In this article, you will get all information regarding Marin restaurants: What’s come and gone in 2022
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As we reach the final days of 2022, it’s with a welcomed uptick in restaurant openings after a prolonged period of uncertainty that influenced the end for three-year-old fast-casual restaurant Parranga Taqueria & Cerveceria last December in Mill Valley and the March closure of Jillie’s Wine Bar and Shop in San Anselmo.
But the pandemic-driven pause also afforded the time and mindset for a few others to enter the industry for the first time. Just before the start of the year, sushi chef Yoshihiko (Yoshi) Abe and his wife, Keiko Arata, opened Keiko Fish in the storefront space that previously housed Posie ice cream in downtown Larkspur.
Two woman-owned bakeries arrived in downtown Mill Valley. Mill Valley Baking Co. opened on Valentine’s Day, fulfilling the long-time aspirations of pastry chef Karen Fong. In September, Waldscraft Bakery owner Stacey Waldspurger concluded a drawn-out journey that began with a bakery pop-up at her Mill Valley home, a temporary move into Bootjack Wood Fired on Madrona Street and finally to landing on permanent ground in what was previously West Coast Wine + Cheese on Sunnyside Avenue.
In March, family-owned Latin American restaurant Pupuseria Blankita introduced made-to-order pupusas and other Salvadorian specialties to San Rafael’s Santa Venetia neighborhood.
A couple of established chain restaurants opened their first outposts in the county. Bay Area-born fast-casual “feel-good crispy chicken” chain Starbird replaced Baja Fresh at the Town Center Corte Madera in February, and in August, Teaspoon made its reveal at the shopping center, adding boba tea to the mall’s offerings.
In July, Mixt, known for its build-your-own and made-to-order salads, grain bowls and sandwiches, opened in Mill Valley, its 16th location, filling the prominent corner space that housed Gira Polli for 25 years before it closed in 2017.
A few smaller establishments opened second locations, in some cases offering a departure from the original concept.
Forty-four years after opening her original and still-operating restaurant on D Street, Margarita Almenderes opened a second Casa Mañana in San Rafael, moving into what was Iron Springs Public House on Fourth Street in late 2021.
In March, the team behind Village Sake in Fairfax opened Bah Mi Ba Street Food a few doors down from their Japanese-style pub, renovating the small corner shop that was Grilly’s burritos to serve Vietnamese bánh mi sandwiches to go.
Restaurateur Munther Massarweh expanded his Novato restaurant and bar the Speakeasy in April with mid-century throwback extension, the Board Room.
Perry Butler, owner of the 53-year-old Perry’s on San Francisco’s Union Street who took over the historic Lark Creek Inn on Magnolia Avenue in Larkspur in 2015, opened his fourth classic neighborhood pub in May in what was Wildfox restaurant in Novato.
Eight-year-old Burmatown in Corte Madera opened a second location right around the corner from the original to provide more space for co-owner Jennifer Fujitani and her mother, chef Jenny Gee, to serve fans of its Asian fusion cuisine.
The rollout of downtown Tiburon’s new destination eateries continued in September with traditional French bistro Petite Left Bank, which opened on the site of the former New Morning Café. The original Left Bank Brasserie in Larkspur, the first of four, was co-founded by Michelin-starred chef and Marin County resident Roland Passot and is nearing its three-decade mark.
This past year was the end of an era for a few Marin County mainstays. Brendan Moylan, the co-founder and owner of the 33-year-old Marin Brewing Co. in Larkspur, announced that last call for his trailblazing brewpub would be on Jan. 31.
In March, Lotus Cuisine of India let go of Lotus Curry House in Novato when the team decided to focus its energy on Café Lotus in Fairfax and Lotus Cuisine of India in San Rafael, which also houses Lotus Market.
A few months later, the team behind Jennie Low’s Chinese Cuisine cited staffing shortages as the reason they would be terminating the lease at their Novato restaurant after 35 years. Their original Mill Valley restaurant closed in 2017 after 14 years.
The owners of Bangkok Thai revealed on Facebook in late 2021 that after 31 years on Fourth Street in San Rafael they were “re-Thai’rd.” In May, Thai Food Express took its place.
Mill Valley resident and chef Tony Adams of Mill Valley Pasta Co. stretched beyond his farmers market stands in Larkspur on Saturdays and San Rafael on Thursdays and Sundays (where you can still find your week’s worth of pastas and sauces) and in the spring, landed a permanent retail outlet in the Harbor Shopping Center in San Rafael.
West Marin’s Two Birds Café became Giaco’s Valley Roadhouse in San Geronimo. Nearby resident Andrew Giacomini and his family purchased the cafe from original owner Tony Miceli earlier in the year and reopened in April with an intention to preserve the restaurant’s beloved classic elements while supporting the local food shed.
Sonoma County-based HenHouse Brewing Co. opened West County Pub in the former Iron Springs Pub & Brewery that had been a Fairfax favorite since 2004. By the year’s end, a sign on the temporarily closed doors promised an all-new concept and leadership in early 2023.
Red Whale Coffee in San Rafael cleared out of its cherry red second location in Tam Valley, but its Marin County-roasted coffee can still be found at the original shop in San Rafael and at the coffee truck at the Sunday Marin Farmers Market in San Rafael.
Casa Lucho had a brief stint at the base of the Santa Margarita neighborhood in San Rafael, serving cochinita pibil, birria and other Mexican specialties for just a few months after its April opening. According to the property manager, a new operator is changing the concept and will be opening soon.
Bliss, Marin’s first soft-serve shop dedicated to Asian-inspired ice cream, opened at San Marin Plaza in Novato in May, where koi fish-shaped ice cream cones are filled with twisted swirls of soft serve. Two months later, also in Novato, Wicked Slush Novato replaced Teeny Cake cupcakes with a colorful medley of eastern seaboard-inspired slush and soft serve.
In June, Aussie native and Sausalito resident Waz Hewerdine established Outdoor Ounces in Terra Linda, an al fresco craft beer and food garden complete with bocce courts, fire pits and native plantings.
Café Villa Trattoria & Bar, a family-run, homestyle restaurant with an authentic seasonal Italian menu by award-winning chef de cuisine David Sypnicki, also opened in June on the property of the Villa Inn in northern San Rafael.
Breakfast goers welcomed the return of Theresa and Johnny’s Café in downtown San Rafael, when its new owners brought back many of the same homestyle breakfast and lunch dishes as the original while adding a few Mexican-inspired specialties and eliminating much of the whimsical décor.
Revel and Roost disclosed in June that after enduring more than two difficult years of COVID-related restrictions and the mandatory removal of its parklet due to a major construction project on the San Rafael roadway adjacent to the restaurant, they decided to close.
The Counter served its last burgers, fries and shakes in Corte Madera in July right around the same time Jerrys Delicatessen & BBQ closed in Novato.
In the fall, Brandon Jew, the chef-owner of Michelin-starred Mister Jiu’s in San Francisco’s Chinatown and the James Beard Foundation’s 2022 best chef in California, revealed a complete remake of what was Mill Valley Beerworks when he and his collaborators opened Chinese American fast-casual restaurant Mamahuhu. This is their second counter-service establishment.
Local Kitchens, a two-year-old digital food hall founded by former DoorDash employees, opened in Mill Valley’s Alto Center shopping plaza, offering a diverse selection of options from 10 Bay Area eateries under one roof. Mill Valley was its ninth Bay Area location; Novato is coming soon.
In September in Novato, Shah Bahreyni shifted the concept of his California restaurant Crave to Mamita Cocina Mexicana with a Oaxacan setting and cuisine.
Roman Italian-inspired Locanda Marin replaced Roma Antica in Larkspur and Rio Rock Acai Café in Kentfield is coming back in January 2023 under new ownership but with the same Brazilian acai bowls and smoothies and a few additions.
Bob’s Donuts made its Marin debut in Tam Valley in October in the refreshed Bamboo Hut. The shop has been in the Marin County family since 1977 when patriarch Elinor Ahn purchased the original Bob’s Donuts & Pastries on Polk Street in San Francisco that had been operating since the early 1960s.
Bay Area natives Darren and Alicia Banks purchased seasonal French restaurant Marche au Fleur in Ross Common in June from Dan and Holly Baker, who had been there for 21 years. The Banks, who shortened the name to Marché, had owned and operated beachside restaurant SandBar on the small Caribbean Island of Anguilla since 2014.
The fall brought three new restaurants to Vintage Oaks Shopping Center in Novato, where Chevys Fresh Mex once stood. Novato resident Sam Zeidan opened Nick the Greek Souvlaki & Gyro House, a California restaurant franchise chain; three-year-old American Japanese fast-food eatery ALOH-O Poke and Tea opened its fifth North Bay location; and Chipotle Mexican Grill that had closed in downtown Novato in July introduced the area’s first Chipotlane, a drive-thru byway that allows customers to pick up digital orders without leaving their cars.
At Strawberry Village, East Bay-born Noble Cow Creamery that brought ice cream back to the space that had been Woody’s Yogurt Place for more than two decades closed after less than 12 months. Right around the same time, San Francisco-based restaurant franchise West Coast Sourdough opened its first Marin location.
Cavallo Point introduced three new dining outlets in October — Farley, Sula and Sula Lounge — all with dramatic new interiors and revitalized menus.
November was the end of an era for Jan Goldberg and Teresa Hammond who had run Delicious! Catering in San Rafael for 47 years before deciding to retire.
In November, Feng Nian in Sausalito closed after more than 40 years when its owners retired.
Happy new year!
Leanne Battelle is a freelance food writer and restaurant columnist. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with news and recommendations and follow on Instagram @therealdealmarin for more on local food and updates on the launch of The Real Deal Marin restaurant search guide.
Marin restaurants: What’s come and gone in 2022
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