Noshing through West Marin County

| November 15, 2005 | 4 Comments
  • 4 Comments

When Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall were in California at the beginning of this month, they spent a good amount of time in the Point Reyes area meeting with farmers, picnicking, and dining at local restaurants. They couldn’t have chosen a better place.

It is surprising how many locals are not aware of the splendor of Tomales Bay and Point Reyes. Forty-five minutes from San Francisco, it is an easy get-away for a day or weekend trip. I feel an almost magnetic pull to the area, and Jason and I go up a couple times a year and stay for a few days at a time.

Dining in the Tomales Bay / Point Reyes area is rarely a disappointment. With a focus on locally and sustainably-grown foods, many restaurants are surprisingly great given the ruralness of the area.

Tomales Bakery. Drive into the tiny town of Tomales at the northern part of Tomales Bay, and the first thing you will notice is a small bakery on the east side of the street. Tomales Bakery serves up sweet and savory pastries that rival the best baked goods that I eat in San Francisco. Their breads are wonderful and come out of the oven all day. My favorites here include their pizza-like pesto twists and whatever cookies are served up for the day.

The Marshall Store. This small store in Marshall bills itself as “an oyster bar, a deli, and a grocery store” all rolled into one. The town of Marshall is well known to oyster connoisseurs as the home of Hog Island Oyster Company. But if you are looking for fresh oysters without doing the work of shucking, the Marshall Store is a good compromise. In addition to impeccable oysters on the half-shell, the Marshall Store also serves excellent barbecued oysters. I come back again and again for the clam chowder — their rendition is very peppery and chock full of clams.

The service here is almost non-existent. You can walk in, grab a beer from the coolers, serve yourself up some wonderful clam chowder, and then go into a side room to order whatever oysters you’d like. The eclectic room is a comfortable place to relax and spend some time while slurping down oysters.


The Olema Inn. The first thing you notice when you walk into The Olema Inn for dinner is the beauty of the dining room. With large windows that look out on to a small garden, the room has wonderful light and a comfortable feel. Chef Ed Vigil presides over the kitchen at the Olema Inn and focuses on locally and organically grown ingredients. The menu always features the best offerings of the season, and is a culinary tour through the area. I always recommend the pork chop, and Chef Vigil’s salads are notable for their variety of ingredients and balance. Monday nights are “Locals’ Nights” at the Olema Inn and feature small plates and live music.

Tomales Bay Foods. If you could only choose one place in the area to gather items for a picnic, Tomales Bay Foods would be that place. A large barn right in Point Reyes Station, Tomales Bay Foods features several businesses under one roof: Indian Peach Deli, Golden Point Produce, and Cowgirl Creamery. The Indian Peach Deli at the back of the barn sells wonderful sandwiches, housemade salads, and other essentials such as salami and olives. Anyone who has been to the Cowgirl Creamery Store at San Francisco’s Ferry Building will appreciate the relative calm of the Point Reyes Station store. Here you can taste and purchase a wide variety of artisan cheeses as well as watch the cheesemakers make Cowgirl Creamery’s cheeses.

Marshall Store
19225 Highway One
Marshall, CA
(415) 663-1339

The Olema Inn
10000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd.
Olema, CA
(415) 663-9559
reservations recommended

Tomales Bakery
27000 Highway One
Tomales, CA
(707) 878-2429

Tomales Bay Foods
4th and B Streets
Point Reyes Station, CA
(415) 663-9335

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Category: Bay Area Bites Food + Drink

About the Author ()

"My passion for food began young." I am the editor of the influential website www.EatLocalChallenge.com which encourages readers to support local farmers and producers. I began my personal website, Life Begins at 30, in 2003. I have been published in Edible San Francisco and Fine Cooking, write regularly for Bay Area Bites, Serious Eats, and have been quoted in many nationwide publications. Photography is a passion, and I have had photos printed in National Geographic Traveler and Travel + Leisure. I contributed to a Williams-Sonoma cookbook: Cooking from the Farmers' Market, which was released in February 2010. I live in San Francisco, California and can often be found at local farmers markets seeking out the best of what's in season and chatting with farmers.
  • cookiecrumb

    No, Jennifer, no! Don’t tell!!!
    Aughhh. Too late.
    :D

  • CJO

    Marshall Store does indeed have wonderful oysters, but I wouldn’t call them “impeccable.” I was there on a weekend recently and the extremely hungover shucker was on a cigarette break at a corner table which I had to pass to get into the room. Akk, hack! He put out his butt, ran his hands through his dirty hair and commenced to opening *my* bivalves. I ordered ‘em BBQ’d and suffered no ill effects…but, jeez, it made an unpleasant note in a place that is otherwise comfortably funky and fun.

  • shuna fish lydon

    I can attest for interior picnics too. A night of shucking 3 doz plus oysters ended with gorgeous smooth chocolate pot de cremes I was lucky enough to get hold of at said ecclectic store.

    And pick up a Cowgirl Creamery clotted cottage cheese for the next day…it tastes better in the ocean air.

  • Anonymous

    I absolutely love the Marshall Store. I grew up out in Pt. Reyes and had yet to try this spot. My husband and I went drove up from Oakland, stopped at the store, ordered oysters Rockafeller, a crab salad sandwich, and some wine. We then utterly enjoyed every bite and sip while sitting at a wine barrel on the side of the road looking out at the bay. Loved it!