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Carmel Honeymoon - food tips - bfast/lunch/dinner

LA 'hound up north for a few days on her honeymoon! :) Need some restaurant tips for the next two days. I ventured to the restaurant at the Hyatt Highlands Inn (Pacific Edge) tonight but was a bit underwhelmed with my overcooked sea bass (mind-blowing mushroom and bean mixture underneath, though) and forgettable mission fig tart app. The oysters were good... but that's about it. The husband's :) salmon was also underwhelming.

Any tips for a nice, romantic dinner with excellent food to match?

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  1. A little confused where you are asking about. If Carmel, you probably should post on the California board (where I would recommend Casanova or Passion Fish in Monterey).

    If coming into the city, the neighborhood you are staying in and your price point would be helpful (although I suggest Ame, Farallon, or Aziza).

    450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

    1. Its a bit of a drive but Marinus at the Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley is outfreakingstanding. We've been to Casanova many times but recommend it for lunch over dinner. They seem to be less busy and pay more attention. This spring my mussels were dreadfully over-cooked. Also consider Abergine at Auberge Carmel.

      Too bad about Pacific's Edge....at one time it was wonderful.

      415 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

      1. Passionfish for dinner, hands down. They have an awesome wine list and really good apps/entrees. The only let down I've ever experienced there has been in the dessert department. If you are planning to do the aquarium one morning I highly recommend First Awakenings for Breakfast/brunch especially if you are a pancake fan (note: stop somewhere and grab coffee before hand since the stuff they serve there leaves much to be desired).

        701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

        First Awakenings
        171 Main St, Salinas, CA 93901

        1. Thanks, everyone! Any thoughts on Mission Ranch??

          Mission Ranch Restaurant
          26270 Dolores St, Carmel, CA 93923

          3 Replies
          1. re: The Oracle

            Yes, *go*! It's Clint's place and has very good, basic American food; ie great prime rib. They aren't open for lunch, but do serve Sun brunch and dinner every night. Also, a lively piano bar scene if that interests you. Their deck is in a lovely bucolic setting with sheep grazing and a peak of ocean. Deck also has heaters.

            1. re: Gail

              We went and loved it! It was perfect. Great crowd, lively piano bar, excellent, no-fuss service... well-exectued in what they presented. That's a hidden spot I'd definitely return and recommend. Highly chow-worthy, IMO.

              1. re: The Oracle

                I've never thought of it as a "hidden spot," not that much is in that area.

          2. Passionfish for dinner was one of the best meals I've eaten in along time!
            We had a 2 bedroom oceanfront at the Hyatt Highlands and dined at Pacific's Edge...meh..I would keep it only for drinks and app's.
            It only took about 10 minutes to get to Passionfish and you will not regret it!


            1. We were in Carmel last year and dined very well at Marinus, Dametra, and Passion Fish. We are headed there again next weekend and I've booked Aubergine, Dametra again and Mundaka. A friend just gave a thumbs down to Mundaka so I'm looking for a substitute. Casanova looks interesting as does Cantinetta Luca with it's homemade salumi and wood burning oven. Any thoughts on these or other recommendations? Thanks.

              4 Replies
              1. re: RevrendAndy

                If you're thinking lunch, how 'bout a drive south on 1 to Big Sur for lunch at Nepenthe, Ventana or Post Ranch Inn? I wouldn't make the drive for dinner should wine or such be involved...also miss a jaw-dropping view. Lunch in Carmel Valley is nice, along with some wine tasting, at Rustico or Corkscrew.
                Both Casanova and Cantinetta L get mixed reviews on Yelp and TA. I can't comment on either. Have been to Casanova, but too long ago.

                1. re: RevrendAndy

                  I would skip Casanova. The food was marginal, the wine list quite expensive and the service snotty. We are going to try Cantinetta Luca on the next trip.

                  Cantinetta Luca
                  Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea CA, Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea, CA

                  1. re: baseballfan

                    Been to Casanova 10 times or more. The food can be marginal particularly if they are busy in the evening. However, I believe it remains a good lunch option when they aren't as busy.

                    1. re: HoosierFoodie

                      I think what really put me over the edge was the snotty service. The server took an attitude when we ordered a $100 bottle of wine, made a face and said "well if that's all you want to spend". I was stunned silent but my husband was not. He spoke to the manager about the inappropriateness of the servers comment. He apologized but between that experience and the marginal food makes me unwilling to try it again.

                2. Highly recommended:

                  Cafe Rustica

                  100% guaranteed you can't go wrong at any of the above places. Cafe Rustica is a bit in the valley but the others are easily walkable if you are staying downtown Carmel.

                  Cafe Rustica
                  10 Del Fino Pl, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

                  1. Just got back from Carmel, with extra pounds from excellent restaurants.

                    We dined at Cafe Dametra and again had a wonderful meal. They make you feel like family and they serve solid food at reasonable prices. The singing and dancing by the help/owners on the 1/2 hour is a hoot. Dinner at Cantinetta Luca the following night was wonderful, with homemade salumi, wood fired pizzas, terrific pasta with shaved white truffle, and great bisteca. Our last night was Aubergine, which I believe is a better high end meal than Marinus. Everything is first class and very polished. We also enjoyed lunch at Mundaka and Phil's seafood in Moss Landing.

                    415 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

                    Cantinetta Luca
                    Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea CA, Dolores St Carmel-By-the-Sea, CA

                    Dametra Cafe
                    Ocean Ave, Carmel, CA 93923

                    1. The favorite of many Carmel locals is The Flying Fish Grill, tucked into a somewhat hard-to-find basement location near Mission and 7th. One of the few fusion cuisine restaurants that I've really enjoyed (many times). If the weather's chilly, try to get the table next to the fireplace. FYI, if you're over 6 feet tall - watch your head. Definitely call ahead for reservations. It can get very, very busy on weekends.

                      Flying Fish Grill
                      Carmel Plz, Carmel, CA 93923