What goes into making our Best of the County
issue and why local businesses deserve our love.
It’s the smaller companies run
by passionate people, whether
they sell books, surfboards, beer
or house-made kombucha, that
I’m particularly grateful for.
OUR BEST OF the County issue is omething we look forward to creating every year; it’s our time to shine a light on businesses and activities we think make
Marin an extraordinary place to call home.
We realize we might have neglected to include
one or two of your favorite eateries (Marin
Pizza, we didn’t know about you until too late),
but keep in mind, there’s always next year.
While we do make exceptions, our primary
goal is to promote the small- to medium-size
businesses that make Marin Marin. Sure, we
have our fair share of big-box stores (which I
do appreciate), but it’s the local companies run
by passionate people, whether they sell books,
surfboards, beer or house-made kombucha,
that I’m particularly grateful for.
To prepare for this annual feature, our
edit team gets together in February to discuss
how to lay out the section and name the
categories. This year we decided to give the
popular food section four pages and to highlight activities as day or night play, letting us
present new favorites.
A fun part of my job is tagging along on photo
shoots. It can be rough. Take, for instance, the
burger shot. I watched photographer Steve
Kepple sweat the details: lighting, knife or no
knife, should the burger be cut in half? I made
sure the plate didn’t have too many French
fries so they wouldn’t steal the show. This shoot
was at El Paseo, which closed as we were going
to press. Luckily, we also had a photo of Gott’s
gorgeous burger to swap out. Thanks Sammy
Hagar and crew for the delicious seven years.
I was also tasked with accompanying pho-
tographer Debra Tarrant to Bungalow 44’s
newly spiffed-up space to verify the jewel-like
beverages taste as good as they look. They do.
Check online for a video of general manager
Jason Sims’ drink descriptions. Another out-
ing of note was at Pete’s 881, a family-owned
bar that serves a full menu late into the night
while also hosting poker games. When we
showed up, midweek, the place was buzzing
with a dart and pool league in action as well
as two poker tables full of players. I was upset
to learn there was a $100 minimum to play
cards, and they weren’t too keen on teaching
beginners, but they will rent out a table along
with a “poker guy” who’s happy to coach and
instruct. I’m thinking of doing this for my
next birthday party. Who’s in?
Beyond the “best of” story, I’m especially
fond of our conversation with Tamalpais
Outrigger Canoe Club president Fred Akpala,
whom I met a few months back. Sabrina
Tuton-Filson’s interview does a great job of
introducing this warm, engaging leader of the
TOCC. While I knew about the outrigger clubs
here in Marin (we published an article on the
sport a while back), once I learned associate
publisher Debra Hershon had joined this one
I needed to check it out, and I was hooked
with the first practice. Imagine: an activity
where you get to hop in a boat with five other
water-loving folks and paddle out into the bay,
either under the Golden Gate Bridge, toward
Sausalito or, once you’re past novice status,
around Angel Island. Akpala, like everyone
I’ve met in the club, is an enthusiastic ambassador for the sport and its spirit of community,
but also humble — I had to beg him to come
get his photo taken. Thanks, Fred, for being
a good sport.
If you’re curious about outrigger paddling, come to the Kula ‘Anela race August 25
and watch 30 clubs from all over California
compete out of Fort Baker’s Horseshoe Cove.
There will be food and raffle items for sale
with proceeds going to the TOCC.
We hope you enjoy this entire issue, and
if we missed something you think we should
have pegged as Best, do let us know.
Mimi Towle, Editor