Where to Eat: San Rafael

San Rafael is Marin’s answer to urban. Sprawling, gritty, and gentrified, its dining activity centers mostly in the downtown grid and waterfront enclaves, with outliers trickling towards Miracle Mile and north to Terra Linda. The options are as varied as the neighborhoods, with fast bites, ethnic eats, and music-bar venues rubbing shoulders with old time hole-in-the-wall favorites and sit-down dining.

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

Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria | Arizmendi Bakery | Bruno’sCalifornia Gold | Caribbean Spices | Casa Mañana | ChonmageFlatiron | Gaspare’s | Il Davide | Il Gusto | Johnny Doughnuts | La Toscana Ristorante & Bar | LaVier Cusine | Le Chalet Basque | Le Comptoir | Los Moles | Lotus Cuisine of India Restaurant | Lou’s Takeaway | Magnolia Park Kitchen | Masala Kitchen | McInnis Park Golf Club Restaurant | Menya Shono | Michael’s Sourdough | Monk’s KettleMulberry Street Pizzeria | Ounces Outdoors | Pho Viet Harbor | Pond Farm Brewing | RangeCafe | Revel & Roost | Rocket Roll | Sabor a Mexico | San Rafael Joe’sShiro Kuma | Sol Food | State Room | Sushi to DaiFor | Tam Commons Tap Room & KitchenTaj of Marin | Uchiwa Ramen | Urban Remedy | Vin Antico | Viqtor Food | Vivalon’s Jackson Cafe | VN Noodle & Grill | Whipper Snapper RestaurantYet Wah

Amici’s East Coast PizzeriaBest of Marin County 2017


A wide array of thin-crust pizzas, freshly made pastas, and salads are the ticket here, along with flame-roasted lemon chicken wings (they are “atomic”). Gluten-free pizza crust is available.

1242 Fourth St, 415.455.9777

Arizmendi Bakery


A worker-owned bakery cafe, Arzimendi prides itself on high-quality local ingredients. Visit Wednesday–Sunday for coffee and pastries, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and artisan sourdough pizza. If you don’t want to wait in line, order online for next day pick-up.

1002 Fourth St, 415.456.4093

Bogie’s Too


Relocated from the Civic Center to downtown San Rafael after 29 years, this second coming of Bogie’s highlights breakfast, brunch, and lunch. Organic eggs anchor a breakfast and lunch menu of omelets, sandwiches, and salads that Humphrey Bogart himself might recognize. They are famous for the eggs Benedict and a full spirits menu, a la “Rick’s Cafe”.

1335 Fourth St, 415.492.1530



One part market, two parts deli and cafe just off the downtown strip features all things Italian. Sandwiches, salads and entrees–Il Padrino (aka The Godfather), Mamma’s Meatballs– and a range of imported Italian packaged goods, wines and coffee/espresso are available. Don’t miss the house made cannoli.

1304 Second St, San Rafael; 415.785.7487

California Gold


Death Proof, a “lethal” blend of dark rum, Calvados, orange, and aromatic bitters, is just one of the pre-Tiki, handmade drinks that highlight the cocktail menu in the slickly comfortable space, decked out in a style befitting the Roaring Twenties. The drinks range from California beer styles on the 12 taps to globally-sourced wines. Fresh cocktails, like the Tropical, Smash and Thunderbolt, feature produce sourced from the San Rafael farmers’ markets. Enjoy them at an outdoor table with a meal from neighbor Revel & Roost.

848 B  St, 707.337.6159

Caribbean Spices


Jerk chicken with just the right amount of heat is a menu highlight at this brick-and-mortar San Rafael extension of chef-owner Frantz Felix’s food truck of the same name. Go for the Caribbean sangria and Haitian specialties like griot or goat curry and African American–inspired versions of creole snapper and seafood gumbo, then savor your meal at a sidewalk table.

819 Fourth St, 415.299.2680

Casa Mañana


Owner Margarita Almenderes has been running the original Casa Mañana since 1979 in an off-the-beaten track San Rafael locale that locals adored for it’s ample patio seating and “home made everything” approach. Her newer spot in downtown San Rafael is sure to draw new audiences for the all-day breakfast menu (those huevos Cubanos aren’t going to eat themselves), burritos and mole enchiladas.

711 D St, San Rafael; 415.456.7345 


Yuthana (Oy San) Sitiprawet runs Chonmage with his wife, Manee Jenkins, turning out Japanese-style ramen with local flair. Housemade, walnut-based miso amplifies the spicy miso ramen and a recently added garlic ramen turned heads, but the curry ramen continues to inspire a vocal following. The blended tonkatsu and chicken broths are infused with curry and topped with karaage (fried chicken) and french fries, making it the ultimate multi-culti mashup.

1020 Court St, San Rafael; 415.419.5919



The remodeled Flatiron is where refined American bar food lives happily in its ideal environment — with a bevy of craft beers. Owned by the Strickers, a husband-and-wife duo, this polished sports bar serves noshes like chili lime cauliflower, classic sandwiches, and truffle and waffle fries in a space that also features classic arcade games.

724 B St, 415.453.4318



Carved Moroccan-style plasterworks grace the foyer at this boisterous, two-room spot. The room to the left hosts a busy bar where an Italian Cosmo cocktail is topped with Prosecco but anyplace is fine to try homemade gnocchi, veal scaloppini or a Sicilian style pizza with eggplant and feta.

200 Merrydale Road, 415.472.7101

Il Davide


The large selection of innovative and classic Tuscan dishes and house-made pasta has kept locals coming back for years. Ingredients are organic and locally sourced where possible, and there’s a vast selection of both Italian and California wines by the glass. Heated outdoor dining and curbside pickup are available and a private party dining room accommodates up to 45.

901 A St, 415.454.8080

Il Gusto


Into the space where Shangri-La Kitchen once served chicken tikka pizza, owner Manish Poudel returned with Italian-trained chef Hari Magar and a menu of familiar Italian fare. Look for Caesar salad and minestrone thick with vegetables and a range of fresh pastas and entrees. Yes, the chicken tikka pizza is still here but so are a Hawaiian and a veggie on a crust closer to New York than Detroit.

869 Fourth St, 415.306-7410

Johnny Doughnuts


The fresh doughnuts are handmade in small batches each morning with all local, organic ingredients. Options include vegan (made from sweet potatoes) and wheat-free doughnuts for the gluten-sensitive, with local dairy products in the dough and fillings. Stop by the shop in the West End, which has wide benches for on-the-spot noshing, or have the food truck come to you.

1617 Fourth St, 415.450.1866

La Toscana Ristorante & Bar


Family owned and operated since 1985, La Toscana completed an extensive interior and exterior renovation, transforming an already popular San Rafael gathering spot into a place for any occasion. The menu features classics like gnocchi and carbonara and an ample selection of wine.

3751 Redwood Hwy, 415.492.9100

LaVier CuisineBest of Marin County 2017

Latin American

Free-range chicken and sustainable seafood plus vegan and vegetarian dishes are the focus at this all-organic Latin fusion eatery run by Mexico City native, Gabriela and her husband Guillermo, who hails from Yucatán. Try the top selling pescado asado, puffy fish tacos with slaw and black beans, or chile rellenos. The colorful street side dining patio, bedecked with palms, feels downright tropical.

1025 C St, 415.295.7990

Le Chalet Basque


This family-style place features dishes inspired by the Basque regions of France and Spain, like frog legs in a garlic butter and lemon sauce, a veal calf liver sauté and sweetbreads with port wine sauce and mushrooms. On a warm night, enjoy alfresco dining on the patio.

405 North San Pedro Rd, 415.479.1070

Le Comptoir


In the heart of San Rafael, the bistro, complete with bright red chairs and a small adjoining grocery, serves up traditional French favorites like beef cheeks bourguignon and onion soup gratinée in a chic and cozy setting.

1301 Fourth St, 415.454.5454

Los Moles


Centrally located on Lincoln Avenue, Los Moles offers traditional pueblo Mexican cuisine, with — you guessed it — a variety of different moles to enhance your dish. The menu includes enmoladas, tacos, pollo al horno, carne asada, flan and more. Stop in on Taco Tuesday when the special is quesabirria tacos or for the special Sunday buffet brunch with fresh cafe de la olla served from a clay urn and live music on the streetside patio.

912 Lincoln Ave, 415.453.5850

Lotus Cuisine of India RestaurantBest of Marin County 2017

Take comfort in award-winning Indian cuisine from a long-running, family-run business that is certified green business with a state-of-the-art energy-efficient kitchen and eco-friendly appliances. Open daily for lunch and dinner at their new 4th street location, one block from their old address. There is an abundance of organic vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options, not to mention their famous all-you-can-eat lunch buffet, wine and beer.  A pet-friendly patio fronts 4th while the family’s adjacent Lotus Market Indian Grocery on 5th means free parking in the back.
812 Fourth St, 415.456.5808

Lou’s Takeaway


Bicyclists returning from a ride along San Rafael’s Lucas Valley Road are in on the not-so-secret eats from Anthony (Lou) Rizzi’s petite restaurant. Though the menu changes frequently, look for favorites like chilled chicken noodles with roasted peanuts and pickled long beans, spicy honey-glazed fried chicken, and pork belly with black vinegar caramel sauce. Enjoy everything outside on the deck or to go–there is no indoor seating.

621A Del Ganado Rd, San Rafael; 415.226.7994

Magnolia Park Kitchen


This American bistro features lots of farm-fresh salads (quinoa with cranberry and carrot) and sandwiches (Cubano, Reuben) to choose from. The heated, partially-covered outdoor patio is well suited to sipping a glass of wine or enjoying a burger or a signature fried chicken bomb sandwich with firecracker aioli and serrano pickle slaw. The house made potato chips are most excellent.

1016 Court St, 415.521.5591

Masala Kitchen Indian Cuisine


Into a quiet corner of Montecito Plaza comes the latest from co-owner and chef Timothy Maharjan and co-owner and manager Atit Subba who serve up the varied cuisines and techniques of the Indian diaspora. A tandoor oven turns out chicken, shrimp, and lamb kebabs and extensive selection of naan, roti and other breads. Chicken Tikka Masala and Masala Chai Tea are already local favorites, also served on the petite, covered patio.

227 Third St, San Rafael, 415.526.3161

McInnis Park Golf Club Restaurant


Grab a meal prepared by chef Chris Harman before or after hitting the driving range (or even without picking up a club). Outdoor seating is popular, as is the full bar, with a selection of premium Scotches, small-batch bourbons and more than 50 wines from California vineyards.

McInnis Park, 415.491.5959

Menya Shono


Noodles from ramen master Tomoharu Shono who has multiple restaurants in Tokyo and San Francisco are made in-house, the flour ground on a Japanese stonemill in the kitchen. Designed exclusively for the San Rafael location, toripaitan uses chicken broth instead of the traditional pork and is designed for every day eating but traditionalists can still get Shono’s Marin-influenced version of shoyu and matcha ramen, too. A small patio is shielded from the marine layer’s breezes.

908 Fourth St, 415.295.7112

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 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.

999 Andersen Dr, Ste. 165, 415.485.0964

Monk’s Kettle


Like the original in San Francisco, Christian Albertson’s restaurant in the shopping center kitty-corner from the Terra Linda Pool serves quaffable beers (like Pliny the Elder on tap), burgers, and pub grub to match the suds. The Mission Fried Chicken has an ardent following but there are plenty of veg-forward offerings, too, all to be enjoyed on the shaded patio.

655 Del Ganado Rd, San Rafael

Mulberry Street PizzeriaBest of Marin County 2017


Chef Ted Rowe won first place in the Food Network Television Pizza Challenge, Season 5 with his For the Love of Mushroom pizza —sautéed mushrooms in a creamy garlic sauce and a red wine reduction atop a fresh crust. Be sure to try other unique pies, like the spicy Three Beer pizza.

101 Smith Ranch Rd, 415.472.7272

Ounces Outdoors


Enjoy a small-batch, locally brewed beer or cider at an all-outdoor, dog-friendly beer garden with fire pits and bocce courts. Grab a seat at a picnic table before digging into a chile verde pork or steak and mushroom savory pie, a warm pretzel with mustard, or a caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich.

5800 Northgate Dr, 877.747.0383

Pho Viet Harbor


Of course you come for the namesake bowl of hearty soup with clear broth, beef, noodles and vegetables at this Best of the County winner. But the family-style favorite tucked behind a carpet store on an industrial stretch of Francisco Boulevard beckons with beautiful plates of pork chops with broken steamed rice and fried eggs as well as the fresh spring and imperial rolls.

555 E. Francisco Blvd, Ste. 22, 415.455.8063

Pond Farm Brewing


The microbrewery in the West End from husband and wife team Trevor and Stephanie Martens has a rotating list of beers on tap from brewer Trevor, pop-up food from local businesses in the beer garden, and snacks at the bar. Stein parking is available.

1848 Fourth St, 415.524.8709



The cuisine from chef Stephen Simmons is local, seasonal, made with naturally raised ingredients and served in a casual, comfortable and refined setting, with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the grand Peacock Gap lawns. An inviting cafe at lunch with ice-cold lemonade and refreshing chardonnays makes a great dinner spot once the sun sets.

333 Biscayne Dr, 415.454.6450

Revel & Roost


The sunflower-bedecked tables hint at the Spanish and French flavors to come from the chef driven, locally sourced menu at this corner spot in downtown San Rafael. Classic fried chicken is a must and is available in eight different combinations but Mediterranean classics like paella, fresh seafood, and signature flatbreads bring European and American flavors to the table indoors or on the covered, heated patio. The full menu is also available across the street at California Gold and a limited menu  is available at Libation Taproom.

901 B St, 415.870.9946.

Rocket Roll


There are plenty of fusion restaurants around, but not many that blend Mexican and Japanese. Rocket Roll offers everything from a spicy tuna rice bowl to yellowfin or salmon sashimi “sushi burritos.” Smoothies like the avocado fresher round out the menu.

1109 Fourth St, 415.866.0537

Sabor a Mexico


Fresh margaritas know no border, while salmon fish tacos are topped with chopped onion and cilantro a la Distrito Federal and a pambazo, a sandwich stuffed with chorizo and potato, is done up with a Jaliscan style sauce. A six table patio offers outdoor seating.

1559 Fourth St, 415.306.9404

San Rafael Joe’s


A Marin institution famous for sophisticated yet casual Italian fare since 1947. The dining room, with a friendly atmosphere and seating for 240, is great for large parties, and the roast sirloin of beef and Fettuccine Joe’s are sure to please.

931 Fourth St, 415.456.2425

Shiro Kuma


Shiro Kuma, which means polar bear, takes its inspiration from chef Yasuo Shigeyoshi’s childhood in a small rural town in the south of Japan and offers traditional-style sushi and wagyu A5 and Kobe beef to cook over ishiyaki grilling stones. Popular weekly specials include hamachi jalapeño and the omakase (chef’s choice) dinner.

1518 Fourth St, 415.295.7464

Sol FoodBest of Marin County 2017

Puerto Rican

Fast becoming a Marin legend, Sol Food whips up traditional Puerto Rican dishes just like the ones owner Sol Hernandez grew up eating. Favorites include the bistec sandwich, mofongo and other fried plantain dishes, but anything tastes good with a dash of the signature hot sauce, also for sale by the bottle (as is the lemon-garlic salad dressing). It shares space with sister restaurant, Viqtor Cafe.

901 Lincoln Ave, 415.451.4765

State Room


State Room Brewery has ditched its former diner vibe in favor of a modern gastropub. All draft beers are made on-site and are available in sizes from half-pints to take-home growlers; beer flights are also available. The menu, created by Alex Stricker and Andrew Toy, changes seasonally and includes a burrata cheese BLT and sashimi-grade tuna poke.

1132 Fourth St, 415.295.7929

Sushi to Dai ForBest of Marin County 2017


Snagging a seat in this popular Fourth Street spot can be a challenge, but patience is rewarded with fresh sashimi and unique sushi rolls.

816 Fourth St, 415.721.0392

Taj of Marin


Both North and South Indian cuisine are offered here, with lunch specials and dinners that include goat curry, spinach, lentils and tandoori.

909 Fourth St, 415.459.9555

Tam Commons Tap Room & Kitchen


Pub grub like karaage “popcorn” chicken, French bread pizza, and big meaty plates of ribs and tri-tip with all the fixin’s define the menu from chef Chris Lyon at this brewpub in a National Historic Landmark building in downtown San Rafael. A pull from one of the 34 taps yields a hand-crafted beer, cider or kombucha from local and global breweries. There is a covered patio and a cocktail menu, too.

1300 Fourth St, 415.521.5770

Uchiwa Ramen


It has been more than 7 years since Kevin and Ben opened Marin’s first ramen shop and it has found a spot in the hearts of ramen lovers for its rich broths, fresh noodles and assortment of small plates. While the tonkatsu and gluten-free options remain popular, new items such as pan-fried ramen, vegan miso ramen and rice dishes meet a variety of needs. A petite patio offers outdoor seating.

821 B St, 415.524.2727

Urban Remedy


Serving delicious organic, non-GMO cold-pressed juices, smoothies, snacks and bowls, including plenty of gluten-free, grain-free and low-glycemic-index choices, this place opened in 2013 as the first of many Bay Area locations. Raw desserts round things out. Try the vegan Caesar or give the cashew milk with cinnamon and vanilla a shot to see what Urban Remedy is all about.

1904 Fourth St, 415.786.8011

Vin Antico


Vin Antico, “where passion meets the plate,” serves seasonal market-inspired cuisine like stone-oven-baked flatbreads, handmade pastas and organic salads, all innovatively prepared. The kitchen is open to the dining room and there’s a full bar with artisan cocktails.

881 Fourth St, 415.721.0600

Viqtor Food

Puerto Rican

The latest spin-off of the Puerto Rican food empire owned by Victor Cielo and Sol Hernandez operates in the same dining space of the San Rafael original and is takeout only. Family-friendly fare (spaghetti with garlicky shrimp, tacos with red sauce) and a pork rib sandwich cradled by the original restaurant’s famous tostones incorporate the broader flavors of the Caribbean.

902 Lincoln Ave, 415.737.0655

Vivalon’s Jackson Cafe


The menu changes weekly to reflect the seasons so today’s panko crusted crab cake with potato salad and coleslaw will give way to tomorrow’s bacon and tomato mac ’n’ cheese with Caesar salad at this spot near the San Rafael Transit Center. Daily soup and sandwich choices and the hamburger are also available. 

930 Tamalpais Ave, 415.456.9062

VN Noodle & Grill


Located in Montecito Plaza, the restaurant has a robust menu of standard Vietnamese fare, including a wide selection of rice plates, pho, and of course, iced coffee.

421 Third St, 415.306.4299

Whipper Snapper Restaurant


Owner/chef Bill Higgins serves tapas, sangria and reasonably priced organic dishes. The California-Caribbean lunch and dinner cuisine blends local farm-fresh ingredients with Latin flavors. Be sure to try the popular fish tacos, Cuban “cigars” and chocolate bread pudding. Available for parties and special gatherings, plus a back patio for alfresco dining.

1613 Fourth St, 415.256.1818

Yet Wah


Named for the founder’s wife (“Yet” refers to the moon, “Wah” to brightness), this beloved mainstay has a traditional Chinese menu and daily dim sum. Live music is sometimes on offer in the Kung Fu Lounge.

1238 Fourth St, 415.460.9883