From visitors to locals, people flock to Marin County for its diverse beauty and hidden gems. Complete your trip north of the Golden Gate by stopping by one of the various watering holes on our list.
Bar, Restaurant, American, Irish, $$$
Nestled in quaint downtown Novato is a north Marin County favorite, Finnegan’s Marin. Channeling the pubs of Ireland, this bar and restaurant brings the best of both American and Irish fare with unique twists on classic snacks, such as their Irish nachos and Irish poppers. Finnegan’s also offers tons of deals throughout the week, such as $3 tacos on Monday, half priced bottles of wine on Thursday, and $1 mimosas during weekend brunch. Kids also eat for free all day Sunday, making this a great location for the whole family.
If England is more your thing, then The Mayflower Pub is just for you. This San Rafael spot will make you feel like you’re in a real English pub, with its dark and cozy interior and a menu packed with traditional English dishes. Decked out with plenty of TVs, The Mayflower is the perfect place to watch European soccer games over a steaming plate of bangers & mash and a pint of Guinness. This place can get rowdy at night, so be sure to grab your friends and head over for a night of fun.
In the midst of the quiet town of Larkspur, the Silver Peso never fails to bring the party. With quirky features such as walls lined with Christmas lights, stickers posted everywhere, and a popcorn machine, the Peso gives off the vibe of a true local dive. Their pool tables draw out real talent, so come ready for some competitive play. You’re likely to bump into anyone from an old classmate to your next door neighbor at this Marin County favorite.
In Mill Valley, you’ll find another Marin County dive — The 2am Club. First opened pre-prohibition as ‘The Brown Jug,’ the bar reopened in 1933 and changed its name to the 2am Club seven years later in 1940. With a pool table, TVs, and a classic jukebox, this old bar attracts crowds of all ages (21+, of course). Known to be quiet one night and bustling the next, come ready for some unpredictability. Fun fact: the 2am Club is the location of the cover photo of the Huey Lewis and the News’ album, Sports.
With a slogan of ‘beers, brats and bikes,’ Gestalt Haus definitely brings a new flavor to the town of Fairfax. This ‘biker bar’ is not what you may think — with road and mountain bikes replacing the more traditional Harleys, the Gestalt Haus is a welcomed spot for cyclists after a long day on the road or trails. From Barvarian bratwurst to Louisiana hot links, their menu has a selection of 13 sausages and plenty of beers. They even have three vegan sausage options, and let’s be serious — it wouldn’t be Marin without those.
Located right next to the Tiburon ferry terminal, Sam’s Anchor Café is a perfect stop for both Marin County natives and visitors from San Francisco. Sam’s is known for their large outdoor patio with amazing views of Angel Island, Alcatraz, and the San Francisco skyline. This restaurant and bar serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner, making it appropriate for any time of day. Don’t worry — if the weather doesn’t allow for comfortable outdoor seating, you can take in the views from their indoor dining rooms.
If nightlife is more your thing, then be sure to head out to 19 Broadway Bar & Nightclub in Fairfax. Hosting live music seven nights a week, the nightclub features artists of all genres, from rock and funk to hip hop and reggae. Patrons love 19 Broadway for its intimate size and perfect layout that keeps you close to the stage and always able to dance. Whether you’re catching your favorite band, enjoying the patio on a warm night, or getting an upscale cocktail in their newly remodeled MYX Lounge, 19th Broadway is sure to provide a laid-back but exciting night.
Smitty’s Bar is another great dive in the south Marin town of Sausalito. Located off the main drag, Smitty’s provides an escape from Sausalito’s usually tourist-heavy crowd. The last bar in Sausalito with its original construction, Smitty’s houses dive classics such as pool, shuffleboard, and darts. With affordable drinks and a great selection on tap, Smitty’s is a great choice for an afternoon beer or a night on the town. You may even see a dog or two at this neighborhood pick.
Just a short walk over from Smitty’s you’ll find a bar and restaurant with a completely different feel. Beautifully situated on the water, Bar Bocce of Sausalito makes you feel like you’re on your own private beach. Their back patio has a fire pit, heat lamps, and of course, a bocce ball court to use free of charge. Enjoy their home-made sangria and popular sourdough pizza as you look out over the peaceful Sausalito harbor. This classy but casual hot spot does not take reservations though, so be sure to show up early.
This list would not be complete without Marin’s very own microbrewery, Marin Brewing Company. Marin Brewing Co. has been quenching the thirst of Larkspur and Marin County natives ever since opening in 1989. The beer hall serves their original brews, and many have names that offer a nod to local towns and landmarks, such as Mt. Tam Pale Ale and Point Reyes Porter. They even crafted their Orange and Black Congrats Ale in honor of the San Francisco Giants’ World Series win.