About Balboa Cafe - Mill Valley
Located in the heart of Mill Valley, Balboa Cafe serves classic American bistro fare that is featured on our casual lunch, brunch and dinner menus. Diners can also choose from an extensive wine list and a terrific cocktail menu.
Mill Valley, CA 94941
Hours of Operation:
Lunch: Tuesday - Friday: 11:30am - 3:00pm
Brunch: Saturday and Sunday 11:00am - 3:00pm
Dinner: Sunday - Thursday: 5:00pm - 10:00pm
Friday - Saturday: 5:00pm - 11:00pm
$30 and under
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
We offer catering services for off-site events throughout the San Francisco Bay Area. Our experienced catering staff will work closely with you to create a memorable event for you and your guests whether in the comfort of your own home, the convenience of your office or staged in a specific venue. Services include: full service off-site catering, experienced catering staff, full service bar, event planning, rental coordination.
Street parking available.
Private Party Facilities:
Please contact the restaurant for more information.
Private Party Contact:
Kara Mibach: (415) 381-7321
Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, BYO Wine, Cafe, Corkage Fee, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Late Night, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine
Balboa Cafe - Mill Valley Ratings and Reviews
I'm a big fan of Balboa and have been going for years. My recent experience was disappointing as the service was sub par. We had to wait 10 minutes just to get water and the server was late checking in and the overall experience was frustrating. I'm hopeful it's just a one time issue versus a new normal.
The food was somewhat disappointing. I had a salmon dish and my husband had a pork chop. My salmon was on a bed of green beans and both the salmon and the beans were floating in a gravy like sauce. Too rich for the dish. The beans were overcooked. My husband's dish had the same issue; pork chop on a bed of Brussel sprouts , both covered in a sauce. Enough with the sauces! Simple dishes would be more appealing , at least to our tastes.
It's a nice restaurant, but it feels as if the chef is trying too hard.
Food was okay - not great by any means - it was good just nothing to write home about. The service was probably the most disappointing - waited 10 mins before wait service staff acknowledged our table, water was hastily placed on the table and spilled because the poor maitre d' looked overwhelmed with seating guests and getting water on the tables. it definitely felt as if they were short staffed for a fairly busy Sunday evening. our cocktails took over 10 mins to get to us after ordering - the excuse was that the bar printer didn't print out our order. in all, 35 mins passed before a drink even showed up. So no.. overall i wasn't impressed by the restaurant which is unfortunate because i'm still trying to find an excellent meal in Mill Valley.
Win a few loose a few. We go to the Balboa frequently and love their fried chicken special on Monday. But we are 0 for 2 on Sunday prime rib. Last night's prime rib was overcooked and dry. The kitchen must have been having a bad night because my the mozzarella for my caprice was dry and old. We did get a $20 credit (which did not even cover the full cost of our two glasses of wine), but would have much preferred if our server had warned us about the prime rib ahead of time. Overall we like the Balboa, some dishes are great, but inconsistency is a problem as is their high wine prices.
Our reservations were early (5:30 pm) so we were the first table seated, although there were several people at the bar. The receptionist saw us quickly and came over, she offered the table of our choice. Water and bread were brought to our tale quickly and our waiter came to the table within a few minutes of us being seated. We received our food in a timely manner and it tasted fine.
However; we were frustrated with our waiter, who just didn't listen to us and seemed bored. I order a bottle of sparking water, requesting that it have no ice and no lemon, lime or other fruit. He brought the sparking water with an empty glass that had a wedge of lime on it. I asked him to bring me an empty glass without a lime. I ordered a cheeseburger without the lettuce, pickles and tomato. My husband ordered the NY steak. Our waiter told him that the steak came with mashed potatoes, sauteed green beans and a sauce on the side. When my plate arrived the cheeseburger was resting on top of a dozen pickles, of course the roll was soaked with the pickle juice. I cut off the portion of the roll that was soaked in the juice. My husband's steak came and the mashed potatoes had horseradish in them (which the waiter never mentioned) and the sauce was on top of the steak (not on the side as the waiter stated). Our waiter was oblivious to his mistakes or just didn't care. Clearly he didn't listen. When we were done we requested 3 small boxes. Our waiter brought us 2 boxes and we had to send him back to get another box. If we do go back I will ask for a different waiter if he comes to our table.
Balboa has a nice ambiance and comfortable booths as well as bar seating. However, the food was underwhelming at best. The meat eaters at the table had a tough sweetened porkchop that was not good and a bad burger with side order of fries (only good thing ordered). As for the vegetarians at the table, there were few options except for weak starter salads. The only pasta had meat and they said we could order without meat (of course), but it was awful (heavily sauced with terrible yellowish cream sauce that was almost inedible). The waitress was surly, had no suggestions for anyone at table, and didn't recommend any wine when we asked. We ordered an overpriced white burgundy ($18 glass that was mediocre) and a Cabernet (really bad). Waitress basically forgot about us after bringing bad food and drink. Thankfully, the busboy was attentive and finally we asked him to clear barely half eaten plates and get out check (waitress bailed after bringing terrible food). Check was expensive (as usual in downtown Mill Valley), but food was not good and waitress as bad as food. Will not return to this place unfortunately.
Seated promptly and waiter checked on us quickly, explained menu additions and gave us time to consider order; restaurant, in general, has a festive feel. The bar with it's tv is not intrusive to diners. Salads are innovative. Roast chicken was a bit overwhelmed by a tart sauce; the saffron infused risotto topped with fish filet was nicely flavored. Portions quite generous.
I have been going to Balboa Cafe on a regular basis for a number of years. In the past I have also recommended it to a number of people. I have always enjoyed the atmosphere and the food. The service also was good. The last two times I have been there, however, the service was horrible. Food and drinks were very slow in coming out. On my last visit when the food finally came out, the table had not yet been cleared of the appetizer plared. My dining companions and I cleared the table so the sevrver could set down the food. On both of my last visits I had to repeatedly ask someone to find our waiter . Once, after a lengthy search, I was told by a busboy that he was unable to located our waiter. The busboy ended up taking our dessert order. I left very frustrated and have no plans to return.
A couple of friends and I met for dinner on a Monday evening. Service was prompt but not overbearing, and our waitperson was very knowledgeable and professional, and also incredibly patient with a member of our party who was undecided about wine choice. I love the atmosphere of the Balboa Cafe -- friendly, relaxed, and fun, with great food and wine. One of our favorite places in Marin!
We eat at Balboa about twice a month and have always been very pleased with the food and the service. Whenever we've requested a booth or a special table we've gotten it. I didn't check "kid friendly" but we certainly see many happy children eating there. The staff is wonderful!
The crab and shrimp risotto is to DIe for. My husband's salmon entree was also very delicious. I took bites of his meal too:-) Good wine choices, and I watch what I eat and there are plenty of excellent choices. The service has always been solid and very attentive, but it's the food that brings me back again and again.
We have been to this restaurant many times, but this time the service was extremely poor. It took forever to get our meals, and when I asked the man at the desk what was taking so long, he said everyone came in at once. So here is where you "talk" to your guests. If our waitress would have told us that it was going to be a wait because of an onslaught, we would have not kept wondering what happened to our order. Our food was brought by someone other than our waitress, and we were basically forgotten. Needed more water, cheese for my dish, butter, normal things that make for a good experience. Very disappointed.
We go to the Balboa fairly often, so obviously we like it. The major negative is overpriced wine, $10 a glass for mediocre house wine, that really knocks down the value for money in our book. But the food is generally good. Excellent french fries, and the fresh hot cronuts are a great desert (but get the chocolate on the side). This time around I rather liked the cabbage with bacon side dish. We often go for the Monday fried chicken (best around), and the chicken pillared was surprisingly good on a Tuesday. Good place but not a bargain.
To above list I recommend you add "great for dinner."
Enjoyed the calamari with light batter, the crab cakes, and local fresh salmon perfectly cooked.
Didn't care for the white beans and "greenery" that came with the salmon.
(On another occasion, I had the best chicken entree I have ever tasted.)
Kudos to the bar for carrying Porter beer which is rare these days.
Always enjoy our meals there.
Highly recommend it.
I took a new employee and my boss to lunch and we had only an hour and a half so I didn't want to make a stink. I ordered the Chicken Parmesan and Spaghetti special. Most of the peas were hard as a rock (still frozen maybe?) and parts of the chicken had an odd texture. The spaghetti was fine but I left most of the chicken and peas. They ordered the Steak Au Poivre I think the BLAT Sandwich with no complaints.
I've had better here but this was just weird.
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