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 seatingeveryone 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.