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Apr 21, 2011 03:58 PM

Great dining in Carmel/Monterey/Pacific Grove?

We'll be returning to the Carmel area for a long weekend in a few weeks. We've been many times and are always looking for something new and great. In the past we've enjoyed Citronelle (which is now sadly closed), Fresh Cream, Fandango, Christopher's, Sierra Mar among others. Are these places still good? Is there anything new and terrific? We'll have 4 nights and will happily drive a reasonable distance (20 minutes or so) for a great meal...where would you go? Great food, good service and pleasant ambiance are important...cost, less so.

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    1. re: CarrieWas218

      Actually we've been, and although the food is very good, I would not consider eating there great dining. The food is well prepared, but not especially creative...the service is just ok...but what really is lacking is ambiance. It is extremely noisy, and has the decor of a nice coffee shop. We want something more special..."great" is the word I used.

      1. re: josephnl

        1844 is very good. Fifi's is a favorite. Just a cozy bistro. The C is the tastiest food by the aquarium.

        1. re: cwodtke

          It sounds like 1844 is much better than Restaurant 1833! We had dinner at 1833 several months ago and thought that it had slipped tremendously from when it was terrific a few years ago.

          1. re: josephnl

            1833 brought in a new executive chef this month.

            The previous executive chef is now overseeing all of the properties. The group is in expansion mode (e.g., Los Angeles).

          2. re: cwodtke

            We had a good brunch at C last Sunday. I think it's somewhat underrated though perhaps a bit on the pricey side.

            Tusca was another pleasant surprise. We stayed at the Hyatt on a rainy day last month and didn't want to leave the hotel. I had some horrid room service food here back in November so wasn't expecting much but this was nothing like their room service food.

            On the same trip last month, we tried the sunset dinner at the Beach House at Lovers Point. It was fine considering the price but not anywhere I'd take my foodie friends. It's a safe place to take my in laws when they visit next month though.

            Finally, also in February, we tried Treehouse Cafe in Carmel. My husband and I are split on this one. He liked his seafood pasta while I thought my pad thai was overly sweet. What am I doing ordering pad thai in Carmel, right? ;) It felt slightly expensive for what it was.

            Pics of:

            1) Dungeness crab salad at C
            2) Duck breast at Tusca
            3) Salmon at Beach House
            4) Seafood pasta at Treehouse

            1. re: PattyC

              PattyC, are there any restaurants you'd recommend for a weekday breakfast in Carmel?

                1. re: PattyC

                  Thanks so much! Which dishes would you recommend the most?

                  1. re: prima

                    I usually get the truffled egg toast or mushroom melt. They also have specials like benedict sometimes.

                      1. re: prima

                        Don't know when you're planning to go but I just read that they're closed for renovations until April 14th.

                        1. re: PattyC

                          Thanks for the heads up. Turns out I won't be breakfasting in Carmel as I had initially planned, but I'm hoping to try Carmel Belle on a future visit to Carmel!

                          1. re: prima

                            Carmel Belle is now open for dinner as well. It's an order-at-the-counter place with farm-to-table style cooking. I had the arugula salad with bacon and a soft-boiled egg and the tomato/goat cheese and mushroom crostini for dinner, all for $20. Great value and pretty nice ambience for a food court-style place. There must be a chef with excellent sensibility about fresh food in that kitchen.

      2. Had tapas at lunch at Mundaka, which I believe is new. Thoroughly enjoyed it and would like to return sometime for dinner. If you haven't been to Cantinetta Luca I recommend it.

        6 Replies
        1. re: RevrendAndy

          We like Cantinetta Luca a lot...usually have lunch there, as well as at Casanova. Still looking for "great" dinner options.

          Cantinetta Luca
          Dolores St Between Ocean and 7th Ave, Carmel, CA 93921

          1. re: josephnl

            I think the problem, Josephnl, is there is no "great" dining in that area. The closest would have been Citronelle and I'm sorry they closed as well...

            901 E Cabrillo Blvd, Santa Barbara, CA

            1. re: CarrieWas218

              OK...accepting that there may not be anything "great"...then, of what is available, what would you say are the very best places?

              1. re: josephnl

                Many places worthy of the "GREAT". In a place as diverse as the Monterey Bay, I would recommend getting out more often.
                Tarpy's Road House is great eating, from the wonderful Meatloaf to the Ostrich or any of their other menu items, great wine list, desserts... and ambiance is wonderful. Chef uses locally grown veggies, even has their own herb garden on site.
                Always something exciting on the menu

                Tarpy's Roadhouse
                2999 Salinas Hwy, Monterey, CA 93940

          2. re: RevrendAndy

            We were in Carmel for an event and stayed for a few days over this past weekend. Based on recommendations on this site, four of us (2 from Philadelphia, 1 from LA, and 1 from Chico) made reservations at Mundaka --- and walked out before even ordering. The acoustics in the restaurant are beyond terrible. Everyone shouts in the restaurant at their fellow diners because that is the only way to be heard. It is a small restaurant with hard surfaces that bounce sound around making any type of dinner conversation simply impossible. As a result, the overall decibel level was, for all of us, unacceptably uncomfortable enough to simply leave and find a place where we could enjoy our meal and our conversation.

            1. re: pwoldow

              Please, where did you end up & what did you have? Would love to hear (pun intended) about it.

          3. The original comment has been removed
            1. Passionfish is one of the best places to dine in Pacific Grove..great fresh fish, great half bottle wine list for a little over cost, farm to table..super reasonable too.
              Love Passionfish!

              If your headed to Big Sur, we love Sierra Mar for lunch at Post Ranch Inn and Big Sur Bakery..


              1. Marinus at the Bernardus Lodge and Aubergine in L'Auberge Carmel would fit your description. We've always like Cassonova (generally do lunch there) and Grassings.

                415 Carmel Valley Rd, Carmel Valley, CA 93924

                1 Reply
                1. re: HoosierFoodie

                  Second Marinus at Bernadus Lodge. As much as we enjoy Passionfish, Marinus is on a completely different culinary level in terms of creativity and execution.