Since there’s little or no info on Monterey on either FTC or HO, I had to rely largely on years-old CH posts for recommendations. It ended up working out pretty well.
We went to Sea Harvest a couple of times – a combo fish market and restaurant just up from Cannery Row. Excellent fresh salmon and sand dabs, ordinary preps. We also revisited Fandango in Pacific Grove (ordering the same fish) – fancier preps and somewhat pricier. S.O. liked the sand dabs best there – my salmon was a smallish portion, and far too salty. We skipped the CH favorite Passionfish on this trip, but we did make it to Sandbar & Grill, on Monterey’s commercial wharf. I liked my meal here the best – I had the special, which was snapper in a scampi sauce with garlicky scalloped potatoes and sauteed veg. I liked it so well we returned a couple of days later so I could order it again. S.O. had sand dabs on the first visit, and scallops the second time. She liked both dishes fine.
We also visited Monterey’s Fish House one night – the food quality was excellent, but we couldn’t finish and get out fast enough. We would never return despite the quality of the food. The level of noise coupled with the closeness of the tables (and having to wait 20 min. even though we had a 6 PM reservation) made it just intolerable.
Other food eaten included crepes at Crepes of Brittany near the Wharf (pretty good); a couple of appetizers at Domenico’s on the wharf (just-fair crabcakes and a good grilled artichoke), and excellent smoked salmon from the Domenico’s stand at the Wharf, eaten in our room w/crackers and goat cheese – also soup, quiche, and other goodies from Parker-Lusseau and Paris bakeries. Special mention to the quiche lorraine at Parker-Lusseau, and the reliably great meringues at Paris Bakery. Peppers in Pacific Grove had good Mexican with local fish.
We also took a side trip to Salinas City BBQ as a break from all that fish, but we were disappointed – it was overpriced and not nearly as good as it used to be. Much better BBQ in Tehachapi on the way home, at Red House BBQ (sorry, no website).
Overall, we ate quite well and were happy with our choices. Next time we want to try Massaro & Santos on the Coast Guard pier, and make a return visit to Cafe Fina on the Wharf.
Re: Monterey’s Fish House, I agree it is a zoo but I enjoyed it when I went last year. I think it’s part of the experience - to withstand the long wait and the crowd. I went during a busy Saturday night on a race weekend, so it was truly packed, and waited for what seemed a lifetime. So when finally they called my name, I felt like I’d won the lottery to have earned a spot at that horseshoe=shaped oyster bar - even if it was at the end, next to a bin of dirty bar-towels! But the Anchor-Steam is on tap, they’ll serve you any wine on their list by the glass, and those oak-grilled oysters are damned good !
Sorry for the delayed response, Plumeria. Last time we went to Passionfish a couple of years ago, it was very good. We didn’t go this time because my daughter said that everything on the menu was spicy. I don’t recall that, and besides, my daughter’s definition of “spicy” is anything more than three grains of pepper.
Sea Harvest Market/restaurant was really nice for us. An old school spot I sorely miss in LA.
L’Escargot in Carmel was fun on a Wednesday. Surprised us with wine wednesday with all wine being half off so we were able to get really nice bottles. Decent cassoulet. very good lamb
We’ve been there 5 times or so and food almost always disappoints in Carmel. Hyped, overpriced, over stylized places without substance. BUT, we finally have a place we are really excited about. Will eat there multiple times in the future when we return.
Il Grillo. An italian spot that is set up like a very cozy place in Italy. Young, modern but with authentic, not swirly food. very fresh in aesthetic… very serious about wine… young, super nice ownership… incredible fresh pastas… very very good desserts
first time having anchovie with gooey cheese since visiting Italy ( it was everywhere). they opted for stracchiatella instead of buratta and it was great too.
strozapretti in a beef ragu… more of a really good, really rich beef stew really…