At Marin Murder Mysteries, dinner mates may ask you to pass the rolls just before they begin chipping away at your alibi. That’s because guests are both suspects and sleuths during the theater troupe’s interactive performances, attempting to tally the clues and pinpoint the culprit's motive. Each year, the cast and crew serve up three to four different shows that inject generous portions of slapstick into the familiar detective genre. The writers and directors have a particular fondness for the noir-soaked era of the 1950s, with such past plays as Remains to be Seen, Murder Me, Always, and Death of a Doornail. During the show, guests have the option to dine on a gourmet dinner or sip cocktails from a cash bar.
For more than 50 years, Tiburon Diner was known as Dave and Mike's—an "Adult Day Care Center," as its menu proclaimed. Dave retired in early 2012, and the business adopted its current moniker, changing its name but remaining a place for Tiburonites to sit down at the counter over cups of coffee, browse the eatery's free WiFi , and eat their morning newspapers. In the kitchen, Mike (the head chef) prepares heartier helpings of large pancakes and three-cheese omelets for breakfast and patty melts and half-pound burgers for lunch, serving each plate amid the diner's homey decor of blue trim and vintage photographs of Old Tiburon.
Retro memorabilia overlooks the aqua and crimson formica booths of Hubcaps Diner, where the friendly waitstaff hums along to hit tunes from the '50s and '60s as they serve up trays of Dryer’s old-fashioned milkshakes and classic diner eats. Chefs man the breakfast griddle all day long, churning out waffles and gravy-slathered biscuits alongside a plethora of omelet and scramble options made with a choice of eggs, egg whites, or Eggbeaters. The diner also specializes in hearty American comfort food, such as Evergood polish sausages, chicken-fried steak, and albacore-tuna melts, which can be washed down with a steaming slice of pie à la mode or a choice of beer or wine. Rounding out the diner feel, the shop mixes up soda-fountain favorites, fashioning Dryer’s premium ice cream into banana splits, sundaes layered in hot fudge, and foamy root-beer floats you can hide your date's keys in.
Claremont Diner's cozy atmosphere and generous portions of classic diner fare have earned it the loyal patronage of locals, and favorable nods from critics from the San Francisco Chronicle. As guests devour breakfasts of pancake stacks topped with powered sugar and fresh fruit, or lunches of freshly made chicken salad or the ever-popular salmon burger, an adorable miniature train set steams through the restaurant and a tiny model village. The space bursts at the seams with heartwarming Americana, with its bar counter lined with swivel stools, guests sipping root beer floats in the red vinyl booths.
In 1947, owners Mel Weiss and Harold Dobbs assembled a staff of 14 carhops to serve passing motorists at the first Mel's Drive-In. For the next two decades, customers partial to automobile dining flocked to the chain’s 11 California locations, eager to wash down grass-fed half-pound burgers with thick milk shakes. As fast-food outlets outpaced the drive-in's once-speedy service, its popularity declined, and it was eventually scheduled for demolition. The building got a temporary reprieve, however, when filmmaker George Lucas decided to use the drive-in's original location on Lombard Street as the colorful backdrop for his film American Graffiti. As bulldozers destroyed the last remnants of the historic drive-in, American Graffiti opened in theaters.
A decade later, though, Mel's son Steven reopened Mel's Drive-In in an attempt to carry on his father's dream. Steven restored the drive-in's multiple locations to mirror their original motif by stocking each with midcentury must-haves such as illuminated marquees, jukeboxes, and Elvis-themed WiFi passwords. The drive-in’s menu, meanwhile, balances period-appropriate fare, such as hot dogs and burgers, with healthy options, such as the Haven’s Famous vegetarian sandwich, two slices of nine-grain bread topped with avocado, sprouts, and tomatoes.
Historic Soda Fountain | Monster Hashes | Egg Creams and Floats | Vegan Milk Shakes | Hangover Cures
Past Lives: St. Francis Fountain came by its lovely old neon signage authentically—it’s been a soda fountain since Greek immigrant James Christakes opened it in 1918. The family updated the dining room in 1948, but not much else changed until Peter Hood and Levon Kazarian took it over in 2002 after the original spot closed. (In the interim, Mission Local reported, regulars taped pleading notes on the windows asking that the fountain be preserved.) The new owners preserved St. Francis’s spirit while trading in the candy- and ice-cream-making areas for a full menu; the ice cream now comes from local institution Mitchell’s.
While You Wait: Browse the selection of vintage pop-culture ephemera filling what used to be the candy case, perhaps picking up a pack of Magnum, P.I. trading cards to entertain a fussy 55-year-old.
Black Forest ham: a black-edged ham named for the part of Germany where it’s produced via a three-month process involving curing with garlic, coriander, pepper, and juniper berries before it’s smoked over fir branches.
Egg cream: a classic (egg-free) fountain drink made with soda water, chocolate syrup and a little cream or, more commonly, milk.
While You’re in the Neighborhood