traditional holiday fare. Just before the pandemic, Jukreewat Suthon stepped in as the new owner bringing his own traditional Thai family recipes to the mix. 

From Jukreewat 

The Baan Thai Cuisine
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special.

The Baan Thai salad. It’s a popular and tasty fresh salad made with minced chicken and prawns topped with our secret dressing — a perfect plate and healthy meal..

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

A papaya salad is a great fit for holiday entertaining. It’s refreshing and healthy and is in line with the Thai traditional eating style.

What has changed since you took over? 

I have upgraded everything — the quality of food, the ambiance in the restaurant, non-plastic packaging, the service quality and I also created a new menu based on my traditional family recipes. 

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

Gathering with friends and family, with traditional Thai BBQ, which we make here.

Cafe Arrivederci

San Rafael

Cafe Arrivederci
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

In 2020, Fatima and Ricardo Lopez bought Cafe Arrivederci from its original owners Carlos and Aurora Scatena, looking to continue the tradition of providing the community with great Italian food. Offering indoor and outdoor dining, sometimes with live jazz music on the patio. 

From Fatima

Cafe Arrivederci
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special.

Bread pudding. Our special Italian bread is what separates our bread pudding from others, alongside that, our figs and apples provide a distinctive taste that our customers love.

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

Popular take-out dishes for the holidays are the ravioli Arrivederci, which is stuffed with butternut squash and pomegranate seeds for garnish. We also have the brasato, our beef short ribs braised in Barolo wine; and our stinco di Agnelo (braised lamb shanks), are another popular dish.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

I want to ensure these upcoming holidays are special for every family that dines here; that every time they visit they leave with an enjoyable experience. I look forward to seeing the satisfied look on the customer’s faces when they’re eating our food, made with love. 

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat?

Personally, I love to eat crab cakes, brasato and pumpkin pie.

The Caprice

Tiburon

The Caprice
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

A longtime favorite, special occasion spot, since Kirby Atterbury, a Hemingway-esque bon vivant opened it in 1956, the latest iteration lead by Jerry and Jennifer Dal Bozzo, has put it on the “bucket list” map.  

From Jennifer 

The Caprice
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special.

Our Italian potsticker, made with savory sausage, ginger and vegetables. It’s so unique and also the perfect takeout dish — just plate it, pour the sauce over it, and voila!

Besides what you brought, what are your most popular take out items for holiday entertaining?

Asparagus soup, crab and smoked salmon crostini, toybox tomato salad, Caesar salad, farro arugula salad, foggy wharf crab salad, gnocchi with crab and spinach fondue.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

Enjoying time with close friends and family, eating seasonal soups and hearty meals, and decorating The Caprice in Christmas fashion.

Creekside Pizza & Taproom

San Anselmo 

Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Before opening their popular San Anselmo eatery, veteran foodies Pat Townsley and Janet Abrahamson started working on their unique pizza dough starter more than a year before Creekside opened in 2016. Today, the mother (starter) is still going strong, attracting locals and visitors alike. 

From Pat 

Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish(es) featured and what makes them special.

One hundred percent angus beef, hand-rolled daily with panko and Chef Janet’s blend of seasoning, a.k.a. “Our Meatballs, Our Sauce” on the menu. I also brought our Bald Hill pizza; red peppadews and wild arugula on a white sopraffina base sauce. It’s a year round pizza, but I thought the colors were nice for a holiday picture. Feel free to sing: I’m Dreaming of a White Pizza.

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

Our most popular pizzas are the Perfect Storm (our combination pizza) and Geronimo (topped with baby lettuces and a premium hand-tied ball of burrata cheese). Our Lion’s Share vegetable platter is popular for indoor dining, and everyone loves our garlic parmesan puffs, our version of garlic knots. 

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Downtown San Anselmo is a magical place during the holidays, a truly unique Rockwellian avenue with quaint shops, passionate merchants and an ever-expanding food destination. We love to see the community gather for the annual Tree Lighting festival in Imagination Park (I believe scheduled for December 3rd this year) where hundreds of neighbors, families and shoppers join for the tree lighting countdown, the arrival of Santa on the fire truck, hot cocoa, cookies and candy canes from local merchants…it’s the official kickoff of the holiday season for us. The shops are open later, everyone is happy, and it’s a great celebration of life here in the heart of Marin.

Do you have any prep tips to make the food look its best?  

Our pizzas are generally pretty loaded and hot, so the longer they travel in a to-go box, the wetter they get. Most of our pizzas travel well, and for the Geronimo, we do put the burrata and baby lettuces in a separate container with the intent that guests finish their pizza by making a mound of baby lettuce in the center of their pizza, then resting the ball of hand-tied burrata on the top, much like a golf ball in the rough, for which the pizza is named “Geronimo” for the late San Geronimo Golf Course. For table presentation, we put our pizza up on pizza stands, like a headlining band on a concert stage, the crowd goes wild when it hits the stage. Elevating the pizza also gives you a little more table space. 

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat and serve?

While I’ve been in kitchens since age 14 starting at “39 Main” tavern in Tiburon in the late 70’s as a short-order cook and barback, I’m more of a Front of House guy than back of house; that’s where the show is, where the presentation is, where the memories are made. At Creekside, we have over 50 “California-only” wines, so I love to celebrate with family and guests with a great glass of Pinot Noir from our friends at Skywalker Vineyard, Kosta-Browne or GoGi Wines. For me, My own personal favorite fall/winter at-home dish to cook is a hearty country-style pork rib sweet and spicy goulash over mashed potatoes or extra wide egg noodles. It’s an all-day cook that fills the house with mouth watering aromas. Now I’m hungry. I’m going to the store now to get the ingredients.

Cucina s|a

San Anselmo 

Cucina s|a
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Cucina s|a has been a popular neighborhood spot for over 24 years serving award-winning Southern and Central Italian cuisine. Owner Donna Seymour added a parklet and expanded the space to include a full bar with a selection of spirits and craft cocktails. 

From Donna

Cucina s|a
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special. 

The dish I brought is our popular kale and Brussels sprout salad with toasted almonds and parmigiana. Simply toss with the dressing and it is ready to go!

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

Brussels sprout chips with honey, sriracha, and lime; our bombolotti al sugo; and contadino misto — a lovely pan roast of chicken, sausage, potatoes, garlic and mushrooms.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

I am looking forward to having groups come in to share some meals and make great memories as we enjoy meals like my favorite holiday dish, Feast of the Seven Fishes.

Do you have any prep tips to make the food look its best?

Start out with a smoked salmon appetizer, baked clams, perhaps some oysters. Then a pasta dish with seafood, perhaps lobster from Diavolo, which is a spicy tomato sauce. Follow this with cioppino or some other seafood stew that incorporates both fish and shellfish.

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat?

I love eating seafood during the holiday season!

Floodwater

Mill Valley 

Floodwater
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Opened in 2019 by renowned Marin restaurateur Bill Higgins (Buckeye Roadhouse, Picco, Bar Bocce, Bungalow 44) and his sons Tyler and Henry Higgins, Floodwater turns out elevated bar fare and fresh pizzas in front of your eyes, courtesy of a wood-fired pizza oven.

From Michael

Floodwater
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special.

Potato latkes with chive sour cream and applesauce. They can be reheated in the oven on a sheet tray or pan fried crispy as I love to cook them. The smell of fresh frying latkes wafting through the house is wonderful — brings me back to childhood. 

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

The matzah ball soup and Reuben are regulars on the menu and are usually just popular around any Jewish holiday. 

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

My nephew is turning 21 this year and the whole family will be gathering around Hannukah to celebrate with him — in New Orleans! 

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat?

My favorite overall meal of the year is a traditional Thanksgiving feast. 

Poggio

Sausalito 

Poggio
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Larry Mindel, Proprietor of Poggio Trattoria, set out in 2003 to create a restaurant that reflected all of who he is. With more than 30 Italian restaurants under his belt, Mindel crafted Poggio with a clear eye on the tenants of Italian hospitality and cooking, bringing in Amy Svendberg as managing partner and Ben Balesteri as executive chef to actualize a menu that is grounded in northern Italy but reflects classics of the broader Italian culinary canon.

From Ben

Poggio
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special?

The dish I brought was the burrata with honey confit cranberries, baby kale, delicata squash, candied pecans and crostini — this dish is ready to serve and enjoy! 

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

One of Poggio’s most popular take-out items for holiday entertaining is our grilled porterhouse steak. It is for two or three people and it comes with two side dishes. Our arancini — fried risotto balls — veal and pork meatballs and our tuna tartare are also very popular appetizer options. 

What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Restaurant wise, I am looking forward to white truffles coming up, and then hopefully a nice break after the new year ending up somewhere tropical.

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat and serve?

Dungeness crab is one of my favorite local delicacies around the holidays, as well as the bluefin tuna I have been catching the last few weeks for Poggio. But unfortunately the season is winding down. 

Watershed

Mill Valley 

Watershed
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Nestled in the quaint Mill Valley Lumberyard, Watershed opened in July 2019 by local restauranter Ged Robertson to much fanfare. Head chef, Kyle Swain, has been involved since the beginning with design, concept and the menu.   

From Kyle

Watershed
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special?

Our polenta is from Anson Mills, an organic grain collective from the Carolinas, the corn is ground fresh from heirloom varieties. We finish the polenta with milk, parmesan, butter and our secret ingredient of extra virgin lemon oil. 

What are popular holiday take-out dishes?

Besides the polenta, I would say a great holiday take out dish is our pappardelle with a pork sugo. Housemade pasta, pork braised with madeira, stock, sofrito and thyme.

What are you looking forward to this holiday season? 

One of my favorite things about the fall season and the holidays is the abundance of wild mushrooms that come through our kitchen. Porcinis, chanterelles, black trumpets, yellowfoot mushrooms find their way into pastas and entrees. It is the perfect time of year to enjoy slow braises and drink great wines accompanied by friends and family. 

Side Street Kitchen

Side Street Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Inspired by her favorite dishes from growing up in Northern California and a formative trip she took to Paris, Sheryl Cahill and Chef Aaron Wright have developed a menu that recreates these memories. The cuisine is centered around a modern rotisserie and smoker, featuring slow-cooked meats and organic vegetables, including slow-roasted chicken, smoked tri-tip and cold-smoked seafood.

From Aaron

Side Street Kitchen
Photo courtesy of Jacquelyn Warner

Dish featured and what makes it special?

Chicken liver pate. We finish the dish with an apple cider gelee which adds a nice flavor with the creamy pate.

Besides the dish you brought, what is a popular holiday take out option for both restaurants? 

We make extra side dishes for the holidays, turkey gravy, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes and our crispy Brussels sprouts are always popular along with our mac and cheese.

Favorite holiday dishes you love to eat and serve?

We don’t have a lot of people over for the holidays so larger classic dishes don’t make sense.  I really enjoy making red wine braised short ribs or duck confit with roasted duck breast.


Mimi Towle has been the editor of Marin Magazine for over a decade. She lived with her family in Sycamore Park and Strawberry and thoroughly enjoyed raising two daughters in the mayhem of Marin’s youth sports; soccer, swim, volleyball, ballet, hip hop, gymnastics and many many hours spent at Miwok Stables. Her community involvements include volunteering at her daughter’s schools, coaching soccer and volleyball (glorified snack mom), being on the board of both Richardson Bay Audubon Center and then The EACH Foundation. Currently residing on a floating home in Sausalito, she enjoys all water activity, including learning how to steer a 6-person canoe for the Tamalpais Outrigger Canoe Club. Born and raised in Hawaii, her fondness for the islands has on occasion made its way into the pages of the magazine.