OLD BATH HOUSE: NOW CLOSED
THIS LANDMARK LOCATION RESTAURANT IS NOW CLOSED DUE TO CITY POLICY ACCORDING TO A LOCAL STILL OPEN RESTAURANT. THE RESTAURANT IS MISSED BY LOCALS AND THOSE OF US WHO VISITED THIS WONDERFUL RESTAURANT. I WILL LEAVE THE TIP FOR MEMORIES.
Located in Pacific Grove, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Lovers Point, the Old Bath House restaurant, not only was a former bath house for the area, but has retained the feel of the era in the decor, while instilling an ambiance of romance and a gourmet dining adventure. A menu with such items as Prawns & Wild Boar Sausage as an appetizer, to entrees of Duck Merlot, Rack of Lamb, and Tournedos of Beef & Lobster Tail, the Old Bath House, in their own words," will delight all of your senses".
Favorite Dish: The Rack of Lamb served at the Old Bath House is presented in a unique way. The manager of the restaurant told me that a while back, a few patrons were commenting on their dishes, and one said the rack of lamb was small and looked more like chops, and not as nice as a location down the street. Well, upon hearing this, the manager explained this to the chef, who wanted to make amends by not allowing any restaurant outdo his creations, placed before diners whom order Rack of Lamb , a whole uncut rack of 8 points. Tremendous portion and unbelieveably delicious as well. Compliments to the Chef.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Food and Dining
Fishwife (Asilomar Beach)
After visiting the original Fishwife in Seaside, I have been anticipating a visit to the bigger and nicer Fishwife location at Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove. We arrived for lunch at about 1115 and were the only people in the restaurant until about 1145 or 1200. The staff was friendly and quick, but seemed to really want to push us into ordering more food ("How about chowder?"... "How about a salad?" ... "How about some coffee?" "How about desert?" How about if I want something else I'll order it?). This is a nice sit-down restaurant just around the corner from beautiful Asilomar Beach, but does not have a beach view.
Dad and Mom had the fried tilapia sandwiches, and I had the grilled tilapia sandwich with fries. The lunch dishes are very inexpensive such as swordfish for about $12. The bread they use for the sandwiches is awesome, and I really like the pico de gallo.
Other options include salads, huge bowls of Boston clam chowder, shell fish & calamari appetizers, a selection of seafood sandwiches, pastas, and a huge array of seafood dinners. Their non-seafood dishes are very limited such as grilled chicken sandwiches.
Perhaps the most unique feature at this restaurant is "The Fishwife"... their website calls her "legendary lunch hostess Anita Starr." She's so friendly but somewhat senile, waving through the window at us while we ate, then hugging us and patting our bellies as we left.
Fishwife actually has a small chain of four restaurants in the Monterey area: This Fishwife restaurant is at Asilomar State Park on the edge of Pacific Grove (Sunset Drive), the original Fishwife location at Seaside, a restaurant called Turtle Bay Taqueria in Monterey at Tyler Street & Bonifacio, and finally a second Turtle Bay location co-located with the Fishwife in Seaside.
According to the plaques on the wall, Fishwife was named as "Restaurant of the Year" by the State of California Senate and even more impressively it earned "Restaurant of the Year" in Seaside/Sand City.
Vivolo's Chowder House
A nice little seafood restaurant in Pacific Grove... we stopped in one night for dinner after deciding the seafood places along Cannery Row were just too touristy. The small restaurant was relatively busy on a Friday, and we chose a table near the window overlooking the street. For my meal, I enjoyed a unique dish called ciopino, which was a mix of about 5 types of seafood in a tomato broth forming a hearty soup. Laura had the sand dabs (something we have never heard of on the East Coast), which she really liked. We also had a few Anchor Steam drafts.
THE FISHWIFE: BEST SEAFOOD ON THE MONTEREY PENINSULA
This restaurant is open for business. Please check out the website to make sure it is open during these difficult times for restaurants. Tucked in the beauty of the Monterey Bay area with pines and ocean sand, sits The Fishwife at Asilomar Beach seafood restaurant. The outside is plain, not much to look at but it seems to fit, just sitting there saying only one thing, "come inside and enjoy the best seafood for the best value". It truly is a local gem, casual they claim and casual they are.
The menu is seafood full with crab cakes, mussels in garlic cilantro broth, fried calamari, snapper, catfish, filet of sole, and clam chowder. Open for Lunch and Dinner. Why not try it before or after driving the famous 17 mile drive which has a Pacific Grove gate only a couple of blocks away.
Favorite Dish: The calamari is fried golden and fresh. Good sized portions as well. The mussels are as good as in Italy. The Fettuccini Alfredo with Crab Sauteed Prawns Belize was excellent. Had to try the Key Lime Pie, which they call "Fishwife's famous Key Lime Pie. I didn't know if I got the famous one, but mine was quite good and refreshing.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Fifi's French Bistro
I had seen Fifi's in Pacific Grove several times, and always chuckled at the name... snooty French restaurant named after a poodle? Recently I went to dinner with a friend of a friend who used to live in Monterey, and he chose Fifi's. I hesitatingly accepted the invitation and joined them for dinner. I was very, very impressed with a great meal in a classy atmosphere.
The candlelit dining room, unique European decor, and the great variety of food on the menu gave a great first impression. We sat beside the door, but the creative red velvet curtain made us feel like we almost had our own private room. We started with the smoked salmon plate that had a good quantity of salmon and a variety of cheeses ($9). I had the small spinach crispy fried duck salad with goat cheese that was one of the best salads I can remember ($6.50...next time I might get the large salad for $10.95 and call it a meal!). For my main course I had a very good, but somewhat small swordfish steak that was cooked perfectly and served with a cheesy sauce and a tasty mix of steamed vegetables (about $23). I passed on their impressive variety of about 8 desserts, but enjoyed a tasty cappuccino. Our total bill was about $40 per person and worth every dime.
Laura and I returned almost a year later for a nice Friday evening dinner. We arrived at 8pm and the restaurant was maybe half full. We were immediately seated in the far back corner, as all of the window seats (with views of a parking lot) were taken. Laura started with a glass of the house red wine ($5.50), and I had an Italian Moretti beer ($5 ... isn't this a French restaurant?). After hearing me rave about the duck & spinach salad for the past year, Laura had no doubt that's where she would start her meal (prices have risen significantly to $7.95). I started with a small bowl of the of their tasty seafood chowder, which was only $3.25 with an entree. Since the duck salad was so good, I decided immediately on the fried duck entree (one of the most expensive items on the menu at $24); it came with the great grilled vegetables and an odd huckleberry reduction sauce that I barely touched. Laura had the excellent seafood linguine with pesto sauce ($20). We finished with cappuccinos ($3.75 each). This was another very good meal, in a nice atmosphere, for a reasonable price!
Fifi's is located at the entrance to the Forest Hill shopping center which is home to Dos Amigos, Thaiwaiian, and a few other good local restaurants.
If Fandango's isn't the finest restaurant in Pacific Grove, I'd be very surprised. I don't normally hunt out the fanciest most expensive places to eat, but this was certainly one of the best places I've found since moving to Monterey. Fandango's is just one block off Lighthouse in Pacific Grove in a large old house. The restaurant opened in 1983 and was purchased by the current owners--the Bain family--in 1986. Fandango's features two main dining rooms plus five private dining rooms with charming fireplaces, murals on the walls, and comfortable stonework.
After paging through the 50-page wine list we selected a local Riesling (for a very inexpensive $18), and we ordered the tasty tapas appetizer ($9 for 5 or 6 small dishes). I moved on to a tasty tomato and onion with bleu cheese salad ($8.50) while Laura enjoyed the tender heart of palms salad ($7.50). For dinner I had the special scallops over pasta ($30) and Laura had the double lamb chops ($25). The scallops were huge and very tasty, and Laura enjoyed the lamb. For desert we each had a cafe latte which came as a shot of espresso with a small pitcher of whipped milk and a tiny cookie ($4 each). Laura and I shared a nice frozen Gran Marnier souffle ($6). The total bill was $120 before tip, but it was a great meal with an excellent waiter taking care of our needs.
Some of their meals are much more expensive, but I'm sure very tasty, such as the 26-ounce porterhouse (around $50) and the cold water lobster tail (around $75).
We had an amazing waiter with a slight French accent, the food was outstanding, and the decor classy yet comfortable. I highly recommend Fandango's to anyone.
Passionfish - Lighthouse Ave
Passionfish is one of Pacific Grove's finest restaurants for seafood and wine, and it offers a classy atmosphere and reasonable prices. We arrived with a big group of about 15 for a birthday dinner, and the lone waitress did a fine job of taking care of us, even willing to discuss the wine options and other aspects of the meal. We started with the unique fried olives ($5) and the frita mista (mixed fried veggies including artichoke, muchrooms, and more for around $10). For dinner I had the very good sturgeon special for around $20.
The food was good, the atmosphere somewhat formal yet pleasant, and the prices very good for this type of dining experience in the Monterey area.
Be warned that this can be a very busy restaurant....even with reservations we were forced to wait maybe 20 minutes, and there were perhaps 20 others also waiting for tables.
Mandarin Gourmet ... or not so gourmet?
Honestly one of the worst Chinese meals I've had in a while or maybe ever. Maybe I should have known better than to try Szechuan at a Mandarin place... the Szechuan beef was so overcooked it tasted like beef jerky with hot sauce on top. At least the rice was good. We also had the big house special wonton soup with pork, shrimp, and chicken which was excellent and really made the meal enjoyable for us.
The restaurant is clean but kind of a dump... it reminds me of someone's garage that was fixed up and converted into a restaurant. Exposed beams, threadbare gray carpet, painted over brick walls. The paint is fresh, but the restaurant could really use an overhaul.
Mandarin Gourmet also delivers, and during our meal several calls for delivery were made, so many people obviously enjoy this restaurant and have a higher opinion of the place than I do.
Open 11:00am to 9:30pm. Closed Tuesdays.
Thai Bistro II
Thai Bistro II is a small, family run Thai restaurant in an older house on Central Avenue's short restaurant row in Pacific Grove. Entering from the front you turn up a small sidewalk to the white house set back in a rather large lat next to a seldom-open plant nursery. A few tables are in the front lawn, and one romantic little table with a view of the water sits at the top of the steps on the front porch. Enter through the front door and you will notice the crisp white walls with a deep blue accent everywhere form the trim to the seat cushions. The restaurant has three rooms for diners, all with very close-set tables, making private conversation somewhat awkward and limited.
We were seated in the very back corner, but we could still easily sea the bay through the big front window from our seats. They gave us three menus: the huge regular menu with about six pages of food and drink, the one-page pea green vegetarian menu, and the small white menu with the wine list. We immediately ordered two Thai Singha beers ($4 each) and the satay skewers ($5) as an appetizer. For our main dishes we had the Thai fried rice with chicken and the pork and veggie stir fry (each about $9). The satay skewers were mildly tasty and served with sliced cucumbers in a sweet sauce and a flavorful peanut sauce. The two main courses were excellent, but we especially liked the pork stir fry and its thin, wide noodles.
Most dishes on the menu are served with a 1-5 scale of spiciness, so be brave... Thai food is supposed to have a kick!
Thai Bistro II was named Best Thai in Monterey County by the Monterey County Weekly in 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, and 2008. Yangtse's Taste of Thai in Salinas stole the honor in 2007.
An Choi - Classy Vietnamese in PG
An Choi offers a mix of Vietnamese and a variety of other Asian dishes from Thailand, Japan, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, and everything else besides Korean. The restaurant is located at the far end of Lighthouse Avenue not far from Point Pinos Lighthouse and Asilomar beach. An Choi sits off Lighthouse Avenue, kind of off on its own about 1/2 from PG's downtown. Inside the restaurant is deceivingly large, and it has a great cathedral ceiling over the dining room.
We had a great meal of imperial spring rolls ($7.50), shaken beef ($18), Hong Kong Crispy Noodles ($15), the prawn and garlic noodles ($16). The spring rolls were large and fresh, but served with a peanuty sauce rather than the traditional Vietnamese fish sauce. The highlight of our meal was the shaken beef which is a great meal of cubed filet mignon with garlic, pepper and onion. I liked the crispy noodles, which I first tried in Macau, that had shrimp and a few other seafoods with veggies. The fried prawns with garlic noodles were also excellent, and they came seasoned with a tamarind sauce.
Definitely overpriced, especially for Asian food, but it is a unique combination of a variety of Asian foods in a fancier than usual atmosphere.
Pacific Grove's newest restaurant (summer 2008) is Pacific Thai. It occupies the spot that was briefly The Cellar Door Chop Shop, and many of the old Cellar Door decorations such as grapes and grape leaves are still on the walls. The old wine rack is still in place and fully stocked, making Pacific Thai a unique place for Thai.
We were in town for the farmers market and when we saw Thai food we quickly decided to stop in for dinner. The staff was very friendly and they promptly seated us in one of the two window tables. Our meals started with the fresh and tasty spring rolls (which could have used some shrimp or something to go with the veggies and tofu). My meal was a spicy dish with carrots, celery, and a few other vegetables with a side of rice. Laura had the fried noodles with veggies drowned in peanut sauce.
Our meal was good (but I'd get the peanut sauce on the side!), service was great, and the atmosphere good, despite the old decorations. This is a nice addition to downtown Pacific Grove, as it is the Lighthouse Avenue area's only Asian food, other than Takara Sushi.
International Cuisine, not to be confused with International Deli a mile away in New Monterey, is one of the rare casual dining establishments in central PG. The decor is comfortable, while being clean and comfortable, except for the old cafeteria tray slides along the kitchen that looks odd and out of place.
We had lunch here and were please with the quality and amount of food. I had the gyros sandwich which was pretty pricey at $9. It was very tender and tasty, but unfortunately didn't come with fries or any other side dish. Laura had the falafel wrap (also $9 despite not having meat!) which was consumed quickly enough for me to know it was pretty good. We were in and out in no time, maybe 45 minutes, despite us taking out time sipping a beer (Gordon Biersch draft was also expensive at $5.75) and enjoying a little sunshine.
This restaurant was the location of "Chili Great Chili" for about 20 years. In 1998 they expanded their menu to include more international selections, and most recently they changed the name to focus only on the international food at the expense of chili (great chili).
Point Pinos Grill - PG Municipal Golf Course
The Point Pinos Grill is located in the PG Municipal Golf Links Clubhouse, that was just constructed and opened in February, 2006 after 19 months of construction. The new facility is very nice and clean featuring beautiful stonework inside and out. The front of the building has huge plate glass windows offering diners a great view over the Monterey Bay.
Their menu is pretty simple and inexpensive with their $10 fish and chips being the most expensive item on the menu. Other items include basic burgers, patty melts, grilled chicken, BLTs, deli sandwiches, pizza, pasta, salads, a variety of appetizers, and breakfast items.
Open daily from 6:30am until sunset.
Peppers Mexicali Cafe
Peppers is a relatively popular restaurant located in one of the old buildings on a side street in PG. It opened in 1986 and has been honored numerous times with best of Monterey County awards and has been listed in national publications. Peppers has a relatively standard Mexican menu, but it has numerous nightly specials, many featuring seafood, which makes this spot a locals' favorite.
We swung by one busy Thursday night in April 2008 and were lucky to be immediately seated in a table for two right in front of the plate-glass window on the street. We started with a Tecate beer ($4) and a house margarita ($6), unfortunately the Tecate came in a can rather than the much preferred draft or bottle. We chose to start our meal with the garlic chipotle mushrooms on a tortilla ($7), and were very happy with this unique dish. For our main courses we both chose the long list of specials over the regular menu of Tex-Mex usuals, but it was hard to choose from some very interesting items like the swordfish fajitas. Laura finally decided on the chicken mole enchiladas ($14), and I had the steak taco carbonara special ($15). Both meals were quick and tasty, arriving with rice and beans along with plenty of fresh vegetables. Our final bill was around $50 including four drinks, the appetizer, and two main courses, about par for the Monterey peninsula.
Zocalo Mexican Restaurant
We stopped into Zocalo in April 2008 while visiting the annual Good Old Days festival. We had actually first noticed the restaurant during the 2007 Good Old Days, but never got around to trying this casual and popular restaurant near the middle of PG. This restaurant sits right behind the huge Holman Building, so is easy to find.
I had the chipotle chicken tostadas ($12) which was one large crispy tortilla with beans, chicken, and lots of lettuce, with a great smoky chipotle flavor. Laura had the asada enchiladas, which were also good, but I was glad to try their chipotle. Both meals came with beans, rice, and veggies. The refried beans are creamy and tasty and topped with crumbles of cheese. Their meals also include regular Spanish rice and a little pile of lettuce, cucumbers, and radish with a splash of lime. They also have bottles of Tecate beer for about $3 and a selection of other beers and wines.
The staff was great and friendly, the prices pretty good, and the food excellent. I'd give them the nod over Peppers--PG's other Mexican restaurant.
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