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 suburban 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.


Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria | Arizmendi Bakery | Best Lil’ Porkhouse | Boiadeirus Steak | Fenix | Flatiron | Il Davide | Johnny Doughnuts | La Toscana Ristorante & Bar | LaVier Cusine | Le Chalet Basque | Le Comptoir | Lo Coco’s Authentic Italian Pizzeria | Los Moles | Lotus Cuisine of India Restaurant | Magnolia Park KitchenMcInnis Park Golf Club Restaurant | Mulberry Street Pizzeria | Panama Hotel Restaurant | Pho Viet | Ponsford’s Place | Range Cafe | Rocket Roll | San Rafael Joe’s | Shiro Kuma | Sol Food | State Room | Sushi to DaiFor |Tam Commons Tap Room & KitchenTaj of Marin | Terrapin Crossroads | Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food | TomatinaUchiwa Ramen | Urban Remedy | Vin Antico | VN Noodle & Grill | Whipper Snapper RestaurantYet Wah



Amici’s East Coast Pizzeria

California, $$ Lunch and Dinner

Best 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, for dine-in, takeout and delivery. Gluten-free pizza crust is available.

1242 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.455.9777, amicis.com



Arizmendi Bakery

California, $ Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch and Dinner


A worker-owned bakery cafe, Arzimendi prides itself on high-quality local ingredients. Visit any time of day for coffee and pastries, breakfast and lunch sandwiches, and thin-crust artisan sourdough pizza.

1002 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.456.4093, arizmendisanrafael.com



Best Lil’ Porkhouse

American, $$ Brunch, Lunch and Dinner


For a selection of authentic Southern appetizers, smoked ribs, pulled pork, outstanding wings, sliders and homemade barbecue sauce, head to this barbecue joint just off Highway 101. The vibe is honky-tonk and the bar boasts two pool tables and several televisions always tuned into the latest sporting events. Opt for a “Stina,” the famous pomegranate/jalapeño margarita.

2042 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.457.7675, bestlilporkhouse.com


Boiadeirus Steak

Brazilian, $$$, Lunch and Dinner

The picanha is the signature cut at this Brazilian-style steakhouse where gauchos carrying grilled meats on long swords cruise the room, offering portions of up to 10 meats. A huge salad bar offers everything from feijoada and potato salad to yucca and deviled eggs.

925 Fourth St, San Rafael

628.253.5854, boiadeirus.com



California, $$ Brunch, Dinner


An intimate live-music venue in the heart of downtown San Rafael, Fenix features inspired California cuisine with a Southern French twist. Executive chef Lorenzo Villacampa brings a world of expertise, having worked at the Dubai InterContinental Hotel and the Gloria Plaza Hotel in Beijing, among other fine dining locations.

919 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.813.5600, fenixlive.com




American, $$ Lunch and Dinner


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, San Rafael
415.453.4318, flatironsanrafael.com



Il Davide

Italian, $$$ Lunch and Dinner


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. A private party dining room accommodates up to 45.

901 A St, San Rafael
415.454.8080, ildavide.net



Johnny Doughnuts

American, $ Breakfast, Lunch


The fresh doughnuts are handmade in small batches with local dairy products in the dough and fillings. Stop by the shop or have the food truck come to you.

1617 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.450.1866, johnnydoughnuts.com



La Toscana Ristorante & Bar

Italian, $$$ Lunch and Dinner


Family owned and operated since 1985, La Toscana has 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 Highway, San Rafael
415.492.9100, ristorantelatoscana.com



LaVier Cusine

Mexican, $$ Brunch, Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2017

Free-range meat and fresh seafood are the focus at this all-organic eatery run by Gabriela and her husband Guillermo, who hails from Yucatán. Try the popular puffy fish tacos with slaw and black beans. Brunch is served on weekends until 2 p.m.

1025 C St, San Rafael
415.295.7990, lavierlatinfusion.com



Le Chalet Basque

French, $$$ Lunch and Dinner


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 Road, San Rafael
415.479.1070, chaletbasque.com



Le Comptoir

French, $$ Dinner


The owners of San Francisco’s Gamine have opened their second restaurant, this time in the heart of San Rafael. The bistro serves up traditional French favorites like beef cheeks bourguignon and onion soup gratinée in a chic and cozy setting. If you’re planning to go, call ahead.

1301 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.454.5454, lecomptoirsr.com



Lo Coco’s Authentic Italian Pizzeria

Pizza, $$

Best of Marin County 2018

Classic pies served in a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere

631 Del Ganado Rd, San Rafael
415.472.3323, lococosterralinda.com



Los Moles

Mexican, $$ Brunch, Lunch and Dinner


Nestled centrally on Lincoln Avenue, Los Moles offers traditional pueblo Mexican cuisine, with — you guessed it — a variety of different moles to enhance your dish. Offering brunch, lunch, dinner and party options, Los Moles’ menu includes enmoladas, tacos, pollo al horno, carne asada, flan and much more. Don’t miss Taco Tuesday night for all-you-can-eat tacos.

912 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael
415.453.5850, losmoles.com



Lotus Cuisine of India Restaurant

Indian, $$ Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2017

A “Best of Marin” poll winner since 1999, family-owned and -operated Lotus serves up organic North Indian cuisine with many vegan and vegetarian options. It is a certified green business with an energy-efficient kitchen and features a retractable rooftop and exotic interior decor. The reasonably priced dishes are made with local, non-GMO and gluten-free ingredients.

704 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.456.5808, lotusrestaurant.com



Magnolia Park Kitchen

American, $$ Breakfast, Lunch


This American bistro features lots of farm-fresh salads and sandwiches to choose from. The outdoor patio is well suited to sipping a glass of wine or enjoying a signature fried chicken bomb sandwich.

1016 Court St, San Rafael
415.521.5591, magnoliaparkkitchen.com



McInnis Park Golf Club Restaurant

American, $$$ Lunch and Dinner


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, San Rafael
415.491.5959, mcinnisparkgolfcenter.com



Mulberry Street Pizzeria

Italian, $$

Best of Marin County 2017

Chef Ted Rowe won first place in the Food Network Television Pizza Challenge 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 Road, San Rafael
415.472.7272, mulberrystreetpizzasanrafael.com



Panama Hotel Restaurant

American, $$$ Brunch, Lunch and Dinnner

Best of Marin County 2017

The dinner menu has a large selection — tortilla soup to pumpkin and ricotta raviolis — but it’s the Sunday brunch that will please the kids. Try the Panama Waffle with Grand Marnier–infused strawberries, topped with mascarpone, plus a pitcher of “make-your-own” mimosas for the adults. The tropical garden is a prime spot for people-watching.

4 Bayview St, San Rafael
415.457.3993, panamahotel.com



Pho Viet

Vietnamese, $

Best of Marin County 2018

On the bay’s more blustery days, nothing tops a steaming bowl of soup. Try the brisket and beef pho at this local Vietnamese favorite.

555 E. Francisco Blvd. #22, San Rafael
415.455.8063, phovietmarin.com



Ponsford’s Place

American, $

Best of Marin County 2018

The baked goods are incredible at Ponsford’s, thanks to Craig Ponsford, an instructor at the Culinary Institute and member of the Bread Baker’s Guild of America, making this the perfect place to grab an amazing breakfast.




Range Cafe

American, $$ Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


The cuisine 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 Drive, San Rafael
415.454.6450, rangecafe.net



Rocket Roll

Japanese, $ Lunch and Dinner


There are plenty of fusion restaurants around, but not many that blend Mexican and Japanese. Rocketroll 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



San Rafael Joe’s

Italian, $$ Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2015

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, San Rafael
415.456.2425, sanrafaeljoe.com



Shiro Kuma

Japanese, $$ Lunch and Dinner

What’s Hot

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, San Rafael
415.295.7464, sushishirokuma.com



Sol Food

Puerto Rican, $$ Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2015

Fast becoming a Marin legend, Sol Food whips up traditional Puerto Rican dishes just like the ones owners 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).

901 Lincoln Ave, San Rafael
415.451.4765, solfoodrestaurant.com



State Room

American, $$ Lunch and Dinner


Formerly the Broken Drum, State Room Brewery has ditched the 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, San Rafael
415.295.7929, stateroombrewery.com



Sushi to DaiFor

Japanese, $$ Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2017

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

816 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.721.0392, sushitodaifor.net



Taj of Marin

Indian, $ Lunch and Dinner

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, San Rafael
415.459.9555, tajofmarin.com

Tam Commons Tap Room & Kitchen

American, $$ Wine and Beer

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.

1300 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.521.5770, tamcommons.com


Terrapin Crossroads

American, $$ Brunch, Dinner

What's Hot Marin  Best of Marin County 2017

This waterfront restaurant and music venue presents fresh food and local talent, and was opened by former Grateful Dead member Phil Lesh. The menu offers salads, savory dishes and wood-fired pizzas plus a wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails. Come for the food, stay for the music.

100 Yacht Club Drive, San Rafael



Theresa & Johnny’s Comfort Food

American, $$ Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch

Best of Marin County 2018 Best of Marin County 2017

A favorite with both the kids and the foodie set, this charming eatery serves food like Mom used to make. Drop by for eggs Benedict, tuna melts, coffee and some of the best milkshakes around.

817 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.259.0182, theresa-and-johnnys.com




Italian, $$ Lunch and Dinner


Tomatina takes a modern approach to traditional Italian with house-made pasta, pizzas and signature piadine: fresh, hot flatbreads topped with cool salads, ready to fold and eat.

5800 Northgate Mall, San Rafael
415.479.3200, tomatina.com



Uchiwa Ramen

Japanese, $$ Lunch and Dinner


When owners Benson Yang and Kevin Fong decided to open Marin’s first ramen shop in 2014, they weren’t sure what to expect. Three years later, Uchiwa remains loved by ramen enthusiasts for its rich broths, fresh noodles and wide assortment of appetizers. Vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options available.

821 B St, San Rafael
415.991.3693, uchiwaramen.com



Urban Remedy

American, $$ Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner


Now 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, San Rafael
415.786.8011, urbanremedy.com



Vin Antico

American, $$ Lunch and Dinner


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, San Rafael
415.721.0600, vinantico.com



VN Noodle & Grill

Vietnamese, $$ Lunch and Dinner


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, San Rafael



Whipper Snapper Restaurant

Caribbean, $$ Lunch and Dinner


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, San Rafael
415.256.1818, whipsnap.biz



Yet Wah

Chinese, $$ Lunch and Dinner

Best of Marin County 2015

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. Expect live music in the Kung Fu Lounge.

1238 Fourth St, San Rafael
415.460.9883, yetwahsanrafael.com



Categories: Where to Eat