Last week, I joined my dining companions for lunch at the newly opened Pub Republic — I am happy to say that my opinion of Petaluma as a culinary destination has again been reinforced.

Pub Republic, located at 3120 Lakeville Highway, has taken over the space where Zocalo's used to be in the Adobe Creek Shopping Center, and has transformed it into an urban pub and grill. The two large rooms are light and open, with the comfortable feel of a neighborhood grown-up hangout, but one where your kids feel welcome.

The owners of Pub Republic are partners Jory Berman, who has a restaurant background but most recently worked in human resources, and Mark Edwards, who has been in the restaurant industry for 23 years, lately in Novato. Their goal is to create a friendly local venue that serves healthy food at a price point that allows them to use the best ingredients, but also allows the fare to be affordable for families. They chose the Lakeville Highway corridor as they felt this was a neighborhood and business area that wasn't being adequately served by eat-in dining rooms.

A long wooden bar dominates the bar area, and the restaurant is decorated in an uncluttered arts-and-crafts style with clean lines, white walls, lots of windows and touches of natural wood and stone. There are three big-screen TVs in the bar area, high enough to be unobtrusive, but certainly close enough to be watched for whichever game is on. And if you don't want to watch, there is no TV in the separate dining area, which can be closed off from the main room with large wooden barn doors, a perfect venue for parties and larger get-togethers.

Pub Republic is open every night for dinner from 5 until 10 p.m. After the new year, it will be open until 11 p.m. There are plans for an outdoor beer garden with local music when the weather permits. Lunch is served from noon until 5 p.m., and brunch is on Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. until noon.

The daily menu features two or three soups, one vegan entr? and one meat-free entr?. There is also a daily fish special. We enjoyed that even though this is definitely American pub food it is all sourced locally without sacrificing healthy choices. The beef is grass fed from Golden Gate Meat Co. in Santa Rosa. The fish is from Costarella Seafood in San Francisco. The vegetables are obtained from Petaluma's own Green String Farm. Additionally, there are gluten-free breads available as well as gluten-free beers. And rice oil, from California Rice Oil Co. in Novato, is used to fry the deliciously crisp potato and sweet potato fries.

Tap beers are rotated through the top 100 craft beer selection, affordably priced at $5 to $6 a pint. Wine is mostly from California, at $7 to $10 per glass. And kids are provided a plate of apples and carrots as soon as they sit down (along with crayons for drawing), to keep them happy until their meals arrive from the kids' menu.

There is an extensive menu of burgers, sandwiches, salads, plates to share, and other traditional pub fare, and for $9 you can build your own burger. The menu at dinner is substantially expanded from that at lunch; both contain large plates ranging from $12 up to $17. For $22, you can get a 12 ounce New York steak for dinner. And for those with a sweet tooth, desserts are comfort food selections of Warm Apple Crisp with Whiskey Hard Sauce, Brownie Sundaes, Warm Chocolate Ginger Cake, or ice cream.

Our lunch certainly lived up to the build up. Service was friendly and attentive, and lunch came soon after it was ordered.

I had the swordfish sandwich special. The fish was moist and tender, with a lemon caper dressing. The gluten-free bun was soft and sweet, and the sweet potato fries, which can tend to be soggy, were crisp and delicious.

My daughter had the arugla strawberry salad with shaved fennel, pistachios and a creamy basalmic vinaigrette, and opted for the additional grilled chicken breast. She reported that the salad was very tasty, but would not have been enough for lunch for her without the chicken.

My husband had the pub burger, a substantial portion with carmelized onions, swiss cheese and aioli which, while messy, was perfectly cooked. The fries were also excellent, again cooked in rice oil.

The Pub Republic formula is a good one — serving a neighborhood that needs it in a way that is healthy and affordably priced. Stop by when you can, for just a drink or a full meal — you won't regret it.

(Contact Lynn Haggerty King at argus@arguscourier.com)