Marin families now have yet another place to get their burger fix: Smashburger in Novato. The Novato location is the Denver-based chain's first Bay Area location, and it serves up a variety of innovative burgers, chicken sandwiches, and salads using fresh ingredients.
I had the opportunity to attend a media preview of the Novato Smashburger last week, where I tried a selection of their food. Smashburger offers an array of specialty burgers, including the Bay Burger (with arugula, mushrooms, Swiss cheese, and truffle mayo); BBQ, bacon and cheddar; and spicy Baja.
Each burger is also available as a grilled chicken sandwich—my favorite of Smashburger's offerings was the chicken avocado club, with avocado, applewood-smoked bacon, and ranch dressing. You can also create your own burger or sandwich from the variety of toppings, sauces, and add-ons ranging from grilled onions and "Smash sauce" to guacamole and a fried egg.
Mother's Day is on Sunday, May 12. Brunch is always a popular outing in honor of mom, and here our a few of our favorite family friendly spots for a Mother's Day brunch in Marin.
All information is correct at time of publishing, but please check with the restaurant to confirm. You should also make your reservations soon, as Mother's Day brunches fill up pretty quickly.
Click on highlighted links for more info.
Brick & Bottle in Corte Madera features a Mother's Day buffet brunch from 11 am to 2 pm. Brunch items include eggs benedict, brioche French toast, smoked salmon, mac and cheese, rotisserie leg of lamb and chicken, and their signature rum cake. $40 for adults and $17 for kids 12 and under. Reservations recommended: (415) 924-3366 or online. Brick & Bottle is located at 55 Tamal Vista Boulevard, in the Marketplace shopping center.
Cavallo Pointin Sausalito offers its Mothers Day brunch buffet from 10 am–6 pm. Stations include a raw bar, omelets, prime rib, and more. $75 adults, $30 kids. Make reservations online or by calling (415) 339-4700.
The Club at McInnis Park hosts a Mother's Day brunch buffet from 10 am to 2 pm. Enjoy brunch right on the golf course and then play a game or some mini golf. The menu includes roasted New York strip st, leg of lamb, grilled salmon, baked honey ham, eggs benedict, eggs florentine with smoked salmon, waffles, French toast, omelette station, carving station, salads, and desserts. The cost is $29.95; children 10 and under are $14.95. They are located at 350 Smith Ranch Road; (415) 491-5959.
Moylan's Brewery and Restaurant has the distinction of being Novato's first (and to my knowledge only) brewpub. Operated by the same people who run Marin Brewing Company in Larkspur, Moylan's offers pub grub fare with some traditional Irish favorites thrown in, and a nice selection of good house-brewed beers to go along with it. Couple that with a reasonably priced kids' menu, and it's no wonder this is a destination for north Marin families.
Located in a distinctive building across from the Rowland Plaza Cinemas, Moylan's is an ideal place to grab a bite before or after the movies. The main dining room is a cavernous affair that can get noisy when it's busy, but that's not a big issue when you've got kids in tow, right? There's a long bar overlooking the brewing area, with several TV screens showing various sports games.
The kids were given the usual coloring menus and crayons. An added twist is that they could turn in their coloring sheets after dinner in exchange for a prize from the basket by the front entrance.
Families looking for a great place to dine in Fairfax owe it to themselves to check out Iron Springs Pub and Brewery. Located in the Fair-Anselmo Plaza shopping center just outside downtown Fairfax, it's a fantastic place to grab a bite to eat and maybe even a house-brewed beer (for mom and dad, of course).
Iron Springs offers an assortment of well-conceived pub fare, like burgers (including a house-made veggie burger), sandwiches, salads, and "Big Plates" with offerings ranging from roast chicken to Mayan poc chuc. The kids' menu offers the usual suspects, most of which can be accompanied with fries, mashed potatoes, steamed broccoli, or sliced cucumbers and baby carrots.
On our last visit, the pub was literally crawling with families enjoying a lunch together. Kids get the usual coloring paper and crayons, and there's even a bookshelf in the corner that has a nice selection of books for both children and grownups. It's a place that encourages you to relax and hang out.
It's always been a challenge to find good BBQ in the Bay Area, let alone Marin County, but we're happy to see that the situation is changing. The newest contender for local BBQ top dog is Best Lil' Porkhouse, which serves up traditional BBQ favorites from its location on San Rafael's Miracle Mile.
On our recent visit, we were pleasantly surprised by how good everything was—not that we expected anything to be bad, but because the food seemed to be made with extra care and attention to detail. The restaurant itself is really small, with only three tables in the tiny dining area. It looks like they're expanding to the space next door, but until then you might want to either get there early or get your order to go, which seems to be a popular option. There's table out on the sidewalk for outdoor dining, too.
The Porkhouse is decorated in a cowboy theme, and feels like a roadhouse somewhere in the South. Each table has its own roll of paper towels and squeeze bottles with two kinds of house-made BBQ sauces, as well as a selection of hot sauces.
Order at the counter and the staff will bring out your food. The Porkhouse offers platters and sandwiches, each of which are accompanied by a variety of homemade sides. Smoked meats are the real BBQ deal here, and are served with a small amount of sauce—you can add more if you like.
At its next u-pick event, Bloomfield Farms is offering families more than just fresh certified organic veggies. This Sunday, September 23, the farm is partnering with Hardcore Farm To Face's Chef John Lyle for a Fun Farm Brunch from 10 am to 2 pm.
This gourmet brunch buffet features a delicious menu that will appeal to everyone in the family, and of course features Bloomfield Farm's fresh produce as well as items from other farmers in the area. The Fun Farm Brunch is a "pay what you can" brunch. No reservations are necessary, just come on over to the farm and enjoy!
This Sunday's Fun Farm Brunch menu includes mini pancakes with fruit toppings, homemade Gravenstein applesauce, fresh fruit, mini grilled cheese sandwiches, heirloom tomato soup, Bloomfield Farms veggie fritters, carrot bread, blackberry bread, apple bread, vegetable quiche, fresh fruit juice, lemonade, coffee, tea, and more.
Come to the farm and eat your veggies, then go pick some veggies to bring home. Bloomfield Farms offers families the opportunity to pick their own organic vegetables, including kale, squash, celery, lettuce, green beans, Swiss chard, potatoes, and more. Fill a box for only $25. U-pick at the farm takes place Sundays through November 4 from 10 am to 3 pm. Read more about the u-pick experience at Bloomfield Farms in our article here.
Our family loves to explore Mt. Tamalpais. Usually, we pack a picnic for lunch during our hikes, but on our last visit we decided to take the kids to the Mountain Home Inn, one of the few restaurants up on the mountain. It was a gorgeous, clear day, and we knew the views from the restaurant's deck would be amazing.
The Mountain Home Inn has been a fixture on Mt. Tam for a century, and it's a great place to stop for breakfast, lunch, or dinner before or after your Mt. Tam adventure. Of course we opted to sit outside on the deck, taking in the spectacular views of Marin County and relaxing in the shade of the patio umbrellas. Our friendly and attentive server brought us a bottle of water infused with mint as we perused the menu.
The Mountain home inn offers a variety of dishes, from bratwurst on a bun with house-made potato chips (a nod to the inn's beginnings as a Swiss/German roadhouse) and burgers to fresh pastas and a vegetable frittata. There's also a children's menu, which is offered up with crayons for coloring, that includes favorites like chicken fingers and fries, kids' pasta with butter and parmesan, french toast, and more.
Just because school begins this week for many in Marin doesn't mean there aren't plenty of fun summer activities to still enjoy. This Saturday, August 25 from 6 to 9:30 pm, take in an outdoor screening of Pixar's classic Finding Nemo and a family dinner at Novato's Rolling Hills Club at their first ever "Dive In" Dinner and Movie.
Participate in fun pool games and enjoy a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, salad, and garlic bread before you settle down to watch the movie on a giant, inflatable, 25-foot screen. The "Dive In" costs just $30 per family for club members and $35 per non-members family, so it's an inexpensive night out, as well as a great way to come see what the club is all about. The price also includes lemonade, and beer or wine for those 21 and over.
Bring your swimsuits, towels, and pool toys (you can even bring floaties and watch the movie from the pool!) as well as sleeping bags, blankets and pillows so you can get comfy on the pool deck. The movie starts at around 7:15 pm, but get there early to get a good spot, enjoy dinner, and participate in the activities.
Like many families these days, we find ourselves grabbing lunch or dinner on the go probably more than we should. Of course all this dining out adds up after a while and has the potential to be a major drain on the wallet (especially during this economic climate). Fortunately, there are plenty of great family-friendly restaurants in Marin that offer free dining for kids—usually with the purchase of an adult entree (and only when dining in)—one or more days during the week. Here's our list, broken down by location.
All information presented here is, to our knowledge, correct at the time of publishing, but deals come and deals go, so you should confirm with the restaurant before you go, just in case.
Pasta Pomodoro offers free dining for children on Tuesdays. The children's menu includes a variety of traditional kids' menu dishes like grilled cheese and pizza, plus the chance to make your own pasta creation. Pasta Pomodoro has locations in Strawberry Village in Mill Valley,(415) 388-1692, and Vintage Oaks in Novato (140 Vintage Way), (415) 899-1861.