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Car week, Monterey

Howdy,

Deb and I will be in the Monterey area for car week. I already have reservations at Passionfish (been there) and 1833 (new to me). Crown and Anchor is my bar of choice. I could use a couple of dinner recommendations and maybe a few lunch spots. We're adventurous omnivores. We'll have a car.

Thanks in advance for your consideration.

--steve

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Passionfish
701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

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  1. We went to Mundaka, a great tapas restaurant in Carmel recommended on another Chowhound thread recently that was worth a drive from Monterey. Plus later learned that The Sardine Factory might have been a worthy choice which we rejected by sight as it looked too touristy to us, but after looking at its website and some reviews here, we were sorry we turned it down and unfortunately in favor of a pretty dreary choice on the wharf, which we had been already warned to avoid as clearly a tourist oriented place for any dining choices, but we were being tourists so sometimes we just make those tourist choices against even our own better judgement.

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    Sardine Factory
    701 Wave Street, Monterey, CA 93940

    2 Replies
    1. re: glbtrtr

      Thanks,
      Tapas are always a welcome idea. Sardine Factory is an old (last century) favorite. I have no idea how the shop is doing these days.

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      Sardine Factory
      701 Wave Street, Monterey, CA 93940

      1. re: steve h.

        Very nice Sangria at Mundaka - made with apples which made for a very fresh flavor - I guess I usually think of this as more citrus. It is small and became very busy, so plan accordingly. We were able to drop in but just a little bit later this would not have been possible as the prior reservations tables started filling up - nice, happy buzz to the place.

    2. California Market, Highlands Inn (lunch only)
      Corkscrew Bistro: Carmel Valley
      Rustica: Carmel Valley
      Nepenthe: Big Sur (lunch due to drive)
      Dametra: Carmel
      Mission Ranch: Dinner or Sunday brunch (no res) Carmel
      Sandbar: Monterey Municipal Pier (think fish shack)

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      California Market Restaurant
      120 Highland Dr, Carmel, CA

      Mission Ranch Restaurant
      26270 Dolores St, Carmel, CA 93923

      Dametra Cafe
      Ocean Ave, Carmel, CA 93923

      2 Replies
        1. re: steve h.

          I'm leaving tomorrow for a week in Carmel. If I find something new and wonderful, I'll post back.

      1. There are many fine and fresh choices in the Monterey Area for lunch and dinner.

        Mundaka is only open for dinner. Arriving early and lingering over a variety of dishes is the best bet:

        http://www.examiner.com/bay-restauran...

        Mundaka is one of a number of eateries in the area connected with the local winery and creative culinary family Georis.

        Casanova for dinner or lunch in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Corkscrew Cafe in Carmel Valley are also great choices and both are connected with the Georis clan.

        The latest addition that serves wine from the Georis winery is La Bicyclette on the northwest corner of 7th and Dolores in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

        Well-established for it's cozy dinners, La Bicyclette now serves pizzas in the evening and offers a creative fresh menu for lunch and breakfast too:

        http://www.examiner.com/bay-restauran...

        If you want to try the newest European Bistro in Carmel-by-the-Sea, check out the Carmel Food Company for lunch or dinner and outdoor seating on Junipero between 5th and 6th.

        The Big Sur Bakery now serves up fine lunches and dinners.

        South of Big Sur, Nepenthe is worthwhile for the view alone. The appetizers at Nepenthe or the mid-level Cafe Kevah are the best value and offer the more creative cuisine.

        If you happen to go via Santa Cruz, check out the River Cafe on River Street, just off of highway one for breakfast, lunch or -just added- dinners and happy hour on the deck on Thursday and Friday only. They use the freshest ingredients, support local farms and have local wines too. They have great fish tacos for dinner and wonderful grass fed beef burgers for lunch or dinner.

        http://www.examiner.com/bay-restauran...

        Demetra Cafe is often packed, so it is not the most private place for dinner. Expect to be serenaded somewhere along the line, when the owner and the cook put on their nightly show. The menu is varied, emphasizing Greek and Middle Eastern food.

        Basil on San Carlos Avenue serves what is called Modern California Mediterranean Cuisine, expertly prepared by Chef Michele Cremonese from Verona, Italy - a classically trained Italian Chef who has also studied Japanese cuisine.

        Mangia!

        www.DrEdna.com

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        Big Sur Bakery
        47540 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

        Cafe Kevah
        Nepenthe, Big Sur, CA 93920

        La Bicyclette
        7th Avenue Dolores, Carmel, CA 93923

        1 Reply
        1. You didn't mention breakfast, but Kate's on Mission between 5th and 6th is outstanding -- eggs cooked precisely the way I wanted (scrambled soft) for the first time since the demise of the olde Tuck Box.

          Dametra on Ocean in Carmel is good and fairly priced for Carmel, but definitely make a reservation. We figured it wouldn't be necessary on a Monday night -- we were wrong.

          Outstanding sushi at Akaoni on Mission near 6th. Impeccably fresh local Blue Fin (I was surprised to find it) that was superior to the just-off-the-boat ahi we get in Hawai'i. Fresh local salmon was delicious, as were panko coated pan fried local calamari. Contrary to posts on another food board the service was reserved but friendly and efficient. Sushi chef isn't chatty, but that doesn't make them aloof. Highly recommended.

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          Akaoni
          PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

          Dametra Cafe
          Ocean Ave, Carmel, CA 93923

          13 Replies
            1. re: steve h.

              Personally, I love Hanagasa near the Sunset Center in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is on 8th between Mission and San Carlos. Remember we have no street numbers in Carmel-by-the-Sea, but you can easily find the Sunset Center.

              I lived in Asia for a while, so the whole California Roll and millions of mayonnaise-laden California variations are not typically what I am looking for.

              Hanagasa is friendly, Asian-style and Asian owners with really great traditional dishes and attentive service. Yes, the rice is done just right, the miso soup is flavorful, the maguro / tuna is wonderful and the tempura is perfectly cooked. They serve a healthy plate of steamed veggies as well.

              Sushi Heaven on Dolores is more party atmosphere, Californian and somewhat expensive in my opinion. I can't recall the details of the rice.

              The other Carmel-by-the-Sea Sushi place has excellent quality but very inattentive service. It's called Akaoni. It has Asian staff, but they are so aloof that it doesn't make you feel too welcome. Perhaps they heard an ugly rumor that Carmel is supposed to be snobby. It is also very small. It is unique in that you can eat at a window seat. They'll ignore you, though, while you drink that tea that is everywhere in America....not in Asia, though...

              Believe it or not, good restaurants in Asia have excellent service: a sort of - make you feel welcome, cater to you but not get in your face....

              The coast of California, especially Santa Cruz, or Insanity Cruise as I often call it, is, umm, well, the opposite. Ya know - causal, condescending and full of attitude. Who needs that? You can turn on the television for that!

              For gracious, simple sushi and wonderful rice, check out Hanagasa.

              If you want some excellent Chinese inspired food, head into the courtyard where Tommy's Wok is. They have great food and good prices too!

              Another Ca

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              Akaoni
              PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

              Tommy's Wok
              , Carmel, CA 93923

              1. re: Dr. Edna Williams

                Deb and I lived in Asia, courtesy of my uncle, for three years. My pivot foot was Seoul but I travelled a bit on business. Japan was important so I spent time there, too. Sushi rice, good sushi rice, is a thing of beauty.

                1. re: steve h.

                  Yes, I agree. I had some decent tataki in Seattle recently, but the rice was absolutely horrible. I wondered if it were genetically modified or just very poor quality.

                  I generally just like a good bowl of rice with excellent sashimi, so it is the quality that matters.

                  What California has done to "sushi" is somewhat comical, but, then, that is another tale....

                  Check out Basil on San Carlos between Ocean and 7th in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Chef Michele Cremonese from Verona Italy is fabulous - he studied Japanese cuisine in LA after he was trained in Italy. He brings fusion food to a new level. It is a small place with a selective menu emphasizing fresh, local and organic produce as well as fresh wild and sustainable seafood. My friend had duck breast with kumquat sauce at Basil. It was fabulous.

                  Another fresh, flavorful eatery in Carmel-by-the-Sea is St. Tropez. They have a roasted chicken herb dinner that you can order ahead of time, along with a great selection of French Coastal Cuisine, as the name implies. They offer a hefty portion of olives and hummus, or other appetizer, when you arrive and they have excellent service.

                  If you do head to Nepenthe for dinner, then order the Chicken Dinner. It has the feel of a thanksgiving dinner with mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce. The locals all know that it is the only meal there worth the price. We go for the view. They have an appetizer menu that has added something to the food offerings, but it is the view....

                  Regarding Akaoni's service: it is more or less well known amongst the locals for it's coldness although the fish is fresh.

                  The comment about the tea has nothing to do with Cherry Coke, just an attitude that they set the tea there - whether you want it or not.

                  Tea is not meant to be plopped down like ice water: Neither of these are good for digestion with meals, but that is another tale....

                  I would love to hear what you found most worthwhile during your visit.

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                  Akaoni
                  PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                  1. re: Dr. Edna Williams

                    Nepenthe is a tourist zoo. Still, drinks just before sunset on the deck are hard to beat. I like the drive there.

                    I'll report back.

                    1. re: steve h.

                      The store at Nepenthe has some interesting finds when it comes to local music, as does the store next to the Big Sur River Inn (which has some nice stuff for lunch). The store also has some good artwork.

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                      Big Sur River Inn
                      46840 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920

                      1. re: souschef

                        The best kept secret in that part of Big Sur is Pfeiffer Beach. Loading up a picnic basket (beer and wine included) and spending the day is as close to Paradise as it gets.

                        Nepenthe gets my vote for views. Nothing more.

                        1. re: steve h.

                          "Nepenthe gets my vote for views. Nothing more."
                          I agree completely.

                          For a view AND food, go to the casual restaurant on the terrace at the Highlands Inn and order the bouillabaisse (or is it cioppino?). I've had nice desserts there too, but can't remember what they were. An absolute must is a glass of bubbly.

              2. re: steve h.

                Rice at Akaoni was excellent, the Japanese chef carefully pressed it hand to hand to warm it slightly, and the fish-to-rice ratio was spot on, i.e. generous.

                I see another remark on this board that the service at Akaoni was aloof. I haven't traveled to Japan, and I don't speak Japanese, so I have no clue if they were whispering about us Gaijin behind our backs. But our Japanese waitress was prompt and responsive, carefully answering our questions, and laughed at her own difficulties opening a bottle of sparkling wine we brought.

                The Japanese chef was quiet, but he was busy. He nodded to us and asked us to come back when we left.

                I'm not sure what people expect in a restaurant, but I don't anticipate making new best friends every time I sit down.

                I'm uncertain what the issue is with people drinking tea, if that's your beverage of choice. I didn't see any cherry Cokes.

                Anyway, if goofing with the staff isn't your priority, but pristine local fish is, I can highly recommend Akaoni. On the other food board, locals recommended this place and out of towners (such as ourselves) complained it was cold and the local patrons glared at them. Go figure.

                Wish we were joining you for all the automotive festivities. I'm told by a fellow car nut (I have a vintage sports car, see my screen name) who lives in Carmel to grab some coffee and something to eat early in the AM and set up some chairs on the route taken by the concourse cars, and sit back and enjoy the show. They get added points for making the 60 mile drive so many participate.

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                Akaoni
                PO Box 22830, Carmel, CA 93922

                1. re: MRMoggie

                  Howdy Moggie,

                  Sushi is all about the fish and the rice, nothing more, nothing less. The good stuff is worth seeking out.

                  Morgans are a hoot. Still manufactured, still beautiful. Lime Rock Park back here in Connecticut has a fantastic Labor Day weekend event that attracts Moggies from near and far. Deb likes the +4.

                  Kicking back and watching the parade is very cool.

                  1. re: steve h.

                    BTW, Passionfish is terrific, as is the wine list.

                    Just had lunch at Nepenthe, it's a regular stop on the annual drive down Highway One to the West Coast Morgan gathering in Cambria. The burger gets skimpier and more dry by the year, but the view is lovely and it's a good spot to take a break.

                    The screen name is from a Plus 4 four seater, BRG of course.

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                    Passionfish
                    701 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950

                      1. re: MRMoggie

                        We've found the french fries and a couple of glasses of wine are the best way to go. (That would be no more than 1 glass/person, at least for the driver).

              3. Check out this thread too:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/791789

                And here's my trip report from two visits to the area last year:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/701151

                1 Reply
                1. re: souschef

                  That's one hell of a trip report.
                  Thanks.