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Monterey/Carmel Dining Choices

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My wife and I are planning a return visit to the area early next year, staying over for 2 nights and a day. In looking over my list of restaurants, I see that I could use some help.

For the 2 dinners, I'm looking at Pepper's or Taste Cafe in Pacific Grove, Monterey's Fish House (have eaten here before and enjoyed it), and Cantinetta Luca or Little Napoli in Carmel. We were planning on trying La Bicyclette, but there seems to be a very uneven opinion of the food and I'm hesitant to try it.

For our 1 day we may drive down to Big Sur weather permitting, so I'm thinking of a late breakfast at Deetjens. Otherwise we would eat at Katy's in Carmel (a return visit) or the Old Monterey Cafe.

Any thoughts or opinions would be welcome. Thanks for your help.

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  1. Please sir, at all costs, avoid Peppers. There is no authenticity but if you're looking for "Mexican" food, visit Zocalo in Pacific Grove. Taste Cafe is a pretty decent choice, however, if you're looking for something different, try Melange on Lighthouse in PG. Cantinett Luca easily wins over Little Napoli. Better atmosphere and better food. One of the best things about Luca is their wine by the glass list. Please take my advice. Deetjens is an excellent idea for your Big Sur hike. Beautiful drive, hopefully the weather will be o.k., but the most friendly people working at Deetjens.

    3 Replies
    1. re: kitchenguy

      >>>Please sir, at all costs, avoid Peppers<<<

      Wow! As the adage goes, "That's what makes horse races"! We really enjoyed our lunch there. If what you mean by authentic is cooking with entrails, you're most likely right. I didn't see such on the menu, but I did find quality food with prompt, friendly service.

      1. re: Gail

        Hey, thanks for the replies. I didn't think I was going to get any after the first couple of days so I appreciate your comments.

        Cantinetta Luca sounds like a definite stop, as does Deetjen's. Pepper's is still a possibility. It may not be the most authentic Mexican food, but still sounds good compared to the Mexican choices we have were we live. Taste Cafe is also still a strong contender for our second dinner. Thanks again.

        1. re: Gail

          Without planning or any info, my boyfriend and I had lunch here the other day while on vacation - we loved how fresh and un-heavy/ not oily the food was. And tasty! I had the artichoke mushroom enchilada, he had huevos rancheros. Yes, it's California -ized, but for what it does, it does well. We'd go back.

      2. I love Monterey. It's beautiful. And the food there is almost without exception TERRIBLE, from the syrupy calm chowder (what is Ghod's name is fascination with serving it inside bread?!?) to the faux calimari. HAS ANYONE HAD A DECENT--NOT TO SAY--INTERESTING MEAL IN Monterey???? I ask because we're going up this thanksgiving for dinner at the Big Sur Bakery which hands down has the best food in the area.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Mr B.

          We've had 'decent' meals at Fishwife Seaside, Rio Grill, Montrio, Taste, Tarpy's, Cafe Fina, (for calamari), etc. We're looking for deliciousness, not necessarily to be transported.

          I think this area can be tough on restaurants--can you imagine the cost of real estate/rents? Not to mention having to rely on a seasonal tourist trade.

          I understand the restaurant at Highlands Inn is very good--have you eaten there?

          1. re: toodie jane

            We love the Sea Harvest, great lunches. the Carmel one is in a mall, Moss Landing location on the water with great views, Monterey one is just around the corner from the aquarium- we love the scallops and chips- and oyster shots. Yum.

            1. re: JalamaMama

              Friends and I ate at the ML location and it looked promising but did not walk the walk. Others here have said the Aquarium neighborhood location does a better job. I'd like to give it a try.
              (ML=Very lazy service and only average food, for the prices. The location was nice, but....)

              I want to try dinner at Sweet Maria's in Sand City. Their baked goods are to die for.

          2. re: Mr B.

            If you think the food in the Monterey area is almost without exception terrible, you haven't been looking very hard and need to spend more time researching these boards. Sure, you can find places with clam chowder in a bread bowl or faux calamari, but there is no reason to eat them. I've had interesting and delicious meals at a number of Monterey area restaurants, including Tico's, Passionfish, Sea Harvest, and Ambrosia, just to name a few of my favorites....and decent to very good meals at a number of other places also.....

            -----
            Passionfish
            701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

            Ambrosia India Bistro
            565 Abrego St, Monterey, CA 93940

            Tico's Breakfast & Lunch
            330 Reservation Rd, Marina, CA 93933

            Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurants: Carmel
            100 The, Crossroads # A Carmel, CA

          3. Try Cafe Rustica in Carmel Valley - great food and super non touristed.
            Peppers is a fine place - very local - not super authentic and so many years ago when the pickled garlic was free at the bar - maybe better - but still a good place. Big Sur bakery is also solid. Have fun!

            1. For all those who hate the food in the area, either stay in L.A. or try some original if less trendy places. Carmel- The Cottage, and places out near the point. If you can't find good food around the area, you're not trying too hard.