Best of Monterey Bay® Visitors Guide

88 The Best of Monterey Bay ® 2023-2024 food Pacific Grove Aquino’s Birrieria Mexican You can settle for a regular burrito, or go all in with a super burrito. They jack up quesadillas, as well. Aquino’s can be traditional, but they also like to push boundaries. Birria ramen, anyone? 1116 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 224-6760, Beach House at Lovers Point American A historic property with modern and homestyle fare and a few surprises. A breathtaking location perched right above Lovers Point Cove along with early-bird and happy-hour deals. 620 Ocean View Blvd., Pacific Grove. (831) 375-2345, Café Guaraní Paraguayan The tastes of Paraguay—empanadas, croquettes, savory breads, sopas and cakes, plus Yerba Mate, the South American tea—are on offer, along with friendly service, at the inviting cafe. 111 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 747-1551, China House Chinese This Szechuan-styled establishment offers attentive service, partial ocean views and a familiar menu. 125 Ocean View Blvd., Suite 126, Pacific Grove. (831) 646-9400, Fandango European Flavorful food and an exceptional atmosphere provide the hallmarks of this European, country-style restaurant. Fresh seafood, grilled specialties, French regional dishes and classics like duck a l’orange. 223 17th St., Pacific Grove. (831) 372-3456, fandangorestaurant. com Fishwife Seafood For such an unassuming place, Fishwife can put a world of seafood on the table—hints of Hawaii, Mexico, Italy, the Caribbean and more. Plus pasta and other non-fish dishes. 1996 1/2 Sunset Drive, Pacific Grove (next to Asilomar Beach). (831) 375-7107, Happy Girl Kitchen Co. Vegetarian Award-winning jams, marmalades and pickled vegetables on the shelves. Yes, it’s a shop, where they pickle everything. But it is also a popular vegetarian cafe open for breakfast and lunch. 173 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 373-4475, Il Vecchio Italian The interior of this trattoria is as accessibleyet-sophisticated as the food that comes out of its kitchen. Pastas are either handmade or imported from Italy. There’s a reason it’s a local favorite. 110 Central Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 324-4282, International Cuisine Eclectic International Cuisine is all over the place, with pizza, hummus, chicken gyros, a Hawaiian burger, stroganoff, tacos and more. A family kind of place. 620 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 375-9999, Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant Vegetarian There are innovative takes on vegetarian fare here. The brunch is robust, as are the soups. The mood is as comforting as the food, much from the chef’s own farm. 1180 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 656-9533, La Mia Cucina Italian White tablecloths and a touch of formality, yet the dining room remains comfortable. The kitchen remains true to Italian tradition, with a few local touches. Pasta is prepared in house and is the focus here. 208 17th St., Pacific Grove. (831) 373-2416, lamiacucinaristorante. com Little Chicken House Barbecue Sure, you can go for pulled pork or ribs from the smoker out front. But this is called Little Chicken House for a reason. The birds are dark amber on the outside and tender on the inside. Eat in or use the drive-thru. 1193 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 655-1704 Los Amigos Mexican, American-Mexican Los Amigos keeps it simple, preparing dishes traditional to Oaxaca while offering favorites from that unofficial Mexican region—the American Southwest—as well. 1184 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 646-8888, Lucy’s on Lighthouse American Classic surf shack fare is on offer at Lucy’s, with a menu featuring 17 ways of serving hot dogs (plus veggie dogs and Polish dogs), along with tots, mac ‘n’ cheese and a variety of Marianne’s ice cream—plus shakes, malts and floats made with that same Marianne’s. 1120 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 9202006, Mai Thai Cuisine Thai A family place that started as a food stand until customers demanded more. The owner had a restaurant in Thailand, so there’s an aura of authenticity—with a little traveled flair (Sriracha chicken? Why not?). 1219 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 901-3963, Max’s Grill International Mastery of classic French and Japanese cuisine makes this a local treasure for fans of good food and warm hospitality. A local favorite for a reason. 209 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 375-7997, Mezzaluna Pasteria & Mozzarella Bar Italian The pasta is prepared in house. The mozzarella is also made in house. Actually, that’s a theme. This spot which opened in 2019 immediately began drawing raves and that has continued nonstop. 1188 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 372-5325, Nura Sushi & Island Grill Pacific Unlike many places, Nura keeps its sushi menu brief. And they understand that spicy is the first word in spicy tuna roll. While islandinfluenced on the rest of the menu, the listing includes bulgogi. 589 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 400-9999, Pacific Thai Cuisine Thai The restaurant has been around for a while now, its popularity based in part on a core of recipes inspired by dishes prepared years ago in Thailand by the owners’ mother. The menu features curries, noodle and rice dishes, as well as vegetarian options. 663 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 646-8424, Passionfish Seafood This repeat readers’ vote for Best Restaurant in Monterey County has earned its cult-like status among foodies who swoon over its pioneering sustainability ethics and Wine Spectator award-winning cellar. Dishes reflect intuition and creativity—even those not involving seafood. 701 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 655-3311, Peppers Mexicali Cafe American-Mexican Mexican with Californian, Southwestern and Central American influences. They call it “Mexicali,” which hits it. But their margaritas are the real draw for locals. 170 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 373-6892, pepperspg. com Petra Mediterranean Gyros, kebabs and simple Greek and Mediterranean plates, with sandwiches for something easy and a royal feast when the entire family wants to go big in a casual space. 477 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 649-2530