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Monterey/Pacific Grove Update?

Heading down for Labor Day weekend from the Bay Area, 3 dinners, 3 lunches, with two fairly adventurous teen diners. Have done my searches, looks like Passionfish, Red House, Stokes, or a restaurant at the Aquarium are all good bets? Yes? No? Just looking for an update to make sure nothing has gone wildly downhill or no new great places have popped up. Also, if you've got any Mexican/burrito places or pho places down there, please let me know. Even good sandwiches other than Whole Foods, in case we decide to blow the budget on whale watching rather than food:). TIA to you all, tips on what to order, what time to eat etc. also much appreciated....

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  1. Haven't been to the restaurant at the Aquarium, but the rest are still good. If you go to Passionfish (my personal favorite on the Monterey Peninsula), don't miss the asparagus fries or the squid if it's on the menu; I also think they do a great job with mussels.

    There's only one place that I know if that serves pho, Pho King in Seaside. It's pretty good, not earth-shattering. The same owners have a more upscale Vietnamese-
    Asian fusion restaurant in Carmel called Julihanh; I haven't been but I've heard good things about it. Also, for tasty Mission-style burritos, I like Michael's Grill & Taqueria in Pacific Grove.

    FWIW, here's a link to the local newspaper's month-old "Best of the Best." Like all such lists, it should be taken with a healthy pinch of salt, but it may give you ideas of some other places you might want to check out. http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/mon...

    4 Replies
    1. re: mspea

      Oh I just love Chowhound:). Any of the places on the Herald list that you really like for simple fish and also the boy teen can get a steak if he wants it?

      1. re: LPCagain

        Max's in PG might be your best bet for a steak dish and a fish dish.

        I too love Passionfish. So many things there are outstanding.


        1. re: LPCagain

          FWIW, Passionfish often has a steak on the menu, though I've not had one there.

        2. re: mspea

          This is the first mention I've seen of Julihanh, has anyone tried it or have more info?

        3. no steak here, but there's a good offering of well-prepared seafood in the dining room,, and at the deli counter you can get some very good po' boy type sandos. Food here has never dissappointed (can't say that about the Asilomar location).

          and next door, their tauqueria, Turtle Bay;


          1. I'm headed down there Labor Day weekend too. And so is half the Bay Area. :)

            One of my favorite restaurants in the area is Pepper's in Pacific Grove. It's California-influenced Mexican (they use a lot of local seafood and produce, especially artichokes) and is really down-to-earth. The wait on weekends can be quite long, but they accept reservations.

            And the margaritas are great too.

            1 Reply
            1. re: mudster

              OK. Have made my reservation for Passionfish. :). We will improvise with the rest, either Max's or Red House or Pepper's for dinner, depending on kid mood. Will try to report back.

            2. Stokes makes a mean hanger steak, and there is no one in town that makes better real fries. (chips as well)

              1. What else does Stokes have that is good? That's also on my list of possibles. And what about the Hula Grill? Tr**advisor people rave over it. Any thoughts?

                2 Replies
                1. re: LPCagain

                  I recently had a very tasty calzone at Stokes and the little pizza also looked good. I agree that the fries were fantasic also. I've only been there once (about 2 weeks ago), and we went more for wine than food, but I thought that the menu was great as it had options for elegant dining, a casual evening and a terrific wine list. Service was wonderful and the room lovely. Passionfish is still my hands down favorite in the area, but Stokes is now tied with Robert's White House for the #2 spot. You may regret trying to improvise in that area on a holiday weekend; the good spots book up.

                  1. re: Jamie Rudman

                    OK. So I made reservations for TWO nights just in case:). Thanks for the heads up, much appreciated.

                2. The restuarants at the Spanish Bay Hotel are both amazing. Roy's and Peppoli. Roy's Charred Garlic-Honey-Mustard Beef Short Ribs are special.

                  The Carmel Chop House serves the best Filet Mignon on the bone that you will ever have.

                  There is also a very interesting Italian restaurant in Carmel that is a fusion of Italian and Greek. Can't remember the name at the moment.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Update from the trenches. Had dinner at the Hula Grill last night. It was very good, in a crude kind of way. I mean, the ingredients are top-notch and my kids and I loved the food. I don't know if it counts as Chowworthy but I would definitely go back and recommend any family to try it. I had wasabi wild salmon and a salad. Salad dressing was little too sweet but the salmon was PERFECT. Tender, perfectly cooked. Kids had the spring rolls and fried rolls. Fried rolls were full of shrimp, very sweet and fresh. Spring rolls were also full of fresh flavor, if not sophisticated or authentic anything

                    Then kids had tacos, fish and lobster. I did not taste, but they absolutely devoured them.

                    Waitress was completely charming. Tonight, Passionfish...

                    1. OK. Rest of the report.


                      Disappointing. Sorry to say that. Did like the wine list, had a Valpolicella for $30 that was delicious. Had two salads to start, one with yellow beets. Dressing was too tangy. Also had the crab cakes. OK, but crab tasted a little old to me. Then main courses. Monterey Bay spot prawns - absolutely mealy 4/6 of them. Salmon, nothing special. Halibut with cilantro pesto - pesto was way too strong and drowned the halibut. Hmmm.

                      Red House Cafe

                      Liked it, but slow slow service. Had seafood brochette - perfectly cooked seabass/salmon/shrimp with a beurre blanc. It was delicious, served on a salad that was very plain but good. Son had mozzarella sandwich, only problem was that caramelized onions were included and not mentioned so he scraped them all off. Don't remember what D had. Dessert was clafoutis, nothing very good, looked underdone. Also brownie warmed up, delicious.


                      Yum. To start, salads, all good. Main course - chicken calzone, D loved it. Steak, S said was very good. I had cauliflower gratin, with horseradish, delicious. Not too creamy or cheesy, just right amount, lots of crust with a slight tang of horseradish. Also had chicken liver bruschetta, essentially chicken liver pate on toast. Very simple but high quality and delicious.

                      Desserts were fruit crisp, D raved, and lava cake, S raved.
                      Would definitely go back.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: LPCagain

                        I have never had a crab cake at Passionfish that was anything but stellar, (of course, I usually only order it in season, which it certainly is not right now) and the salmon I had last month was wonderful. Sorry you didn't enjoy your meal there.