This is the only comprehensive online list of old Sausalito restaurants from the City’s past… with some not-so-old ones as well! If you see any errors or omissions, please let us know. This list reminds us that running a restaurant is a hard job and that we all should respect the people who do it. See also Our List of Sausalito Retailers That Have Closed.
Alley Art Bar – Opened in 2011 as a small gallery and wine tasting room in an alley near the intersection of Princess St. and Bridgeway, Alley Art Bar suffered from the familiar syndrome known as “close to Bridgeway is a tough location for retail when you compete against places that are right on Bridgeway”. They could not generate the same foot traffic as Bridgeway denizens Real Napa Wine Tasting one block south or tasting room cum art gallery Bacchus and Venus a long block to the north, and did not have the food offerings of Wellington’s Wine Bar.
The Alta Mira Hotel and Restaurant — Once the “Only the best for you, baby!” place for Birthdays, Big Meetings and Bar Mitzvahs in Sausalito, the one-time “most elegant hotel in Marin” is now a rehab center for The Rich and Famous. The fabulous-view restaurant (pictured in a 1950′s publicity postcard at left) is closed to the public. The link above in this paragraph has more information.
Amy’s Cafe – Closed in 2011 after two separate brief runs offering Japanese and Korean food in the old Peter Pan Donuts building. As our Dining Editor Henry Stephens put it, this is the root of the “tragedy of Sausalito having no place to buy bubble tea.” The space is now vacant.
Antidote – Had a short life in the space that had been Chart House, then was succeeded by Gaylord India, now closed. Famous for its anti-gourmand chef-owner who would use chalk to scrawl his contempt for traditional cuisine on the cast iron fixtures in the kitchen.
Benkei Sukiyaki — In the 1970′s Benkei held the Caledonia St. spot later occupied by Fukusuke and now by Rossetti Pizzeria.
Blue Fin Inn — 1950′s occupant of the building that houses Saylor’s.
Cafe Rio — Coffee Shop in the office building at 3030 Bridgeway, now closed.
Caffe Trieste — Now Taste of Rome.
Caruso’s — Now Fish.
Christophe’s – For many years a very well known and renowned French restaurant that drew patrons from San Francisco as well as Marin, the building now houses a hair salon next to Fred’s Coffee Shop. We’ll leave it to you to decide if this is a comment on Christophe’s cuisine, community culture, or compulsive alliteration.
Conglomeration Bar — After 1993 this building housed Gatsby’s for many years, then Sausalito Chop House, then Rustico, then Plate Shop, and now Fast Food Francais. We hope that F3 breaks the “post-Gatsby’s curse” in this location.
Cork Enoteca — Wine Bar next door to the Fire Station — now the site of Philz Coffee.
Frank & Clara’s Cafe — In the 1960′s the storefronts were divided differently and this home-style lunch place at 216 Caledonia St. was sandwiched between present day Smitty’s Bar (which appears to have expanded into this space) and Sausalito Bright Cleaners.
Fukusuke – Moved to Larkspur, where they ironically are located next door to an outpost of Sausalito-based Avatar’s. Their old spot is now the home of Rossetti Pizzeria, which relocated from San Anselmo in return for Sausalito’s 2nd round pick in the following year’s restaurant draft and a diner to be named later.
Gate 5 Road — Became Saylor’s Landing, now Sausalito Seahorse.
Gatsby’s – The only modern restaurant to have more than a short run in this building on Caledonia St., with great deep dish pizza,a wood stove and a gracious Persian owner who looked (and walked) like Jean Luc Picard. If you were regulars like us (we lived just up the hill at the time) this was part of the fun of coming in and being welcomed by name and escorted to your favorite table near the wood stove. Became Treviso, then Sausalito Chop House, then Rustico, then Plate Shop, now Fast Food Francais. If anyone in Sausalito ever figures out how to re-create their deep dish pizza recipe we will be regular customers within 15 minutes.
Gaylord India — Part of a national chain of Indian restaurants that ran into economic trouble (not to mention trouble with the County Health Dept.), Gaylord’s was located in the old Valhalla and Chart House space. It closed in December, 2008.
Giovanni’s Pizza — Renamed Venice Pizzeria in 2012 to reflect their long-term shared ownership with next door neighbor Venice Gourmet Deli.
Glad Hand — This hip 1950′s and 60′s inhabitant of a landmark waterfront building replaced a less-than-reputable (or more-than-rowdy) club called Tin Angel in 1951 in the building now occupied by Scoma’s. Glad Hand had a famous large hand logo and hand-lettered sign on the side of the building, shown in the photo at left. This was a landmark of the Beat Generation in Sausalito, next door to The Trident (see below; photo courtesy of Scoma’s).
Guernica — For years a successful Basque restaurant that was consistently included in “Best of Marin” lists, now Saylor’s. The “Bay Area Best Restaurants” listings in newspapers during the 1970′s and 80′s would grudgingly include a few places outside San Francisco, and Guernica was often given one of those “token non-SF” spots. One of our editors used to work for a local company that gave a Guernica gift certificate to all the employees as its Holiday present every year.
H. Salt Fish and Chips — After being acquired by Ice Cream Tycoon Michael Lappert the franchise name was dropped and the shop became Fish and Chips of Sausalito, with a Lappert’s Ice Cream counter added. There’s also a separate Lappert’s Ice Cream shop down the street on Bridgeway, hence the occasional confusion about “the two Lappert’s shops.”
Houlihan’s — A centerpiece of downtown Sausalito from 1980-1998, became Water Street Grille. Upstairs has just reopened as Barrel House; downstairs is now Il Piccolo Caffe. This was one end of the famed “Houlihan’s to Houlihan’s 12K” race that ran between the two restaurants (in San Francisco and Sausalito) from 1984 through 2002. The race continues today as the “Emerald Across the Bay 12K” that runs from Fort Baker in Sausalito across the Golden Gate to San Francisco. The building is the former home of the Purity Market (see bottom section below).
Il Piccolo Teatro – A beautiful remodel of the old Patterson’s Bar that opened at the start of the Recession, it featured wine and small plates of Italian food. Along with newly opened Barrel House this was one of the two nicest architectural redesigns of the last five years in Sausalito. We feel that if they’d opened in 2005 or in 2011 they would have caught the wave, but instead it was 2008 and they got stuck with the runoff. The opening of a second restaurant in town with the prefix “Il Piccolo” in the name didn’t help. Il Piccolo Teatro closed in 2011, replaced in Spring, 2012 by Copita after another major remodel to change the ambiance from Italian to Mexican.
Jan’s — A lunch counter located inside the Rexall Drug Store at the corner of Bridgeway and El Portal in the late 1940′s and the 1950′s. The lunch counter faced through the front window of the store, so you could sit there and watch the world go by and enjoy what we now call Vina Del Mar Park, It was a popular meeting spot, and the standard meal was fresh salad, casserole of the day and a dessert.
Juanita’s Galley — During the 1960′s and early 1970′s this was a famous artists’ and musicians’ gathering place on the old ferry boat nicknamed The Ark (see below), and a restaurant by the same name from the same impresario also operated for a time from a building on Gate 5 Road. Owner Juanita Musson was famous for her trademark brightly colored muu-muu’s and her fiery personality. A long-time fixture in the Sausalito Art and Maritime community, she passed away in 2011 at the age of 87.
Lion’s Share — In 1968 this was a small folk and rock club at 100 Caledonia St., at the corner of Caledonia and Pine. The Grateful Dead played there at least once, as did other seminal local bands. The building burned down in 1969, and the club relocated to San Anselmo, where it lasted until 1974. A small office building now occupies the location.
Marina’s – Became Gate 5 Road, then Saylor’s Landing, now Sausalito Seahorse.
Mikayla – Retains its location and name as a bay-view private dining room and terrace booked for banquets and groups at Poggio.
Miramar Cafe — Built on a long-vanished pier at the foot of Johnson St. near what is now Bar Bocce, the 1910 Cafe burned twice between 1911 and 1915. The second time the owner was sent to jail for arson.
North Sea Village – For many years a Chinese restaurant on the water, then subdivided into the now-closed Wellington’s Wine Bar and the still-thriving In The Kitchen cooking school.
North Shore Oyster and Chop House — We have a Sausalito newspaper copy from 1905 (saved because of a piece about an editor’s family) that contains an ad listing the North Shore as being located on Water St., the name of which was changed to Bridgeway as part of the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1937.
Northpoint Coffee – Coffee shop closed in January, 2009 at a point just north of downtown Sausalito; now Bar Bocce. In the 1960′s this was a popular store that sold braid and embroidery supplies that were then popular for personalizing jeans and other youth clothing in the San Francisco Rock and Woodstock era. (Did you see how skillfully I avoided using the word “hippie”?)
Patterson’s Bar – Once a setting worthy of a Humphrey Bogart 1940′s detective movie. Became the now-closed Il Piccolo Teatro after an extensive and beautiful renovation of the dark, dank space, then became Copita after another major renovation.
Peter Pan Donuts – Became the now-closed Amy’s Cafe.
Pomodoro Pizza – Near Best Buy, this outlet in the national chain closed in January, 2009.
Rickshaw Chinese — Near Best Buy, this fast food outlet was replaced by Panda Express.
Rossetti Pizzeria — A highly-rated small local gem, this “pizzas with flavor profiles off the menu, not pizzas with ingredient lists off the wall” restaurant operated from late 2010 until June, 2014, when it was sold to a larger company and closed for remodeling. As of August, 2015 its reopening has again been postponed.
Sausalito Food Company — Became Marina’s, then Gate 5 Road, then Harbor Grill, then Saylor’s Landing, now Sausalito Seahorse.
Sausalito Inn — Located at the junction of Bridgeway and Princess St. at 599 Bridgeway, the Sausalito Inn was a favorite of the local Art community in the 1950′s, and Sterling Hayden was a regular on his visits here before he moved to live on a barge on the Seine in Paris. They had food downstairs and rooms for rent above.
Saylor’s South of the Border – Renamed Saylor’s Restaurant and Bar when its menu was merged with that of the long-popular Saylor’s Landing after the latter’s closure due to a lease dispute.
Star’s Barbecue — Near Best Buy.
The Tides Bookstore and Coffee Shop – One of the most famous Beat Generation “coffee shop plus bookstores” in the Bay Area, it operated from 1957 to 1972 at 749 Bridgeway. They published a literary magazine upstairs and served as a home base for local writers and artists, long before Borders and Barnes & Noble. Over time the bookshelves expanded and the coffee shop shrank, and in 1972 the owners sold the place. The new owners tried to keep the same spirit for a few years, but the storefront’s placement opposite the Ferry pier has made it a souvenir shop for the last 30+ years. (Recognize the Artist’s name “Elig” from Waldo Point? Please use the comments box or contact us to fill us in!)
Tin Angel — This was a rowdy 1940′s place in the former Lange’s Launches boat landing building, succeeded in 1951 by the famous Glad Hand restaurant and bar, now occupied (after the addition of a dining room on the far end of the pier) by Scoma’s. Tin Angel today more or less is the bar space at Scoma’s. In this 1940′s photo it’s being battered by a storm on the Bay.
Topolino Ristorante — The 1950′s occupant of the building that later housed Guernica and is now home to Saylor’s.
The Trident, then owned by the Kingston Trio, opened in 1959 and was a center of San Francisco Rock Music culture from 1966-76. Janis Joplin had her own table, Robin Williams worked as a busboy, Bill Graham feted Mick Jagger and the Stones, and it was the place to see the musicians who came to town to record at The Record Plant and other studios. After being sold and renamed as Horizons for many years the Trident returned with its old name as of Summer, 2012 after a major renovation and restoration that preserved its historic paintings and woodwork.
Sally Stanford’s Valhalla, the restaurant of famous San Francisco madame turned Sausalito Mayor Sally Stanford (became Chart House, then Valhalla again under different owners out to leverage the famous name, then Antidote, then the recently-closed Gaylord India). A sign on the door in April, 2009 suggested that a restaurant named Valhalla may be reopening at the site but nothing ever happened beyond a small construction permit and later plans for a hotel on the site were scuttled by community opposition. The current proposal is to turn the building into condo’s.
Walhalla or Walhalla Biergarten — Renamed from Walhalla to Valhalla when Sally Stanford took over the building in 1948. Its use as a restaurant dates back to the 19th century Walhalla Biergarten over a hundred years ago. The location for a scene between film legends Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth (bizarrely dyed blonde) in the 1948 film Lady from Shanghai.
Water Street Grille – Took over the site that for many years had been Houlihan’s. Upstairs has just reopened as Barrel House; downstairs is now Il Piccolo Caffe. The inside joke of the name: Before the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge in 1936 Sausalito’s main thoroughfare, now known simply as Bridgeway (shortened from the original Bridgeway Boulevard), was called Water Street.
Waterfront Cafe — Now Le Garage.
Wellington’s Wine Bar – High quality place that lost its lease in autumn of 2014 and had to close. It occupied the building that a generation ago housed North Sea Village.
Wimbledon — 1960′s occupant of the building that now houses Wellington’s Wine Bar.
Winship – After a run of almost five decades, Winship has as of April, 2012 been sold and replaced by the Napa Valley Burger Co. Some of our editors have fond childhood memories of Sunday breakfast there as they were growing up.
Zack’s by the Bay – Became Margaritaville, then Paradise Bay, now Salito’s Crab House. This was the pre-disco-era singles scene restaurant and bar in Sausalito’s 70′s, and the scene of many a local rite of passage. Well, sometimes it was the parking lot that was the scene of the rites of passage, or Dunphy Park just down the street, or the pier at the foot of Johnson St., or…. You get the idea.
And we should not forget…
The Ark – A club and performance venue in the 1960′s, the Ark was the popular name for the old ferry boat Charles Van Damme. Local bands like the Redlegs (still playing locally as The Gaters and as Catfish and Tate) played benefits there in an unsuccessful effort to save the antique boat. Old handbills from the Ark can sell for hundreds of dollars each on the collectors market.
The Gate Theatre — Located at 668 Bridgeway in Sausalito in a spot now occupied by an art gallery, this movie theatre was built as the Princess Theatre (being near Princess St.) and was renamed the Gate in honor of the new Golden Gate Bridge in the 1930′s. By 1953 it had come under the control of the Blumenfeld family, who over time acquired most of the movie houses in the County. As television sets became standard features of American homes movie attendance dropped and The Gate was closed in favor of the nearby Marin Theatre (now Cinearts at Marin, a modernized three-screen facility), also then owned by the Blumenfelds. Some stage productions were still held at The Gate through the mid-60′s, and the San Francisco Mime Troupe called the place home in 1965, about the time the name was changed to Sausalito Little Theatre. The Grateful Dead played there at least once in the mid-1960′s.