Where to Eat in Monterey, California

A stroll away from the carnival of the waterfront’s Cannery Row, you’ll find sleepy Italian restaurants and chic French bistros. Here's the restaurants we're making tracks to in Monterey.

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restaurant

Alta Bakery

Pine and huckleberry latte, anyone? This bright and airy bakery and café on Monterey’s Munras Avenue is easy to spot, thanks to its fetching pink trim and elegant hand-painted signage. This is where Monterey residents head for flaky pastries and hot beverages after their weekend beach runs. Fuel up on coffee, chocolate buckwheat cookies and a blackberry and rose cream puff in the tucked-away garden courtyard, pick up a batch of lemon verbena doughnuts and chocolate tahini tarts to scoff later, or make a lunch of it with one of their daily pizza specials. On our visit, the verdant sausage and pea sprout topping, with creamy burrata, spring vegetable and nasturtium pesto, was a highlight.

Address

502 Munras Ave, CA 93940

restaurant

Cultura Comida y Bebida

The candlelit courtyard of this Oaxacan-inspired eatery makes a great setting for dinner under the starry sky. Chef Michelle Estigoy channels her Mexican grandmother’s cooking in the kitchen. Expect cheesy quesadillas spiked with seasonal veg, an excellent range of tacos and simple salads with an edge (think butter lettuce, avocado and tomato dressed in a tongue-tingling jalapeño vinaigrette). Start with snacks of toasted chapulines (grasshoppers) at the bar (they complement the expansive mezcal collection), then opt for the signature dish of cultura mole with smoked pork and saffron tortillas.

Address

Dolores St between 5th and 6th Ave, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93921

restaurant

La Bicyclette

It doesn’t get much more quintessentially “bistro” than this Carmel restaurant: think darkwood chairs, copper pans dangling overhead and a blackboard advertising the day’s desserts. This much-loved institution on the Monterey Peninsula pairs its Provence-style interiors with a menu of Gallic classics. Start with soup du jour, move onto coq au vin and finish with a buttery tarte tatin. You’ll also spot influences from California’s veggie-rich farm-to-table movement here. Case in point? The wood oven-fired pizza topped with butternut squash, crispy prosciutto and fried sage, which tastes a lot more Cali than Caen.

Address

Dolores and 7th Ave, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 93923

restaurant

Revival Ice Cream

Are we allowed to put an ice-cream shop in this section? If it’s Monterey’s Revival Ice Cream, then yes. This cute parlour serves locally made, organic gelato using seasonal ingredients. Expect icy delights in experimental flavours such as lemon-peel sherbet, eucalyptus-mint choc chip and brown-sugar cinnamon, plus dairy-free favourites of cold-brew coconut and cucumber mojito. The headline scoop? The award-winning Bees Knees – a heady combination of burnt local honey (trust us on this), honeycomb, beeswax and bee pollen.

Address

463 Alvarado St, CA 93940