Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
May 1, 2011 08:11 PM

Restaurant recommendations for Monterey, CA?

Visiting the area for the first time in June and would appreciate recommendations for Monterey seafood restaurants that are about the food, not the show. Places the locals like. Interested in sustainable, wild-caught options; also would like to hear your abalone insights. Many thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. The original comment has been removed
    1. We like the Sandbar and Grill. It's located on the Municipal Wharf, not the tourist one. It is, primarily a local place with good seafood. There is a unique water view. From the wharf you go down a few steps so the restaurant which has a water level view.
      I recommend the sand dabs (local, mild fish), mussels, fried oysters and calamari. Also, good drinks and friendly, efficient service.
      They don't have a site, but you can check Yelp for reviews.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Gail

        The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a beautiful little full service restaurant adjacent to the self service cafe. It is very cozy and has great views of the bay with complimentary binoculars for your viewing pleasure :-) Recently the management changed it is now lead by a team with Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustard's, Cindy's Back Street Cafe etc.) at the helm and I have not been since the switch-so I can't vouch for the food. But it is on my list to re-visit and of course the seafood is sustainable.

      2. Took a Chowhound recommendation for Mundaka in Carmel for tapas and they also have seafood options too. With a pitcher of sangria and a delectible array of small plate choices, it was a very happy recommendation. I gathered this was a place concerned about food sourcing as well.

        Being a tourist though we did opt for the tourist wharf and an undistinguished boiled Dungeness crab and Crab Louie at Crab Louie Bistro - pleasant staff and great ocean view table, nice complimentary calimari appetizer, but no flavor in either main course. Yeah, we should have known but some time outta towners just sucker in for the tourist scene ...because we are supposed to! Thanks for the heads up for Mundaka- that was local and I still dream about their potato dish with the red pepper tomato sauce and aoili.

        They were featuring abalone on this tourist wharf - showed plates of their main dishes outside by their entrances -- looked like a nice piece, but for that item I do think caution is the better part of the transaction in this location.

        1 Reply
        1. re: glbtrtr

          In my opinion, the only plus on the tourist wharf is a quick run- in for smoked salmon (sometimes trout) for a picnic or a nice cocktail time snack.

        2. I have two suggestions, but they'll take you completely out of Monterey and across the bay to Moss Landing: The Whole Enchilada (, and Phil's Fish Market ( No show, just good food. Phil's does get crowded, though.

          Whole Enchilada
          Highway 1 Moss Landing Rd, Moss Landing, CA 95039

          1. I'm just back from a two week trip to California. In Monterey we enjoyed Fandango, although the dessert souffles we ordered were not really cooked through, and the management did little to remedy the situation or offer us a refund. The rest of the meal was fine. The nephew wanted seafood so we had one meal at Domenico's at Fisherman's Wharf and that was OK but didn't compare with other seafood we had in SF.

            We did have a delightful lunch at Le Tropez in Carmel... very authentic French cuisine and lovely service. I threw in a few of these places in case you get tired of seafood. :-)