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. Montrio Bistro

    $$$ | American

    This quirky converted firehouse, with its rawhide walls and iron indoor trellises, has a wonderfully sophisticated menu. Organic produce and...Read More

  • 4. Soif

    $$$ | Mediterranean

    Wine reigns at this sleek bistro and wineshop that takes its name from the French word for thirst—the selections come from near and far, and...Read More

  • 5. The Pocket

    $$ | Italian

    In surf lingo, "the pocket" is a perfect riding spot within a barrel-shape wave, and this Italian–Californian restaurant is likewise a perfect...Read More

  • 6. 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

  • 7. Café Rustica

    $$ | European

    European country cooking is the focus at this lively roadhouse, where specialties include roasted meats, seafood, pastas, and thin-crust pizzas...Read More

  • 8. Casanova

    $$$ | Mediterranean

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

  • 9. Crow's Nest

    $$$ | Seafood

    Vintage surfboards and local surf photography line the walls and nearly every table overlooks sand and surf at this restaurant on the Santa...Read More

  • 10. Fishwife

    $$ | Seafood

    Fresh fish with a Latin accent makes this a favorite of locals for lunch or a casual dinner. Standards are the sea garden salads–-topped with...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. La Posta Via

    $$ | Italian

    Authentic Italian fare made with fresh local produce lures diners into cozy, modern-rustic La Posta. Nearly everything is made in-house, from...Read More

  • 13. 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

  • 14. 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

  • 15. Monterey's Fish House

    $$ | Seafood

    Casual yet stylish and always packed, this seafood restaurant is removed from the hubbub of the wharf. The bartenders and waitstaff will gladly...Read More

  • 16. Mundaka

    $$ | Spanish

    The traditional Spanish-style tapas, made with fresh local ingredients, and the full bar attract legions of locals to this downtown spot. Longtime...Read More

  • 17. Peppers Mexicali Cafe

    $$ | Mexican

    This cheerful, white-walled storefront serves traditional dishes from Mexico and Latin America, with an emphasis on fresh seafood. Excellent...Read More

  • 18. 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

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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