This is a great, little old doughnut bar in downtown Monterey. It's been run by the same family since the 1950s or so and is a barely changed counter/bar place serving doughnuts and coffee, with definite regulars hanging out there.
This is a very nice restaurant. Two small adjoining rooms with all wine racked on the side wall. The wait staff were very friendly and made good suggestions. The tables are close together and our luck had it that the table next to us was a business meeting and two gentleman were fairly loud. I'd rather have a more quiet setting, but now I'm near an expert on corporate forensic accounting, lol.
They start you off with a nice platter of hummus. Not on the menu and no charge. For the main course we had the Duck Confit and a ravioli filled with beef tenderloin in a vodka sauce. We weren't a big fan of the ravioli but the Duck was perfectly cooked and taste amazing.
Reservations are highly recommended!
Favorite Dish: Duck Confit. We took small bites to try and make the meal last longer!
We had chicken and lamb kabab. Meat was perfectly grilled with amazing flavor to it and was juicy. They have sauces that go with the meat.
We came in late for dinner around 9pm on a weekday and it was a quite with a few guests. The service was very prompt and courteous, and viola its halal..what more can you ask for. Its not a very fancy place but does the job pretty good and I would def recommend it if you're in the mood for some good afghani cuisine.
Favorite Dish: Bulani with sauces!
At the Fisherman's wharf in Monterey, you get to sample clam chowder from all the restaurants. Crabby Jim's had the best, by far! The ambiance of this restaurant was quite nice. A gorgeous view of the water, and nice cozy fireplaces.
Favorite Dish: Fish Tacos- served with beautiful edible flowers
WILLY'S SMOKEHOUSE HAS BEEN OPEN A LITTLE OVER A YEAR NOW, WHICH MAKES IT A SOMEWHAT NEW ADDITION TO CANNERY ROW. THIS RESTAURANT IS TRULY ONE OF A KIND IN AN AREA WHERE YOU MOSTLY FIND FISH(BECAUSE ITS RIGHT BY THE OCEAN). THIS IS PROBABLY THE CLASSIEST BARBEQUE JOINT YOU WILL EVER WALK INTO. IT'S SUPER CLEAN & COMFY FOR ALL. WILLY'S HAS A GREAT BAR & AWESOME BARTENDERS THERE IS A HUGE SELECTION OF LOCAL WINES, THEY ALSO SERVE LOCAL BEERS & LOTS OF SPECIALTY MIXED DRINKS. THE CHOICES OF LIQUORS & CORDIALS LINING THE BAR IS PHENOMENAL!!!
ON THE FLIP SIDE, WILLY'S IS ALSO A GREAT PLACE FOR CHILDREN & FAMILIES! WILLY'S IS VERY KID-FRIENDLY!! THERE ARE CRAYONS ON THE TABLES & YOU CAN DRAW ON THE PLACEMATS!!!! THE HOSTESSES EVEN HAVE BALOONS AT THE DOOR FOR THE LITTLE ONES!!
WILLY'S IS HUGE & VERY VERSATILE, THEY HAVE A BANQUET ROOM, WHICH MAKES IT A GREAT CHOICE FOR GET-TOGETHERS, THEY CAN ACCOMODATE ANY NUMBER FROM 1 TO A COUPLE HUNDRED (AT LEAST). WILLY'S IS A GOOD CHOICE FOR BIRTHDAYS, FAMILY DINNERS, ANNIVERSARIES, CORPORATE FUNCTIONS OR SMALL INTIMATE DINNERS.
WILLY'S IS A SHORT WALK TO THE OCEAN, THE MONTEREY BAY AQUARIUM & TONS OF SHOPPING!!!
THE SERVERS ARE VERY ACCOMODATING, THEY TRULY GO ABOVE & BEYOND THEIR CALL OF DUTY! THE MANAGERS ARE ALWAYS OUT ON THE FLOOR MAKING SURE GUESTS ARE SATISFIED & THE CHEFS REALLY CARE ABOUT THE QUALITY OF THE FOOD THAT THEY PUT ON YOUR PLATE. NO DOUBT, YOU WILL DEFINITELY GET YOUR MONEY'S WORTH!!
Favorite Dish: WILLY'S CHEFS ARE PHENOMENAL! EVERTHING IS HOMEADE, THE MEAT IS SMOKED IN HOUSE. THE RIBS ARE AWESOME (BABY BACKS ARE MY FAVORITE)! THE BRISKET IS TENDER & SPICED TO PERFECTION, IT IS LIKE GRANDMA'S BUT WAYYY BETTER! THE CHOWDER IS THE BEST ON THE ROW! CORN BREAD WITH ANCHO HONEY BUTTER, HOUSE-MADE CRAB & SHRIMP CAKES, STEAKS, CREOLE PRAWNS, FRIED CHICKEN, SALMON, PULLED PORK! BE SURE TO TRY THE BURLEY BURGER, ITS A CHEESEBURGER TOPPED WITH BACON, PULLED PORK & AN ONION RING! wILLY'S HAS EXQUISITE *HOMEADE DESSERTS*(THEY AREN'T FROM A BOX)-DEEP FRIED TWINKIES, BROWNIE SUNDAES, BREAD PUDDING...MMMMMM...THESE ARE JUST A FEW OF THE TASTY MENU ITEMS!
IF YOU FIND YOURSELF AT WILLY'S, MAKE SURE YOU CHECK OUT THE MENU ADDITIONS! EVERY DAY THERE ARE NEW, DIFFERENT MENU ADDITIONS FOR LUNCH & DINNER.
WILLY'S ALSO HAS A GREAT KIDS MENU WITH ALL OF THE THING KIDS LOVE--CHICKEN TENDRES, RIBS, MAC N CHEESE(THE HOMEADE KIND-NOT FROM THE BOX!), HAMBURGERS, CHEESEBURGERS.....
YOU DON'T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT YOUR FOOD BEING TOO SPICY OR NOT SPICY ENOUGH-YOU CONTROL THE HEAT!!! BECAUSE WILLY'S OFFERS THREE HOMEADE BBQ SAUCES (PLUS KETCHUP) THAT THE SERVER BRINGS TO THE TABLE, I LIKE 'EM ALL, ESPECIALLY THE GEORGIA SWEET MUSTARD, ITS MADE WITH APPLE JUICE, SOOOOO...GOOD!!!
Blue Moon, formerly Paradiso, is apparently once again Paradiso, after closing and reopening in Winter 07/Spring 08. Here's the article from the local paper: http://www.montereyherald.com/restaurants/ci_8390064.
Blue Moon is owned by the locally famous John Pisto who also operates Whaling Station--the area's best steakhouse. Pisto recently sold his other two restaurants, both on Fisherman's Wharf: Domenico's and Abalonetti's.
Blue Moon features a variety of seafood entrees ranging from lobster tails to local calamari and abalone. We had a couple of nice dinners of their crab-stuffed salmon special ($25) and the seafood pennette ($24) along with a few bowls of clam chowder for appetizers ($6 each), on this quit Friday in December. It was so quiet that we arrived without reservations and were immediately seated next to the big windows overlooking storm-churned McAfee Beach. The service was excellent, and the food overall pretty good. The chowder was very tasty, bud had a little more potato filler than I'm used to, and the main dishes were very tasty, but we both were a little under-impressed with the somewhat oily salmon. With drinks our meal was a somewhat pricey $80, but the ambiance of the fancy restaurant overlooking the water helps justify the expense.
Not the best restaurant in Monterey, but along with Whaling Station, certainly one of the top places on touristy Cannery Row.
The Sardine Factory Restaurant opened in 1968 and is now one of the most successful, widely recognized, and highest grossing dining establishments in the country.
The Sardine Factory has been the recipient of virtually every major restaurant and wine award in the industry and has a wine cellar that is second to none.
Sardine Factory's four public dining rooms are renowned for their elegance and comfort. You have a choice of formal to casual
They serve "sustainable seafood" which I think is great.
HOURS OF OPERATION
Sunday 5 PM to 10 PM
Friday & Saturday 5 PM to 11 PM
Monday through Thursday 5 PM to 10:30 PM
Favorite Dish: No. 1 Sashimi Grade Ahi Tuna, Coriander Crusted - Seared Rare with Citrus Aioli, wakame salad & Sweet Soy Dipping Sauce $33.95
Check out my photo of my meal. A picture tells a 1,000 words.
Named after the famous cheese, Jack's is the upscale dining option at the Portola Plaza Hotel.
Favorite Dish: I have had the Cobb Salad twice and it is very large a yummy. The warm turkey sandwich served with cranberry relish on sourdough bread is also very good.
In early 2008 India's Clay Oven closed it doors; they didn't blame the closing on the new competition, rather the $100,000 cost to upgrade the restaurant to modern standards with a sprinkler system. Good news is they still serve food at the local farmers markets throughout the area. Rumor also says they may reopen in a nearby town, possibly Watsonville. Stand by.
India's Clay Oven has been repeatedly named Monterey's best Indian restaurant, but with the opening of Ambrosia's Indian Restaurant a few blocks away, the Clay Oven will certainly drop down on the list next year. Though highly acclaimed, India's Clay Oven can't come close to Ambrosia's for food quality and ambiance, though the service at both was equally poor on recent visits.
India's Clay Oven has a very large location above Del Monte Ave on the front of one of the city's big parking garages. We arrived around 5 or 6 and were the first people there for dinner, so they had the air conditioning off...and the place was about 85 degrees. The waitress/hostess was busy chatting on the phone so she barely paid any attention to us for the first 5 or 10 minutes. Luckily were both quickly decided on the $18 buffet, so we were able to take care of ourselves. The buffet included about 5 meat dishes and perhaps 15 vegetable dishes plus a few desserts. They also bring out a basket of fresh naan bread, and we had some huge Indian lager beers to complete our meal.
I have also had a few of India Clay Oven's fresh naan and curry sandwiches at the Monterey Farmers Market and they are fantastic, much better and cheaper then eating in their restaurant.
Epsilon is the nicest Greek restaurant I've ever visited in the US. Where many might be quick little lunch spots, this is the perfect location for a romantic dinner. The dim interior has just enough Greek decorations to set the mood without being distracting, and the wait staff was extremely attentive to our needs.
I had the taskebob--pieces of pork sauteed in a spicy tomato sauce and served with rice for about $15. My companion had the dolomdes--grape leaves stuffed with ground beef, rice, and onions for $15. Both meals came with a salad, bread, and vegetables. We also had a few Greek Mythos beers ($4 each) to go with our Greek entrees.
On our return visit in summer 2008, I had the combo dinner with dolomades, Greek pasta, and gyros meat ($18), and Laura had the pastitsio dinner ($15); we also had two Mythos beers that have now skyrocketed in price to $4.75 in a little over a year. The meals began with bread and came with rice and peas. The food was good as I remember it, but too rich to eat too often.
This is an excellent choice for something just a little bit different in Monterey.
Gianni's has a reputation to uphold. It's the oldest, best-loved, and most often bragged about pizza place in Monterey.
From the outside, it is certainly nothing special. In fact, you could almost call the exterior a little bit old fashioned and cheesy. The first few times I saw the place, I said to myself...not my kind of restaurant, even though I love pizza. After living here in Monterey for awhile, and hearing all the great reviews, I finally decided to give it a try. (Once I found out this is where the John Denver fan club meets during their annual pilgrimage to the site of his fatal crash in Pacific Grove, I was hooked).
I ordered your basic large pepperoni pizza. This is the pizza you get when you first try a new place, even though you love meat and supreme...just because it is so standard, you'll quickly be able to judge the quality and taste. I was quoted a 15-20 minute wait...when I arrived after about 25 minutes, the pizza was ready and still hot.
My bill was $18 for the single large one-topping pizza, but it was big...probably 16 inches across. The pizza was very good with a thin, chewy crust. The sauce is a little too tangy for my taste, but certainly not bad, and there was a ton of cheese and pepperoni covering the pizza, making it a pretty good value for the money.
And the inside of the restaurant was much nicer than it appeared from the outside. Brightly lit was 30-40 tables it looks like a popular family restaurant, though there is also a small bar along one edge of the back dining area.
I finally returned in July 2007 to have a sit down dinner at Gianni's. We had the medium four-meat pizza which was outstanding. My only complaint was the drink ordering system... soft drinks are ordered at the front counter while beer are ordered at the bar in the back. Don't even think about asking the bartender for a Coke.
They also have sausage and meatball sandwiches, along with a variety of simple Calzones.
I'm never overly optimistic when I go to a bar that's part of a hotel (see my reviews of Monterey's hotel sports bars, Knuckles and Characters, for examples). They are often stale, boring, lacking locals, and decorated with a tacky attempt to feel like its been here forever, even though it was probably just renovated last year. I had to try Peter B's, since it is the only microbrewery in town, and I love a good, fresh beer. I stopped by in late December to celebrate the end of my Christmas shopping for another year.
The entrance is kind of hidden as its located around the back of the Portola Plaza Hotel just 75 yards off of Custom House Plaza, maybe 200 yards from Fishermans Wharf. As you approach you are greeted with a neat little green sign announcing the brewery, a small waterfall with a stream, and a bridge leading to the outdoor seating area and the main entrance. Inside the dining area is spacious, modern, and bright. The bar is to the left of the entrance and has seating for perhaps 10 people.
During my visit they had maybe 6 beers on taps (but they were getting ready to close for a week), mainly your standard amber, hefeweizen, porter, stout, and a winter beer....but no pilsner, lager, IPA, brown ale or other favorites of mine. I decided to try the winter beer, hoping it would be something like Sam Adams Winter Lager (my favorite beer of all time!), but it really wasn't that great. But for just $4 you can't complain too much, as this is one of the cheapest beers I ever had in Monterey. I only had one beer then I had to head home.
The bar area was very full on a Monday afternoon around 3:30 pm about two hours before Monday Night Football. Most of the guys there were locals and knew each other and the bar staff by first name. They obviously like it here, though since some of them were drinking Miller Lite, they like must like the company more than the microbrewskis.
Tabouli Cafe, is a tiny Lebanese restaurant and baklava house along Lighthouse Street in New Monterey. Located just two blocks from San Carlos Beach and Cannery Row, it is a great little spot to grab a quick lunch of shwarmas, baba ghanouge, and much more.
I had a simple schwarma pita wrap that came with very good, tender meat and fresh vegetables for about $7. The light lunch also included a piece of sweet baklava for desert.
Tabouli's is run by a man named Christophe Hamadé, who operates the restaurant entirely by himself and speaks numerous languages, making this a popular spot for language students at nearby Defense Language Institute to come practice their new skills. He seems to do it all from waiter to cook to busboy. When I asked him what was good at Tabouli, he proudly said "everything!"
The Monterey Herald named Tabouli Cafe as the #2 sandwich place in the county for vegetarians in 2006.
The Lighthouse Bar and Grill is a mid-sized bar near Cannery Row. I went there one evening because I saw they had Monday Night Football advertised outside. As soon as I stepped in the door, I knew something was unusual...the bartender gave me a funny look, everybody stopped and stared, and I think I even heard a record skip. You know, the rainbow flag should've given it away, but I barely noticed it until I was inside and saw the Heineken rainbow sign.
Yes, it turns out this is a gay bar...not just any gay bar, but a predominately lesbian bar. I wasn't the only guy there, but I'd guess there might have been just one other straight guy (I chose not to ask him). Once inside, what do you do? I sat down at the bar and ordered a beer and a burger, and tried not to make eye contact. The bartender was friendly and took good care of me...I wonder what she was thinking? The burger was good, the fries terrible, and the beer cold and cheap at about $2.50 for a Corona. I did get to see some football and two lesbians making out, so it was a good first California gay bar experience for me. But I won't be going back. Oops, I went back. Cool friends of mine. Still sucks.
The Lighthouse Bar and Grill is on the corner of Lighthouse and Dickman.
We went to Fishermans Wharf looking for bread-bowl chowder to go to eat with our swordfish steaks we picked up at Royal Seafoods on Commercial Wharf. Just walking up the wharf, we tried the chowder at Gilbert's and saw they also offered it to go next to their restaurant at Gilbert's Bistro. The bread bowl chowder is $9 at the restaurant, but only $7 if you get it to go. It was great, and the servings were so big, we didn't have room for our swordfish!
The guy at the counter there was also friendly and talkative making for a nice experience.
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