Best of Monterey Bay® Visitors Guide

60 The Best of Monterey Bay ® 2023-2024 food Basil Seasonal Dining Italian The first certified green restaurant in the area wins with sustainable sourcing and practices, an impressive wine list, charming ambiance and a menu of pasta dishes and flatbreads. San Carlos between Ocean and 7th, Carmel. (831) 626-8226, Bistro Giovanni European The bar is central, with a wrap-around counter of mustard-hued cement where customers can drink, dine and chat. The food is California bistro style, with wine-country accents and Mediterranean influences. San Carlos between 5th and 6th, Carmel. (831) 6266003, Brophy’s Tavern Pub, American Beer—note the wall of empties—fish and chips, burgers, fries. This is a neighborhood-style pub in the heart of Carmel. And the bartenders aren’t bad at classic cocktails, either. 4th and San Carlos, Carmel. (831) 586-5566, Cantinetta Luca Italian, Pizza Cantinetta Luca offers rustic Italian dishes prepared with fine dining style. And why not? It draws an appreciative crowd. The kitchen also serves impressive and authentic pizzas. Dolores between Ocean and 7th, Carmel. (831) 625-6500, Carmel Belle American Belle’s motto is “Slow down, say no to fast food!” Chalkboards are crammed with listings built around sourced meats, artisanal cheeses and regional produce, arranged in creative dishes as if to prove counter service can be artisanal, too. San Carlos between Ocean and 7th (in Doud Craft Studios), Carmel. (831) 6241600, Carmel Burger Bar Burgers The kitchen starts with Wagyu beef. Or bison. Or lamb, or even plant-based patties. This is a burger place, so they have it all, including breakfast on weekends. Milkshakes, too. Ocean and Mission (Carmel Plaza), Carmel. (831) 574-8693, Carmel Grill House Mediterranean Combine locally sourced ingredients with a Mediterranean menu and you get something fresh and delicious. Seafood is a star, but there are lots of flavorful options and creative takes on the classics. Ocean and Mission, Carmel. (831) 574-8991, Carmel’s Hidden Gem Restaurant American Everyone is looking for a hidden gem, right? The restaurant features fresh, local flavors and a menu that treads easily between fine dining and familiar comfort. A good spot for family breakfast and date night dinner. Mission between 4th and 5th, Carmel. (831) 250-7811, Casanova European A much-loved cottage that is French and Italian, right down to its Dover sole meuniere and mushroom ravioli. But at lunch one can find a cheeseburger—on brioche, with pomme frites. 5th between Mission and San Carlos, Carmel. (831) 216-3811, Catch Seafood A seafood haven. Salmon, halibut, shellfish and more. You can order it grilled, fried, tossed with pasta baked on a pizza and…wait, what? That’s right, where else can you order a roasted garlic and shrimp pizza. And Catch relies as much as possible on sustainably caught fish. Ocean between Lincoln and Monte Verde, Carmel. (831) 624-5659, Chez Noir International Opened in 2022 by kitchen standout Jonny Black, the menu strives to be hyperlocal. The chef likes to take advantage of local seafood and farm produce. But he also likes to forage, free dive and spearfish. Who knows what might end up on the plate. You just know it will be exquisite. 5th between Dolores and San Carlos, Carmel. China Delight Chinese One of Carmel’s favorite Chinese restaurants tips between Cantonese, Szechuan and Hunan-style cuisine. 145 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel. (831) 625-3367 Chopstix See listing under Monterey. 26135 Carmel Rancho Blvd., Carmel. (831) 625-2622, Crossroads Barbecue Barbecue It’s a classic BBQ joint set in Carmel’s Crossroads shopping center—casual, with counter service. The smokers are visible just outside. And it’s a sibling of Salinas City BBQ, so…you know. That’s a serious credential for this area. 241 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel. (831) 250-7616, Cultura Comida y Bebida Mexican This social hub features a menu focused on traditional yet adventurous dishes—fried grasshoppers, anyone?—with precisely sourced ingredients and a deft touch in the kitchen. The menu features an updated take on Oaxacan tradition and a deep selection of artisanal mezcals. Dolores between 5th and 6th, Carmel. (831) 250-7005, Dametra Cafe Mediterranean They speak tzatziki here, and moussaka. But also ravioli and kebabs. There’s even an all-American cheeseburger on the menu. Something for all, including a vibrant and friendly atmosphere. Ocean and Lincoln, Carmel. (831) 622-7766, Edwin’s Kaona Pacific Islands, Global Fusion Call it Pacific fusion and beyond (“calibonara,” a take on the Italian carbonara, for example). The kitchen draws on Island and Pacific rim flavors, but there are unexpected moments. A grilled cheese sandwich is on offer, as is oxtail. Live music on many nights. 6th and San Carlos, Carmel. (831) 250-7744, Enzo Ristorante Italiano Italian Simple fare, stylish approach—that’s the Enzo way. The chef remains true to tradition, so the dishes are not dressed with fusion flavors. Yet somehow there’s an elegance to it all. San Carlos between Ocean and 7th, Carmel. (831) 624-6545, Flaherty’s Seafood Grill and Oyster Bar Seafood Still fresh after three-and-a-half decades, this place draws locals and tourists alike. The inviting oyster bar and central Carmel location also help. Dolores Street and 6th, Carmel. (831) 625-1500, Foray American The emphasis here is on meticulous sourcing, local ingredients and finesse. For example, fresh black cod caught in Monterey Bay is then aged 14 days in house. Call it approachable fine dining—they do, and it seems to fit. San Carlos and 5th, Carmel. (831) 250-6100, From Scratch Breakfast, Sandwiches The kitchen serves breakfast all day (or as long as the doors are open, which isn’t really all day) and a nice list of sandwiches for lunch. 3626 The Barnyard, Carmel. (831) 625-2448, Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine International Readers have voted Grasing’s the best restaurant in Carmel plenty of times, quite an accomplishment in the eatery-saturated hamlet. And they’re not alone. As Bon Appétit proclaimed, “Grasing’s turns local ingredients into inspired cuisine.” Mission Street and 6th, Carmel. (831) 624-6562,