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Nov 8, 2005 01:18 AM

Thanksgiving dinner in Monterey

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We're going to be celebrating my parent's wedding anniversary with the family in Monterey during Thanksgiving. I'm wondering if you have any recommendations for restaurants (and their specialties) that will be open that day.

We'll be there for a couple of days and eating out A LOT, so any recommendations for good, local cuisine (Carmel, Monterey, Pacific Grove) is welcome too!

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  1. My best recommendation for a family Thanksgiving dinner would be at the landmark Julia Morgan designed dining hall at Asilomar State Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove.
    It's a huge American hotel-style buffet with everything you could ever want. Asilomar has stated featuring, when stated, organic produce. I think the quality of the Thanksgiving offerings is "very good" - not gourmet, not highly sophisticated, but nothing will be bad. I don't know the exact price, but it's always been very reasonable. The staff is very friendly. After eating, you can walk it off by taking the boardwalk outside the dining hall right to Asilomar State Beach.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Niki Rothman

      I stayed at Asilomar recently, and while we never ate dinner there, the breakfasts were quite good, so this may be a good bet, particularly if cost is an issue. Just know what you are getting in for: think summer camp with very good food in a stellar location, NOT a fine dining experience. You certainly can't beat the ambiance or location. I have had dinner there when attending past conferences; the food is definitely on an upswing in recent years.

      A few words of caution, along those lines, if dining there with a family group: be *absolutely* sure you can be seated together and at your own table. For groups that are not staying at Asilomar, seating is literally family style, and you could potentially be at a table with others, though they may make more effort at Thanksgiving and other holidays than they do normally. Also, they tend to put 'leisure guests' (those that aren't part of organized groups staying there) in the smaller, less impressive side dining room, not the main dining room. This may not be an issue at Thanksgiving (since they probably won't have the groups staying there for conventions/meetings that they have at other times of the year), but I would ask and be sure. Indeed, I'd ask three times, and it wouldn't hurt to ask to speak to a manager and ask that person. One reason it is inexpensive is that most of the front desk/reservation staff are part-time college students without much if any restaurant experience, and they may not understand the importance of seating issues for a holiday (again, think summer camp and you get the idea).

      1. re: susancinsf

        Asilomar is not serving their traditional Thanksgiving Day dinner this year because they are renovating the kitchen.

    2. Stokes typically serves a fine meal on Thanksgiving. Great ambiance (old adobe from the 1840's) with a chef who knows how to flavor food. And at a very reasonable price.


      1 Reply
      1. Asilomar can be very chaotic, it's a little rustic, but it's not bad. I used to work there and they do consider guests as a top priority whenever they can, but they get a lot of people.
        Esteban will be having a Thanksgiving Dinner for $32. They normaly are a mediteranian tapas restaurant. But they will have some traditional items along with some off the menue. They might have the menue on the web site. Esteban is in the Casa Munras Hotel whice has been recently renovated. Also, the Hyatt does a buffet and I think the Monterey Beach Hotel is too.

        1. We are heading to the coast from N.J. I have tenatively booked a reservation at the Paso Robles Inn Steakhouse. A traditional buffet for $29.95 per peson. Is anyone familiar with this establishment?

          4 Replies
          1. re: doyle5478

            Nice historic Inn in Paso. They have a natural hot spring that feeds in room spas. Stinks a little of sulphur but feels nice. I have stayed there quite a few times over the years but haven't been since my house was built 5 years ago in the area.

            The steakhouse is nothing special. About what you would expect for a restaurant connected to a big hotel. I sometimes go for breakfast but prefer the 50's feeling coffee shop side to the actual dining room. I am sure they will do a fine "traditional" buffet particularly for Thanksgiving. The bar upstairs is quite a scene. Lots of colorful locals and I have heard a couple of good bands there. It has the feel of an old country bar with stuff like "singing fish" nailed to the walls. A fine balcony looks over the square.

            1. re: doyle5478

              Paso has some great dining spots - Artisan, Thomas Hill, Bistro Laurent - but the the Paso Robles Inn is not one of them. I would hate to come all the way from Jersey to eat there.

              Bistro Laurent
              1202 Pine St, Paso Robles, CA 93446

              1. re: Ed Dibble

                Agree, stick to having a cocktail or glass of wine on their balcony, maybe an app.

              2. re: doyle5478

                if you need info on the Paso Robles area, best to start a new thread. Paso is 2 hours from Monterey. Lots of local hounds there to guide you.

              3. Don't know their T-Day plans, but Tarpy's Roadhouse is a great place. It's close to the Monterey airport. You would need to call *now* as they are very popular.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Gail

                  Tarpy's is not "great." It's OK, I guess, but not special by any means.

                  1. re: Ed Dibble

                    Sorry you haven't enjoyed it as we have. Our service, food and the general atmosphere has always been pleasant. The food isn't the stuff of French Laundry, but fine, nevertheless. The patio is a very enjoyable place to linger over lunch and wine. BTW, hubby has found some very interesting bargains on the last page of the wine list. Tarpy's has some discontinued or "only a few bottles left" kind of sale which they will off sell.

                    1. re: Gail

                      Didn't know about the wine. I do like the patio, but I just thought the food was just OK. In particular, I remember a salad with fried oysters that had just ordinary lettuce mix etc and oysters fried so hard as to be not very oystery.

                  2. re: Gail

                    Just called Tarpy's to make a reservation - they are closed for Thanksgiving. I too am looking for somewhere in Monterey, and that also won't break us. any other suggestions?

                    1. re: gsmith1

                      Are you looking for traditional T-day fare or just a nice local restaurant that's open?