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Chicago Chowhound Needs Lunch Spots in Monterey & Dinner Spot in San Jose!

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My husband and I are heading to Monterey for a wedding later this month and are flying in and out of San Jose, so we are spending a night there on either end of our trip. We will be staying at the Sheraton and would love any suggestions on nearby casual spots for dinner.
Most of our time will be spent in Monterey (at the Intercontinental hotel) for a wedding and rehearsal dinner, so our evenings are full and we will be left with lunches open on Thurs, Fri and Saturday. We would love great seafood and we'll have a car, but don't want to be driving too far and it's always nice to walk if we can, although we will be out exploring and visiting wineries one day.
Please let me know your favorite must go to lunch spots! Thanks!

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  1. If you are wine tasting in Carmel Valley, I would suggest lunch at the Corkscrew Cafe or Cafe Rustica.
    www.cockscrewcafe.com
    www.caferusticacarmel.com
    Wickets at the Bernadus Lodge is highly touted, though I can't speak from experience.
    www.bernardus.com
    All three have outdoor dining or very pleasant indoor atmospheres.

    Seafood lunch in Monterey, I would suggest two places.
    Massaro and Santos (Coast Guard Pier) or Sandbar and Grill (Municipal Pier
    )Another pleasant lunch place in Monterey is Schooners at the Monterey Plaza hotel. They have a lovely deck right smack on the water.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Gail

      For the Carmel Valley places, completely agree with the three above - with Rustica as my personal favorite.

      As for Monterey - I like both Massaro and Santos as well as Sandbar and Grill. Not a huge fan of Schooners - I've had a couple of good meals, one not so good and one where I had to send it back as the fish was not fresh. Perhaps a consistency problem.

      I'd also add two in Pacific Grove - Red House Cafe and Passionfish. Passionfish is my #1 fish place on the Monterey Peninsula.

      1. re: MRYfoodie

        Passionfish isn't open for lunch, sadly. Sorry to hear of your Schooners experience. No excuse for bad fish in Monterey. I've only been twice and had a fine lunch both times. Love the deck and otter watching.

        1. re: MRYfoodie

          Thanks so much for the recommendations- can't wait to try these places out! Between Massaro and Santos or Sandbar and Grill- do you have a preference? based on food/ view etc?

          1. re: ms. mika

            Here are the 2 sites:
            www.sandbarandgrill.com
            www.massaroandsantos.com

            We prefer Sandbar, but it's really a toss up. If you check the sites, you'll get a feeling for the atmosphere. M & S may be a bit more upscale, but both are comfortable and casual with good fish. Sandbar is situated at water level and gives you a different "ocean view". You actually walk down from the pier to water level. Do try the sand dabs and/or fresh petrale sole at either place.

      2. You'll need to post this on the SF Board for you San Jose recos.

        1 Reply
        1. re: PolarBear

          PolarBear is correct, the San Francisco board is where hounds discuss San Jose.

        2. Passionfish near Monterrey is excellent and if you're a cork dork be advised they have an excellent wine list with many cult wines at not much more than retail.

          1 Reply
          1. re: SteveTimko

            I would love to try Passionfish, but I think it's only open for dinner!