The Monterey Bay Area Restaurants

The Monterey Bay area is a culinary paradise. The surrounding waters are full of fish, wild game roams the foothills, and the inland valleys are some of the most fertile in the country—local chefs draw on this bounty for their fresh, truly Californian cuisine. Except at beachside stands and inexpensive eateries, where anything goes, casual but neat dress is the norm.

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  • 1. Fandango

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    The menu here is mostly Mediterranean and southern French, with such dishes as osso buco and paella. The decor follows suit: stone walls and...Read More

  • 2. Laili Restaurant

    $$ | Mediterranean

    Exotic Mediterranean flavors with an Afghan twist take center stage at this artsy, stylish space with soaring ceilings. In the evening, locals...Read More

  • 3. Bittersweet Bistro

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    A large old tavern with cathedral ceilings houses this popular bistro, where the Mediterranean–California menu changes seasonally, but regular...Read More

  • 4. Casanova

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    This restaurant inspires European-style celebration and romance in an intimate French-country setting. Feast on authentic dishes from southern...Read More

  • 5. La Mia Cucina

    $$$ | Italian

    Pasta, fish, steaks, and veal dishes are the specialties at this modern trattoria, the best in town for Italian food. The look is spare and...Read More

  • 6. Lugano Swiss Bistro

    $$$ | Swiss

    Fondue is the centerpiece here—the house specialty is a version made with Gruyère, Emmentaler, and Appenzeller. Rotisserie-broiled meats are...Read More

  • 7. Michael's on Main

    $$$ | American

    Creative variations on classic comfort food and live music five nights a week draw lively crowds to this upscale but casual creek-side eatery...Read More

  • 8. Shadowbrook

    $$$$ | European

    To get to this romantic spot overlooking Soquel Creek, you can take a cable car or walk the stairs down a steep, fern-lined bank beside a running...Read More

  • 9. Tarpy's Roadhouse

    $$$ | American

    Fun, dressed-up American favorites—a little something for everyone—are served in this renovated early-1900s stone farmhouse several miles east...Read More

  • 10. Taste Café and Bistro

    $$ | American

    Grilled marinated rabbit, roasted half chicken, filet mignon, and other meats are the focus at Taste, which serves hearty European-inspired...Read More

  • 11. Vesuvio

    $$$ | Italian

    Chef and restaurateur Rich Pèpe heats up the night with this lively trattoria downstairs and swinging rooftop terrace, the Starlight Lounge...Read More

  • 12. Will's Fargo

    $$$ | American

    Around since the 1920s, this restaurant calls itself a "dressed-up saloon." Steer horns and gilt-frame paintings adorn the walls of the Victorian...Read More

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