Hook Fish Co. at Proof Lab, Mill Valley, CA
Editor’s Note: As always, much is left to discover after reading this article. We share only enough to entice you to stop in and experience the place for yourself.
FOOD & ITS ENVIRONMENTS. In the 1800’s Tam Junction (named after the Tamal tribe that once resided in the area) was farmland and saltwater marsh tucked into a valley between golden rolling hills dotted with the occasional California Oak. A dusty road wound from the ferry dock in Sausalito and headed North towards Mill Valley. After bridging Coyote Creek, it split off to the West past a single farmhouse and pastures towards the coast to distant farms and coastal towns. The road continued to the right toward the lumber town of Mill Valley where summer homes awaited travelers from San Francisco. This junction, the “Y” in the road, is how the area got its name.
At Tam Junction, town folks veered right, farmers and adventurers veered left. This remains the same today. The resulting intersection, for many years marked by “the rug store” is still merely a slight curve for those heading into the cozy town of Mill Valley, with no reason to stop unless you happen to get stuck at the eternally red traffic light. For those veering left, however, it is the last stop for gas and provisions for 25 miles. The collection of businesses then, are more frontier in nature, and more function than form. The intersection has always had the look of an abandoned town that someone is continuously trying to revive. A cold wind blows through the valley every afternoon, usually bringing fog with it, creating a heavy grey ambiance as the night chill sets in. In winter, everything is covered with frost, making it the coldest place in the entire Bay Area. The aging buildings seem to sag with the weight of the fog. It is the perfect setting for the surf shop Proof Lab, a source of surf and skate gear plus clothing, and which is probably the coolest shop in a 200 mile radius not intentionally, just because it is. Tam Junction has the weathered feel of a beach town pummeled by saltwater & wind, and a supply stop for farmers, gold miners, craftsmen and lumbermen.
Tam Junction was my home for many years, and I love it. Eclectic, artisan, friendly, and on the edge of both the water and the wild. The tides are a constant companion as they fill or empty Coyote Creek. On weekends the intersection is filled with visitors who have escaped the city for the day heading to Muir Woods, or their favorite mountain biking track, hiking trail, or the beach. During weekday mornings there is a long trail of vehicles headed out of the valley to go to work, and into the valley to deliver children to school.
Tam Junction woke up one day not long ago to a surprise. A small shoe-box shaped building that must have been there but had gone completely unnoticed, had been painted a bright, fiery red. It is a red that glows through any thick fog, and it created the feeling that the area was about to live up to its potential. Something exciting was happening. The silhouette of a large panther appeared on the wall the next day. Shortly after that, the doors were flung open, and the world was introduced to Equator Coffee. A couple of years later the hulking empty pink warehouse a block away was gutted and renovated to become the new home for Good Earth offering ultra-natural groceries. If only…if only there was somewhere to get a mug of ale or a glass of wine and a hot meal at the end of a long day.
Enter Hook Fish Co.
Hook Fish Co. has opened its second location, the first being in San Francisco. Their mission is to serve responsibly caught fish. They know the fishermen that catch the fish. Their new location in Tam Junction has an indoor dining room, and a large outdoor area with picnic tables, heaters and blankets, a large grassy area where kids and dogs can play, and I am guessing there will be music or events at some point in the future. Inside there are tables to share, and an L-shaped bar with super friendly hosts serving up beer, wine, and kombucha. The dishes that we ordered were fresh and tasty, and creative.
A space like this was needed badly, as evidenced by the fact that I have been there three times already and they haven’t even been open a week. Multiple times I have locked eyes with someone, and we both said, “Isn’t this amazing?!?!” Yes. It is.
California, United States 94941
Bring your coat, friends, and appetite! A beer garden with Poke and fish & chips, and an amazing collection of kombucha. Dog friendly, kid friendly, an open eating area in the back with grass overlooked by a mural of fierce salmon. The Proof Lab Compound is an incubator of all things ocean, native plant landscaping, and rugged gear for the woods. The materials, design, landscaping, and ambiance creates the feeling of a beach party sheltered by an old wooden boat that is slowly being reclaimed by sand dunes and the beautiful plants that inhabit them.