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Dec 28, 2009 03:54 PM

Looking for Mexican Food in Monterey

I'm a Seattle hound looking for some quick help for Mexican food in Monterey. Kid friendly would be helpful. Nothing fancy needed but nothing too divey either. Cheers!

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  1. This restaurant gets varying opinions here, but we do like this place very much for food and friendly service. It's not fancy nor is it divery. Kids are welcome too. It is located in Pacific Grove right next to Monterey.

    1. You would have better luck finding a shell on the Monterey beach than finding any decent Mexican restaurant in Monterey. By the way, I've never found a shell on the Monterey beach.
      Other poster's suggestion of Pepper's Cafe in Pacific Grove a safe bet, although I've never understood why on occasion it gets a stand up applause from some posters. You might want to re-consider her Mexican food preference in Monterey.

      1. Contrary to another poster's claim, there is decent Mexican food in the MB area, but most of it is found in what most might consider dives. A few that might fit your description include:

        Turtle Bay Taqueria (owned by same folks at the Fishwife)
        on Fremont at Tyler in N. Monterey

        Michael's Grill and Taqueria
        Forest Ave (Hwy 68) and David
        in the Country Club Gate Center, upper Pacific Grove

        Two on my list that have been reco'd on this board that I haven't tried yet are:

        Papa Chano's
        462 Alvarado St (downtown Monterey)

        La Flor de Oaxaca in the Crossroads - 2 kinds of mole, Memelitas
        145 Crossroads Blvd. Crossroads Shopping Village

        These, to my knowledge, would be the most upscale that you'll find. Hopefully some of the local hounds will chime in with any updates.

        10 Replies
        1. re: PolarBear

          Unless it has changed (my last time eating there was probably five or six years ago), Papa Chano's is more of a taco/burrito place (order at the counter, bring your own food to your table, emphasis more on American/Mission style burritos than on the type of tacos one would find at a taqueria in Mexico) than a sit down restaurant. However, the food is decent, and it is certainly kid-friendly and not really divey. For you PolarBear, I'd skip it: unless you just are looking for a quick snack: you probably have many similar/better places at home in Fresno....

          La Flor de Oaxaca, sadly, closed quite some time ago.

          El Palomar is a bit more upscale than somewhere like Papa Chano's or Turtle Bay, but not unreasonably so, and it would definitely be kid/family friendly. Decent but not outstanding food, but the tortillas were great:

          1. re: susancinsf

            Thanks for your input, Susan. Like you, I rarely order burritos and when I do it is sans rice. So sorry to hear about Flor de Oaxaca, really wanted to try their mole sauces.

            Our only visit to Pepper's was many years back, and came away with the same impression as Ed, who is absolutely correct about Mi Tierra. There's several other dives in the Seaside area I like, but the OP requested avoiding those. Even my last visit to El Miguelena for pupusas was disappointing. Weekend breakfasts at Tico's in Marina is about all be have left that we can count on.

            Only other "nice" place we've enjoyed in the past was Plaza Linda out in Carmel Valley, again, years ago, have no idea if it has maintained or even survived.

            Also, like you, have never gotten around to checking out Zocalo's.

            1. re: PolarBear

              Plaza Linda is apparently still going strong...though the 'live karoke' gives me a bit of pause :-)...still, thanks for mentioning it, I might check it out one of these days...


              agreed re Mexican breakfast at Tico's.

              1. re: susancinsf

                Thanks for the karoke alert.

                I meant to add to the above that Michael's Grill has always been pretty good basic food, meats cooked very well. Maybe somewhat Americanized and lacking ambiance being in the shopping center, but satisfying.

              2. re: PolarBear

                El Miguelino has slipped out of my thinking since I was fortunate to have an incredible Salvadoran place where I live now for a couple years. Never did like the pususas at El Miguelino that much, but the tamales were good.

                Also the seafood enchiladas used to be quite tasty. Perhaps El Miguelino is a good choice for the OP?

                1. re: Ed Dibble

                  Yes, I'd forgotten about the seafood enchiladas. Have you found any other pupusas in the area? Checking my old notes I see someone had mentioned the Breakwater Deli below Massaro and Santos served them, which to me sounds rather strange.

                  1. re: PolarBear

                    they do serve them; I think one of the cooks is Salvadorean. The place is basically a hodge-podge of whatever whoever is cooking feels like making, though in this case I am fairly sure the pupusas are made off-site and brought in (cooking facilities are quite minimal). Since I hate the service at the place (it tends to vary between just unfriendly to downright rude) I haven't tried them. On the rare occasions that I am forced to eat at that deli (ie I am between dives, don't have much time, forgot my lunch and don't want to move the car or have the time to walk up to Casa Bodega for a sandwich) I tend to stick to a can of soda and the tri-tip sandwich....(which isn't worth what they charge for it, btw...)

                    Maybe I will try one in the interest of research one of these days...

                    1. re: PolarBear

                      Someone opened a Salvadoran place on Fremont in Seaside (if memory serves) around 3 years ago. It had good pupusas, but I have no memory of the name.

              3. re: PolarBear

                Avoid Papa Chano's unless you are looking for a mediocre version of a mission burrito. Not terrible, but if I wanted a rice burrito, that's what I'd order.

                I like the tacos in the back of Mi Tierra Grocery at Broadway and Fremont in Seaside.

                El Zocalo gets some positive comments from my local aquaintences - though I haven't been (I don't search for Mexican food since I have plenty where I live).

                Pepper's is Ok - I actually have enjoyed a couple of fish dishes there in the past, but not really very "Mexican."

                like randix said, Mexican is not a major cuisine in Monterey.

                1. re: Ed Dibble

                  I should say that when I classify Papa Chano's as decent, one should keep in mind that on the rare occasions that I order a burrito, I always ask for it without rice or beans inside. :-)

                  I keep meaning to try Zocalo (in Pacific Grove) but never get around to it, probably because most of the Mexican food in the area has disappointed...

              4. A quick trip up Highway 1 (8-10 minutes) to Castroville will get you some neighborhood type Mexican restaurants. Not Gringo-fied, but not haute cuisine either. Solid average home-cooking Mexican food.

                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                    yes! I think it's fantastic. I'm creating a new thread on the subject.