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Jan 19, 2006 02:59 PM

Monterey/Carmel (again!) - cheaper eats?

  • m

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.

(Hope I didn't give TOO much detail!)

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  1. 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!


    2 Replies
    1. re: susancinsf

      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

        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.

      2. 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. 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

            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

              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

                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

                  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

                    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

                      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

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

                        1. re: jaweino

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

                      2. re: jaweino

                        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

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


            2. 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

              2 Replies
              1. re: wally

                wrong address- 731 Munras, Monterey

                1. re: wally

                  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. 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).


                  10 Replies
                  1. re: e.d.

                    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

                      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.


                      1. re: jaweino

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

                        1. re: jaweino

                          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

                          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.


                          1. re: e.d.

                            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 of these days when the weather is too bad for diving or walking....

                            1. re: susancinsf

                              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.


                              1. re: e.d.

                                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

                                  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!


                        3. re: e.d.

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