Long-Gone Restaurants...Which Do You Still Miss?

What are the restaurants and entrees that you still have a craving for?

I know there are a lot of great restaurants in San Rafael. Believe me, I’m still working my way through the long list. But every once in a while I start reminiscing about the restaurants and entrees that are no longer around, especially the places in the 80s that couldn’t hold on through the 90s or beyond.

Does anyone miss the days of Zim’s in Terra Linda known for its burgers and fantastic milkshakes? They’d serve you a full glass of shake and give you the rest from the blender on the side.

In Terra Linda, we now have a lot of new spots for quick eats, like Weezy’s burgers. But in the old days, one of my favorite lunch spots was Sub Hut deli. Boris and his wife made these unique sandwiches where all of the veggies were diced up and placed in small bins in a round chiller. 

When you ordered the sandwich, they would make a loop around the chiller and serve up the tomatoes, pickles, onions, etc. with a melon scoop.  Think Subway in the round.  The other signature element was a heart-stopping amount of mayonnaise on the bread and a finish of oil on the veggies. 

LJ’s Deli is now in its place and still has the Sub Hut Special — a sando with every type of meat and cheese — on the menu as a tribute to the deli that started it all. But, I recommend moving on and ordering the awesome chicken salad sandwich instead.

I was a regular at the famous Royal Frankfurter, a Marin County institution, which sadly closed in 2008.  Every Saturday, I would travel to and try to secure one of the tables at Calvin and Grace Wong’s tiny eatery on Fourth Street.   

I loved Grace’s way of taking orders in a formal but friendly way. “For the gentleman?,” asked Grace, as she took my husband’s order.  “And for the lady?,” she would add and I would pipe up with my order of a Kosher dog and a side of Calvin’s potato salad.

If there weren’t a line at the counter, we would update Grace on the latest news. I miss her weekly dose of great advice — everything from what color car to buy to what kind of digital camera would be the best upgrade.  

Occasionally, I hear from Grace and Calvin and they are happily enjoying retirement after 36 years serving up delicious hot dogs.

Does anyone remember the name of the restaurant that was in a Victorian house on the corner of Third and E streets in San Rafael? It’s not one that I ever ate at but it, along with La Petite Auberge, comes up frequently on the “I miss…” list.

The Seafood Peddler has found a new home in Sausalito and is now home to Terrapin Crossroads. But does anyone remember when it was Dominic’s Harbor Restaurant?

OK, foodie old-timers … what are some of the restaurants and entrees that you’re missing? Do you have any old snapshots of these places? Scan 'em in and upload them to this story just for old times' sake.

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E Perkins September 27, 2012 at 01:50 AM
I sorely miss La Petite in Strawberry - their artichoke soup and mushroom cheese sandwich. And El Rebozo in Mill Valley (across from the Holiday Inn Express). And the Hickory Pit in Strawberry. And Tiburon Tommy's in Tiburon. But La Petite, I think of those sandwiches!!!!!!!!!!!
juanita September 27, 2012 at 02:19 AM
is it gone? last week i drove by and they had a "we are open" sign outside.
juanita September 27, 2012 at 02:21 AM
also the best fish and chips!
juanita September 27, 2012 at 02:27 AM
if we're moving out of san rafael.........riccardo's in san anselmo. best scampi ever!
Gabrielle Cullen September 27, 2012 at 04:43 AM
Easy Street! It's been the hard road dining with a tot since they closed. :(
Reginald "Rex" Henderson September 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM
Zim's in Greenbrae AND at Northgate.
linda September 27, 2012 at 12:54 PM
Isaac's heart stopping breakfast with his daughter Molly serving ... Further afield the long gone 'Zoya's truck stop cafe in Petaluma. A mule skinner friend of mine turned me on to the fabulous Borsch soup there in the vintage 50's atmosphere. Tom Waits frequented it as well as a generous trucker who picked up my tab on afternoon when I brought my 2 little kids. They enjoyed the pinball machine after their burgers. Nice for a single Mom on her way back from Food for Less in Rohnert park.
Joe Dunn September 27, 2012 at 02:19 PM
Juanita, yes the last day was the 12th.
Gloria Azevedo September 27, 2012 at 05:23 PM
I miss King Cotton, Victoria Station and The Velvet Turtle.
Carole Fiedler September 27, 2012 at 05:38 PM
I miss SALUTE in San Rafael which burned down in 1995 - and I miss my office which was above it more!
Tracey Ruiz September 27, 2012 at 09:54 PM
Here are some other restaurants that people have let me know about: King Cotton, Berkeley Farms, Velvet Turtle and Zanze's Cheesecake. Wasn't there some kind of diner-style place in the Northgate mall next to Sears (long before the remodel.)
S. Kramer Herzog September 27, 2012 at 11:23 PM
In San Rafael I miss The Pink Poodle, then bought by Isaac's (the greeceeee spoon) but good! @ 920 B St. Before Lundy's in the 60's Dever's.......Borden Dairy between 4 th & 3 rd.........The Griddle 4 th st....Foster Freeze, great shakes, 4 th st..... Zip's Drive In (GREAT FRIES) Hambugers 19 cents 3 rd & A....... San Rafael Donut Shop 4 th St. then "Jay's Coffee Shop".....Villa Rafael......... Chinese Food Express in the 60's....In San Anselmo... Hey Jeep Drive INN... Ted's Ice Cream YUM....Sorry I can not type any more I am going out to eat!
Matt Malin September 28, 2012 at 12:16 AM
The Velvet Turtle...need i say more?
Sara September 28, 2012 at 08:18 PM
Oh! That cafe across from College of Marin had the Most. Incredible. Chocolate-fudge-brownie cookies circa 1982...ish. I have yet to find anything like them or recreate the recipe!
Debbie Fuqua September 28, 2012 at 08:23 PM
Oh, boy - the restaurant near Sears at Northgate was Bumbleberry's Pies, and I miss the Hick'ry Pit, and Isaak's and the Courthouse Creamery. For a short time, there was a BBQ place near the bus stop where the guy would ask what kinda sauce, "wild or mild?" For sure Velvet Turtle, Boobies, and the Drive-Inn that became Erik's used to be an A&W. Franchini's there at the Lucas Valley exit about a thousand years ago....
Tara Sullivan September 30, 2012 at 09:22 PM
In San Rafael, Gold Nugget, Le Croissant, the Thai counter at Northgate, Villa Roma/Villa Romano (can't remember, great tortellini Alfredo, ugly Italianate statuary) on 3rd street. Yes to the Velvet Turtle. Elsewhere, the wonderful breakfast place in San Anselmo with the outstanding cinnamon buns, can't remember the name, King Henry VIII in Kentfield, Zim's, Peppermill (great fruit salad), Easy Street (both), the Hamilton Cafe and Capra's, in Novato, Victoria Station, Good Earth and Remillard's in Larkspur, The Refectory (wow, that's going back), and Petrini's deli counter in Greenbrae. Still kicking from the old days: Pine Tree in Pt. Reyes Station, Taqueria in Kentfield, Roast Haus in TL, M&G Burgers in Fairfax, Sam's in Tiburon, and Marin Joe's.
Tara Sullivan September 30, 2012 at 09:23 PM
Can't believe I forgot Hick'ry Pit. The pies!
Tracey Ruiz September 30, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Great list Tara! Thanks, I needed some ideas for San Anselmo and Mill Valley.
JT October 01, 2012 at 02:47 PM
Ramona's Mexican Restuarant on C Street in San Rafael.
Michael October 02, 2012 at 09:41 PM
this corner has never recovered from when the Gonzales family shut the restaurant after so many years. it was a nice, safe, warm neighborhood place where they greeted you with a smile and the food was good! Miss them.
Clyde Robello October 11, 2012 at 07:55 PM
In San Rafael Coreys Restaurant on 4th, Laurel Grove Creamery on 4th near Lincoln, Maria's Pueblo on Bayview, Chef's Inn on Lincoln, KC's drive in on the Miracle Mile, Morrows Drive Inn on the Miracle Mile and Andy's Drive Inn on the Miracle Mile, Petes Pier down on the canal and in Kentfield it was Eat and Run across from College of Marin
Gail Mignon October 28, 2012 at 04:55 PM
Bobby's Fo'c's'le Loch Lomond, International Gourmet Northgate Two, Royal Mandarin Northgate One. But most of all, Victoria Station!
juanita October 28, 2012 at 06:15 PM
i miss bobby's, too. and bobby--what a great guy!
Elaine Maurer November 07, 2012 at 02:41 AM
I miss Spanky's in Fairfax. It was a great place for family dining. My daughter always loved the tuna melt. Kids could enjoy the play area and everybody was mellow. I think it closed in the late 90's.
Lydia January 29, 2013 at 08:43 PM
from the 80's there was a small french restaurant - Danielle's and the best chocolates at Valentine's...
Steven Carry January 31, 2013 at 12:09 AM
The train running around the walls near the ceiling made it special for kids of all ages. Now Barefoot Cafe. If you go to Burritoville in Larkspur you can still see the ledge where the train ran in that second location before it was Coyote Cafe.
Steven Carry January 31, 2013 at 12:19 AM
That Victorian on E Street was for a short time in the 1980s The E Street Restaurant which I believe was Joey Altman's first. {Think Bay Cafe TV and Miss Pearl's Jam House.}
Terry Koenig March 28, 2013 at 11:27 PM
The Griddle on Lincoln and Fourth, The Mission Inn on B St., Sea Spray Inn in Sausalito, Travellers Inn (Before Salute) across from Greyhound Depot., Shakey's Pizza.
Grey Wolf May 29, 2013 at 09:29 PM
I remember Dominic's, mostly from when I'd be hanging out with my folks at the SRYC (doesn't seem pretentious, even looking back on it...); "I Miss La Petite Auberge", to be sure; but yes! Traveler's Inn (I still miss Cantonese cuisine -- it's all gone Hunan, Szechuan or Mandarin now), the Royal Frank (loved that place -- the Linguica was my favourite!); going farther back into the reaches of my memory will bring back The Bib 'n' Rib and, later, the London Arms (about a tenth of a mile outside SR in San Anselmo, down The Miracle Mile), Normandie (about a tenth of a mile INSIDE SR, down the Mile), and I miss how San Rafael Joe's USED to be. I miss Taverna Yiasou up by the Civic Center (I believe Max's Cafe is there now). They made the BEST hamburgers I think I have ever had. I don't know if it was the mint and parsley mixed in, or what they used for spices, but wow. Awesome. For entirely different reasons, I miss the Marin Pizza Pub. Time marches on, as it must, but the memories are sweet, of both the restaurants and the people.
Jordan Rosenfeld February 25, 2014 at 01:33 AM
How about Victoria Station in Larkspur, the weird "restaurant in a train car"?? That was weirdly awesome


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