Carmel-by-the-Sea , California
Tel: 831 625 6500
Concierge.com's insider take:
Breaking ranks with the intimate French restaurants that for decades have defined the Carmel dining scene, Luca serves stellar trattoria-style Italian cooking in a big, buzzing dining room. The salumi and pastas are made in-house (try the Bolognese) and make an ideal lunch while shopping downtown. But the best dishes come from the wood-fired oven: Try any of the crispy-thin pizzas or family-style meat and fish dishes, particularly the pan-roasted lemon-garlic chicken. Because the menu is so big and many of the dishes so appealing, it's easy to over-order. Take it easy: Portions are huge. The bar scene hops at sunset, when local luminaries show up to swill wine. If you're looking for a quiet dinner, Luca may not be a good fit, but the food is some of the best in town.
Open daily noon to 2:30 pm and 5 to 10 pm.