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Monterey/Carmel (again!) - cheaper eats?

m
Marcella Jan 19, 2006 02:59 PM

I've read every recent-ish post on this board about the Monterey/Carmel area and most restaurants suggested seem to be a bit out of my price range. But I'm certain some of you know of wonderful "hole-in-the wall" type places! I think this fits, what I believe is, the true "Chowhound spirit".

So with that in mind...
I'm taking my boyfriend up to that area, via Big Sur from Ventura, next weekend for his first time.

$8-$12 a person.
Any and all types of food.

-Lunch in Big Sur or Carmel
-Light dinner in Monterey, or drinks and appetizers
-Breakfast in Carmel/Monterey, maybe Sunday brunch
-also any cool little snack-ish places, must see (or eat!) places, ice cream parlours, bars, etc.

THANK YOU FELLOW CHOWHOUNDS!
(Hope I didn't give TOO much detail!)

  1. l
    Lauren J. Jan 20, 2006 06:47 PM

    There's been a whole shipload of "cheap eats" posts for this area lately on this board--could you have missed all that in your reading? Scroll down for more info, although you're getting good responses.

    For lunch in Big Sur: Big Sur Bakery (& Restaurant). Their soups, salads, quiches, breads/baked goods are all excellent or you could share a wood-fired pizza. Lots of Big Sur flavor and character--the perfect intro to the area for your friend. bigsurbakery.com

    Breakfast in Carmel: Katy's Place. Most everything will fall into your budget, except the more expensive seafood Benedicts. All Benedicts (they make a dozen different kinds) are 3 egg, huge and very good. You can easily share them (for a small charge). katysplacecarmel.com

    In previous posts on Carmel, I've noted lots of places where you can get everything from free high quality cheese samples to deli sandwiches and picnic fare, and coffehouses/cafes, all within your budget. Scroll down.

    At the very least, you can go to any restaurant you choose on the entire peninsula and get a big, hearty bowl of hot soup and good bread and butter for a light, warming meal.

    P.S. The Thunderbird Bookstore Cafe in the Barnyard that was mentioned earlier closed about 2 years ago.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Lauren J.
      l
      Lauren J. Jan 21, 2006 04:59 PM

      I forgot to mention the new Bixby Bistro & Martini Bar in the Barnyard. They took over the Thunderbird bookstore cafe space about 6 months ago. The name comes from the beautiful Bixby Bridge in Big Sur and the place looks fun. They're open for lunch thru dinner and feature a $1.99 bay shrimp cocktail all day and night, along with other very reasonably priced snacks, small plates and entrees. I haven't been yet, but the owners are pretty well-respected restaurant people in the area. bixbybistro.com

      1. re: Lauren J.
        l
        luuu Mar 30, 2007 09:33 AM

        So many of you are out of step...
        First of all Bixby Bistro is no longer...Finally.
        PassionFish is about the most over-rated restaurant on the Monterey Peninsula, unless of course you're talking about; Sardine Factory, Casanova, Rio Grill - you get the idea.
        I agree with the comment LouLou's on the wharf, people seem to really like this place. In Carmel rather than going to Katy's Place which I think is totally overpriced for breakfast, go to The Cottage (which also used to be owned by the late-great Katy)...It's good and consistent.
        La flor de Oaxaca is no longer at the Crossroads, relocated to Carmel, but not so good...Very good Mexican is Club Jalapeno, tasty stuff.

        But the restaurant you must see and you will be so happy you found it is - Hula's in Monterey...By far the most energetic, best local scene, great food , fun bar, you cannot beat this place - Yum my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

        1. re: luuu
          e
          EAH Mar 31, 2007 01:22 AM

          Corkscrew Cafe in Carmel Valley, easy on the pocket book, and top notch food. Same owners as Cassanova's in Carmel but MUCH less expensive and far better food as far as I am concerned. When I lived in Carmel it was an 'insiders secret.'
          http://www.corkscrewcafe.com/home.html

          1. re: EAH
            Carb Lover Mar 31, 2007 08:27 AM

            Well, it's no longer a secret since it was featured on Rachael Ray's $40 a Day show a while back. Food looked fresh and good; I'll have to try it sometime...

            1. re: Carb Lover
              e
              EAH Mar 31, 2007 10:01 AM

              Yeah, I lived in Carmel 10 years ago. Before there was a Rachel Ray.I'm glad the word is out, it's a fantastic place that deserves a strong following.

          2. re: luuu
            Carb Lover Mar 31, 2007 08:29 AM

            We enjoyed Passionfish on our one visit over a year ago, and it continues to get positive reviews.

            There's another branch of Hula's in Santa Cruz; been once but didn't think the food was all that great. What do you like there?

            1. re: Carb Lover
              e
              EAH Mar 31, 2007 10:04 AM

              I've been to the Hulas on Lighthouse in Monterey, it was a 'meh' experience for me too.

              1. re: EAH
                v
                valleygirl707 Apr 30, 2007 09:17 AM

                Hula's is my favorite place there, the fish is soooo fresh and the best seaweed salad in the world. I highly reccomend it.

            2. re: luuu
              susancinsf Apr 3, 2007 03:03 PM

              you might want to note that you are replying to a thread that is now over a year old......Obviously, a lot can change in 15 or so months, but that doesn't mean that the posters are out of step...

              My last dinner at Passionfish was in February, and overrated? hardly. I will say that my last breakfast at LouLou's, also in February, wasn't quite as good as I've had in the past...

              1. re: gan911
                susancinsf May 29, 2007 08:32 PM

                Mucky Duck is a very pleasant pub, with, appropriately enough, a good beer selection, heavy on the British selections IIRC, and a nice patio out back with a fire to sit by while you sip your brew, particularly nice if you are looking to meet some young singles on your trip. I have eaten there once; the food was very forgettable. If you just want a pub with decent fish and chips, I'd recommend the London Bridge Pub (near Wharf Two) instead. Better food, better service, and unlike the Mucky Duck, not a pickup scene....also, unless you are staying downtown and can walk, parking is better at London Bridge Pub than at Mucky Duck. That said, Mucky Duck isn't awful, if your certificate saves you enough to make it worthwhile....

        2. e
          e.d. Jan 20, 2006 10:53 AM

          Passionfish is worth the extra money - particularly if you like wine and creative seafood preps.

          Taqueria Garcia is very authentic and cheap

          Krua Thai, Baan (or Barn?) Thai, Pho King, are my favorite Asian spots.

          Lunch at Taste Cafe can be special and reasonable.

          Sea Harvest at Foam and Hoffman has reasonably priced fresh seafood.

          Fishwife in Seaside is OK as is Turtle Bay Taqueria next door (same owner), but the Fishwife in PG is not as good and not worth the money (imho).

          ed

          10 Replies
          1. re: e.d.
            t
            toodie jane Jan 20, 2006 12:15 PM

            You and I agree on Asilomar Fishwife! "Meh?"(shoulder shrug)

            I almost ran screaming out of Tauqeria Garcia because of the noise level--but it was prime dinner hour on Sunday and the TV was blarin' too. Very good food though. Driving away, I saw other taquerias in the neighborhood--tried any, e.d.?

            and what are the approximate locations of the Thai and Pho places, please?

            1. re: toodie jane
              j
              jaweino Jan 21, 2006 01:04 AM

              BarnThai is at 1760 Fremont. It's way in the back of a little strip mall and you can't see it from the street, but there is a sign.

              Pho King is at 1153 Fremont. See the link below.

              The owners of Pho King have recently opened a very good upscale Asian fusion restaurant in Carmel on Ocean Ave where Cafe Napoli used to be. The name is something like Junjiya.

              Link: http://phokingseaside.com/

              1. re: jaweino
                s
                susancinsf Jan 21, 2006 10:49 AM

                Thanks for the update on Junjiya; that sounds very promising....

                1. re: jaweino
                  l
                  Lauren J. Jan 21, 2006 11:48 AM

                  To clarify, the name of that new place on Ocean is Julihanh. I hear they have reworked the lunch menu options, with new pricing to match. Sounds interesting.

                2. re: toodie jane
                  e
                  e.d. Jan 21, 2006 12:47 PM

                  Krua Thai is on Munras (I believe) in Monterey. I had a couple good meals there with friends on my last visit to the peninsula last summer.

                  I lived in Seaside 10 years ago, which is when I discovered Garcia's. At that time, I had found no other great Mexican, and El Miguelino was my favorite sit-down Mexican (Salvadorean) place. And Garcia's is not aimed at Anglos, but rather it provides food that many Mexican-Americans in the area can't get at standard Mexican restaurants - lengua, cabeza, buches, chicharones - as well as more standard fare. I always got take-out from them and still do. Nowadays, I live in a place with great Mexican food, so when on the peninsula, I am less inclined to search out Mexican cuisine. Next trip, I will proabably try a place just west of Broadway close to Del Monte that has Oaxacan food if it is still there. I keep hoping that some local hounds will research the Mexican food scene in Seaside because I simply don't have the time/opportunity to do it these days. I suspect there are two or three other spots worth eating at.

                  ed

                  1. re: e.d.
                    s
                    susancinsf Jan 22, 2006 12:17 AM

                    Any chance of knowing the name of this Oaxacan place?

                    I too am convinced that the Mexican food scene in Seaside is worth exploring, but I never seem to have time...one of these days when the weather is too bad for diving or walking....

                    1. re: susancinsf
                      e
                      e.d. Jan 22, 2006 10:54 AM

                      For some reason San Pablo springs to mind, but my mind springs are not to be trusted. It is on a street that is roughly parallel to Broadway, one block to the west. It is within a block or so of Del Monte. They were open weird days (like closed Weds/Thurs or something like that). The menu promised Oaxacan chile relleno, but I didn't get a chance to get by there when they were open.

                      ed

                      1. re: e.d.
                        p
                        PolarBear Jan 22, 2006 12:01 PM

                        You remember correctly, e.d. It's at 400 Palm, 1 block south of Broadway just east of Del Monte. 831-899-6929
                        I've been meaning to try them as well.

                        We were disappointed in the pupusas at El Migueleno last time there, hoping that it was just an off night (Sun.)

                        1. re: PolarBear
                          e
                          e.d. Jan 23, 2006 08:15 AM

                          I've always preferred the Salvadorean tamales to the pupusas there. I never thought El Miguelino was great, but I am a sucker for seafood enchiladas and good tamales.

                          Try San Pablo and report. It was one of the places I noticed in Seaside that looked like it might be interesting.

                          Good eating!

                          ed

                3. re: e.d.
                  b
                  BS Feb 28, 2006 04:44 PM

                  Try Turtle Bay. Cheap, and good stuff. Downtown Monterey.

                4. w
                  wally Jan 20, 2006 12:09 AM

                  Parker-Lusseau Pastries had very good pastries and was good for lunch and breakfast foods.(It has been a year since we were there.)

                  (831) 641-9188
                  539 Hartnell St
                  Monterey

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: wally
                    w
                    wally Jan 20, 2006 12:12 AM

                    wrong address- 731 Munras, Monterey

                    1. re: wally
                      t
                      Tom Hall Jan 20, 2006 04:29 PM

                      We were there in late December and for the first time in many years, I was disappointed by their quality, as was my son. And we tried them twice- I hope it was a glitch and not a downhill alert.

                    2. t
                      toodie jane Jan 19, 2006 09:37 PM

                      Fishwife Rest & deli counter in Seaside, just off the main drag.(Fremont? Del Monte? can't keep 'em straight.) Good seafood salads and sammies with a sort of Cajun influence..... and next door to a great Mexican place which is on the corner. La Tortuga? (logo with a tortise) Go across the street to Monterey Chocolate Co for dessert! Also many promising looking taquerias in Seaside-just drive around. They won't be romantic or fancy, but goooood.

                      Morgan's coffeehouse is a nice warm place to enjoy a dessert and coffee, on Washington St just off Alvarado a block or two towards Seaside.

                      Whole Foods Mkt in the Del Monte Shopping center on Munras Blvd has good wraps and take out salads of all kinds. Good bakery products too.

                      Very dissapointed in Scotch Bakery in PG last trip. Bad off flavors and not discernable butter flavors. Don't fall for it.

                      I've gotten decent lunch goods: soups, sammies, quiche, etc at the bookstore in the Barnyard Shopping Center, Carmel Valley Rd and Hiway 1. Neat shopping ctr with unusual shops and great gardens.

                      Nob Hill Market in PG has good snack items for picnics. Trader Joe's is on Forrest Ave up the hill from downtown PG. The Bistro Cafe across the street would be a good deal for lunch.

                      For B'fast, I like the Bagel Cafe downtown Monterey on Alvarado for CHEAP fresh embellished steamed egg bagel sammies. Great bagels! If you want a full breakfast in a cool spot, go early to The Wagon Wheel, up Carmel Vlly Rd a mile or two in the Valley Hills Center. Look for the line of very tall pine trees perpendicular to the road. It's on a curve, and you can't see it till you're past it. If you pass Earthbound farmstand, you've gone 1/8 mile too far. Great egg dishes, hash browns, sausage etc, in a real hangout! and pecan pancakes, oh yum!!

                      Tillie Gort's in PG has decent b'fast and lunch dishes. Cozy spot.

                      If you can find any, get coffee where they serve Carmel Coffee Roasting Co. It's ssooooooo good!

                      Good bread and roasted garlic, and marinated mussels from otherwise yukky Fisherman's wharf for a hearty picnic. Trader Joe's for deals on wine.

                      Be sure to bring extra warm clothes and stuff like mufflers, hats, gloves, etc. The wind cuts RIGHT through you. Bring jammies for bedtime or lounging as the motel rooms, especially the older ones, cute as they are, are COLD.

                      Have a wunnerful time!!

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: toodie jane
                        s
                        susancinsf Jan 19, 2006 10:43 PM

                        I thought the Bagel Cafe went out of business (but then again, I thought it was on Lighthouse, not Alvarado, so perhaps I am thinking of a different bagel place?) maybe someone local can give an update (or I will be down there this weekend so will try and go by and check it out)...

                        1. re: susancinsf
                          t
                          toodie jane Jan 20, 2006 10:48 AM

                          I ate at the downtown one in early December. I hope it's not gone. Maybe new owners? They seemed to know all the regulars.... While there, I asked a local if the Forrest Hill location was still in business, he said he thought so. I Love these bagels!

                          1. re: toodie jane
                            s
                            susancinsf Jan 20, 2006 12:28 PM

                            No worries, if it is downtown, I was thinking of a different bagel place with a similar name...the one I am thinking of was definitely gone by early December, but is closer to San Carlos Beach than actually downtown...

                            1. re: susancinsf
                              m
                              mspea Jan 20, 2006 04:34 PM

                              I think toodiejane may be referring to the Bagel Bakery, which has several outlets -- Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel & Seaside that I know of.

                              1. re: mspea
                                j
                                jaweino Jan 21, 2006 12:25 AM

                                They are all the same with the name Bagel Bakery. They closed the one in Pacific Grove and the one on Lighthouse a couple of years ago. I'm not sure of the status of the one in Salinas. The one on Alvarado St in Monterey and the one in the Carmel Rancho Shopping center are still going strong.

                                1. re: jaweino
                                  m
                                  mspea Jan 21, 2006 10:43 AM

                                  Really? When? I was there a few weeks ago and it was going strong. (This is on Forest, just down the hill from the Safeway.)

                                  1. re: mspea
                                    j
                                    jaweino Jan 21, 2006 02:32 PM

                                    I guess they reopened in a new location, because theyn certainly aren't in their old location in PG.

                                    1. re: jaweino
                                      m
                                      mspea Jan 22, 2006 11:15 AM

                                      I've been going to the location on Forest for 3+ years now.

                                  2. re: jaweino
                                    s
                                    susancinsf Jan 21, 2006 10:54 AM

                                    wow...I knew the one on Lighthouse was gone, but I didn't think it had been that long. However, that could be a reflection of the fact that I never did like the bagels there that much, and thus stopped eating there...I do tend to be particular about bagels, but these seemed just average to me, at best. Personally, I'd choose some of the other breakfast recommendations over the remaining stores if they are comparable to the ones that closed.

                                    1. re: susancinsf
                                      e
                                      e.d. Jan 21, 2006 12:50 PM

                                      I agree. With so much superior bread around, I never thought their bagels were better than average and rarely ate there.

                                      ed

                        2. j
                          jaweino Jan 19, 2006 04:52 PM

                          You might try Pa's for lunch in Carmel. It's on Carmel Rancho Blvd across fro the post office. It has really good Chicago Italian Beef Sandwiches and Chicago style hot dogs among other things. The ownership has changed in the last few weeks, so that the sign may say Korean BBQ and it now has the corresponding additional items on the menu.

                          For breakfast try The Breakfast Club on Fremont Blvd in Seaside. I don't know if they're open on Sundays. If not try Toasties on Lighthouse in Pacific Grove.

                          For dinner you might try Pho King on Fremont in Seaside or Papa Chano's on Alvarado in Monterey

                          1. s
                            susancinsf Jan 19, 2006 04:33 PM

                            LouLou's, on the Commercial Wharf, aka Wharf number two (*not* the tourist wharf) for breakfast. Garcia Taqueria in Seaside. London Bridge Pub (next to the HarborMaster's right off of Wharf number Two) for a lunch or dinner of fish and Chips, burgers.

                            All of these have been mentioned before, to be honest there really aren't that many cheaper 'hole in the wall' places that are really good in Monterey (IMO), other than taquerias, most of which are located a bit north (Fremont/Seaside) and a few pubs for pub grup. I think the mid to upper range places are better...however, below is a link to a place with early bird specials that might work (I've never tried it)

                            I don't know of many if any dinner places in that range in Carmel. One I do like is La Flor de Oaxaca, a small sit-down Mexican place in the Rio Road Crossroads shopping center off Highway One in Carmel, but even that will be more like $15 or $20 p/p for dinner unless you eat quite lightly and have nothing to drink.

                            One thing Monterey/Carmel does have are some good bakeries and delis (again, check the posts) and I'd strongly recommend that you consider picnicing: it will keep prices down (maybe down enough that you could afford Passionfish one night :-)), and in any case some of the world's great picnic spots are in the Monterey/Carmel area, with Pt Lobos topping the list. If by next weekend you mean the one coming up, weather is supposed to be pretty good. The following weekend, who knows.

                            Have fun!

                            Link: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/show/...

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: susancinsf
                              s
                              susancinsf Jan 19, 2006 04:37 PM

                              I meant Marina or Seaside as a place to scout around for cheaper eats, especially Mexican, not Fremont. The City of Fremont is waayyy north, and Fremont St is in Monterey proper. Sorry about that...

                              1. re: susancinsf
                                j
                                JalamaMama Jan 19, 2006 05:38 PM

                                Thanks on the weather update, my trip is this coming weekend..have 3 3x5 cards filled with places to see, eat and enjoy! Will report back.

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