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. Basil

    $$ | Modern American

    Eco-friendly Basil was Monterey County's first restaurant to achieve a green-dining certification, recognition of its commitment to using organic...Read More

  • 2. 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

  • 3. 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

  • 4. Anton and Michel

    $$$ | American

    Carefully prepared California cuisine is the draw at this airy restaurant. The rack of lamb is carved at the table, the grilled halloumi cheese...Read More

  • 5. Assembly

    $$ | Modern American

    Seasonal, sustainably farmed local ingredients inspire this downtown eatery's rustic California cuisine. An adjacent pop-up space temporarily...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. Carpo's

    $ | Seafood

    Locals love this casual counter where seafood predominates, but you can also order burgers, salads, and steaks. Baskets of battered snapper...Read More

  • 9. Casanova

    $$$ | Mediterranean

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

  • 10. Corkscrew Café

    $$ | Modern American

    Farm-fresh food is the specialty of this casual, Old Monterey–style bistro. Herbs and seasonal produce come from the Corkscrew's own organic...Read More

  • 11. 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

  • 12. 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

  • 13. Gabriella Café

    $$ | Italian

    Local artwork features prominently at this petite, romantic café in a tile-roof cottage. Featuring organic produce from area farms, the seasonal...Read More

  • 14. Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria

    $$ | Café

    Whether you're in the mood for an orange-olallieberry muffin, a wild rice and chicken salad, or tri-tip on garlic toast, this bakery-deli's...Read More

  • 15. Grasing's Coastal Cuisine

    $$$$ | American

    Chef Kurt Grasing draws from fresh Carmel Coast and Central Valley ingredients to whip up contemporary adaptations of European-provincial and...Read More

  • 16. Haute Enchilada

    $$ | South American

    Part of a complex that includes art galleries and an events venue, the Haute adds bohemian character to the seafaring village of Moss Landing...Read More

  • 17. L'Escargot

    $$$ | French

    Chef-owner Kericos Loutas personally sees to each plate of food served at this romantic, unpretentious French restaurant. Order the pan-roasted...Read More

  • 18. LokaL

    $$$ | Eclectic

    After stints in Spain and Prague, where he ran a popular bar, local boy and chef Brendan Jones fashioned his restaurant ( lokal is Czech slang...Read More

  • 19. 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

  • 20. 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

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