Cafe Reyes

Cafe Reyes

At the very edge of the tiny town of Point Reyes Station, you’ll find a true gem of a lunch spot (also open for dinner). Frequented by locals, tourists, bicyclists, motorcyclists (guilty as charged), hikers, and horseback riders alike, this place can fill up quickly on those warm cloud free days, and for good reason.

As you walk through the entrance, just off to your right is the heart and soul of this restaurant: its wood fire oven. The warm glow is kept aflame by the wall of wood chunks standing steadfast against the wall. Those fiery coals set your mind at ease with the knowledge that delicious experiences are to come.

Much like the vibe of the town itself, the service is of a casual and laid back manner. On occasion, the wait times at the door can feel a little long, but I credit the waiting to tables enjoying their sweet time within the embrace of this cozy environment. The service staff is always friendly, but noticeably stretched a little thin on busy days, so don’t expect immediate drink refills.

Patio dining is available for those perfect days when you’re donning sunglasses and want to feel the sun on your face. The outdoor picnic tables continue the laid back vibe of the establishment, while the trees and shrubbery lend to the feeling of dining in a secluded nook. Fair warning, Point Reyes can get a little chilly during the early evenings, so feel free to bring a sweater if dining al fresco.

The menu is thankfully simple with a selection of pizzas and fresh salads utilizing locally sourced ingredients. For those inclined, they also serve up local raw oysters by the half or full dozen with the appropriate bundle of condiments. Drink selection consist of beers on tap, house wines and specialty sodas.

The first course of action is to immediately order the Wood Fire Herb Bread, before anyone has a chance to forget. Essentially what is served is a small cheese pizza with roasted garlic, dried herbs and olive oil. It might not sound like much, but you truly get to appreciate the flavors of the flame charring from the wood oven, and the effort put into their handmade crust.

Most pizzas are adorned with the name of particular Marin-centric locale, transporting many guests into fond memories of trailheads and coastlines around West Marin. On this particular day, the Farallon was called into action with the addition of Kalamata olives. The combination of pepperoni, mushrooms, garlic, cheese, olives and tomato sauce is a complete and satisfying umami bomb to the palate. But the true star of the show is the crust. Made with Caputo 00 flour and utilizing a daily fed starter, the crust has a wonderful flavor, structure, and chew to it.

The pizza owes everything to the wood fire oven, which creates a perfectly imperfect cooking environment to develop in. Toppings get slightly singed, the bottom of the crust gets a little burnt in spots, and it picks up a little smokey wood ash. It’s all of these small imperfections that make a pizza truly delightful to eat. It has depth of flavor and interest, all while no two bites taste the same. It goes with the unpretentious nature of the restaurant and, furthermore, the area in general. Things in this town look old because they are, rusty iron adorns some buildings, sidewalks turn into dirt paths just because… and pizza plates have a little soot leftover after the meal. You won’t find me complaining about it… But on that note, the only complaint (which isn’t a real complaint) I can muster about the food is the pointless rosemary sprig garnish that seemingly goes onto everything. There is no point; they don’t need something green on the pie to make it look appealing, and now we’re tasked with throwing it aside while enjoying the meal.

If you’ve traveled out to the town of Point Reyes Station, it means you’re there to enjoy a small town for its relaxed and bucolic nature. And, should you find yourself with a hankering for some lunch, may I suggest a pizza from the cozy spot on the corner of town? The relaxed vibe and atmosphere lend well to a satisfyingly tasty wood fire pizza experience. And, a bonus, when you go up to pay, they often have some kind of free sweet for you to nibble on while you’re headed out. Just remember to take it easy on the drive out of town, curvy roads and full tummies don’t make good bedfellows.

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