Even with Covid-19, new businesses are still opening, and it’s a better time then ever to support local. Here are some new openings, happenings and updates to check out (safely) around Marin County this December.
With the latest shelter-in-place orders, please support these brave local businesses (kudos for opening during a pandemic!) by ordering takeout from the restaurants and shopping online; check with the sites below to see how each is adapting to pandemic restrictions.
EAT & DRINK
The former railroad depot turned all-day café and bookstore reopened in late January at the heart of downtown Mill Valley. The Depot Café’s kitchen, helmed by chef Mary Pult of Mill Valley, offers the same counter service model as before and a veg-forward menu that tilts towards the Mediterranean and points farther east with bespoke pastries from Sausalito’s Cibo Bakery. 87 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley
Marin native Anthony Nunes and co-owner and chef Johne Abraham revamped the menu and opened to the public when they expanded the menu at their new restaurant La Meza at Mt. Tam Racquet Club in Larkspur, adding Mediterranean to the Cal-Mex menu. Rice bowls, pita wraps and kebabs with house made gyro and a killer falafel burger will convert even the most ardent chickpea haters. 1 Larkspur Plaza Drive, Larkspur
Living up to its name as a “spontaneous colorful street celebration in Peru” may take a bit of Covid-free time for the new restaurant in San Francisco’s Marina neighborhood, Jaranita, to achieve. Until then, revel in the grilled chicken with huacatay sauce, small plates like salchipaps or whole roasted cauliflower, and chocolate cake with dulce de leche. 3340 Steiner Street, San Francisco
The move one block closer to downtown’s center is complete for restaurateurs Surinder and Jyoti Sroa and one of San Rafael’s longest-running Indian restaurants, Lotus Cuisine of India. The menu, however, remains the same. 812 Fourth Street, San Rafael
Into the new building where Tony Tutto’s once held court near downtown Mill Valley come the Parisian style treats from Le Marais Bakery, the San Francisco original. Look for take and bake cinnamon rolls and pains au chocolat for now and a complete breakfast (and coffee) menu all day, a la France, when indoor dining resumes. The line at their January pop-up portends good things. 250 E Blithedale Avenue, Mill Valley
The Ghiringhelli family, life-long Marin residents who own Trattoria Ghiringhelli in Novato, FairFix Cafe, Ghiringhelli Pizzeria and Deer Park Villa in Fairfax, added a new wine shop and tasting room, Ghiringhelli’s Novato Vino, adjacent to their Novato restaurant. Unique and hard to find wines by the bottle or taste, light bites of cheese boards and flatbreads and in-depth dinner menus are available to go or to enjoy onsite. 1535 South Novato Blvd, Novato
Top Chef Season 3 alumna and fan favorite, chef Casey Thompson, goes deep on the all things local and seasonal at her new restaurant Folktable within Cornerstone Sonoma marketplace. Gingerbread pancakes at breakfast give way to small plates and tartines at lunch with larger plates of black truffle chicken pot pie and lentil stew at dinner. 23570 Arnold Dr, Sonoma
Artisan cheese boxes are the latest foray from the Marshall family that helped Marin rethink dairying, land use and carbon-centered farming. Curated by Vivien Straus, creator of The California Cheese Trail, each Straus Home Ranch Cheese Box features locally made cheeses, chocolates and other local goodness. An initial collection featured Bivalve Dairy’s Foundry Fresh and Cowgirl Creamery’s Hearts Desire.
Lotus Cuisine shares an adjoining wall with its partner, Lotus Market Organic Grocery, where South Indian and Fijian spices, snacks, prepared dinners and the regional breakfast cake, idli, are available. 805 Fifth Street, San Rafael
Many successful turns at the Gem Faires in San Rafael lead mother-daughter duo, Mariel Baker and Denise Forbes, to turn M. Baker & Co into California Girl Jewelry. Open since February in Mill Valley’s Strawberry Village, the shop features rare colored gemstones, like Blue Wing Tanzanite or green Paraiba tourmalines, sapphires, Tahitian pearls and diamonds. 800 Redwood Highway, Mill Valley
Shuk Shuka, the Middle Eastern marketplace and catering hub for freshly prepared condiments (Spicy Kick Zhug, tahini) spices, chocolate babka, hummus, challah and other regional specialties, now delivers to Marin on Fridays and ships everywhere in California from its San Francisco headquarters.
Mill Valley resident and owner Hilary Sessions was inspired by the eclectic sellers at the Marche St Ouen in Paris and East Coast locales to open her shop Quarry Hill Antiques in late 2020 at Mill Valley’s Lumberyard. Look for antique furniture, vintage decor and art curated by Bettina Stiewe of Upstart Modern in Sausalito. 129 Miller Avenue, Mill Valley
Sausalito resident Kendar Kawala and her partner, Sarah Hoffman, launched into the canned wine business to deliver independent wine producers to your door. Their Novato-based business, Maker Canned Wine, recently launched Cab Pfeffer with Ser Winery and a sparkling rose with Bodkin Wines.
Green Biotics, the life-wellness brand known for embracing the naturally healthful elements of teas, coffees, vitamins and supplements opened late last year at The Village at Corte Madera. 1618 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera
The spare design aesthetic and delicate floral and natural fragrances for which the British brand Jo Malone is known descended recently at a new storefront at The Village at Corte Madera. 1710 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera
The SoCal jewelry brand Gorjana, beloved for its easy-to-layer pieces, arrived in late 2020 at The Village at Corte Madera. 1618 Redwood Hwy, Corte Madera
Opened in February, the former Hamilton Hospital was reimagined as a new senior living facility in Novato’s Hamilton neighborhood. Elegance at Novato offers independent living apartments, a spa and wellness center, onsite restaurants and a rooftop lounge complement the assisted living and memory support services. 516 E Hospital Road, Novato
How to Help
For more ways to support local businesses, go here.
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Christina Mueller is a long-time Bay Area food writer. She hails from the East Coast and has spent way too much time in South America and Europe. She discovered her talent as a wordsmith in college and her love of all things epicurean in grad school. She has written for Condé Nast Contract Publishing, Sunset, and the Marin Independent Journal, among others. She volunteers with California State Parks and at her child’s school, and supports the Marin Audubon Society, PEN America, and Planned Parenthood. When she is not drinking wine by a fire, she is known to spend time with her extended family.