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Big Sur + Monterey restaurants

With the exception of some stellar standouts, namely Marinus and L'Auberge Carmel, the dining scene on the Monterey Peninsula is pretty lackluster. At most restaurants, the trick to a good meal is to order simply: If something sounds too ambitious, it usually is. In Carmel, classic French is the dominant paradigm. People here dress for dinner (most men wear jackets), but they eat early. There's usually only one seating—everyone wants a table at seven o'clock. Locals head home to curl up fireside, snifter in hand, by nine. In Monterey, the scene is generally more casual (think khakis and denim), driven primarily by tourist-oriented seafood restaurants. Always call ahead for reservations, especially for a late-evening table; many area restaurants close early on slow nights.

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Stokes Restaurant & Bar, Monterey

Located in a historic 1833 adobe house with thick plaster walls, quarry-tile floors, and wood-beamed ceilings, Stokes is the handsomest dining room in Monterey....more

Editors' Pick
Sierra Mar, Big Sur

Jutting off a 1,200-foot cliff above the Pacific, Sierra Mar's dining room looks like something out of a James Bond film—all glass, slate, and wood, and...more

Editors' Pick
Passionfish, Pacific Grove

Chef Ted Walter and his wife, Cindy, have stacked up an impressive number of awards for their humble little restaurant in Pacific Grove, the seaside town just...more

Editors' Pick
Nepenthe & Café Kevah, Big Sur

Perched 800 feet above the Pacific on a spectacular promontory (once owned—at separate times—by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth), this place has been a...more

Editors' Pick
Montrio Bistro, Monterey

Formerly the Monterey firehouse, Montrio is the sexiest dining room on the peninsula, with cool metal sculptures, high ceilings, and a good-looking crowd of bon...more

Editors' Pick
Marinus, Carmel Valley

The long-running star of the Monterey Peninsula's food scene, Marinus uses ingredients from the backyard (the adjacent inn grows much of its own produce) or...more

Editors' Pick
La Bicyclette, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Styled after a French country café, La Bicyclette serves hearty European comfort food in a tiny 30-seat dining room, perfect for a romantic evening without...more

Editors' Pick
L'Auberge Carmel, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Chef Christophe Grosjean took over the reigns from Walter Manzke in 2008, but the culinary wizardry that made L'Auberge one of the Central Coast's top tables...more

Editors' Pick
Flying Fish Grill, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Seafood's the thing at this tiny Cal-Asian spot, down a flight of stairs from street level. The space feels Japanese, with low ceilings and lots of dark wood,...more

Editors' Pick
Cantinetta Luca, Carmel-by-the-Sea

Breaking ranks with the intimate French restaurants that for decades have defined the Carmel dining scene, Luca serves stellar trattoria-style Italian cooking...more

Editors' Pick
Results 1-10 of 12  |   1 2 next
Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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