In the past 10 years, Sausalito has gone from restaurant wasteland to wonderland. There are now at least seven truly excellent restaurants and several that are just a notch below. This is quite a shock for those of us grew up here and fled the tourist traps of Sausalito to find a decent restaurant meal. But now, I do not think there is a better concentration of excellent restaurants in a small town, anywhere in America.
TOP TIER (Our Favorites)
350 Harbor Drive
One of the world’s best and most unassuming fish restaurants is about four blocks away on the Sausalito Waterfront. The owner of Fish, Kenny Belov, is the leading proponent of sustainable seafood harvesting. His restaurant combines environmental consciousness with fabulously tasty seafood. Items change every day, but the fish taco is cheap and delicious, the fish and chips are some of the best you will ever have, the po-boy is the best, west of New Orleans and the grilled fish of the day over a Caesar salad is always perfectly done. More elaborate items are on the black board. At the end you will marvel at how they can do all this and make such incredible deserts.
Notes: No reservations required, cash only, family seating.
This elegant Japanese restaurant with a California twist is consistently rated one of the Bay Area’s top eating destinations, and that is against phenomenal competition. Start with a sake cocktail. Do not miss the vegetarian sampler. After that you are on your own, but you cannot miss.
Notes: Reservation advised, nice waiting area, good counter service for two.
This is a large, cutting edge Italian restaurant that still manages to feel warm and intimate. It has a dual personality as a sidewalk café for breakfast or lunch. However at all times it is absolutely delightful. The restaurant is owned by Larry Mindel, who founded the Il Fornaio chain. Larry lives in Sausalito and he wanted a place for his home base.
The end result is an extraordinarily inventive menu that combines familiar dishes with more obscure delights you will find nowhere else. The menu ranges wildly from strawberries with arugula, goat cheese red onion and hazelnuts to a porcini mushroom pizza to spinach ricotta pillow with beef ragu and on to varieties of meats and seafood in preparations you have never sampled before. They cure their own meats, make their own pasta and have regular festivals of truffles, tomatoes or whatever pleases Larry. Delicious.
601 Murray Circle, Fort Baker
Murray Circle has a Michelin star and is always included in the lists of top 100 Bay Area Restaurants. Personally, my experiences there have been inconsistent. But they have a new chef and the feedback has been very good. They also have one of the most beautiful locations in the world, right under the Golden Gate Bridge. The secret at Murray Circle is to get there at 5:00PM. Snag the end, outdoor table at Farley’s Bar and order a platter of oysters and several glasses of champagne. Then when Murray Circle opens just behind you, order a couple of starters and you will go home very happy.
85 Liberty Ship Way
Le Garage, a French Bistro, is one of those secret gems that feel like a private discovery. Tucked away in the waterfront on Schoonmaker Point, you feel like you might have been blindfolded and led to another land. But a very nice land this is indeed. Authentically French, with excellent moules and steak frites, Le Garage is a lively and happening spot for any meal, with any group. Reservations advised.
15 Shoreline Highway
Technically the Buckeye is not in Sausalito. But it is about 500 yards away near the next 101 exit to Mill Valley. You will find in on the on-ramp to Hwy 101.
The Buckeye has been around for a long time. Year after year it keeps delivering one of the most satisfying dining experiences anywhere. This is not where you go for nouveau cuisine. But for the best oysters bingo, veal chop, ribs, and brick chicken you will ever find, this is your spot. It is impossible to have a bad meal at the Buckeye. It is better at dinner and reservations are strongly advised. Another casual, but elegant restaurant. Reservations advised.
Simply put, the best latte and pastries in Northern California. Indulge.
Gate Six Road and Bridgeway
I mention Bayside because they are on the corner about two blocks from the Ferry. This is a fine diner with a huge selection of omelets, burgers and sandwiches. Good, reliable, friendly and close. Fine burger. Amble over for some great pancakes, and pick up the paper and some milk at the corner market. Three stops in one.
If you do not want to drive to San Francisco, Tommy Wok serves excellent Chinese food that is fresh and very well prepared. It is fancier and more expensive than the hundreds of amazing restaurants on Clement in SF or out in the Avenues. But it is also four blocks away.
Avatars is a Sausalito institution. The Indian family who own it is beloved and Chris used to coach their kids in little league. Izzi and Nate think very highly of the food. Chris is less impressed, but when you want Jamaican/Indian fusion, close and easy, this is the spot.
Plate opened with a lot of funding and press. It promptly fell on its face. They were too pretentious for Caledonia Street. But now the restaurant has settled in and is getting good reviews. They are highly rated on Trip Advisor, whatever that is worth. Prices have moderated. We have not tried it since the opening week, which was tasty but chaos. The menu is inventive. Try it and report back so we can give it a proper review
This is a hole in the wall Thai restaurant about four blocks away. It is just next to Tommy’s Wok. Cheap, good reliable Thai, lunch food.
Neighborhood hang out. Local Favorite. Chris thinks this is the best breakfast in Sausalito.
475 Gate Five Road
Nearby low–key diner. Izzi thinks this is the best breakfast in Sausalito
Mediocre food. Unbelievable view of San Francisco. Currently being remodeled. Fingers crossed on the food.
Nearby Pizza. Pretty good. But we prefer to order from Dominos as they deliver to the Ferry.
Best for Kids: