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Oct 6, 2013 07:53 PM

Choosing Between the Sandbar & Grill or Abalonetti and Cantinetta Luca or Il Vecchio [Monterey Peninsula]

Will be returning to the Monterey area, staying in Carmel this trip. One night we have reservations at Akaoni in Carmel for sushi. Our other two nights are undecided right now so we're trying to decide where to go.

We've been to Monterey's Fish House and want to try someplace new. So we're considering Abalonetti, which I know is on the touristy wharf or the Sandbar & Grill for a simple seafood dinner. Our other night is a choice between Cantinetta Luca, which we love or Il Vecchio which looks very intriguing. The good thing about Luca is we can walk a few blocks to eat, but driving a few minutes isn't a problem either.

So I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on these restaurants if you've tried them. Thanks in advance for your help.

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  1. Frankly, the reason to eat on either wharf is to take in the ocean views. I wouldn't go to either Abalonetti nor Sandbar after dark.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      Thanks for your reply Melanie, do you have any recommendations for seafood other than Abalonetti or Sandbar. Always great to get a locals input.

      1. re: curiousgeo

        Depends on what you want from a seafood menu. Most of restaurants of note in the area will have some local seafood on the menu and a catch of the day entree. And they're often prepared better than the wharf "seafood" places can knock out. The obvious rec would be Passionfish in PG.

        I'd love to read an update on Point Pinos Grill, , as the current menu looks terrific and has many seafood dishes.

        For the old school classics, sand dabs and calamari dore', Golden Tee at the airport is still holding down the fort. And it validates parking.

        Esteban in Monterey has quite a few seafood tapas.

        And for the real locals' tip, go to the Whaling Station on Cannery Row, and sit in the lounge area for the bar menu. I've been five times in the last year, and it's gotten better with more choices. We were last there in June before the crush of tourists arrived, and it's time to return again. Just avoid Mondays, as that's the chef's night off, and you need to get there early, like 6pm to be sure of getting a table. The grilled sand dabs with tomato nage (photo below) served as part of the $25 3-course prix fixe may be the best piece of fish I've had on the Monterey Peninsula. Mini paella for $5 is loaded with shellfish. The sand dab tacos are great. Besides the bar menu, happy hour is M-F, 4:30-6:30p for drink specials. Service is much better than most of the area restaurants and you're breathing upscale Whaling Station air without paying the full tariff. I owe the board a more thorough report . . .

        1. re: Melanie Wong

          Great picture, the sand dabs look delicious! Just looked over their menu and it looks interesting. I'll keep the Whaling Station in mind. Thanks.

          1. re: curiousgeo

            The new Chef de Cuisine Brian Kearns has injected some new life. The food on the two visits under his watch were better than earlier.