Where to Eat: Novato

Novato lies on the northern edge of Marin, with the advantage of being two steps to Sonoma County. Its many small-town communities and surrounding countryside gives this expansive town with a very large mall a local feeling. Dining options include small cafes and wine bars, along with Marin favorites such as Hopmonk Tavern, Boca Pizzeria and Finnegan’s.

Be sure to check each restaurant’s website or social pages to confirm its most current hours of operation and services.

Active Culture Cafe | Ayawaska | Beso Bistro and Wine BarThe Boardroom | Boca Pizzeria | Chianti Cucina | Cocina Antigua | Crave | Finnegan’s Marin | Ghiringhelli’s Novato VinoHopmonk Tavern | Jerrys Delicatessen & BBQ | Marvin’s Restaurant | Michael’s Sourdough | Rustic Bakery | The Speakeasy | Toast | Trailhead

Active Culture Café


An all-day café serves up plant-forward fare like a lentil burger with slaw and barbecue beet sauce or wholesome bowls of quinoa and veggies and a breakfast burrito stuffed with eggs, potatoes and cheese. All menu items can be customized to suit dietary needs–just be sure to state your preference when ordering at the counter.

464 Ignacio Blvd, Novato; 415.475.1128


Latin American

An outpost of the Petaluma original fittingly fills the landmark space that once housed Hilltop 1892. A tight opening menu of regional classics includes lomo saltado and the country’s famous ceviches (try the a la Huancaina with the catch of the day). Huge glass-paned doors in the front room slide open to reveal the view. A new brunch menu is slated to launch mid-June.

850 Lamont Ave, Novato; 415.944.2066

Beso Bistro and Wine BarBest of Marin County 2017Best of Marin County 2015


This Hamilton Field bistro highlights locally sourced organic produce, fresh sustainable seafood, and pasture-raised and free-range meat. Wine lovers can embrace their inner Dionysus — Beso offers more than 20 selections by the glass and more than 50 by the bottle are available. The patio is naturally shaded by local oaks.

502 S Palm Drive; 415.883.6700

The Boardoom


A secret library connects The Speakeasy to owner and executive chef Munther Massarweh’s latest project, a “piano dining room” to build the attached Boardroom where shaded chandelier sconces and Prohibition-era photos (plus Marilyn Monroe and Elvis hang near white linen­-covered tables and dark leather chairs. It’s a good match for the classic wedge salad, escargot and herb-crusted filet mignon at lunch or dinner with a Fly Me to the Moon or martini cocktail, or avail yourself of the expansive wine menu.

504 Alameda Del Prado; 415.883.7793

Boca Pizzeria


Enjoy authentic pizza prepared with house-pulled mozzarella and tomatoes imported from Italy, or go for a grilled rosemary chicken sandwich or the braised beef short rib pappardelle. Weekly specials include half off all wines by the bottle on Wednesdays and half off draft beers on Thursdays.

454 Ignacio Blvd, 415.883.2302

Chianti Cucina


This cozy eatery offers an array of Italian and American dishes, including a long list of pastas; try the house-made ravioli cooked up by chef Edgar DeLon. It’s all available for takeout and drive-through via their app.

7416 Redwood Hwy, 415.878.0314

Cocina Antigua

Latin American

With a sign that is hard to see from South Novato Boulevard, a family-style Central American restaurant and market serves meals that represent the Mayan culture and family meals of owners Mayra Ordoñez and Juan Cutz. Look for spices, beans and fresh produce at the market and the region’s famous dishes – pupusas, tacos chapines and hilachas – as some of the daily offerings.

1559 South Novato Blvd., Suite J, Novato; 415.895.5960



Executive chef Christian Pulido serves up seasonally-driven California cuisine on the shaded terrace and in a modern dining room, replete with George Nelson bubble lamps. Char siu octopus and a soba noodle salad push the flavor boundary while a CAB burger and halibut with corn pudding are instantly familiar.

340 Ignacio Blvd, 415.883.0901

Finnegan’s Marin


The dark wood paneled booths and high backs on bar stools mean it is easy to linger over Irish-inspired meals like corned beef and cabbage or nachos made with waffle fries instead of corn chips. They taste just as good on the heated outdoor patio.

877 Grant Ave, 415.899.1516

Ghiringhelli’s Novato Vino

The Ghiringhelli family, life-long Marin residents who own Trattoria Ghiringhelli in Novato, FairFix Cafe, Ghiringhelli Pizzeria and Deer Park Villa in Fairfax, run a wine shop and tasting room adjacent to their Novato trattoria. Unique and hard to find wines by the bottle or taste, light bites of cheese boards and flatbreads and in-depth dinner menus are available to go or enjoy onsite.

1535 South Novato Blvd, Novato, 415.878.4915

Hopmonk TavernBest of Marin County 2015


The beer garden-style outdoor patio and live music keep fans coming back to this Novato brewhouse tucked into the Vintage Oaks Mall. And let’s not forget the ample selection of beers on tap.

224 Vintage Way, 415.892.6200

Jerrys Downtown BBQ


Southern flavors and plenty of smoked meats are highlights of an all-day menu that includes a classic BLT updated with house smoked salmon or a BBQ Plate with tri-tip and chicken. Brunch is available on the weekends (breakfast sandwich, Swedish pancake stack) and there is picnic-style shaded seating outside, too.

7380 Redwood Blvd, 415.895.5592

Marvin’s RestaurantBest of Marin County 2017


This place, known for “Best Breakfast in Novato,” also serves up generous portions for lunch. The corned beef hash, Benedicts, and superb service draw a consistent crowd year-round.

1112 Grant Ave, 415.892.4482

Michael’s Sourdough


The bread is made on site and is said to have magical qualities. It better as it is the only holder for the overstuffed wonders served at this Best of the County 2019 winner. Fans return over and over to the San Rafael and Novato locations for their faves, ordered by number, then swoon over the huge sandos piled with meat, cheese and enough shredded lettuce to ooze out the sides and onto your lap.

42 Digital Dr, #8, 415.883.5110

Rustic Bakery


Organic pastries, breads, salads, and sandwiches are on the menu at this location downtown, including daily seasonal specials. Try the Marin Melt — Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt. Tam and Point Reyes Toma cheeses grilled on honey whole wheat, served with dressed baby greens and crisp apple slices. It’s even better on the patio.

1407 Grant Ave, 415.878.4952

The Speakeasy


There’s nothing like the comfort of a solid burger and beer when you’re kicking back and watching the game. In addition to the 10 beers on tap, cocktails range from the 1920’s to the 2020’s. A shareable, tapas-style menu includes grilled maitake mushrooms, escargot and mini street tacos.

504 Alameda del Prado, 415.883.7793

ToastBest of Marin County 2015


With outdoor dining and spacious inside seating at Hamilton Marketplace, large parties, families and everyone else dives in on comfort food favorites like corned beef hash, buttermilk pancakes and at dinner, chicken schnitzel and shrimp scampi.

5800 Nave Drive, 415.382.1144



Order shareable snacks, salads, sandwiches, bun fun (savory hot dogs and sausages) and Equator coffee drinks at the counter before grabbing a seat on the all-day café’s shaded patio. The baked goat cheese is a standout and pairs with the 10 local beers and two wines available on tap or from the craft can program.

127 San Marin Drive; 415.493.6902