Lunching in Marina, CA
For the curious or unsure, Marina is ~10 to 15 min north of Monterey, adjacent to Seaside. I've eaten more lunches than I can count in Marina, so I thought I'd report on what I've learned thus far.
My Thai on Reindollar is two or three cuts above your average Thai place. I often find Thai food in this country unbalanced, with the sweet and rich notes out of balance with the acid and funky and spicy. My Thai's lunch menu, which has a variety of curries and noodles, seems to be a lot more sophisticated, and in general yields dishes with terrific balance. I've heard that to Thai tastes, My Thai is still slightly on the sweet side, but given how much better it is than most, that's maybe a small quibble. Definite A.
There's a little Korean place on Reindollar as well just down the street from My Thai (and on the opposite side). I can't remember the name, but I thought the panchan were quite decent and the food in general was quite serviceable. I had the japchae once, and it was maybe on the greasy side but still satisfying - I'm not all that grease-averse. The bulgogi was similarly decent. I'd give it a pretty solid B.
I manage to like Wild Thyme (Reservation Rd) despite myself. I think I appreciate it mainly because there are a lot of vegetable side options that you can get. The sandwiches can be pretty tasty albeit a bit pricey for what you get. Nothing really wows me, but in the end I come away pretty satisfied with my lunch. Also a B, but lunch often comes to around $10.
Mecca Delicatessan (shopping center corner of Reservation and Del Monte) is a somewhat unlikely-named but clearly very German deli that does a rather slow but very tasty bratwurst sandwich. Comes more or less like a hot dog with mustard, although the bread is nice and crusty. Do not try eating it in the car unless you have a good portable vacuum to chase it with. Not too many options, but what they have is quite delicious. They have a nice selection of sausages and other pork products, much of it handmade I believe. I don't eat there often, but when I do I always enjoy it. Food's a A-minus, as an overall lunch experience, it's a B.
The best I saved for last. There are three taco trucks just off of the Del Monte exit of Hwy 1. The one that is most popular (it's quite obvious) is absolutely terrific. I ordered four tacos there last time - al pastor, lengua, carnitas and carne asada, and they threw in a bonus al pastor taco. Terrific tacos, at least as good as my favorite truck in Pasadena which is saying a lot. The lengua, which often tastes a bit "off" to me at other places, was my favorite. Al pastor was excellent as well Carnitas and carne asada maybe didn't quite live up to the high standards of these other two, but were yielded plenty of enjoyment. Portions were very generous (five just about killed me) and a number of different salsas were available and all great. A very enthusiastic A. Based on the happy faces of the primarily but not entirely Mexican clientele, I wasn't the only satisfied customer.
I've never been for lunch, but English Arms has OK beer (some people love it, but not me) and serviceable pub food.
Two other places you might try. Tico's Breakfast and Lunch seem especially good for breakfasts, but lunches are pretty good too:
A small Korean place, Shin Ra, has served me a couple of outstanding meals and one dud:
Nice post with good info. Have you tried Baan Thai in Seaside or Krua Thai in Monterey? They both seem pretty good to me.
Last month I dropped by Mecca after shopping at Grocery Outlet in the same center. I had my eye on the housemade bratwurst, same as you recommended, but did not have the time to wait the 20 minutes needed for it to cook. I made do with the schnitzel sandwich, $6.99, that I was told is the most popular item here.
The pork cutlet was heated in the press, crisping up the crunchy breading. The roll was a bit overtoasted, but in combination with the pickles, mustard, and cheese, this was a fine sandwich.