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Suggestions for a low-key vacation in Monterey, where to eat?

Hi, so as I mentioned before my husband and I are going to be out in Monterey (first time) next month. We don't want to spend a ton of money on food while we're out there just b/c the airfare and hotel are already eating up a big part of our budget (pun intended). We're totally content to just walk around and find a good pizza joint but I thought it may also be nice to have some recommendations as well (we will be taking day trips to Carmel and Pacific Grove, etc). We have gotten suggestions for Il Vechio and La Balena for a nice dinner one night which is perfect. The rest can be somewhat casual (in other words we're not going to head to Marinus). So far I have Fandango for lunch or dinner, Lokal for dinner, and La Bicyclette for breakfast. Any other good brunch spots or any other casual but fun places that you think we just have to try while we're out there? Unfortunatly we don't eat seafood but we do love American, Italian, Mexican, Greek, etc. Thanks!

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  1. Seaside and Marina are great for food at great prices.


    1. In May last year we enjoyed Mundaka in Carmel, Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery in Moss Landing on drive down, Passionfish in Pacific Grove, & Duarte’s Tavern in Pescadero on the drive back up. We'd read good things about the bread from a store in Pescadero (artichoke, was it?) but it was only ok at best & not worth the money. Hope this helps.


      2 Replies
      1. re: FishTales

        Thank you, I will check out Seaside and the Marina and see what's what. Fish Tales think you also but remember that we don't eat fish! But I will check out Mundaka and the tavern if they have other things. I've heard about that artichoke bread too!

        1. re: slozier

          Mundaka is my favorite casual restaurant in Carmel and Lokal in Carmel Valley is very good too. Both are tapas/small plates style for dinner.

          I tried 1833 for the first time this month and while I wasn't as enamored with it as others on this board seem to be, it was our least expensive dinner and the portions are good sized (two of us shared a small bite, 2 apps and 1 main and had leftovers).

          I also tried the weekday lunch at Il Vecchio this trip. You get a salad and 2 different pastas (no choices) depending on the day of the week for $9.50 per person. Friday is seafood so I wouldn't go then. Again good value though I did have better pasta dishes elsewhere this trip (La Balena, Basil) but that may be an unfair comparison given the different price points.

      2. Deli food from Bruno's or the Safeway in Carmel and picnic at Point Lobos about 3 miles S of Carmel.
        Wine tasting in Carmel Valley followed by lunch at the Corkscrew or Cafe Rustica.
        Mexican food at Peppers Mexicali, Pacific Grove
        Breakfast on the Municipal Pier at LuLu's Griddle in the Middle.

        1. Fandango??

          I don't think it represents good value; and it's the sortof place done better back in MA.

          1. In Pacific Grove, my fav breakfast / lunch place is Red House Cafe. redhousecafe.com

            Fandango is okay, but not the better value for the cost-conscious. For that kind of money, I prefer Mission Ranch Restaurant in Carmel. Cocktails outside on the patio watching the sunset, etc. Caution: no reservations, dress in warm layers for chilly sun downs!

            I also like the Wagon Wheel on Carmel Valley Road for the good old-fashioned hearty breakfast. Or lunch --cash, no reservations, prompt service, they close at 2 pm.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Stephanie Wong

              Really? A lot of other Chow Hounds have said good things about Fandango. Well OK, and we do love a good cocktail while watching the sun set!

            2. If you are around on Tuesday afternoon, the Farmers' Market on Alvarado Street in Monterey is amazing. 3 1/2 blocks of vendors. A lot of local fruit and vegetables. And there are food carts as well, so you can have an evening of casual shopping/dining.

              You can Google to find other farmers mkts in the area, but that one is the best overall for the produce/food/trinkets

              1 Reply
              1. re: Ed Dibble

                That sounds wonderful, I love Farmers Markets! And we will be there on a Tuesday...

              2. I would second PassionFish in Pacific Grove and add Julia's in Monterey to the list. Julia's is a hole in the wall vegetarian place that necessitates a reservation - and cash.

                1. Ocean Harvest in either Moss Landing--nice day or late afternoon trip from the Pennisula--or at The Crossroads center in Carmel Valley @ Hiway 1. Good fish & chips and other seafood in a casual setting.

                  Picnic or larder foods can be found at Whole Foods in the Del Monte Center. For a grocery store, Nob Hill in Pacific Grove area is good.

                  There are many good divey Mexican deli's at the small Mom & pop Mexican grocieries in Seaside, Marina, etc. Just have a drive and look around. Bare bones seating, but great autentico food.

                  Sweet Maria's coffee house and deli in Sand City (?) near Home Depot center is a wonderful place to get good coffees and casual eats as well as sublime pastries and desserts.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Do you mean Sea Harvest and Sweet Elena's?

                    1. re: toodie jane

                      I think Ocean Harvest is actually called Sea Harvest....going south on Highway One, it's right before the turn-off into Moss Landing itself (where the wharf is).