good eats in Monterey?
I'm headed to Monterey (from Solano Co.) the weekend before Thanksgiving to check out the aquarium with DH and baby. Husband is not an adventurous eater and does not eat fish/seafood (loves Mexican or a good deli), but I'm up for anything. Any recommendations for casual, child-friendly restaurants either along the way (for lunch) or in the Monterey area? Staying at Embassy Suites in Seaside. Thanks!
I grew up there and definitely recommend Peppers Mexicali Cafe (Pacific Grove) and Won Ju for great Korean (Monterey) Bahn Thai in Seaside is also really really good. The only 'atmospheric' place on this list is Peppers but the food at all of them is ChowhoundWorthy!
For real hole-in-the-wall authentic Mexican in Seaside, go up Broadway past Fremont to Garcia's Taqueria, which is located between the Latino Mkt and a Dominos. Numerous meat choices including good al pastor, pollo, lengua, and cabeza. You can have the meats in soft tacos, burritos, or tortas. No atmosphere, but I usually drive to the beach to eat the food.
El Miguelino a little further up Broadway has a bit more atmostphere and some decent dishes (seafood enchiladas are my favs there, but the Salvadorean Tamales are good too).
Turtle Bay/Fishwife on Broadway in Seaside is also casual and decent food with some Latin touches.
Tico's Breakfast and Lunch on Reservation Road in Marina is excellent, small, and casual.
From a very recent trip to Carmel, here are some observations.
CARMEL BISTRO GIOVANNI, on San Carlos, just excellent. A salad with cherries, walnut and raspberry vinaigrette, followed by a vegitarian ravioli, and for myself, excellent carpaccio followed by lamb ravioli. The pasta was outstanding in each case.
TARPY'S ROADHOUSE (near the Monterey airport); again I'm impressed that such a large and obviously successful place can achieve high levels of service and food. My wife had swordfish, loved it. I get stick from my kids about all the lamb I eat, so I'll gloss over that. Both were great.
LA GIOSTRA, Munras Ave in Monterey. I read about this in a recent Chowhound post, so we went there. Its Wendy's roots are still showing a bit, and the ambience was more Spanish than Tuscan....but the food was outstanding. A seafood risotto for the lady, and I had a Tuscan steak. Modest but good enough winelist.Good fun.
ROBERT'S WHITE HOUSE in Pacific Grove. This place didn't quite come off for us. There was a slight feeling of being rushed, and although the food (and wine) was good, it was not quite comme il faut...hard to say why.
GRASING'S Carmel, Ocean Ave. Had a great lunch here on the patio. My wife had ahi, and I an Angus burger. Friendly, professional service. In fact everywhere we ate offered friendly, professional service.
And if you enjoy the pipes, the scene at ROY'S in the Inn at Spanish Bay at sunset is not to be missed. The drinks are bloody expensive, but sitting around a firepit, and meeting, very casually, people from all over the place, is very nice indeed. A lament over the sandtraps, or a reel in front of the hotel is very atmospheric indeed,
Regrettably, TASTE BISTRO in Pacific Grove was closed for a short break. Too bad; maybe next year.......
I hope some of these reminiscences help.
Thanks for all the great recommendations- after reading these & previous posts about this area, I decided on Peppers and Tarpy's Roadhouse. Peppers was good- definitely had the neighborhood feel I was looking for, and if I was local, I'd probably eat there often. Very kid friendly. I had the special seafood taco platter, which was mahi-mahi that day. Unfortunately, it was just ok- the fish itself was good, but it was just grilled & put on a flour tortilla. Salsa, sliced avocado, lettuce & shredded cheese were on the side. I guess I was expecting more of a "baja" style fish taco. My husband's taco/enchilada platter looked pretty good though! Despite my disappointing selection, I liked the place enough that I'd certainly go back to find the gems on the menu.
The next day we headed to Tarpy's for dinner- I figured we were going fairly early (just after 5), but it got full pretty quickly! Great place, really friendly service- they brought a balloon out for the baby within minutes of our being seated. Not knowing the restaurant, I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of atmosphere-it was "fancier" than I'd normally bring the baby to, but I knew I was in for a good meal. Everything on the menu looked good- I ended up ordering a great pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes, red cabbage, and apple butter (which was more like a savory sauce- I was ready to lick the plate clean!) I ordered dessert to go & it was incredible-a moist chocolate bread pudding with fudge sauce, creme anglaise & whipped cream. I'll definitely go back next time I'm in the area (sans baby, hopefully!)
Turns out I had eaten at the Fishwife on a visit to the Monterey last year-I didn't recognize its name until I went to the website. I didn't care for it at all. The Caribbean focus is an interesting concept, but I left feeling like it really didn't deliver. Reminded me more of the food you'd get at some touristy fish/seafood spots here in the Bay Area.
Thanks again for all the help in finding some good food in the Monterey area!