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Dinner in the Monterey Area; Stokes, Taste Cafe or Mission Ranch?

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I'm trying to decide on dinner for a visit to Monterey. My wife and I will be driving up from LA and staying 2 nights at the Intercontinental Clement near Cannery Row. One night is scheduled for Cantinetta Luca in Carmel, currently our favorite restaurant in the area.

Our first night is open and Stokes in Monterey, Taste Cafe and Bistro in Pacific Grove, and the restaurant at the Mission Ranch Inn are kind of popping out of my dining list. Any thoughts on these places as well as your favorite dishes that would help us decide would be greatly appreciated. I suppose if we're too tired we could always go over to the Sandbar and Grill for a casual seafood meal. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. One of my favorites has always been Stokes. The Executive Chef left recently, but the Sous stepped in to replace him. And I have eaten his food. Wonderful.

    The ambience is second to none. The flavors are big and bold. The portions satisfying if not large. I rarely get past the small plates as I order several apps or so. The last time we were in was in late December and we had a lovely time. Unfortunately for the owners the recession has taken its toll. Good for us as we get the restaurants to ourselves.

    I do think the wine prices are high (as are most US restaurants as the owners have the mistaken belief that they have to make their profits in the wine...but that's another gripe), but a very good selection.

    Mission Ranch is fun, but not very chowish.

    1. I've been staying at Mission Ranch Inn 1 to 2 times a year for the last 10+ years.

      My favorites on their "road house" menu (which hasn't changed much during that time) include the prime rib sandwich (ordered because it's a smaller portion that entree; I just don't eat the bread), ribs, pork chop, burger, and seafood (scallops and/or prawns) pasta. The scalloped potatoes are so tasty I usually can't resist getting a side order.

      The cobb salad was a real tasty gem until they switched from hand-shredded roast turkey to sliced smoked turkey lunch meat last year.

      1. Thanks for the replies, I really appreciate your help. I figured that Stokes would be a bit more adventurous food wise from their menu and the Mission Ranch a bit more basic, but with a great view. Both are appealing in their own way and I think it may come down to how we feel upon arrival after our drive. Sounds like we will have a great meal whichever we choose. Thanks again.