Just wanted to post an update...I had sought advice from the hounds for a place for an early Sunday dinner with my father and stepmother in Marin (thread below). I had thought about Lark Creek but that was definitely more money than my father would want to spend...also thought about Poggio, but decided we wanted something more casual...so, after some debate, we decided to go with the not-so-obvious choice of taking the word of the hound who said that Sam's in Tiburon's was surprisingly good....
and surprise! he was right! :-) When we got there at five the deck was still a zoo, hubby had forgotten his sunglasses, and there is almost no shade out there, so we opted to eat inside, but next to the water. The room is pretty, bright, and with mirrors lining the far wall even the men, who gallantly took the side facing away from the water, could enjoy the view.
The menu is fairly short, mostly seafood, and certainly not adventurous, but everything we had (ahi, halibut, prawns) was well-prepared and very tasty, though I could have done with a bit less sauce surrounding my otherwise excellent seared but still raw inside ahi. We all had salads; my father and stepmom split a spinach salad and they each were served a portion (split in the kitchen) that was quite generous. The wine list is short, but with some decent selections, and reasonably priced. We had brought a bottle of Chard with us, but also had a bottle of the Rafanelli Zin from their list.
Service was nice, professinal, well-timed. Unlike the zoo atmosphere outside, inside was quiet and calm. It is casual, which was a good thing, but with the view and white tablecloths still feels like a celebratory spot.
After dinner we walked along the main street to a small cafe next to the candy store (don't remember the name) and enjoyed lattes on its outside terrace. very relaxing.
anyway, the parents loved it and say they'd like to go back soon! I probably wouldn't run back as quickly, but it is really nice to know that there is a good alternative in that touristy neighborhood (and it would be a fun place to take friends from out of town, perhaps after a boat ride and walk on Angel Island).
so thanks for the help!