Friday, February 29, 2008

View from Gaylord's

It's breakfast time again.
Time flies, and I thought it time to refresh the Marin breakfast list. My definition for a 'breakfast' place is that they open before 9 a.m. on a weekday and have at least one protein choice on the menu (no American-style continental breakfasts count). Those restaurants who choose to open only on weekends or a weekend day for brunch are really not breakfast places in my mind, but I list them separately as they usually do a bit more upscale and interesting things on the weekends and make a nice round out to the week.

I welcome your comments to point me to other places for breakfast in Marin or your experiences with any of these.

I continue to keep my blog's sidebar updated with a legend indicating with a * after restaurant links if breakfast is served there, and ** for weekend brunch only places (some brunch only places only serve one of the weekend days, so you should check before showing up). The links below go to my review (most recent whether breakfast or other), if there is a restaurant website, it's listed in the review.

Places I've been for breakfast

Corte Madera
Champagne French Bakery and Cafe
Corte Madera Cafe
Max's Cafe

Koffee Klatch

Cafe Z


Cafe Z

Mill Valley
Caffe Oggi
Champagne French Bakery Cafe
La Boulange
Mama's Royal Cafe
Mill Valley Coffee Shop
Rain Tree Cafe
Shoreline Coffee Shop
Strawberry Gourmet Delicatessen
Toast Cafe

Willie's Cafe


Half Day Cafe
Willie's Cafe

Burritoville Cafe
Ward Street Cafe - Brunch only

Muir Beach
Pelican Inn - Brunch only

Chez Pierre
Fernando's Restaurant - Brunch only
Finnegan's Marin-Brunch only
Golden Egg Omelet House
Grant Ave Cafe
Hamilton Cafe - Brunch only
Star Restaurant
The Garden - Brunch only

Pine Cone Diner

Point Reyes

Pine Cone Diner

Bayside Cafe
Bridgeway Cafe
Caffe DiVino
Caffe Trieste
Fred's Coffee Shop
Lighthouse Cafe
Louie's Deli Cafe
Pomodoro Pizza Cafe
Sartaj India Cafe
Sausalito Bakery & Cafe

Dave & Mike's Restaurant
New Morning Cafe
Sam's Anchor Cafe
Sweden House Bakery & Cafe
Three Degrees

San Anselmo
Comforts Cafe
Hilda's Coffee Shop

San Geronimo

Two Bird Cafe

San Rafael
Bobby's Cafe
Bogie's Cafe
Eduardo's Restaurant
Lighthouse Diner
Lundy's Home Cooking
The Crepevine
Le Croissant
Pier 15 - Brunch only (brunch and after 9/10 a.m. every day)
Taqueria Bahia - Brunch only
Theresa & Johnny's Comfort Food
West End Cafe Deli & Market

Stinson Beach
Parkside Cafe

Places yet to go for breakfast

Coast Cafe - Brunch only

Barefoot Cafe
Cafe Amsterdam

Road Runner Burrito

Left Bank - Brunch only
Tabla Cafe - Brunch only
Café Lucano

Mill Valley
Buckeye Roadhouse - Brunch only
Depot Bookstore & Cafe
Piazza D'Angelo - Brunch only
Small Shed Flatbreads - Brunch only
Vasco - Brunch only

Ranch Nicasio - Brunch only

Marvin's Breakfast Club
Mary's Place
Skully's Bakery & Cafe (T-Sat 7 a.m. - mostly pastries with fritattas)
The Garden - Brunch only
Wild Fox - Brunch only

Olema Farm House - Brunch only

Point Reyes
Station House Cafe

San Anselmo

San Rafael
Casa Manana- Brunch and after 9 a.m. weekdays
La Hacienda - Brunch and after 9 a.m. weekdays
Panama Hotel & Restaurant
Redwood Cafe
Seafood Peddler - Brunch only

San Anselmo
Bubba's Diner
Insalata's - Brunch only

Anchorage 5 Restaurant

Previous round-ups:
August 20, 2007
May 6, 2007
November 19, 2006

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Marvin's Breakfast Club

The rain was with me.
Usually Marvin's Breakfast Club is so packed even the outside tables have a line waiting for them. Now that I've gone, I can see why. I didn't have breakfast, but the breakfast plate that whizzed past me were a sight to behold. Golden potatoes, perfectly shaped eggs... it smelled delicious also.

Vegetarian Taco Salad

This saucy little nook is run by three ladies, one of which is the owner, and they are quite friendly and funny. They cheerfully and deliciously converted the taco salad into a vegetarian one using refried beans instead of beef. It was fresh, good and inventive. I wouldn't have put some of the ingredients in a taco salad, such as pickles, raw onions, but the cucumber slices were delightful! If you can ever get a space in this Novato hang-out, grab it!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lobster dinner

Big sky kind of day.
Yesterday I came back from Central California with lots of good things in the works. It was also spectacularly beautiful. The sky was so blue and seemed to be endless as far as the eye could see in some places. But more about that later in the post. I'd like to introduce you to a lovely dining spot in Visalia, The Depot. Our client took us to dinner there, and it's always wise to trust a local to know the best places. I couldn't resist snapping the shot of this succulent, moist and very large lobster tail. It was one of the best I've ever had. He also advised us to ask for the 'off-menu' twice baked potato, which also was fabulous, with just the right amount of flavorings to set off the freshly baked flesh. The pan roasted broccoli and carrots were very flavorful and finished to the correct doneness. The accompanying Caesar salad had the added color of some diced tomatoes which made it quite festive. It was also very fresh and had great dressing. The dessert, an orange and cream cheesecake, tasted like a cheesecake Popsicle. A bit too much given the rest of the meal, but tasty.

The Depot

The Depot is housed in a converted railway station, complete with beautiful stained glass and a warm interior. The staff is also quite warm and friendly. If you are looking for fine dining in the central part of California, this place is definitely worth an evening and your money.

Almond trees in bloom

If you are anywhere in the Central Valley, don't miss appreciating all the beautiful almond trees in bloom. It's simply breathtaking to look down these rows and see nothing but blossoms as far as you can see.


And it was interesting to see all the bee houses at the end of the rows. Those bees must be in heaven amongst all those blossoms! A close up of those below. Spring has sprung!

Almond blossoms

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Siam Lotus

Behind these pink walls lies some great food. Another foray into Fairfax, and I notice Siam Lotus is open for lunch. Friendly people and a well-cared for place greets me. A menu with a wide variety of choices soon lands in my hands.


Still being rather cold and rainy, I was attracted by the soups. The Tom-Ka Noodle soup looks particularly attractive, described as "rice noodle with tofu and seasonal vegetables in galanga coconut milk broth." I asked about the 'galanga', and was told that it is an herb in the ginger family. Whatever family it is, it works. this vegetable laden soup has a smooth and refreshing taste with loads of bright vegetables. I highly recommend it and this Thai oasis just across from Fairfax's main parking lot.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Barefoot Cafe

I love nice surprises. I drove to Fairfax for the fun of it one rainy day last week, and happened upon a restaurant I hadn't heard of yet. And I seem to have a left-looking neck freeze as when I drive into Fairfax from the east, I'm always looking towards the big parking space in the middle, rather than the charming businesses on the other side of the road. Barefoot Cafe is one of them.

Fairfax view

I'm always looking this direction, which also happens to be the view out the door of the Barefoot Cafe.

Cream of Artichoke Soup with Mushroom Sandwich

I was pleased to see a whole section of vegetarian sandwiches, including this one, the mushroom sandwich. I had the bread toasted and ordered the recommended cream of artichoke soup. The soup was as fantastic as the waitress said. The sandwich was great as well. For me, vegetarian sandwiches can be hit or miss, but this one definitely was satisfying as a sandwich, with good flavor and texture. I took a peek at the dinner menu, seems to have a heavy Italian leaning. And the breakfast menu looked fabulous as well. It is open every day for breakfast! You know I'll be visiting again for it.


And here is where I am tonight (Sunday) as I write this. I'm on the road, visiting a client south of here in the morning. If I can appropriately do it (I will be dining with the client), I'll blog a little later this week of my dining adventures here in Central California. A quick factoid - Selma, a city I passed on the way here has a big sign stating "Raisin Capital of the World" (see location on above map). A hint from my companion, and a little detective work found that indeed, this is an apt declaration as 90% of US raisins are produced within 8 miles of Selma! The US is the largest producer of raisins in the world, with Turkey ranking second. If you combine the production of the US and Turkey, it accounts for 80% of world raisin production!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Panda Express

Anna does the drive-thru.
It was a very rainy afternoon, the kind that makes you just want to curl up in a blanket in front of a fire and not go out. But out I was, at an afternoon class on the CPI (California Psychological Inventory) related to my graduate studies. So it seemed just the time to grab & go.

Drive Through

Having experienced Panda Express as unusually good for 'fast food', I took the drive through option in this nasty weather. I ordered two of the same "Panda Bowls" for Dad & I. Half & half fried rice/chow mein with a topping of stir fried eggplant and tofu.

Eggplant Tofu Panda Bowl

I got it home and although the lid squishes it a bit, it tasted great, and Dad concurred. A delicious dinner for two for $10.24 including a fortune cookie qualifies as a pretty cool find.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Kitti's Place

Comfort in the rain.
When it's raining, often one just feels like the tried and true. So it was Thursday when I seemed to be in Seattsalito. Kitti's Place is quite nearby my workplace and there was a parking spot right in front, so in I went. The staff were their usual warm and friendly selves.

Emperor's Noodles

I tried a special, Emperor's Noodles, but I asked for the pork to be changed to tofu. So these had a salty, soy, garlicky taste with prawns, tofu and thinly sliced vegetables, and were quickly wok-fried. A very satisfying, and a bit too filling lunch. Kitti's Place remains, on all counts a very recommendable place for a casual Thai-inspired treat.

June 4, 2007
September 19, 2006
September 25, 2005

Friday, February 22, 2008

Puentez Taqueria

The locals know it. I arrived after 7 p.m., and right after me came a steady stream of locals, including a couple policemen. Policemen often know the best values around. Puentez Taqueria is a good value. My meal was $10.36 + tip, and the food was in generous portion. And the high speed wireless internet is free, although I didn't bring my mac. This is a family run business, and I had an enjoyable conversation with the young man at the counter who told me he enjoys 'street basketball'. I'd never heard of it, and asked him what that meant. Apparently it's quite anarchistic in that there is no real organization. The players just show up - or not, there are no teams, and it seems as though it's as much about showing off great tricks and plays as actually playing. Sounds like a young man's fun!

Cactus taco, Vegetable taco, Cheese tamale

Not realizing the portions, I tried assembling my own 'plate', which they gave me unassembled. I tried a cactus taco (left), veggie taco (next right), cheese tamale (continuing counter clockwise), with pinto beans and rice. The cactus taco was fine, but the veggie taco was wonderful. You can guess which one I actually finished. The cheese tamale was a little dried out around the edges, but aside from that, had a nice flavor. I forgot to ask if the pinto beans were entirely vegetarian or not, but they were good, ditto the rice.

NOTE: I just received confirmation from Puentez Taqueria that their pinto beans are indeed vegetarian, no animal fats nor meat in them at all!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Hamilton Cafe

Sunny Spot.
No matter what's going on elsewhere, it always seems to me that Hamilton field is warm and sunny. I was reminded of that again when Dad and I stopped by the Hamilton Cafe for brunch last weekend. The interior of this cafe is warm, with paintings adorning every wall. There was Italian opera playing in the background, and it looked like local folk enjoy hanging out here. We did too.

Garden Crepe

I tried out their Garden Crepes (Avocado, mushrooms, onions, bell pepper, Jack cheese, tomato, sour cream & chives), which came with fruit and - or Adriatic fries (I was told that these are like regular breakfast potatoes except they have onion and garlic sauteed with them). I chose the fruit, and enjoyed these delicate yet delectable rolls of fresh vegetable delights.

Veggie Burger

Dad always thinks 'brunch' is funny. Growing up on a farm, one had three squares in between all those farm chores he likes to remind me that he did. Things like milking cows by hand, tilling the soil, and pulling weeds. So he'd not have eggs for lunch thank you, but a veggie burger. Well, he has made some modernization. His father was trained as a butcher, and they raised their own steers, so he had VERY fresh meat, and much was shared with the neighbors. (The neighbors brought their cattle in for my grandfather to butcher as well, and they returned the favor.) My Dad has a soft heart, and as long as I've known him he wouldn't knowingly eat veal. So he's gone on from beef to mostly veggie burgers, happily. Hamilton Cafe is a casual and comfortable, yet has a spark to its personality. It was a nice place to enjoy a lazy weekend brunch.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Sushi to Dai For

Been dying to try.
I found a good opening to try Sushi to Dai For in its new space, it's LARGE new space. It's huge and echoing and I can imagine it hopping with fun at night. So what if the rolls aren't very authentic. They are inventive and artistic, and the menu is huge.

Niagra Roll

I decided to try the Niagra roll, a special. Albacore tuna paired with something green, I've already forgotten - either avocado or cucumber, with green tea soba noodles, daikon radish spouts and a drizzle of jalepeno (hot!) ponzu over the top. I had my doubts about this combination, but it worked! I'd order the same again if it were to appear on the menu.

Steamed shrimp shumai

Not realizing that the Niagra roll would be a meal in itself, I also ordered the steamed shrimp shumai. These were steaming hot, fresh and tender. Well worth having again sometime. The service was a bit confused, but friendly. I think they are still working out the logistics of such a cavernous place.

Previous reviews:
September 4, 2007
March 9, 2007

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Golden Gate Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant

Chances are good, and fortune smiles.
Sometimes things just 'click'. So I got stuck yesterday in the bicycling race traffic in Sausalito. Seeing that it was much worse going back the way I came, I decided on such a beautiful sunny day, I'd just keep heading south with my Dad, and enjoy some lunch in San Francisco. Clement street is a likely place for good food, and I soon happened upon "Golden Gate Dim Sum Seafood Restaurant" with its big red "Grand Opening" sign. I couldn't resist stopping.

Golden Gate Menu

Turns out, that was a very good choice. I loved that they had a duplicate copy check off sheet with all the dim sum choices in Chinese/English and offered House Special plates at the bottom portion of the sheet. The prices were right too, $2, $2.50 & $3 for dim sum choices, and $4.50 for the plates. The colorful menu with photos of the food helped in the ordering. This way, everyone's food came out at its peak of flavor and temperature. With such temptation, we over did it a bit, but hey, it was a holiday! And here's what we picked:

Steamed Shrimp Dumplings
Steamed Shrimp Dumplings

Steamed Scallop Dumplings
Steamed Scallop Dumplings

Pan Fried Turnip Cakes
Pan Fried Turnip Cakes

Sticky Rice with Lotus Leaves
Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf

Sticky Rice inside the Lotus Leaves

The rice in the open leaf. It has minced pork and mushrooms in it too. (Yep, first red meat for me since Dec. 9th, and worth it! The turnip cakes took me by surprise too, as they had some Chinese sausage bits.)

Pan Fried Shrimp Puffs
Pan Fried Shrimp Puffs

The crisp wrapping was 'yuba' in Japanese, it was made of dried soy bean curd in Chinese-English. However you describe it, it was crispy and the interior was filled with luscious shrimp and herbs. Quite delicious.

Pan Fried Chives Dumplings
Pan Fried Chive Dumplings

Dad and I were really slowing down by the time these arrived.. and I had an ooops! with one, belying what I told the host earlier about not needing a fork since I'd a lot of practice in Japan. One of these shot out of my smoothly slippery chopsticks grasp and shot into the wall and on the floor!

Frog in Pond

Then we had to visit the garden behind the glass wall in the back. It was delightful with blooming orchids, a blossoming tree and koi and a turtle swimming around in the pond.

Koi Pond

It also came with a delightful boy and perhaps his grandmother, who kept telling me the best shots in Chinese. (No I don't understand it, but somehow I understood her and we smiled together.) You've got to click on the above photo and enlarge it to catch the wonderful smile on that boy's face. You'll also get a better look at the live turtle in the center.

Blossoms in Garden
Blossoming Tree

Koi in Pond again

Koi in Pond

More Koi in Pond
and more koi!

Homeward bound view

And we took the long way home through Sea Cliff, where rounding random corners offer views that make you inhale! Now this is what I call a lunch break!

Monday, February 18, 2008

Pacific Catch

Sushi on Sunday. I didn't have any this time, but I had found myself a week or two earlier looking for a Marin location that served sushi at lunch on Sundays. Pacific Catch in Corte Madera is the only place that I could come up with.


Dad and I stopped by here for Valentine's Day lunch after getting Dad's hair cut around the corner. This sweet little nibbling plate is still given you with your menus.

Fish and Sweet Potato Chips

Dad was craving fish and chips, and this time was so adventurous as to try the sweet potato chips. He must have liked them since he ate every last one, and he usually leaves some fries behind. He said the fish was good too, I believe it was tilapia.

BC Coho salmon with Maui Onion, Grilled Bok Choy and Pineapple Fried Rice

I tried a daily special, a British Columbia farmed grilled Coho salmon served on a banana leaf, with grilled bok choy, maui onions and pineapple fried rice. It was a nice symphony of tastes.

Last reviewed:
January 25, 2007