BiteClub, Occidental/Coast

Headed to the Sonoma Coast? Here’s where to eat…

Sonoma Coast dining from Bodega Bay to Point Reyes Station (in Marin), features oysters, Dungeness crab and other delicious dishes

Strozzapreti with slow cooked Baranga Ranch lamb ragu at Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station, CA on 6/16/16. Heather Irwin/PD
Strozzapreti with slow cooked Baranga Ranch lamb ragu at Osteria Stellina in Point Reyes Station, CA on 6/16/16. Heather Irwin/PD

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).

Bodega Bay
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.

Breakfast sandwich and hash browns at the Estero Cafe. Heather Irwin
Breakfast sandwich and hash browns at the Estero Cafe. Heather Irwin

Valley Ford
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.

Red hawk cheese at Tomales Bay Foods. Heather Irwin
Red hawk cheese at Tomales Bay Foods. Heather Irwin

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.

Produce at Toby's in Point Reyes Station
Produce at Toby’s in Point Reyes Station

Here are some more of our recommendations for your trip to the Coast…

Bodega Bay
Bird’s Cafe: Great fish and chips and a million dollar view (outside, however, so bring a jacket). 1407 Hwy 1. Bodega Bay.

Grilled oysters at Fisherman's Cove in Bodega Bay Sonoma Coast 6/16. Heather Irwin
Grilled oysters at Fisherman’s Cove in Bodega Bay Sonoma Coast 6/16. Heather Irwin

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.

Valley Ford
Rocker Oysterfellers: Great cocktails, oysters, a killer patio and Southern-inspired food. 14415 Shoreline Hwy, Valley Ford.

Marshall
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 in Olema
Sir and Star in Olema

Olema
Sir and Star: Destination dining at the Olema Inn. Chef-driven menu and rave reviews. 10000 Sir Francis Drake, Olema.

 

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Comments

38 thoughts on “Headed to the Sonoma Coast? Here’s where to eat…

  1. It’s the Station HOUSE Cafe in Pt. Reyes Station, just to make a correction. And anyone who travels Hwy 1 and misses Tony’s Seafood is missing a legit fish house. Weekends only.

  2. I have to agree with an above statement… Not to be picky, but the title says Sonoma Coast and half of these mentioned were in Marin. Tomales definitely needs more love, The Casino in Bodega serves an exciting new menu EVERY SINGLE NIGHT and The Fishetarian in Bodega Bay has the best fish and chips; If you feel like driving further up the coast, Cape Fear in Duncans Mills is a hidden gem! The others are also really great, including Estero Cafe. Anyone who serves breakfast all day is always on the top of my list!

    1. You’re not wrong about the title. It’s about SEO.
      I want this information to show up in searches about the sonoma coast, even though its not entirely about that.
      I’m hoping to merge this story with another to have a more complete listing for the SOnoma Coast.

    2. For some reason I felt odd walking into the Casino, and I’m “from around here.”

      The chef’s food was really good at his prior places, and he’s always nice enough. But walking in there felt like going into an unfriendly family’s living room when they were trying to decide who gets the last two beers.

      1. The Casino is an odd place. From the outside it looks like a bar with the faded sign and kind of funky. Entering, the first thing you see is a bar and pool tables with a dining area off to the side. Though we heard good things about the food, the close proximity of the bar and pool tables to the dining area was off putting as we’d most likely be hearing loud bar room noises while attempting to have a peaceful meal. So we left. Make the place look more inviting from the outside and a redo of the interior having more isolation from the bar area to the dining room, then I’m sure we and others would give it our patronage.

  3. Hi all, have to clear the air regarding The Tides. It is a sub par eatery, not clean, very “used”, low quality tourist trap. Sysco truck drops off most of there ingredients,

    1. Thank you John, I could not have said it better, very tired and in desperate need of an upgrade from the ground up!

      The food is pricey and mediocre, as is the staff, the decor etc. The only thing worth the price of admission is the view and well, they have nothing to do with that…..

    2. Yep.

      Here’s a tip. To tide you over, no pun intended, head south about 100 yards, tuck down the street and you’ll find a hamburger shack with an ice cream place next to it. Get an ice cream and as espresso, cheap, very cheap if you consider coastal prices. Then hunt for food at a better place.

  4. I completely and wholeheartedly agree with Roadhouse Coffee recommendation. They, IMHO have the best coffee west of Highway 101 in Sonoma County. Having worked up there for a couple of years, I had the chance to try every single place from Plank Coffee in Cloverdale to the Estero Cafe in Valley Ford, from Flying Goat Coffee in Santa Rosa to Raymond’s Bakery in Cazadero. I know I forgot to mention the Bia Cafe @Northwood Golf course, Holy Cow in Sebastopol (or whatever it’s called after three or four ownership changes), Ninja Star Coffee bar, and the coffee spot west of Sebastopol.

  5. How could you skip over Tomales with the amazing K&A Takeaway and Tomales Bakery? It may be a tiny town,but we have some great food!

  6. The Boathouse is the best! We have always enjoyed their calamari and chips, plus tasty coleslaw.
    Many folks also like their bb-qued oysters. It is a simple place with friendly service and delicious food! We have been going there for many years!
    Many locals tell us that The Tides is not good. Last time that I went to Lucas Wharf was okay, but pricey.
    River’s End is great if someone treats you!
    Cape Fear Cafe’ in Duncan’s Mills offers tasty and reasonably priced fare.
    I agree that many of Heather’s recommendations are not in Sonoma County.
    Want a great sandwich, made with house-smoked meats? Try The Duncan’s Mills
    General Store! Big enough for two!

    1. I’d have to agree, after re-reading the article. I know that she missed several (perhaps they’re not advertisers in the paper), but the locals sometimes like to keep these wonderful treasures for themselves instead of letting outsiders know about them. Roadhouse Coffee is one of a few that I can’t keep a secret…thankfully he still makes sure I have a cup of coffee whenever I drop by.

      1. (sigh)
        I have no freaking idea who advertises in the paper, nor do i care in the least. As mentioned. Not comprehensive.

        Sometimes you people make me so depressed.

        1. Heather, please don’t let these comments get you down. You know that it’s impossible to please everyone all the time or even a fraction of the time.

          I for one (pretty sure there are others) appreciate your reviews. Some of them I agree with, others not so much and that dear lady is the nature of the beast, stay strong and keep it up!!!

          1. thanks 95% of the time, it doesn’t bug me.
            But recently, the feedback has just been so negative. I attribute that to the fact that the traffic is coming from the PD homepage and not from actual BiteClubbers who know what they are talking about, or who at the very least are constructive. I love constructive feedback, but it gets tiring being called an idiot day after day. I stopped being a hard news reporter years ago, because i found it so depressing. I love features, because it shows the good in the world. I love my job, because it makes a difference to really amazing, hard working people. I’ll focus on that today. See the good in the world.
            🙁

        2. Heather,

          The traffic IS coming from the front page commenters, and god help us they don’t eat where I do!

          So, to “clear the ****ing air:”

          I’m crediting you with brining us more local good eats finds than any other food writer in the bay area: Naked Pig; Spinsters; Criminal; Gaijin; Paradise; (did you write up Jacinto’s…wholly shoes, that dude was a sweet corn wizard); Hillside; food truck night at spring lake; and literally too many others to list.

          So, thank you Bite Club Heather. People that want to eat good food and aren’t looking to destroy restaurant owners and chefs trust you.

          1. P.S. Great job on Single Thread. I’m saving up, and promise not to complain about the price. I was going to “comment” on the story itself, but it got pig washed by the naysayers in the “normal” commenters’ page, and I wont log in there.

            Wholly **** their food will be great. I know horticulture people who follow Katina around and they just adore her and trade information freely. She’ll have whatever she needs on the grow side; and that dude’s food is said to be really, really good.

  7. On the upper north coast a little spot called the Ocean cove bar and Grill has excellent fried prawns and chips along with other goodies of variying appeal. Full bar great ocean view. A reasonably priced motel on site.

  8. Two other excellent restaurants need to be included: Terrapin Creek (only Michelin starred restaurant in the above area) and Rivers End in Jenner.Both have great food and service.In addition Rivers End frequently has spectacular sunsets.

  9. Not to be too picky..Really!….more a point: Seven of the places mentioned in this article are in Marin, yet the title indicates the Sonoma Coast as the area to find these places. Maybe change it to: “Coast”?

  10. I love seeing new places to eat on here. But it seems the same places are always brought up. K&A take away is my favorite on the coast but you guys give it any love. It’s a hidden gem in tomales and I make my way out there as much as I can with there amazing weekly specials and homemade sausages

    1. Thanks for the input.
      THese were just some spots I hit, and was trying to add a few new ones.

      Ill definintely check out more.

  11. Not sure how you can ignore Terrapin Creek in Bodega Bay. This is a stellar exhibition of simple but elegant delights. And a Michelin star to boot. Do better on this coastal tour of recommendations.

    1. It was closed when i was out there.
      Terrapin Creek is great, but this was just a snippet of spots that were open and were places I went.
      As stated in the beginning of the article, this wasn’t a comprehensive list.

  12. The Boat House in Bodega Bay is great! I like their Fish & Chips better than at Bird’s Cafe. To me, it was heavier and greasier. It all depends on how you like it.

    Russian House #1 near Jenner is an interesting place. Good food prepared by native Russian mothers and grandmothers. They have the “honor system” where the customers pay whatever price they wish.

    When we were there not long ago, I really liked their split pea soup, and I don’t usually like split pea soup. My hubby asked for their recipe, explaining that I liked it, and they told him how they made it.

    1. Sorry, I’m not able to edit what I wrote, I meant to complete the sentence above that I thought the fish and chips at Bird’s Cafe was heavier and greasier than at The Boat House.

      1. I like the birds more, boat house is good. Small menu at both places. Go to Lucas or the Tides first before going to either of them places

      1. Russian House. A unique dining experience w. real Russians! Friendly people willing to talk about their enterprise. Food you’ve never had before.
        It’s where the old Sizzling Tandoor was – the one with all the bad reviews off Hwy 1 by the mouth of the Russian River. So don’t let that out of date info scare you off. Great views as well.
        Delightful! Don’t let this business fail.

  13. Have you tried K&A takeaway in Tomales? It should should be on your list. Seriously great food…Check them out on Facebook and instagram..

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