My stand-by: The Buckeye Roadhouse. There’s an old-school vibe to the place and the bar at happy hour is hopping. I love chatting with Jeff, the bartender, who also writes the Barfly column for the Marin IJ. The smoked meat dishes are the best around and I’m a devotee of their barbeque baby back ribs and beef brisket.
Pizza: For a longtime my go-to was Picco Larkspur. But I have fallen in love with San Drino on Caledonia Street in Sausalito (where I live). It’s tiny, Italian family-run, and has seriously good pizza made by the serious-faced (but always courteous) Pizzaiolo owner Alessandro right before your eyes if you sit at the bar.
Bakery/ Bread: The Parkside Café in Stinson Beach is great for a sit-down meal, or a snack after surfing, but the bakery’s fresh loaves (pesto bread is a must) are worth the drive alone, as is Bovine Bakery in Point Reyes Station — a great place to stop for morning coffee and a fresh baked scone or pain au chocolat before a hike, or after.
Bar food: Flatiron in San Rafael is really fun on game days and they have amazing food that eschews boring bar bite fare. Tater tots, chicharrones, cheeseburger sliders, and a bahn mi sandwich are great, but I can’t resist the “mom’s crispy tacos.” Soft are trendier it seems, but crispy are my favorite
Italian : When I lived in Tiburon, I was a regular at Don Antonio Trattoria. My husband is Italian and they had his favorite cake Torta della Nonna. I see that it’s no longer on their “dolci” menu, which really breaks my heart. My daughter introduced us to Cucina in San Anselmo, which has now become a regular stop. I especially love their crostini de burrata and the gnocchi, which they were out of last time I went. Note to self: book an earlier table on Saturday night!