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Your Favorite Inexpensive Restaurants in Monterey County, Please.

Well., seeing as nobody seems to have I.D.'d anything hot new and wonderful in the Monterey area, please do humor me and tell me your old favorites in the inexpensive and moderate categories. We are bored, bored, bored. All suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


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  1. Niki, I'm heading down the coast next spring for a weekend visit and would love to hear about your favorite places in this category. It's been a while since my wife and I have been to the Monterey area so any current information would be appreciated. Thanks.

    8 Replies
    1. re: curiousgeo

      Hi curiousgeo,

      I LOVE MONTEREY! It's like a second home. We have been married 25 years as of August and for all that time about 4 times a year we do a long weekend at Asilomar - which IS where you should stay and the only reason why it is fair to tell you about here is the food - which is great - free huge breakfast with just about anything you could ask for - enough food for all day - go ahead and take a couple of yogurts and fruit for snacks later too. They serve 3 meals in the historic Julia Morgan designed dining hall, plus fabu buffets on major holidays. they are making efforts to have local and organic food as much as possible. The quality is very good, not great - but I would happily eat all my meals there. If you want ALL the info. on Asilomar email me - the address is on my "my chow" page.

      OK - my fave restaurants.

      But - you never said if you were driving from Norcal or Socal...if you are coming from the north and you get hungry about 45 minutes or so north of Monterey stop at Phil's in Moss Landing for fish/chowder.

      OK - on the Monterey penninsula proper:

      Ocean Sushi - the one on the west side NOT the one downtown. But it's take out only. The one in downtown Monterey is sit down and has a hot menu too. But they made me wait the one time i went for maybe an hour for a small sushi order and it was really hot there. The other one which is the take-out near the Ocean is great. Just take the food elsewhere - like for a picnic or to your room. They DO have a great bargain on miso/veg. soup for like a dollar to go with the just fine and bargain priced sushi. Recently they started serving salmon - personal long time request.

      Rosine's - downtown Monterey - Alvarado St.. One of those sort of places that has everything on the menu from Thanksgiving dinner to prime rib to club sandwiches & chef's salads to huge desserts. lots of locals eat there. Breakfast all day but sort of feels like an informal dinner house. Emphasis on good quality and huge portions. I have to laud Rosine's staff - they are just so darn professional. I usually order take out, and if you know me, you know just how insanely picky I am about all the variables on my plate. So, I'm standing there at the cashier and she's making changes to about a hundred things on my order and they NEVER make a mistake. And they are so nice when they know you are going to be eating in a hotel room adding in everything you might possibly need. Just such nice people.

      Passionfish - on the main drag of Pacific Grove on a corner of Lighthouse across from the post office sort of. Moderate prices. Love the duck confit. My best choice for fish. Good politics about fish. Beloved by gourmets.

      Red House - across from Passionfish on Lighthouse in Pacific Grove. Same high quality. Same little higher than most of my recs. prices. Loved the goat cheese/beet salad but requested more cheese. Very high quality. Cosy.

      La Giostra - Wonderful Italian. Brick oven (yes, they have delicate great pizza). Yummy fresh pasta. Authentic. Graceful. I had a meal there which blew my mind. Everything done perfectly - fresh pappardelli, delicate but assertive gorgonzolla sauce, pancetta, fresh peas, fresh basil - so lovely.
      Across from the entrance to the giant Del monte shopping center where Macy's is - between Carmel and Pac. Grove - there's a carousel horse outside. Delicious. Real live Italian staff.

      El Miguelino - Seaside off Fremont st. Cheap prices. El Salvadoren fish house with PUPUSAS (love those pupusas). Also standard Mexican fare. Very low prices.

      Candy factory (a real little factory - not a restaurant) - Seaside on Fremont on the west side. I don't know the name but fun free tour by harmless nutty owner and $2 blooper bags to eat late at night in your hotel. They use Guittard chocolate to make all their stuff - so the quality is there.

      Pho King - Seaside on the west side of Fremont. Just fine Vietnamese food. BBQ shrimp bun - bun is dry noodles with other stuff - very like pho but without the soup. I don't particularly like the shaved pork in the pho so I get them to put the soup on the BBQ shrimp bun. Also a full average sort of Mandain/Cantonese Chinese menu. Very low prices.

      Meditterranean Deli - on Lighthouse in Monterey (near Fish. Wharf) - has about 3 tables. Greek salad, just fine spanakopita (I loved their spanakopita SO much I finally learned to make it myself - after breaking myself of the habit of coming home with about ten pounds of it for the freezer!), avgolemono soup, dolma. Good for take out. Low prices.

      Sea Harvest - near Fisherman's Wharf & the Tinnery outlet mall in Monterey. It's a fish market that has tables, clean/nice atmosphere. For $15 you get a nice very fresh fish meal - grilled or broiled - you choose. Good chowder.

      Britannia Pub - I don't drink but maybe you do. But this place is also a restaurant. Has the olde English atmosphere in spades. But in a good way. Locals are in there. They have big comfy booths. You can get corned beef, shepherd's pie, roast beef plates (fried squid - rings and tentacles!) - that sort of thing. It's dark and cool on a hot afternoon. Right next to the landmark Osio cinema in downtown Monterey on Alvarado.

      That should hold you.

      1. re: niki rothman

        Thanks Niki, what a great list! I've never heard of most of these places, only Rosine's sounds familiar and of course Passionfish. I appreciate you describing what's served at each restaurant as well, that is very helpful.

        1. re: curiousgeo

          er...watch out for me. I just did a quick edit. esp. the La Giostra entry.

        2. re: niki rothman

          Have to edit myself on the list I made - turns out the place for spanakopita and felafal I called the Mediterranean Deli is actually the INTERNATIONAL deli - on Lighthouse in Monterey near the Long's drugstore. It's still tops with me. The spanakopitas are to die for. I could eat about six of the large ones at a sitting (she admitted kind of embarrassed).

          1. re: niki rothman

            Hi Niki!
            We are regulars at the International Deli...what I love about this place is that for a regularily priced meal you get a full plate (just like I was used to growing up in Minnesota!)
            The fish is always super fresh and grilled beautifully, presented with rice, steamed vegies or whatever you wish....salad, soup, they have it all and its presented in a really down home, comforting style.

            This girl has to admit I have never tried their spanakopita...so
            clearly, I will have to return there soooooooooon!!

            Also on the cheap eats in Monterey list I would list Fifi in Pacific Grove. They are offering a new mid week special for early dinners....$16.95 and again its a full plate of excellent really wonderful food.
            Last week, we were celebrating our anniversary, so we brought our own bottle and for a $25 meal price it included a FREE corkage and 2 side dishes as well!

            We love Fifi's so much. Even their desserts don't dissappoint!

            Fifi's Bistro Cafe
            1188 Forest Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

            International Market & Deli
            580 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey, CA 93940

          2. re: niki rothman

            The Sturdy Wench and I just returned from Crown & Anchor, the new name for the aforementioned Britannia Pub.

            The ambiance was very "pubby" with loads of English tchtochkes on the wall, low ceiling, black-pinted exposed beams, dark plaid carpet, big booths, a short flight of stairs down into the restaurant, etc.

            Service was adequate, our waiter was a friendly young man, but his serving suffered from lack of any kind of advanced training (see below). He was quick to refill our glasses when he saw them empty, however, and quickly brought anything we asked for.

            (Sorry, I didn't take any notes so this is all from memory. Prices are approximate.)

            The Sturdy Wench ordered the fried calamari ($9) and the Mary's Chicken Breast with ham, avocado, cheese and sauce (18). The calamari was hot and good, crispy, but I think it came out of a bag, can't be sure, tho. She said the chicken tasted like traditional California "Malibu chicken" and she quite enjoyed it. Not too heavy, good flavor, satisfying. I tried a bite and I agree, it was also cooked perfectly. Calaamari: B. Mary's Chicken: A-.

            I ordered two of the Blue Point oyster plates ($9 for 6) as appetizer because BPs are my favorite oyster. These were thin, tasteless and gritty, except for a few at the end that tasted like shoe bottom. They didn't taste bad in the sense of being spoiled. Instead of tasting like the sea, they tasted like tap water. I had eaten little all day so I was very hungry, thus I ate them anyway, treating them as cocktail sauce conveyors.
            Oysters: F.

            For dinner I ordered the water-recommended meatloaf with brown gravy and veg: Caulilower, broccoli, green beans--all straight out of a Sysco bag (14). The veg had been steamed but almost unseasoned, so I asked the waiter for some melted butter. He brought me four pats of foil-wrapped Darigold butter he'd soaked in hot water for a minute to melt them. Thus unwrapping the pats meant butter all over my fingers and drippy butter wrappers on the table. A for effort but F for execution.

            The Crown and Anchor seems a great place to go for beer and bar food. As long as you don't expect more than what you'd get out of a Costco freezer, you'll do fine. It's noisy but not objectionably so. The bill for two entrees, three appetizers, two sodas was $56.

            1. re: KenWritez

              I recently had lunch at Crown and Anchor. Service was excellent, particularly given that they were slammed and we were a big group (ten or so); beer was very good, food was eh. I miss the London Bridge Pub; does anyone know if the new place there has opened?


            2. re: niki rothman

              I've had the same experience with the Ocean Sushi in downtown Monterey. Made me wait an exorbitantly long time for sushi takeout, even though no one else was there. The branch in PG is more like it.

          3. Niki,

            Not a restaurant, but Campagno's Hilltop Market (aka Buster's, at the top of Prescott near Jesse) has a fantastic deli. Around 1972, my dad declared ex cathedra that Buster made the best sandwich ever built. Buster died years ago, but his son still runs the place, and they still do a booming business in huge, reasonably priced sandwiches. Several visits over the last ten years indicate that dad wasn't far from wrong. Be prepared for difficult parking and long lines of uniformed folks stationed at the Presidio.

            Closer to the tourist Mecca that Monterey has become these days, Sea Harvest (598 Foam Street) has a fish counter and also serves seafood dinners. Preparation is simple (you want that fried or broiled?), but the seafood is very fresh (last time I was there, the Monterey Bay spot prawns were still twitching).

            Of course, there are plenty of places that are further up the scale, but these are my two favorite inexpensive spots.

            Enjoy your stay,


            1. Fishwife seafood restaurant/deli in Seaside. Great seafood poorboys and cooked fish. Nice small dining room with simple well-prepared local fish. Good service from veteran servers. Across the street from the Monterey Candy Factory.

              Old Monterey Cafe--downtown on Alvarado St. Hearty breakfasts--have not had lunch here. Locals' place.

              Sweet Elena's Bakery--exquisite Euro-style pastires. Heaven!!!! Hard to get to on a one -way street but SO worth it. (Down by Home Depot)

              Wagon Wheel in Valley Pines center in Carmel Valley. Homey, with decor harkening to the rural ranch life of the old Carmel Valley. Great pecan pancakes/egg breakfasts. Good traditional favorites on the lunch menu as well.

              Mom & I used to get a baked potato to go from Wendy's and top it off with the marinated mushrooms and roasted garlic from Fisherman's Wrf. ooo-boy!

              Old Monterey Cafe
              489 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940

              Sweet Elena's Bakery & Cafe
              465 Olympia Ave, Seaside, CA 93955

              789 Trinity Ave, Seaside, CA 93955

              Wagon Wheel Coffee Shop
              7156 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel, CA 93923

              1. Won Ju!!! Great Korean on Lighthouse Ave!!!

                Also, Bhan Thai in the University Plaza in Seaside.

                Peppers in Pacific Grove, CA...


                4 Replies
                1. re: jbyoga

                  Would love to hear your favorites at the Korean place you mentioned, Won Ju.

                  1. re: niki rothman

                    Won Ju is basically a one woman operation. She tries to re-create the cuisine of her home village (won ju) in the mountains.

                    All entrees come with a grayish potato pancake, and usually the ban chan includes homemade whole leaf kim chee and almost hard black beans (the beans and pancake are her home region's specialties).

                    No tabletop barbecuing there. I am fond of the mixed seafood stirfry and the chap jae - the latter is one of the nicely priced lunch specials.


                    1. re: Ed Dibble

                      Thanks, Ed. What is chap jae? What is ban chan? What would you advise us to order for a first meal there?

                      1. re: niki rothman

                        chap jae (is spelled various ways) is a stirfry using the clear yam noodles and vegetables. I like the version at Won Ju as it is vegetarian. Ban chan is the name for the small plate side dishes that every Korean restaurant (at least authentic Korean restaurant) serves with meals. It always includes kimchi, but beyond that each restaurant varies the dishes depending on what's available, etc.

                        Most people are introduced to Korean food by ordering some of the barbecued meat selections. It has been a few years since I have tried her bulgogi (barbecued beef), but that and galbi (barbecued short ribs) are very popular in many Korean restaurants. These also tend to be dishes that appeal to Americans, while some other Korean food can seem strange or too spicy for beginners.

                        What when I lived in town, I tried almost everything on her menu and generally enjoyed the experience. Hope you do too.


                2. Randy's has great sandwiches at reasonable prices. It's mostly takeout. They do have one table inside and a few picnic tables outside across the street, but it's very close to the picnic area at El Estero Park. With the weather we've been having, that's a good place for lunch.

                  RickyAnn's (formerly Pa's) on Carmel Rancho across from the post office has good Chicago hotdog's and Italian Beef as well as a varietyof other lunch items.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jaweino

                    I'm going to disagree on the Randy's recommendation. We go there sometimes because I work nearby at the Navy School and it's on our lunch-walk route, but It's no great shakes--in fact, a couple of times I've been disappointed in the sandwich and thought, I'm not going THERE again.

                    A much tastier fresh sandwich for picnicking would be the Nob Hill supermarket's deli, on Lighthouse Avenue and David in Monterey. Or Goodies in Pacific Grove, but they're pricier.

                  2. Passionfish in Pacific Grove is a must my favs are the Scallops and the Duck Confit and the Sablefish. If they have the bread pudding get it no questions asked.
                    I would skip Giostra and Rosine's sorry!
                    If you want Italian go to Joe Rambis in Pacific Grove or Gianni's in Monterey(the best pizza)

                    Wild Plum Cafe is great for lunch or early dinner but they close around 5ish.
                    Lallapalooza has some really good food but if you go too late it is more a bar than a restaurant.
                    If your near Cannery Row go one street up to Crepe's a Go-Go for a tasty lunch.
                    Hula's on Lighthouse is a nice no thrills dinner.
                    There is a new spot on Wave St. Moulin Bistro it is a french cafe and wine bar. Everything I've heard has been good.

                    701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                    Wild Plum Cafe & Bakery
                    731 Munras Ave Ste B, Monterey, CA 93940

                    Lallapalooza Restaurant
                    474 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: sweetnspicy

                      Here is the rest of the links and if you want some mexican. Jose's or Turtle Bay in Monterey should do you good.

                      Hula's Island Grill
                      622 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey, CA 93940

                      Gianni's Pizza
                      725 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey, CA 93940

                      Bistro Moulin
                      867 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

                      Crepes Ago Go
                      601 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

                      Jose's Mexican Food
                      638 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940

                      Turtle Bay Taqueria
                      431 Tyler St, Monterey, CA 93940

                    2. Two very good places for cheap Mexican that we locals like: El Rancho market on Reservation Road in Marina and Baldemiro's on north Fremont, just before you get on Hwy 1 north.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: Mahbret

                        I second the Baldemiro's recommendation - I ate there yesterday.

                        I'm surprised that Tabouli's hasn't been mentioned. It's on Lighthouse before the tunnel in New Monterey. Some of the best middle eastern food I've ever had. Plus the owner is so friendly - he runs the place by himself most of the time. He's also at the Farmer's Market on Tuesday's. One side of his menu has exclusively vegetarian entrees so it makes ordering simple if you're looking for meatless options. However, if you order from that side, then you'd miss his garlic chicken (that's not the name, but that's how it tastes.) Incredible! (I see I'm going to have to pay more attention to the "official" names of dishes if I'm going to post on CH!

                        1. re: mersidoe

                          Thanks for the tip on Tabouli's! I've passed this restaurant numerous times and keep meaning to try it. Let's hear all your fave menu choices please.

                        2. re: Mahbret

                          Today as we left Monterey, the Sturdy Wench and I ate at Baldemiro's. Very good! One step up from a hole-in-the-wall taqueria, you don't go there for ambiance.

                          The SW had the Conga burrito (steak, rice, beans) and enjoyed it. I had the Chili Verde Burrito with potatoes only and a Machaca Taco. Both were excellent; chunks of tasty pork in a mild verde sauce and for the taco, a large serving spoon-size mound of machaca, eggs, all topped with a generous amount of melted jack and cheddar cheese, wrapped in two medium flour tortillas.

                          The bill for two large drinks + food was $15. The man behind the counter was really friendly and the service was quick. We're definitely coming back next time we're in Monterey.

                        3. I recommend you Fish Hopper the, which is my favorite. The reason to like is we get really good food with a great view of Monterey Bay.

                          Baldemiro's is also good one.

                          1. Not a restaurant, but a fabulous little fast food that will fill you up for $1.50--the Korean sushi rolls at the Asian Market on Del Monte in Marina. The woman makes them daily and you'll find them at the front counter in a tupperware. Filling is vegetarian, with carrots, cucumber, some kind of egg or soy stuff and sesame seeds sprinkled over the seaweed wrap. My teenaged son turned me on to this. They're about six inches long.

                            1. Thanks for all these recs, I'll be there soon and give some a try!

                              1. I just wanted to update everyone on Sea Harvest (I've only been to the one on Foam St. so I'm not sure about the others). I've gone there last year in August several times while I was in Monterey and went during these past 2 weeks again. The prices were low and portions were generous ($10.95 for any of the grilled to order seafood items including scallops, ahi tuna, salmon and about 10 other kinds of goodies and it includes caesar salad), but now sadly, prices have gone up.

                                WhenI went last Saturday (I also went last Wednesday when they still had the old prices), they increased the prices of all those grilled items, which now range from $10.95 to $14.95 for seafood kebab and scallops. I know that is probably still a good deal for three large seared scallops, but a nearly 40% increase within a week is scary. The plate was still the same, just more expensive. When I went again yesterday, the scallops are now smaller and put onto a kebab for the same price. Needless to say, I've went three times in the past, different dishes, different prices, I hope they figure everything out. I don't know if it's just the winter, but they were nearly empty when I went on Friday and Saturday nights.

                                1. jenniefer333: I recommend you Fish Hopper the, which is my favorite. The reason to like is we get really good food with a great view of Monterey Bay.

                                  If you go into Pirate's Cove or the whale watching place (in the yellow building) at the end of the wharf, you can get a free appetizer card for the Fish Hopper or Fisherman's Grotto right there on the wharf. It's calamari and artichoke. Yummm.

                                  Rosine's is fantastic for breakfast, especially. That, or the Breakfast Club in Seaside. First Awakenings is slightly overrated, I think. I've had a couple bad experiences there.

                                  The Crown and Anchor was my hangout. They've got a really good sticky toffee pudding and plenty of beers on tap. FYI: Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights it's crowded, especially with the college crowd.

                                  susancinsf , London Bridge is reopened. It's now owned by the same people as Bullwackers. They have a patio out back, but I prefer the Crown and Anchor.

                                  7 Replies
                                  1. re: Bubsy012

                                    yes, I've been meaning to post, had a late lunch at London Bridge over New Year's. Not much different in terms of food quality, perhaps not quite as good as it used to be (not that it was ever wonderful), and service was ok, but I was very sad to see that my favorite blue-haired server, who had been at London Bridge forever, always called me honey, and always seemed to be able to match the service to my mood, was gone.....

                                    will have to try that sticky toffee pudding, thanks for the tip!

                                    London Bridge Pub
                                    256 Figueroa St, Monterey, CA

                                    1. re: Bubsy012

                                      Gotta second the Breakfast Club in Seaside. Their pancakes and waffles are not too sweet; they're just perfect. Incredibly tasty biscuits, and yummy potatoes. The thing that would make it perfect would be if they had real maple syrup (even if you had to pay extra for it). I bring my own. :-)

                                      Breakfast Club
                                      1130 Fremont Blvd Ste 201, Seaside, CA 93955

                                      1. re: rednikki

                                        my other favorite breakfast place is first awakening in pacific grove, but have not eaten there for a while. Breakfast club is also great for breakfast. I'm surprised that TURTLE BAY has not gotten much mention here for cheap eats--it is good, fresh mexican regional cuisine, with a fair amount of seafood,. Same people own fishwife near Asilomar. Actually, there are two Turtle Bays, one on Fremont street in seaside, the other in downtown Monterey.

                                        1. re: richard Snyder

                                          Just came back from Seaside because of a conference there this weekend.

                                          Update: Tabouli is now called Paprika Cafe, same location, new name. Didn't go in so I can't comment on the food.

                                          Went to Tarpey's on a recommendation of a friend. Sat at the bar on Thursday night (early happy hour) and had the ahi tuna salad with a glass of pinot. Greens were very fresh but amount of actual ahi left a bit to be desired. Whatever wine I ordered was okay but not memorable. All in all a bit too expensive for what it is.

                                          An hour or so later I went looking for things on Lighthouse. International deli is apprarently only open for lunch as it was closed when I went by. Decided to check out Crown and Anchor. Ken's review is pretty spot on. Good atmosphere, decent beer, and food is bar food.

                                          But the true gems were the next day: breakfast at the Breakfast Club. (Had to first go to downtown Monterey and get my Peet's fix.) This place is in the corner of a strip mall and you wouldn't know it was there unless you looked for it. Be prepared to EAT if you order any of the omeletes (or anything else for that matter). Looking at what others were eating all I could think was "wow I'm not THAT hungry." I ordered a pancake and one scrambled egg. The pancake was light fluffy and HUGE. Almost didn't need any syrup if you're willing to smother it in butter. (Not that I did, but I could have.) My total for breakfast was something like $7.00 and I couldn't even finish the whole thing.

                                          Other find was on my way back to the valley. Had a recommendation for Kula's - which is off of the Reservation exit in Marina. It's on the west side of the freeway and is hawaiian BBQ theme. The property itself is large and from what others were saying at the bar I am sure this was something else before it became Kula's. Service at the bar was prompt and seemed to have a fair share of locals. Ordered a beer and a pair of sliders (which apparently were on the happy hour appetizer special). Although the couple next to me had also ordered them, they said it took like 40 minutes to get them. They did say something to the server who apologized and comped them. Mine didn't take quite that long - but I did mention I had ordered the same thing when the discussion was had about the others'. I thought they were just right it terms of size and taste. They have some sort of mayonnaise that they serve with it (chipolte maybe) that was very good. When I got the bill I was pleasantly surprised. Again $7.00 or so for both the beer and the food. With tip, that whole experience was $10. I'd definitely recommend it.

                                          1. re: tavmark

                                            Here's a couple of posts from last fall on Kula Ranch.


                                            Haven't been to Tarpey's in years, but sounds like not much has changed. Thanks for the reminder on the Breakfast Club, have it on the list to try.

                                            1. re: tavmark

                                              thanks for the report; adding a link for the Breakfast Club. Will have to try it!

                                              Breakfast Club
                                              1130 Fremont Blvd Ste 201, Seaside, CA 93955

                                              1. re: tavmark

                                                had to laugh about the description of the (skimpy) ahi salad at Tarpy's

                                                . Years ago I ordered it and it came with a huge pile of perfectly dressesd baby greens, ahi nowhere in sight. Silly me, I thought it was somehow mixed in, under the greens. I ate half the salad, being obsorbed in conversation, before I saw with some digging around, that there was NO ahi. Told the server who gave me a very skeptical look, then begrudgingly took my plate and returned about 5 minutes later with four strips of ahi.

                                        2. I like Cafe Stravaganza at the Crossroads Shopping Centre in Carmel. They make a really good lamb burger, with some great relish.

                                          1. Try the Sea Harvest Restaurant at Moss Landing. Much better than Phil's, serving very fresh seafood, generous portions that are nicely prepared and presented at reasonable prices. It's one of the best seafood restaurants we've found in this area!

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: Spamsushi

                                              Yes! Totally agree. Lovely view, fresh fish, good prices. If you're approaching from the south, however, be aware that trying to turn left across the highway can be a nerve-wracking experience.

                                            2. Since this old post has come up again, I'd like to add two places, both in Marina:

                                              Tico's, an incredibly good breakfast/lunch place. The best homefries ever. Wonderful weekend brunch menu. Small place, very reasonable.

                                              Shinla Korean, hidden on Carmel St. in Marina. Very good Korean place. i think the best Korean I've had in the county.

                                              1. If you're into wine, you can't miss Passionfish.

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: 4wino

                                                  We are winos too, but I have to also have some atmosphere. I understand the view is the gas station. Also, we object to the close NY dining style seating especially for twosomes. Any updates on the new location in the Old Bathhouse in PG?

                                                  1. re: Gail

                                                    Ha Gail, winos don't care about views or comfort. We just want great wines at below replacement costs ;-)

                                                    1. re: 4wino

                                                      Hey, wino, I can do that at home. But wait, then I would have to cook. Best to reconsider Passionfish!!

                                                    2. re: Gail

                                                      The view at Passionfish is pretty much nonexistent.; I've never been at a table where the gas station across the street (or anything else) is a prominent feature. And yes, the tables can be a little tight, but they're not jammed in.

                                                      You want atmosphere? Fresh Cream has it in abundance. You'll spend four times as much for fish that's no better and a wine list that's far less interesting. But hey, it's your money.

                                                      1. re: alanbarnes

                                                        Yes, I've been to Fresh Cream. I had the best rack of lamb ever! Frankly, for fish, I prefer Massaro and Santos or Sandbar and Grill. Both have wonderful views and excellent fish. I really don't care for sauces or such on fish...grill or saute it and leave it be.

                                                        1. re: Gail

                                                          I just don't think M & S or Sandbar are in the same league as PF when it comes to food/wine. Perhaps because I lived in Mty for so many years, I feel that their menu choices and preps are more conventional. The views are better, for sure, but that's why I go to Point Lobos or walk along the bay or along Pebble Beach during the day. How the food looks is the important view at dinner time.

                                                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                                                            Hi Ed, >>>> I feel that their menu choices and preps are more conventional<<<

                                                            Yes, that's just my point. We prefer that sort of prep. Here we are again, food is so subjective. We are not enamoured with the saucey overly tended prep forms. If the wine list isn't to our liking, we pay corkage.

                                                          2. re: Gail

                                                            My experience is that tables are no tighter at Passionfish than at Massaro and Santos. tables at PF may be tight by the standards of somewhere like Fresh Cream, perhaps, but not anything like .New York...

                                                            as for the gas station view at Passionfish, hubby and I always joke about it. There was a former poster who used to complain about it as the main ding on PF, (which is the basis for the joke, since PF is so about sustainable seafood and wine and the view is really NOT an issue). Indeed you won't even see it except from one of the rooms, and even then it doesn't dominate the view as alanbarnes notes (the main dining room has a view to the street with no gas stations at all). That said, they do tend to put sauces on the fish, though you could always ask to have it left off or on the side. (I haven't tried Sandbar but have to agree with Ed that M and S aren't in the same league. OTOH...if view is the most important thing than PF isn't the right choice. )

                                                            1. re: susancinsf

                                                              Oh I feel so misunderstood. I know susan, you are a booster for PF because of many previous posts. So I'm wasting time if I should decide to debunk it. I really am just saying, for my $$s, I'd choose another place. I truly understand the difference between M/S and PF, it's just my preference would be M/S. By no means is view the most important item for a lovely meal, it's just part of the package.

                                                              1. re: Gail

                                                                Gail: perhaps you were misunderstood. My understanding from your previous posts was that you actually have never been to PF, (since you said " I understand the view is the gas station", which implies to me that you didn't know that from personal experience.) If you havent actually dined at PF but thought it had tight tables and a poor view, and that was why you didn't want to try it, I just wanted to be sure that if tight tables were part of why you hadn't gone, that you had a point of reference by comparison to M and S (after all, I really dislike tight tables also, but as you say, I am a fan of PF and don't think the table spacing should keep you or anyone else away). At the very least, I wanted to be sure others didn't get the wrong impression, if that impression didn't come from personal experience.

                                                                OTOH, if you have been to PF and didn't like it (I am now not sure based on your last post whether you have been or not) then by all means I think you should post your impressions, and definitely do not think that to do so would be a waste of time regardless of whether they are negative or positive. After all, as you said above, we all have different tastes in food, so it is good for people who share your tastes to know your likes and dislikes, when they are based on your actual experience, and not just your understanding from other's descriptions.

                                                            2. re: Gail

                                                              You can get simply-prepared fish at Sea Harvest, too, but the whole reason Passionfish came up was the wine list. Nobody's arguing that it's the most elegant setting around, and you may not personally enjoy the style of food served there, but it's pretty much indisputable that PF has a better selection of wines at better prices than anyplace within several hours' drive.

                                                      2. Since this old thread has popped up again, I'll mention that I had a late lunch at Tico's in Marina yesterday. I got in under the 3 p.m. closing wire, and had a nice small pizza. The fresh thin crust came dressed with pesto, fresh tomatoes, olives, artichokes, diced coppa, and Provalone cheese. Very good.

                                                        I ordered a cup of coffee wich could have been dangerous so late in the day, but it was fresh and deeply rich.

                                                        The only dissapointment was a rice pudding which, though beautifully presented in a plate of orange syrup, and dressed with a rose of thinly sliced persimmon, was curiously dry and lacking in any flavor. Should have had the creme brulee.

                                                        1. Pizza:

                                                          1) Pizza My Way - Pacific Grove
                                                          They have gourmet and specialty pizzas. Some toppings include salmon, feta cheese, etc. Fairly pricy.

                                                          2) Giannis - Lighthouse Ave, Monterey
                                                          They have standard pizza types, but taste great and good family atmosphere.

                                                          3) Caruso's Corner - Fremont St., Monterey
                                                          We love any pizza there with their creamy garlic sauce. Very reasonably priced.

                                                          Salad Bar:

                                                          1) Crazy Horse - Monterey
                                                          For about $10 you get an award winning salad bar that is just superior to your standard salad bar. Includes pasta salad, tuna salad, cold cuts, soup, baked potatoes, and ice cream at the end.


                                                          1) It was the Jugem, before it burned down...


                                                          1) Tommy's Wok - Carmel
                                                          Great lunch prices. Very good Chinese food. Not the best I've ever had, but the best on the Peninsula.

                                                          2) P.F. Changs - Monterey (Del Monte Shopping Center)
                                                          If you can't get to Tommy's Wok, It's good. We enjoyed their mushoo chicken. A waiter tried to rip us off once though, and the manager was just awful...


                                                          1) Phatburger - Seaside (near Embassy Suites)
                                                          $5.50 gets you a cheeseburger and access to a very nice condiment bar with leaf lettuce, shredded lettuce, sliced tomatoes, pickle chips, pickle spears, olives, sliced onions, and probably more...

                                                          2) Toasties - Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove
                                                          About $8 gets you a very tasty cheeseburger on a long, grilled bun, and choice of very tasty thin fries, or salad or something else. Popular with locals. I don't care much for their breakfast, but others seem to.


                                                          1) Petras - Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
                                                          $8 gets you a delicious Gyro. It's the best I've ever had. The meat is perfectly seasoned. On a tight budget this is great for date night. For atmosphere, avoid the Monterey location, though.


                                                          1) Fishwife - Seaside
                                                          Everything is cooked to perfection here, and seasoned well. They serve fish that can be sustained and is not in danger of being overfished. Great chowder, fish or squid & chips, seagarden salad.

                                                          2) Montrios - Monterey
                                                          I haven't been here too many times, as it's a bit pricey for me, but the salmon is to die for. This is not a seafood restaraunt, btw.


                                                          1) Saritas - Seaside
                                                          Great mexican food. The enchiladas are great, as is their rice. The salsa is the best; not chunky but the most flavorful. Chips & Salsa cost $1 now but you must get it. I leave the beans off my meals and ask for extra rice.

                                                          2) El Torito - Monterey (by cannery row)
                                                          For $16 on Sundays, you can get a champagne brunch. Omelette bar, grilled meats, rice, sausage, eggs, chile rieno, seasoned potatos, fruit, juice, waffles, bacon, soup, deserts (including flan), and all the champagne you can drink. Plus the $10 off $25 coupons they mail are usually good for brunch. Come early if you want any flan...it can be all gone within 30 min. Don't come late if you want champagne...it can "run out" within the last 30 min.

                                                          3) Chipotle - Monterey (Del Monte Shopping Center)
                                                          $7 gets you a huge burrito. You tell them what you want in it. Don't be shy to ask for extra cheese, rice, etc, and to have their grilled fajita veggies added at no cost.


                                                          1) From Scratch - Carmel (Barnyard)
                                                          This place is great. For their omelette, you can choose from many choices, and can choose up to three things. Includes a peach or apricot biscuit that was heavenly.

                                                          2) Red House - Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
                                                          For about $8 or $9 you can get a "breakfast sandwich", which is a croisant with egg, grilled ham, and breakfast potatos. For a desert, if they have made their claufuti, it is to die for.

                                                          3) Holly's Cafe - Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
                                                          They have a very good Castroville / artichoke omelette.

                                                          And then if money is no object...

                                                          1) Sunday Brunch at the Lodge at Pebble Beach - Second best Brunch ever after the Hyatt on one of the Hawaiian islands (not sure, $50 each?)

                                                          2) Sunday Brunch at Pacific Edge - Carmel Highlands ($27 each?)

                                                          Just regular food:

                                                          1) Nepenthe - Big Sur
                                                          Great ambrosia burgers. Great basket of fries (huge).

                                                          2) Hullabaloos - Salinas
                                                          Awful owner, but great food. Burger is great. Skirt steak is great. For desert, get the pineapple upside down cake. They bake a mini one just for you! Comes with ice cream.

                                                          Red House Cafe
                                                          662 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                                                          From Scratch Restaurant
                                                          3626 The Barnyard, Carmel, CA 93923

                                                          Pizza My Way
                                                          1157 Forest Ave Ste D, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                                                          Crazy Horse Restaurant
                                                          1425 Munras Ave, Monterey, CA 93940

                                                          Tommy's Wok
                                                          , Carmel, CA 93923

                                                          1. Head up to Moss Landing, the culinary capital of the Monterey Bay .... you can't lose with any of these choices: The Whole Enchilada (crab enchiladas with lobster coulis, ay caramba!) -- its snootier but equally delicious step-child, The Haute Enchilada (lovely patio, great breakfasts/lunches, fine wine list for dinners too) -- and the famous Phil's Fish Market, www.philsfishmarket.com/ at the end of the road -- freshest seafood anywhere, in a funky sawdust-floor setting, great market attached also.

                                                            Haute Enchilada
                                                            7902 Moss Landing Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039

                                                            Whole Enchilada
                                                            Highway 1 Moss Landing Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039