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Mar 8, 2010 05:49 PM

Monterey CA suggestions

I'm from New Orleans and will be going to CA for the 1st time. We're spending a couple of days in Monterey and looking for good, not-too-expensive restaurants for dinner. We would like to have local seafood.

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  1. The Spot Prawn season seems to be gearing up, and the best I've ever had were a raw nigiri prep of them at Passionfish in Pacific Grove (next door to Monterey). It isn't cheap, but neither is it expensive for the quality. When we were there, there was also a nightly special of a half dozen or more grilled spot prawns that were also fabulous. Passionfish's spot prawn dishes were some of my top tastes of last year.

    6 Replies
    1. re: SteveG

      Seafood anywhere just isn't cheap. Our favorite places are Massaro and Santos on the Coast Guard pier and Sandbar and Grill on the Municipal pier.

      1. re: Gail

        Do they serve a lot of local fish? Passionfish seems to have calamari, spot prawns, and possibly crab in the local category. Last time I was in Carmel I looked at restaurant menus posted in the street and most places didn't even have any local fish!

        According to Yelp, sandbarandgrill has good sand dabs, which are a delicious fish you can only find in the San Francisco/Monterey areas and may be something the OP should try.

        1. re: SteveG

          Yes, try sanddabs for sure. OP can't to wrong there. The Sandbar and Grill has *wonderful* mussels too, delicious broth! I've also had sanddabs at Massaro & Santos. Both places are good. These are casual, local type restaurants that, I think, give you a "feel" of Monterey. Many others, if I took you there blindfolded, you could be in Anywhere, USA.

        2. re: Gail

          Do you know if the Sandbar and Grill is still open? Their website is no longer there...

            1. re: jessicav

              Sandbar & Grill is still on the Muni Wharf:


              Sandbar & Grill
              Municipal Wharf, Ste 16, Monterey, CA 93940

        3. Passionfish should not be missed. Innovative sustainable seafood preparations, great wine list (extensive selection and prices at retail), and reasonable prices.

          Sandbar and grill has an interesting view and good sandabs. Worth a visit, but not in the same class to my tastes.

          Massaro and Santos is also a view restaurant that can prepare good dishes, but is more uneven. They also play the "daily special" trick in which the server recites "daily specials" that are specials only in costing far more than the entrees on the menu. Sanddabs and chowder are good there, however.

          1. Depends on what nights you are in the area. Moss Landing Café serves local sea food dinner on Friday and Saturday nights only. Its North of Monterey right oh HWY 1 as you enter Moss Landing (it will be on your right as you head north). If you can't make dinner try breakfast or lunch with many seafood offerings. Not expensive compared to some seafood joints. It's one of those awesome little holes in the wall with excellent food and service !

            1 Reply
            1. re: TomTomTom

              I would check out Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing, they have some awesome Cioppino there and an amazing selection of fresh fish entrees. If you like Fish and Chips, Schooner's Bistro @ the Plaza does some very nice ones, you will have pretty views of the ocean from this venue.

              If you're looking for a good place to try the Monterey Sand Dabs, Old Fisherman's Wharf has Isabella's, Cafe Fina and Domenico's. Very good clam chowder on the wharf, also. I don't know what your budget is, but if you want something a little more formal, check out The Sardine Factory. I had some very nicely prepared Sand Dabs there, we have dined in the Captain's Room and The Conservatory Room at Sardine Factory, it is located in Cannery Row across the street from the aquarium. The Fishwife is another nice option for a casual meal in Asilomar, they do some great Crab Tostaditos there. Ambiance is colorful and fun, service great. :)

            2. +1 on Passionfish, but for ultra-simple seafood preps, there's always Sea Harvest on Foam Street. They have a retail fish counter with printed source info, and the fishmongers are pretty knowledgeable about their stuff. Then you can sit down at one of the tables and order whatever you liked the looks of in the case.

              As of last week in Monterey, the best bets for local seafood were halibut, sand dabs, and squid. Tons of squid. And although they're not a target species, blue mackerel were working the squid, so there's some bycatch there.

              Spot prawns should also start coming in soon. A few years back I walked into Sea Harvest and they'd just gotten in a batch of huge prawns so fresh they were still twitching. Doesn't get much better than that.

              2 Replies
              1. re: alanbarnes

                It's been a year or so, but might want to check out Montery Fish House on Del Monte just east of the Naval Postgraduate School.

                1. re: PolarBear

                  Sshhh. You're not supposed to tell people about the Fish House. I haven't been there yet but I understand that it's hard to get a table.

                  Fish House
                  1064 S Main St, Fort Bragg, CA 95437

              2. It's been a few years, but the Fishwife in Seaside, just off Fremont, had some very good seafood po'boys at the walk-up deli. Any fish I've had there has been fresh and handled well. Dinner too, in small and comfy dining room. Good service by veteran waitstaff.


                2 Replies
                1. re: toodie jane

                  It's called Turtle Bay, there's a menu link at the bottom in the one toodie jane provided. There's a third location in DT Monterey at Tyler and Bonafacio. The Sopa de Lima is outstanding. More info at:


                  1. re: PolarBear

                    Hmmm, Fishwife has morphed into EsposaPescada...