What are the best restaurants in Monterey, CA and why?

A Taste of Monterey: Exploring the Best Restaurants

Monterey, California is a beautiful coastal city that offers some of the best dining experiences in the state. With a diverse range of culinary options, there is something for everyone. In this article, I will share my top ten favorite restaurants in Monterey and explain why they have earned their place on this list.

Fisherman's Wharf Favorites

Old Fisherman's Grotto

Located on the iconic Fisherman's Wharf, Old Fisherman's Grotto is a must-visit for seafood lovers. With a menu boasting fresh seafood dishes such as clam chowder, cioppino, and calamari, you will not be disappointed. The waterfront views and historic atmosphere make this restaurant a truly unique dining experience. Additionally, the attentive and friendly staff will ensure that your visit is a memorable one.

Paluca Trattoria

For those craving Italian cuisine, look no further than Paluca Trattoria. This family-owned eatery offers mouthwatering dishes such as homemade pasta, wood-fired pizza, and fresh seafood. The warm and inviting atmosphere is perfect for a romantic dinner or a gathering of friends. Plus, the stunning views of the Monterey Bay will make your meal even more enjoyable.

Cannery Row Classics

The Sardine Factory

As one of Monterey's most famous and historic restaurants, The Sardine Factory is a must-visit for anyone in the area. Known for its elegant dining room and extensive wine list, the restaurant offers a variety of dishes, including fresh seafood, steaks, and pasta. The Sardine Factory also has a fascinating history, as it was once a real sardine cannery. Make sure to try their famous abalone bisque, which has been featured on the Food Network.

Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar

Located in the Monterey Plaza Hotel, Schooners Coastal Kitchen & Bar offers a stunning waterfront dining experience. With a menu featuring locally sourced seafood and produce, the restaurant is committed to sustainability and supporting local fishermen and farmers. Some of the standout dishes include the blackened fish tacos, crab cakes, and scallops. The outdoor patio offers breathtaking views of the Monterey Bay, making it the perfect spot for enjoying a meal with loved ones.

Pacific Grove Gems


Passionfish is a Pacific Grove favorite, known for its innovative and sustainable seafood dishes. The restaurant is dedicated to using only the freshest and most responsibly sourced ingredients, resulting in a menu that is both delicious and eco-friendly. Some standouts include the seared scallops, grilled octopus, and truffled potato gnocchi. The intimate atmosphere and attentive service make this a great spot for a special occasion or romantic dinner.

Peppers Mexicali Cafe

For a taste of Mexican cuisine in Monterey, head to Peppers Mexicali Cafe in Pacific Grove. This colorful and lively eatery offers a variety of authentic dishes, including enchiladas, burritos, and tacos. The homemade salsa and guacamole are not to be missed, and the margaritas are some of the best in the area. The friendly staff and vibrant atmosphere make this restaurant an excellent choice for a fun night out with friends or family.

Carmel-by-the-Sea Delights

La Bicyclette

Located in the charming town of Carmel-by-the-Sea, La Bicyclette is a cozy and rustic restaurant offering delicious French and Italian inspired cuisine. The wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta dishes are truly exceptional, and the warm and welcoming atmosphere makes it a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch or dinner. Don't forget to try one of their decadent desserts, such as the chocolate pot de crème or the lavender crème brûlée.


Grasing's is a popular choice for those seeking an upscale dining experience in Carmel-by-the-Sea. The restaurant offers a diverse menu featuring fresh seafood, steaks, and a variety of international dishes. The elegant atmosphere and impeccable service make this restaurant an ideal choice for special occasions or romantic evenings. The outdoor patio is a great spot for enjoying a meal while taking in the charming surroundings of Carmel-by-the-Sea.

A Hidden Gem

Montrio Bistro

Nestled in the heart of downtown Monterey, Montrio Bistro is a hidden gem that offers a unique and eclectic menu. The restaurant is housed in a historic building that was once a firehouse, adding to its charm and character. With a focus on using locally sourced ingredients, the menu features a mix of European and American dishes, from seafood to steaks to vegetarian options. The warm and inviting atmosphere, combined with the exceptional food and service, make Montrio Bistro a must-visit when in Monterey.

In conclusion, Monterey, California offers a diverse array of dining options that are sure to delight any palate. From fresh seafood and Italian cuisine to Mexican fare and innovative fusion dishes, there is truly something for everyone. I hope my list of the best restaurants in Monterey has inspired you to explore this beautiful coastal city and indulge in some of the finest culinary experiences it has to offer.

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