Marin County is located along the coast of the Point Reyes peninsula. This area just North of San Francisco is home to many historic farms and ranches, as well as a diverse array of protected areas and open space preserves. Food producers on the Point Reyes Peninsula have been vanguards in the food and farming movement, proving that something better for the planet, that is also economically viable, is possible. This has significantly contributed to the “eat local” movement in the Bay Area, and the Bay’s role in propagating that sustainable food shed model.
On the eastern shore of Tomales Bay you’ll find the Tomales Bay Oyster Company situated just off the side of Scenic Highway 1. Compared to ranching, oyster farming has a smaller footprint and produces higher quality calories with fewer inputs. It minimally impacts the marine environment; it requires no feeding and no fertilization. It can be a valuable component of a working landscape, and a delicious treat raw or barbequed on site.
Marin Sun Farms is a butcher and restaurant that sells meat from animals raised on a ranch in the designated “pastoral” zone of Point Reyes National Park. They offer a simple, well curated, menu of quality meat prepared to perfection. They even offer farm tours where you can see how they raise and feed their animals, and learn about their sustainable business model. I am a vegetarian, and only eat meat when the business is local, ethical, and transparent. Marin Sun Farms has it all, and their lamb burger topped with lamb bacon literally gave me an orgasm.
If you are not too particular about organic and local food, a Whale of A Deli, in Point Reyes Station is a no frills deli/general store/Mexican restaurant. There’s nothing to the ambiance, but their nachos are some of my all time favorite—and I am somewhat of a connoisseur. Everything is on point: their avocado slices are always perfectly ripe, their salsa has a good bite, their chips are crisp and not too salty, they use queso fresco, not rubbery cheddar, and everything is evenly distributed, guaranteeing perfect bites to the finish.
A few doors down at the Station House cafe you’ll get more of the casual upscale ambiance. They focus on local, sustainably sourced ingredients served as California comfort foods. The burrata (like mozzarella only more amazing) with warm toast and the popover sides will leave you blissed out beyond words.
The San Rafael Farmer’s Market takes place at the Marin County Civic Center. This Frank Lloyd Wright designed building was built after the famous architect’s death in 1960. The second floor balcony of this National Historic Landmark has a private picnic spot with a stellar view.
If you are looking for more than the food carts, fresh veggies, and baked good at the farmer’s market, I know just the place. Sol Food, on the main drag in San Rafael is Puerto Rican food done right. This local stronghold makes classic and healthy Puerto Rican food better than I ever had in Puerto Rico. I’ve had dozens of meals here, and have never gone wrong. I highly recommend the Poche (Mango Tea), the Tostones, Maduros, and the Flan de Coco. But really, you can’t go wrong and you have to go!
With vendors catering to hippies, locavores, and Latin American roots, this bucolic North Bay enclave has it all.