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One lunch in Monterey (seafood or Mexican near the Aquarium?)

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Hey, folks. My wife and I are Floridians who are traveling to San Jose very soon. We've been getting great advice about San Jose restaurants on the San Francisco board, but we're also renting a car for a day trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which will be on a Sunday. I'm a little nervous about driving on unfamiliar California roads, but I'm sure I'll get over that.

So we're hoping for one great meal in Monterey, ideally near the Aquarium -- maybe local seafood or Mexican. I'm not sure if it will be a lunch or a dinner, but I'm thinking probably lunch. We won't want anything fancy or high-end, and neither of us drink. Any suggestions? A co-worker recommended Gilbert's on the Wharf nearby, and suggested the entire Wharf is nothing but seafood restaurants. Is that a good choice?

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  1. Massaro and Santos is close to the aquarium, located on the Coast Guard pier. It would be a great place to have the local and very delicious sand dabs. The food is good as is the waterfront view.
    www.massaroandsantos.com

    1 Reply
    1. I used to take my 92-year-old mom to Sandbar underneath the Municipal Wharf #2 on Sundays. She like the fresh sanddabs. Unfortunately, getting down the stair has become too tricky for her. The view is up close and personal of the marina.

      http://www.sandbarandgrillmonterey.com/

      3 Replies
      1. re: Stephanie Wong

        That sounds great, except my wife uses a walker and will have problems with the stairs too.

        So sanddabs are local fish... but what do they taste like?

        1. re: Big Bad Voodoo Lou

          Mild, sweet white fish like petrale sole (Pacific) or Dover sole (Atlantic).. Masaro and Santos has stairs also. Stephanie has suggested my favorite place, but I didn't mention it because it isn't that close to the aquarium. It's located on the municipal pier and has great food as well as their sanddabs. There are a few stairs involved, perhaps 7.

          1. re: Gail

            Masaro and Santos has an outside elevator to comply with ADA (have used it with my dad years ago). Be aware: many scuba divers use the same parking lot. M&S sanddabs were also good

      2. Streets layouts can be a bit whacky in Monterey, so I'd rec googling a map of your route and getting familiar with the layout first. The area around the Aquarium is filled with chains, but if you venture out a bit (mere blocks) you can enjoy a more meal. I like the Fishwife in nearby (10 minutes) Seaside for non-fussy and very fresh fish preparations. Street level, no stairs. Cafe Fina on Fisherman's wharf is very nice, no stairs in main dining room, water views.

        1. Thank you so much for all of your recommendations, but we never made it to Monterey. We had a good time and ate well in San Jose, though!

          http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/865502