Dining in Point Reyes tends toward down-home country-style fare or upscale California cuisine. Few chain restaurants clutter the area. Most food comes from local, sustainable sources, a huge source of pride to the whole area.
If you’re seeking rarified organic California cuisine, head for the tiny town of Olema and get a meal in the dining room at the Olema Inn (10,000 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., 415/663-9559, www.theolemainn.com, lunch Sat.–Sun., dinner Wed.–Mon., closed Tues., $30–34). Here you’ll find cuisine after Alice Waters’ own heart—the freshest of local, organic fare presented with elegance and grace. Most shellfish comes from Tomales Bay, the beef from local ranches, and the produce from local farms. Relaxed, formal-yet-friendly service complements the fabulous food and local-heavy wine list. Be sure to save room for dessert!
Point Reyes Station
Much of the expensive organic meat and produce that’s raised in Point Reyes goes down to San Francisco for consumption in $200-a-plate restaurants. By comparison, Rosie’s Cowboy Cookhouse (11285 Hwy. 1, Pt. Reyes Station, 415/663-8868, Wed.–Mon. 11:30 a.m.–8 p.m., $10–20) serves fairly plain Mexican and Tex-Mex food. You can get tacos, quesadillas, and tamales or ribs and mac ’n’ cheese as you prefer. Right on the main drag and definitely catering to the tourist trade, Rosie’s has a colorful family-friendly dining room and a fun ambiance. Most folks prefer Rosie’s for lunch, though it’s open for dinner as well.
Need a drink? Right off Highway 1 along Tomales Bay sits the unassuming Point Reyes Vineyard (12700 Hwy. 1, Pt. Reyes Station, 415/663-1011, www.ptreyesvineyardinn.com/Winery.htm, Sat.–Sun. 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and by appointment). Hinting at the glory of the California wine country without the crowds and pretensions, this small winery pours some surprisingly tasty vintages. Staff can tell you about the wines as well as direct you to their favorite local restaurants and recreation spots.
Of all the strange things, Vladimir’s Czechoslovakian Restaurant (12785 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness, 415/669-1021, Tues.–Sun. 11 a.m.–2 p.m. and 5–10 p.m., $30–50) is a favorite of both locals and visitors. Enter the cool old dining room, complete with stuffed deer heads on the walls, and take a seat. The Vladimir who owns the restaurant can be rude one minute, and then hand you the best pint of beer you ever drank the next. Vlad’s wife runs the kitchen, and you’ll get to choose from an array of serious Czech food: borscht, rabbit, duck, and all manner of things that might seem heavy or strange to the American palate. But they’re delicious.
One caution: Vladimir’s is very serious about its no-children policy. If you bring your baby, toddler, or small child, you will be turned away at the door. The bright side? Vladimir’s thus makes a perfect retreat for romantic couples looking for an escape from the kids for a short time.
A great, convenient coffee stop is the Busy Bee Bakery (12301 Sir Francis Drake Blvd., Inverness, 415/663-9496, Mon. and Thurs.–Fri. 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m., Sat.–Sun. 8 a.m.–5 p.m.). This owner-run shop offers good espresso drinks, delectable homemade (right there in the back of the shop) pastries, and some lovely photo prints done by the owner. It’s worth the time to take a table and sample a slice of whatever fresh baked goodie is on the counter!
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition