Tag Archives: Mill Valley

Holiday Dining & Celebrating with PlumpJack

balboa-holiday-shoot-46It’s the most wonderful time of the year to spend with friends and family, whether for group dinners, intimate dining options, holiday Happy Hours with friends, and more. Our restaurants and bars are great locales for libations and dining, see below for details.

Balboa Cafe San Francisco
3199 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

Open 365 days a year, Balboa Cafe is a popular spot to gather during the holidays, especially for the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve.
Thanksgiving & Christmas VIEW MENU
12pm-2pm Limited menu including the Balboa Burger, sandwiches, salads & appetizers
2pm-8pm Reservation-only (415.921.3944) special holiday a la carte menu
Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, New Year’s Day Regular business hours (11:30-2am)

Book a large group for dining at Balboa Cafe San Francisco – please call 415.921.3944 or email

160215_hangar_steak_low_res_09_0a9a3001-copyBalboa Cafe Mill Valley (BCMV) 38 MIller Drive, Mill Valley, CA
Located in the charming town of Mill Valley just a quick drive over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, BCMV features creative holiday menus by Chef Howard Ko
Thanksgiving 2pm-8pm Reservations Strongly RecommendedVIEW MENU
Christmas Eve Brunch from 11am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-11pm*
Christmas CLOSED
New Year’s Eve Brunch from 11am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-11pm*
New Year’s Day Brunch from 11am-3pm, Dinner 5pm-10pm*
*No Happy Hour

PlumpJack Cafe at Squaw Valley Inn
The perfect location to celebrate the winter holidays with festive meals surrounded by family and friends. Celebrate the 10 Days of Christmas with a special holiday-themed menu offered around the holidays. Make reservations online or call 530-583-1578
Thanksgiving CLOSED
Christmas Eve
5pm – 9:30pm
5:30 – 9:30pm
New Year’s Eve
5:00pm – 11pm
New Year’s Day
5:30 – 9:30pm

For private dining inquiries for large groups, go to plumpjacksquawvalleyinn.com

Cheers it’s the Holidays!
For fanciful libations to celebrate the spirit of the holidays, pop into one of PlumpJack’s three bars MatrixFillmore, Forgery, Wildhawk.
forgery-manhattanForgery Holiday Hours
Thanksgiving & Day After CLOSED
December 23rd – 26th CLOSED
New Year’s Eve OPEN – Forgery & VERSO Nightclub
to operate as one venue (Entertainment and Offerings to be announced in November – go to VERSOSF.com to stay updated or follow on social media @verso_sf)
New Year’s Day CLOSED

Wildhawk Bar Holiday Hours
Thanksgiving CLOSED
December 25th – 27th CLOSED
New Year’s Day CLOSED

Insider Tips: Best Hikes in Marin County

If you want a break from the hustle and bustle, we have insider tips on the best hikes in Marin County with breathtaking views of the city and the dozens of hiking trails that get you there. While the list of hikes in Marin has virtually no end, we’ve rounded up our top three picks based on insider tips. Grab those hiking boots!

Cataract Loop Trail Best Hikes in Marin County

Cataract Loop Trail on Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County California

#1 Cataract Trail Loop on Mount Tamalpais
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.7 miles / 12.4 km
Duration: Half day
Mount Tamalpais State Park is the symbolic peak at the heart of Marin County and a beautiful change of scenery from the city to the woods. The loop offers panoramic views of the entire bay stretching to the Pacific Ocean. The most popular attraction is Cataract Falls; however, popularity comes with little secrecy, making the trail relatively packed during summer months. Our tip, and the best way to avoid crowds and ensure you can find a parking spot is to go on a weekday.
Click here for more tips and directions to the trail head.

Angel Island, Best Hikes in Marin County

Angel Island Fire Road Hike in Marin County California

#2 Angel Island Perimeter Fire Road
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.7 miles
Duration: Half day
If you’re looking for a more leisurely hike without skimping on the 360 degree view of the bay, Angel Island is your best bet. This loop is more than just a hike, you will encounter historic sites, beaches and picnic spots so pack some snacks and enjoy the view. Our insider tips are to A) check the weather. San Francisco Bay, especially at sea level, is prone to fog which would inhibit visibility of the main attraction! B) Check the Angel Island Ferry Schedule and plan your day ahead of time and don’t get stuck on the island overnight! Fun fact: you can take your bike to Angel via the ferry.

Point Bonita, Best Hikes in Marin County

Point Bonita in Marin County California

#3 Point Bonita Marin Headlands
Difficulty: Easy
Length: 4.1 miles

/ 6.6 km
Duration: 1-3 hours
When you see pictures of the Golden Gate Bridge with downtown San Francisco in the
background odds are they were probably taken in the Marin Headlands. The headlands offer
many long and short loops and trails, but this short hike leads to a beautiful historical sight
and a local favorite vista point. Point Bonita Lighthouse is a fully operational lighthouse with
fascinating history to be learned and experienced at the site. Don’t let the short distance lead you to believe this will be a boring walk; the hike is steep at points and requires crossing 2 suspension bridges. Insider tip: the tunnel to the lighthouse is open Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 12:30 pm to 3:30 pm, so plan accordingly so you don’t miss out on the beautiful

After you experience the local nature and vistas Marin has to offer, enjoy brunch (weekends), lunch or dinner at Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, a local favorite in historic Mill Valley. The restaurant is a short 10-to-15 minute drive from all of the hikes listed above!

Your nature experience doesn’t have to end with the hike; alfresco dining is available during the summer months! A day trip to Marin is a must during your visit to San Francisco for a local experience full of beautiful hikes and delicious cuisine.

A Journey Through Mexico Pop-Up at BCMV

Yucatan Mercado
Balboa Cafe Mill Valley (aka BCMV) is debuting a “Journey through Mexico” Pop-Up, highlighting regional flavors of Mexico that includes the Yucatan, Baja, Mexico City, and more. Forgery will be taking over the bar featuring bar stars Jacques Bezuidenhout, Ken Luciano  and Elizabeth Montana. Expect some Tequila and Mezcal flights, plus signature cocktails to pair with Howard’s Mexican-inspired menu.
Forgery Tequilas
The restaurant will feature the pop-up menu exclusively on August 28th for dinner service from 5-10pm. To make a reservation, call 415.381.7321 or book online through OpenTable.



Journey Through Mexico Pop-Up Menu

“Journey Through Mexico” Pop-Up Menu

JulyNewsletter_BonAppetiteAbout Howard Ko, Executive Chef Balboa Cafe Mill Valley
A renowned chef with a passion for innovative cuisine, Howard Ko is ideally suited to lead the culinary program at Balboa Cafe Mill Valley.  In his career to date, Ko has already worked at some of the industry’s most well-respected establishments – The Restaurant at Meadowood with Christopher Kostow, The French Laundry with Thomas Keller and in the kitchens of Goose & Gander in St. Helena, Melisse in Los Angeles, Hanilkwan in Osaka, and DB Bistro Moderne, Picholine and Daniel in New York.

Ko was raised in Koreatown in Los Angeles and fell in love with cooking at a very young age. After spending time in Los Angeles mastering the art of pastry making and baking, Ko traveled to New York to attend the Culinary Institute of America. As a student at the CIA, Ko assisted at Daniel on weekends to gain experience in the kitchen doing everything from peeling potatoes to cleaning mushrooms.

Making the move to Wine Country as Chef de Partie at The French Laundry in Yountville, Ko worked the line and focused on creating new dishes for the daily changing menu. From there he joined acclaimed chef Christopher Kostow at three-Michelin starred The Restaurant at Meadowood as Chef de Partie where he assisted at all stations and mentored the commis.

Ko accepted a position as chef de cuisine at his third Wine Country restaurant Goose & Gander off Main Street in St. Helena. As his final position before joining Balboa Cafe Mill Valley, Ko ran the kitchen and was responsible for putting a dramatic spin on the neighborhood eatery. Ko also introduced a shared plates concept, new flavors, and new techniques with the goal of bringing people together to taste different flavors.

As Executive Chef at Balboa Café Mill Valley, Ko will serve a seasonal menu with an emphasis on locally sourced ingredients taking advantage of all Northern California has to offer. The menu will consist of market driven bistro classics with modern twists. Howard Ko lives in Napa with his fiancée, Wendy, and dog, Whiskey, and when he’s not in the kitchen, enjoys CrossFit and growing his eclectic collection of cookbooks.


Balboa Cafe Mill Valley's Kale Slaw Recipe

Kale Slaw

Balboa Mill Valley’s Kale Slaw

Chef Rick Edge of Balboa Cafe Mill Valley shares his kale slaw recipe with the masses. If you can’t make it to the restaurant to get your fix, like LA resident and fan Lisa Miller, we have you covered with a simple at-home recipe.

Recently, Noelle Carter of the LA Times Daily Dish reached out Chef Rick Edge to request the kale slaw recipe for fan Lisa Miller. This is what she had to say:

Dear SOS: I am in love with the kale slaw from Balboa Cafe in Mill Valley, Calif. That dish was actually what turned me on to kale, but I can’t find a salad as good. I love visiting Northern California and especially going to Balboa Cafe for the kale slaw. So I can also enjoy it at home, do you think you can get the recipe? Lisa Miller

Kale Slaw Recipe
Serves 8-10 people


2 bunches lacinato kale (aka dino kale), cut into strips
2 cups shaved carrot
2 cups shaved red cabbage
1 ½ cups shaved fennel
1 cups toasted walnuts

  1. Combine all ingredients except walnuts in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Store in an air tight container.
  3. When ready to serve, mix with walnuts and dress with dressing.


2 ¾ cups aioli
1/3 cup Dijon mustard
2 ounces lemon juice
½ cup apple cider vinegar
3 ounces pumpkin seed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

  1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  2. Season with salt and pepper.

RickEdge_020912_Color1Balboa Cafe Mill Valley is part of

the PlumpJack Group, a San Francisco-based hospitality and lifestyle management company with 15 properties under its collective brand. For more information about Balboa Mill Valley’s Executive Chef Rick Edge go to the website.

Big-Flavor Mixed Summer Squash Recipe

Chef Rick Edge from Balboa Cafe Mill Valley offers simple seasonal recipes featuring the bounty of the summer harvest. First up was his crowd-pleasing grilled corn recipe and this month’s feature is a simple, healthy summer squash recipe. A side or main course of this dish is full of antioxidants which promotes healthy immunity.

Join us July 25th, when Chef Edge partners with Lazaro Calderon from Sonoma’s The Patch Organic Farm. Summer squash will be the star, and other seasonal produce will make a splash, at our first-ever Farm-to-Table Dinner. View Menu HERE and Make a Reservation NOW.


Serves Four

1 1/2 pounds mixed summer squash
2 cups red onion, large dice
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup roasted garlic
3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons chopped parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Wash squash and dry it well. Trim ends off and cut squash into one inch pieces. In a large skillet, heat the canola oil. On medium-high heat, add the onions and cook for one minute. Add the squash and cook for another two minutes or until the squash starts to soften, season with salt and pepper. Add the chopped garlic and cook for another minute so that the garlic perfumes the vegetables. Add the roasted garlic and cherry tomatoes and turn off the heat. Keep stirring the vegetables to warm the garlic and tomatoes. Add the extra
< virgin olive oil, vinegar, parsley and season with salt and pepper. Squash may be served at room temperature as a salad or hot as a side dish.

Over the Bridge and Through the Valley: Five Reasons to Visit Mill Valley

It’s a random weekday and you need a little adventure to spice up your day, look no further than beyond the fog across the Golden Gate. Just a short drive away the sun awaits as it beams down on adorable little towns, mountain tops, and Redwood trees. Visit Mill Valley, which recently ranked as one of the 20 Best Small Towns by Smithsonian Magazine. Here are five good reasons to put Mill Valley on your places to visit:

Escaping the fog – Most people know that summer in San Francisco can be grim with little sunshine and heavy on the fog; however, once you break through the tunnel on the other side of the bridge the heavens part and warm sun shine awaits.

Tourist Club
Tourist Club (Nature Friends) – It’s somewhat of a hidden treasure in the middle of the woods that is only accessible via hiking. It’s a welcome reprieve from a long hike where you can sit and enjoy a beer and some laughs with friends and strangers. Make sure to bring cash and to check the events calendar to make sure they are open, and don’t forget to leave your dog at home, as they are not allowed on the trails or at the Tourist Club.


Sweetwater Music Hall – In 2012 the Sweetwater had a rebirth since it’s original opening in 1972. It’s location changed along with the interiors and the addition of a million-dollar sound system. The venue is state-of-the-art, but the vibe is very local. Come for a burger and beer at the Balboa Cafe in Mill Valley and then stroll over to Sweetwater for some live music in a small, intimate venue with world-class musicians.

Shopping in Mill Valley – Nestled along Throckmorton and Miller Avenues, you will find a collection of various shops that will keep you occupied for many hours. You’ll find timeless clothing boutiques featuring the latest fashions, to antiques and housewares shops, plus a little bookstore in the center of the square where the town comes to congregate with their kids and dogs.

Lunch (or dinner) at Balboa Cafe – After hiking, shopping, and before dancing the night away at Sweetwater, join us for our famous burger or some of our other tasty menu items, including market-fresh salads, local seafood, and daily specials. And, of course, a full bar with great cocktails and wine and beer on tap.

And, if you’ve had too much fun and you don’t want to leave, you can always stay close at the charming Mill Valley Inn just off the square.