What does Biteclub do on vacation? I’m at the Sonoma Coast all this week checking out the food scene that sometimes gets overlooked, but deserves a serious spotlight. As things heat up inland the coast is our cool-weather chowder and crab sandwich getaway through the summer. (PS, this isn’t a comprehensive list, just a few spots I went to).
The Duck Club Restaurant at Bodega Bay Lodge has changed its name to Drake’s. Chef Jeffrey Reilly is still at the helm, and the menu still reflects the local West Sonoma County bounty, with local cheeses, seafood and of course Jeff’s Mom’s chocolate cake. 103 CA-1, Bodega Bay.
We’ve been sussing out the best crab sandwich (Dungeness crab fishing is still happening) and so far Spud Point (1910 Westshore Rd, Bodega Bay) is still our favorite. We’re still fans of their homemade chowder, as well, which even locals (we asked) said is the best in the Bay.
If only more menus had an asterisk at the bottom stating that they deep fry in local pork lard. That alone is worth the cost of admission to the Estero Cafe (4450 Highway 1, Valley Ford, open 7a.m. to 3p.m.), though the breakfast sandwich of two fried eggs, grilled Village Bakery sourdough bread, Estero Gold cheese, onion and mayo with bacon from the Sonoma Meat Co. will fill your belly for a long day of hiking along the coast. The couple who purchased the cafe a year or so ago are dedicated to using local produce and ingredients, making it a legit spot for true farm to table eats. Wednesday night dinner is served weekly, but the spot is typically a breakfast, brunch and lunch spot where you find locals hunched over a cuppa joe at the counter.
Point Reyes Station
The bustling West Marin town of Point Reyes Station is a foodie destination as home to Cowgirl Creamery, Bovine Bakery, Tomales Bay Foods, the Station Cafe and Osteria Stellina. Tomales Bay Foods is a favorite picnic supply spot, where you can grab some Cowgirl (and other) cheese, sandwiches, wine and bread to sustain your day at the coast. The creamery’s Red Hawk washed rind cheese is made in Point Reyes, as you can smell distinctly, though the rest of their products are made in Petaluma. We made a pilgrimage to Osteria Stellina (11285 CA-1, Point Reyes Station), a distinctly West Marin Italian restaurant that’s grabbed some national attention for its pastas and pizzas, though after the departure of Chef John Helquist last November has reportedly stumbled a bit. And while we noticed a couple of frustrated customers at lunch (one sent back oysters, the other waited nearly 10 minutes for a waiter), the Strozzapreti with slow cooked Baranaga Ranch lamb ragu was honestly one of the best bowls of pasta in recent memory, thanks to a recommendation from our server.
Here are some more of our recommendations for your trip to the Coast…
Bird’s Cafe: Great fish and chips and a million dollar view (outside, however, so bring a jacket). 1407 Hwy 1. Bodega Bay.
Fisherman’s Cove: Located near Spud Point, we recently found this incredible dining spot at the harbor. Crab sandwiches are served on ciabatta-style bread, and generous with the crab. Grilled oysters rock and the chowder is solid. A definite must-stop, 1850 Bay Flat Rd., Bodega Bay.
Roadhouse Coffee: Tucked away in a small shopping center on the way to the harbor, it’s a tiny, mostly-locals coffeehouse with free Wifi, a solid Red Eye to get you going and award-winning blueberry coffee cake. You’ll probably end up chatting politics or clam chowder with one of the regulars, or watch the steady flow of friends and neighbors stream in and out, but either way, it’s a sunny spot to relax and read a book, catch up on your email. 1580 Eastshore Rd, Bodega Bay.
Rocker Oysterfellers: Great cocktails, oysters, a killer patio and Southern-inspired food. 14415 Shoreline Hwy, Valley Ford.
Hog Island Oysters and the Marshall Store: I think it’s a toss up between these two spots, depending on what you’re after. Oysters are stellar at both, and the views are both excellent. 20215 Shoreline Hwy, Marshall, 19225 State Rt 1. Marshall.
Sir and Star: Destination dining at the Olema Inn. Chef-driven menu and rave reviews. 10000 Sir Francis Drake, Olema.