Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > California >
Oct 6, 2013 07:59 PM

Carmel Christmas time dining

My family (me, husband and grown kids) is heading to Carmel ,CA for 4 nights including Christmas. We are from the Bay Area, so are not strangers to good food, and are looking for some breakfast/lunch/dinner options; it's been a long time since we've been to Carmel. We will be staying not far from Ocean Ave, so walkable places would be especially nice, but not necessary. We are diverse eaters, like eclectic California cuisine (for lack of a better term), Italian, Greek, Asian are fine, love seafood . A mixture of expensive (but not stuffy) and less expensive options would be great.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My wife and I were in Carmel last month and had two very nice diners. The first was at Basil. They are trying to work with seasonal, local ingredients and doing a good job of it. The second night we ate at Dametra. They are advertising Mediterranean cuisine, but it leans towards Greek. Regardless, we really enjoyed the meal and it was obviously a local favorite that looked to be booked up each evening. The other meal we had in town was a burger at Aw Shucks. It was good solid meal that didn’t break the bank. I’d eat there again, but I don’t know that I’d necessarily make it a must go to destination.

    9 Replies
    1. re: mike0989

      Thanks for the tips, Mike! I'll check out their websites!

      1. re: nancyhnj

        We really like Basil too along with Mundaka and La Balena.

        1. re: PattyC

          Thanks, PattyC! I'm getting a good list going !
          I checked Basil on Yelp, and people seemed to like the food, but also mentioned poor service -- was that a problem for your visit?

          1. re: nancyhnj

            I took a quick glance at some of the recent Yelp reviews. We haven't experienced any of the slow/inefficient service described but our last visit was in May.

            1. re: PattyC

              AH, that makes sense. Basil sounds nice enough to take a chance on though. Hopefully they'll have the service problems fixed by December!

              1. re: nancyhnj

                I may be in the area next week. If we eat there, I'll report back.

                1. re: PattyC

                  That would be great, Patty! I'll look forward to hearing about it. Enjoy your trip!

                  1. re: nancyhnj

                    We had lunch there today and didn't have any issues with the service except for a slight order mix up which was as much my husband's fault for being vague. The pacing was fine and they were on top of things like bread/water refills.

                    1. re: PattyC

                      Glad to hear it, Patty! Thanks for reporting back!

    2. I grew up just outside of carmel- a few local favorites:
      Casanova- upscale french influences, excellent sevice and wine

      Katy's place, esp breakfast- it's casual and cheap with great food

      Bruno's market- great to pick up sandwiches , snacks, wine

      In carmel valley go to wagon wheel for a casual breakfast or lunch, baja cantina for mexican dinner

      Sorry but sushi, asian and japanese in the area will pale in comparison to anything in sf

      5 Replies
      1. re: Ttrockwood

        Thanks, Trockwood! I remember liking Katy's last time we were there years ago, now that you mention it -- and a friend took me to Cassanova's ages ago too -- nice to know they are still there and worth a visit. Bruno's is new to me, so I'll check it out. And since Monterey Aquarium is on the list of things to do, the Fish Wife and Sea Harvest are good tips as well. Not sure we'll make it to Carmel Valley, but now we've got some choices ;-) And I can live without Asian and save it for when we're back home, so that's fine.

        1. re: nancyhnj

          Since you mention Fish Wife and the MBA together I would suggest Passionfish in PG instead. The FW location across from Asilomar was good years ago but I believe the Fremont St. one gets better reviews recently.

          Haven't been for a while but the Monterey Fish House not far from the Aquarium has been consistently good.

          1. re: PolarBear

            Thanks for the additional/alternative suggestions, PolarBear!

            1. re: PolarBear

              Glad you mentioned it- definately the fremont fish wife location is better!

              Passionfish is awesome, be sure to make a reservation though- and note that is a more upscale sit down vs super casual fish wife or sea harvest

              1. re: Ttrockwood

                You guys are awesome! So many great ideas!

        2. Note: avoid most cafes and restaurants on ocean ave-overpriced poor food tourist traps....
          Forgot to mention fish wife in monterey is awesome casual seafood, similar is sea harvest in new monterey, half seafood market half cafe

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Hi there Melanie, and thanks again to all who gave me such great ideas.

              We went to: Flying Fish Grill, Little Napoli (with friends who requested we go there specifically), Passionfish, Andre's Bouchee Bistro (for Xmas), and for a quick sandwich, Bruno's. I really wanted to go to La Balena, but they had been closed for vacation before we left, and by then we didn't have many "slots" left to fill-- and they were not open on Christmas day. Demetra and Basil were not open for Christmas either. Breakfast became a moot point, we just stuck to the continental breakfast provided by the hotel to keep it simple ( and relatively cheap) , and most days we didn't bother with lunch.

              We did drive to Nepenthe for lunch one day, which was not about the food (only OK) but about the view, which sadly turned out to be impaired by a lot of fog cover just above the water. Still, it was sunny ( despite the fog cover, go figure!) and fun to finally see the place that was so iconic in Big Sur. Visiting the Nepenthe store was a lot of fun, lots of interesting and unusual things to browse through.

              Of all of the restaurants, Passionfish was my favorite; in addition to the excellent food, my husband appreciated the unusual and not too outrageously expensive wine list. I'd say that Little Napoli was the weakest, and that Andre's Bouchee was good, but not great ( but Christmas is a tough day for great restaurant food, IMHO). I did enjoy Flying Fish as well, less innovative than Passionfish, but well prepared and fresh .

              And the good news is I have a lot of suggestions to try for our next visit: La Balena, Mundaka, Dametra, Basil, to name a few.
              Again, many thanks, for the suggestions, Chow contributors!