Mexican food in Northern California is generally not awesome. Let’s just be honest. The Bay Area does a lot of food really well, but Mexican got left out in the fog. There are of course exceptions, but considering this is California, they really ought to step it up a notch.
Mexican food in Southern California is generally tasty but limited to hole-in-the-wall, “I’m not sure this place is sanitary” dive-like restaurants. Again, there are exceptions, but Mexican food ain’t exactly classy down south.
Guayma’s Restaurant is the exception to both rules.
Never before or since have I encountered a restaurant that proffers Mexican food while being so upscale. Located on the bay in Tiburon, it is no surprise that this place is expensive, but instead of being overpriced, every penny brings happiness.
First, the food is exceptional. And while I wouldn’t call this the height of traditional Mexican cuisine, it does seem to be genuinely Mexican or at least Latino. And as I said, it’s good. Really, really good. I rapidly became partial to the cheesy empanadas. Appetizers they may be, but I’m happy eating an entire dinner of cheesy goodness surrounded by walls of mashed potatoes and fried shells. They are one of the best things I’ve ever tasted.
Everything we have ever had at Guayma’s has been exquisite. From the chips and guac to the banderilleras and camarones to the coconut flan and churros. Oh God, the churros! They used to be stuffed with caramel sauce! We never knew a churro could be so delicious. Now, they’re just regular awesome instead of caramely awesome, but they are still served with ice cream and drizzled with caramel and are way better than churros have a right to be.
Upper Left: Chips, Salsa, Guacamole. Upper Right: Banderilleras, Camarones a la Diabla, Beans, Rice
Bottom: Coconut Flan, Churros, Chocolate Pie
But as with any nice restaurant, the atmosphere is the real key to their success. Guayma’s literally sits on the bay, overlooking Angel Island and the Golden Gate Bridge with the city off in the distance. On a sunny day, you can sit out on the terrace, hear the water lapping at the pier, see the sunlight dancing in the ripples and feel it slowly baking your skin. For a more pleasant dining experience, you would have to go to the Caribbean and do one of those dining on the beach things. No really, it’s that awesome.
Guayma’s truly has it all: great food, great drinks, and great atmosphere. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no more pleasant place to eat on a sunny day in the Bay.