Santa Rosa to Tomales: Passing through Petaluma, head out toward the town of Tomales. It’s an incredibly scenic ride through golden hillsides dotted with eucalyptus groves. About 30 minutes out, you’ll enter this cozy historic outpost that’s home to the Tomales Bakery. And, uh, not a whole lot else. Best known for their fresh-made breakfast pastries, the shop opens at 7:30am, usually to a waiting crowd. By early afternoon, the shop is pretty picked over, but you can usually find a pizzetta or two to tide you over until you hit Tomales Bay. Need provisions? If you’ve just gotta get a sandwich, there’s also a deli next door with coffee and the usual lunchtime suspects. (But hey, you’re holding out for the oysters!) Tomales Bakery, 27000 Highway 1, Tomales, 707.878.2429. Open Thursday through Sunday from 7:30am until they run out of food.
Hog Island Oysters: As you get to the bay, the signs for BBQ oysters abound. If you’re feeling adventurous (and have made a reservation well in advance) Hog Island Oysters sells fresh-from-the-bay oysters onsite and has a popular picnic spot right on the bay for grilling them up yourself. Not lucky enough to get a picnic spot, it’s worth crunching over the oyster shells in the parking lot and stopping in just to see the “Farm” where the oysters spend their last 24 hours in huge tanks getting cleaned. Note: You can’t buy prepared oysters here (aw shucks!) The Farm: Open Tuesday through Sunday from 9am to 5pm; located on Highway 1 in Marshall, about 15 minutes north of Point Reyes Station and 45 minutes south of Bodega Bay. 415.663.9218.
The Marshall Store: Don’t let it’s shabby looks deceive you. Inside this oyster shack are some of the best oysters to be found in the area. Barbequed, Rockefellered or raw (or all three), they’re prepared while you wait and served up with hearty local bread for dipping all that juice. And the best part? The view is free. Located on Highway 1 in Marshall, Open seven days a week, 10am to 6pm.
ADDED Nick’s Cove: If you’ve got a little more time, don’t miss stopping at the new Pat Kuleto project–a reimagined Nick’s Cove. The menu includes plenty of oysters, along with the Cove Oyster PoBoy, a Niman Ranch chuckburger, Marin Sun Farms Beef Carpaccio and fish and chips made with local Petrole sole. Plus, should all those oysters leave you feeling a bit randy, you can grab your cutie and head to a the remodeled cottages along the beach. Nicks Cove and Cottages, 23240 Highway 1, Marshall.
ADDED Marin Sun Farms Butcher Shop: Sustainably raised beef from the Marin ranches is sold at the Pt. Reyes butcher shop to the delight of meat-eaters from through the Bay Area. Though you can get this high-quality meat at plenty of local restaurants, the butcher shop is one of the only retail sellers in the North Bay. Plus, farm fresh eggs. Nothin’ better. 10905 Hwy 1, Point Reyes Station, 415.663.8997, ext. 204
Tomales Bay Foods: Yes, you have reached nirvana. Combining the Cowgirl Creamery, an mini indoor farmer’s market, a case of prepared salads and lunch nibbles, a wine shop and coffeehouse, this is picnic bliss. On weekends, you’ll likely have to fight your way through the throngs of city folk to pick up some Cowgirl cheese and organic nectarines, but oh, how worth it. Don’t miss watching the curds getting stirred through the big window at the back of the store. Point Reyes, 415 663-9335. While in town, don’t miss Marin Organics’ Pt. Reyes Farm Market and nearby Bovine Bakery.
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