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Nov 3, 2013 05:54 PM

Just moved to Monterey, looking for good food hangouts

Hi there. Before kids, we lived on Portrero Hill in San Francisco and foodied our brains out. After kids, we grew our own herbs and food and had fun cooking, but moved on to less pretentious, more healthy, good food restaurants. For example, on the Peninsula, we love Kabul for its great Afghan food.

We have now moved to Monterey and are a bit intimidated by the whole "tourist culture" thing.

We're foodies, but we're kid-friendly, and although we love the kids, we're not spending $30 on their lunch entrees.

Can you please point us to some lower-cost, high-flavor really good restaurants in the area? And if some of them are higher-cost, well that's ok. But I'd love to know where we can just go for a simple, great meal.

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  1. Hi and welcome! Kabul in San Carlos is one of my favorite Afghani restaurants.

    I have not been there, but Amir's on Lighthouse serves Afghani food and gets good marks. No one has reported on it recently, so please give us an update if you go.

    You might want to try the $9 weekday pasta lunch special at Il Vecchio in Pacific Grove.

    1. I like Mundos for sandwiches. Good tri-tip and an interesting Cubano.

      1. Monterey is a great place to live! I grew up there and visit often. Some local favorites include:
        Red's donuts on alvarado st- its been around forever, counter seats in a narrow space but best donut on the peninsula
        Breakfast club- on the edge of seaside, super kid friendly
        Toastie's cafe in pacific grove
        Gianni's pizza in new monterey- sooo not nyc pizza, but the best in the area
        Monterey fish house- really great chowder and fish specials
        Sea harvest- new monterey location is best, half fish market half restaurant, always get the specials- aka what they caught that morning, and buy the tuna jerkey from the case (so good i smuggle it back to nyc!)
        Compagno's in monterey (on prescott) makes awesome sandwiches to go

        The tues pm farmers market downtown has a number of food vedors which can be fun to try a number of different things
        Paris bakery does great quiches, and their breads are very good
        Parker Lusseau bakery is good for more fancy pastries and danishes
        Baja cantina on the edge of carmel valley is fun, not especially authentic but solid guacamole and such

        Don't go to the bagel bakery, papa chano's, anywhere on the warf or cannery row and when in doubt ask the checkout person at the grocery store their favorite place- i have found some gems that way.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ttrockwood

          Red's Donuts' main kitchen is 1646 Fremont Blvd., Seaside CA 93955, 831.394.3444 and open later than the Alvarado location. The chocolate frosted devil's food cake donut is my fav. I usually call to reserve as that usually sells out.

          Many restaurants (Wharf and Cannery Row) offer "locals' deals," some of which are actually good buys. Usually earlier dinners, sometimes lunch. For example, earlier in January 2013, Abalonetti's offered a $8.95 3-course lunch/dinner (main with veggie and starch, soup or salad, & dessert). My note said avoid the clam chowder, but nice salad. Not gourmet, but nice outing with my 93-yr. young Mom.

          For breakfast (not on the weekend), a friend and I enjoy splitting the Wheel breakfast (3 eggs, 6 small pancakes, 2 bacon, 2 link sausages) at Wagon Wheel, 7156 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel CA. 831.624.8878. cash only. We go later so it's quieter and not rushed.

          1. re: Stephanie Wong

            Here's the thread on the Locals menu at Abalonetti, and that deal is still up on the restaurant's website,

            And the locals special at Old Fisherman's Grotto,

        2. I too am a recent refuge from SF and living in La Selva and working in Monterey. Usually I only am around at lunch and generally in the Alvarado area.

          Overall not too impressed but that is what 20 years in SF will do to you. Generally my lunch budget is roughly $5 more than what I would spend in the city.

          Randy's Sandwiches is a gem.
          Sushi Moto has a decent lunch special.
          Chopstix for pho if in need better place in Seaside on Del Monte can't remember the name.
          Like Tortuga has good tortas,
          Fish wife is ok
          Love the ceviche from vendor at Friday farmers market at mpc.
          Had a burger at the new turn 12, was decent but up there on the outside of my burger budget.
          Running Iron in Carmel Valley has a killer hamburger and is all around cool place.
          The amber indian joint on Abrego lunch buffet is great, especially when they have the fish curry.
          Racines for comfort food
          Crown and Anchor is a nice pub
          The salad bar at the crazy horse is good.

          Now if I only I knew anything about Aptos/Soquel/Watsonville but usually hang at home with the family with the occasional visit to Gayles.


          2 Replies
          1. re: trespinero

            In Aptos a friend and I enjoy sharing the mezze sampler at Zameem Mediterranean Cuisine, 7528 Soquel Dr (north of Cabrillo College), 831.688.4465.

            1. re: Stephanie Wong

              Thanks I will check it out.

              A couple corrections from my late night insomniac post:

              The indian place on Abrego in Monterey is Ambrosia not Amber as I posted before.

              The pho place is on Fremont not Del Monte.

          2. Montrio Bistro and Restaurant 1833 service amazing food. Also check out Schooner's Bistro on the Bay @ The Monterey Plaza Hotel. Schooner's Coastal Kitchen is also there but is more expensive.

            For a great Japanese meal, check out Crystal Fish. Old Fisherman's Wharf has kid-friendly places, we like Isabella's there or Cafe Fina. Massaro & Santos on the Coast Guard Pier is also very good. :)