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Pacific Grove area - dining recommendations

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Sep 16th, 2012, 07:31 AM
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Pacific Grove area - dining recommendations

I'm staying in PG 3 nights next month and am considering the following places for dinner:

Passionfish (read debitNM's recent comment)
Cantinetta Luca
1833
Montrio

Any other ideas? I would prefer not to go further than Carmel.

Thanks.
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Sep 16th, 2012, 07:32 AM
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I should have written 'dining recommendations needed.'
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Sep 16th, 2012, 07:53 AM
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Centralparkgirl- following is part of my trip report that included a stay in Pacific Grove- a place that we very much enjoyed. There are 3 restaurants mentioned that I would recommend plus some other things to do, some of which require going past Carmel. I hope the next paragraphs are useful to you in planning your trip. By the way, if you did not know, Pacific Grove is part of the migration route of the monarch butterfly and there is grove where they can be seen by the tens of thousands if your trip timing is right. Two more things - don't miss going down to the beachfront in Carmel with the rest of the town to see the sunset, although the sunset seen from Pacific Grove is equally spectactular. If you click on my name, the photo there is of our first Pacific Grove sunset.

Arriving at the Anton Inn, a rather unimposing looking place in Pacific Grove, we were shown to our room. Uh-oh! It was clear that there was a mix up in our reservation. We were 3 people and the room had one king sized bed. They offered to put in a roll away for the first night until a more suitable room was available. That may have been acceptable except that the bathtub/shower was in an alcove off the bedroom. That is alcove, not room. A bathtub/shower in full view of the bedroom may be erotic for a romantic weekend but not so much for a guy traveling with his wife and adult daughter. To their credit, the manager told us to come back in an hour or so as they took a suite with a separate sitting room, took out the sofa and put in a double bed for DD. That was a really good set-up for us giving all the most privacy that we had on the trip.

The rooms at the Anton Inn come as a nice surprise after seeing the plain exterior of the place. They come with an electric "fireplace" that also can give off heat, fridge, linens that are several cuts above the ones found in most motels - more like those in upscale hotels and in general are very nice. The Inn advertises a wine and cheese reception on weekday afternoons. They are modest- it is far more than wine and cheese. Crystal, the very pleasant and helpful desk clerk prepares quite a repast that is different every day. The included breakfast is also very decent with good coffee, cereals, yogurts, a delicious freshly made fruit salad and various pastries and donuts that seem to come from a shop rather than a box.

There seems to be a motel every few feet in the area of the Anton Inn but the area still has a residential feel. Other motels nearby are the Sea breeze, Butterfly Inn next to the Monarch Butterfly Park, Best Western and others. The Anton Inn is about a 10 minute walk to a most beautiful coastline that is part of a State Park. We spent time there each day - several hours the first day, the highlight being fabulous sunsets.

Our first day in Pacific Grove was spent looking at the many Victorian homes and B&Bs nearby and a few hours driving over to Old Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey - about a 10-15 minute drive. We spent the time waiting for our room to be prepared at the wharf and had a very fine lunch at the Sandbar & Grill, located not on the wharf with all of the restaurants and shops, but the one a few hundred yards away. The restaurant is on the water with nice views and seems to be extremely popular, particularly with residents. I recommend it highly.

We ended our first day in Pacific Grove sitting on a bench on the coastline well past sunset.

Really, the rest of this TR would be about exploring the coast down to Big Sur and this is one case where the trite "a picture is worth a thousand words" is true. So, if you have the time, take a look at the rest of the pictures www.flickr.photos/basingstoke2/sets. There are some nice ones there that will be better than any verbal description I could write.

In a nutshell, some highlights were hiking in Point Lobos Park, trail riding in Andrew Molena State Park (they put me on a Percheron - is there a message in that)? The trail riding was a lot of fun even though DW and I had not been on a horse in 20 years. Dismounting provided the gift of hilarity to DD. Also of course, we drove the 17 mile drive as required by tourist rules and were glad that we did. Sometimes tourist attractions are such for good reason. We also took a whale watching trip out of Fisherman's Wharf in Monterey that turned out to be a dolphin and porpoise watching trip. We were aboard the Monterey Princess - a very clean, well kept boat and although there were no whales that morning, the dolphins and porpoises were very entertaining - we saw hundreds. The porpoises were particularly entertaining as they would ride the bow pressure wave - surfing if you like. I have a photo set of the dolphins and porpoise playing
using the above link. There is also a set of some very nice sunsets that were a spectacular nightly joy.

As far as restaurants, two stand out in addition to the Sandbar and Grill. They were Paridiso in the Cannery row area of Monterey - we ate there twice and really enjoyed the fresh sardine dish, and Nepenthe in Big Sur, the latter more for the view than the food. The food is OK but is more like the hamburger is served on french bread rather than a bun, you get the picture. However, the view from up there is spectacular and worth the wait for a table, don't miss it if you are in the area and, be sure to get a seat on the terrace.
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Sep 16th, 2012, 09:34 AM
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Of the ones you mention, I've only been to Luca which I like but my current favorite for casual dining in Carmel is Mundaka, a tapas restaurant. In Carmel, I also like Basil quite a bit.

I'd be interested to hear your thoughts on 1833 if you end up going there.
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Sep 16th, 2012, 09:37 AM
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Forgot to add, I have a food report on CH with pics if you're interested http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/851540
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Sep 16th, 2012, 09:25 PM
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Can't go wrong with any of your proposed dinner selections.

HOWEVER, if you are going to be there over the 11th - 14th October period, we're having our State Bar annual meeting there at the time, and getting a reservation anywhere during that period is going to be a nightmare.

We have a big function with my State Bar section on that Saturday night at Montrio, so I can pretty well suggest you steer clear of Montrio then, because there's going to be 70 people being waited on at the same time.

I'm fond of French food in the area, so would highly recommend Moulin Bistro in Monterey and Fifi in Pacific Grove.
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Sep 18th, 2012, 05:23 PM
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basingstoke2 - thanks. I can't open your photo link.

Patty - Mundaka looks very interesting. We like tapas. I would never have thought it was a Spanish name! If we go to 1833, I will post a TR.

Surfergirl - I'm glad we're going the beginning of October; thanks for the heads up!

Any other favorites out there?
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Sep 18th, 2012, 05:59 PM
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Mundaka is a Spanish Basque name.
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Sep 18th, 2012, 07:31 PM
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Sorry Centralparkgirl, this should work

http://www.flickr.com/photos/basings...7622833791189/
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Sep 28th, 2012, 06:12 PM
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Any suggestions for lunch after the aquarium? I would love a great place for clams, chowder, etc. Rustic is okay. Great seafood a must, but not overly fancy.

Thanks.
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Sep 29th, 2012, 10:03 AM
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Well don't go to Bubba Shrimp, which is a short walk from the Acquarium.

Now I imagine the reason why most people don't talk about going on Fisherman's Wharf to eat is because they pooh pooh it as not being gourmet enough.

I've been to them all, and there is a big difference in quality depending on where you go and what you eat. But frankly, I've had some lousy chowder at some of the better restaurants in Monterey, and great chowder on the wharf.

As you walk along the wharf, they have the restaurant hawkers out there giving out free samples of their chowder, so you can end up at a restaurant where the chowder suits your tastebuds.

My son, with the clam chowder fetish, swears by the stuff served at Gilberts on the wharf. He likes the taste, the texture and the consistency of their clam chowder, and my husband and I agree with him. Across the way from Gilberts is another place that serves a runnier version that some people might prefer. Delmonico's does an ok job but we generally like going to Delmonico's during the $19 lobster fest they have once or twice a year.

There is a place on the wharf that serves great clams, but I forgot which one, and won't be there until after you leave to tell you!
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Sep 29th, 2012, 10:40 AM
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Surfergirl gives some good recs. these are old time Monterey places to eat.

The aquarium has a restaurant, or at least they used too. We had lunch there and it was very good. We have also eaten at the Fish Hopper. These places aren't fancy or gormet, but plain old fashioned "wharf places".
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Sep 29th, 2012, 12:31 PM
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The aquarium restaurant is closed for renos until March. Are you looking for something within walking distance? We had a decent lunch at the C Restaurant at the Clement.

We've also had good meals at Monterey Fish House but it's been years since I've been there so don't know if it's still good. It's on Del Monte past Fisherman's Wharf if you're coming from the aquarium.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 01:34 PM
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My first choice was to eat in the aquarium at Cindy Pawlcin's place (of Napa fame), but as Patty said, it's closed for renovations. I'm open to walking or driving. It could be a shack or nice. I would love a place that does the basic seafood stuff for lunch and does it well. Like a Hog Island Oyster kind of place.

Surfergirl - TA doesn't give Gilbert's a good review - for whatever that's worth. I never saw chowder hawked that way on the street - I might have to eat my way through!

MichelleY Was Fish Hopper good?
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Sep 30th, 2012, 01:53 PM
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I try to take everything people say on TA with a grain of salt. While I would not give Gilbert's a great review, because I think most of their food is mediocre at best, their clam chowder is fabulous. If the weather is good, you can buy a breadbowl full at their take-away/walk up place and lunch outside, either on benches on the wharf or in the area next to the customs house.

You can do the same at any of the places on the wharf, for that matter.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 02:15 PM
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That sounds like a great idea. Then we can hit a great bakery for something sweet or have ice cream
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Sep 30th, 2012, 04:35 PM
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It has been a number of years since I have been, but the online reviews are positive especially for the chowder and seafood dishes. It's just down the street from the aquarium.
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Sep 30th, 2012, 05:05 PM
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For a great bakery, I can recommend Parker Lusseau but don't get there too late as they tend to run out of stuff later in the afternoon.

Whatever you do, do NOT eat at the creperie at Fisherman's Wharf
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Sep 30th, 2012, 07:03 PM
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Sep 30th, 2012, 07:20 PM
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Parker Lusseau looks amazing. I read that they worked at Gotham Bar and Grill (one of my favorite restaurants) and Sarabeth's in NY. It's possible that I've eaten their creations before. It is definitely on my list for next week!

Thanks for all your ideas. Can't wait!
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