2 days in Monterey (report)

Is Monterey known for being a touristy hellhole? This was my first trip here, and the place didn’t make a great impression.

Is the place also known for horrible food?

Went to Sandbar and Grill. Didn’t get the sand dabs; it seemed like virtually every other table had them.

I was deeply disturbed when the entrees came out a few mins after ordering.

My french curry had salmon and scallops. The curry tasted a lot like a non-oily version of the curry I’ve had at HK-style cafes. One piece of scallop was undercooked; the dish was otherwise fine. Partner’s shrimp scampi was edible; that’s about the best thing I can say about it. The shrimp was rubbery and boiled. NONE of the shrimp pieces tasted of sauce, which is an unusual accomplishment. Partner said that the linguini was dry; I drenched it with sauce (which tasted fine), so I can’t comment on the dryness. Service was super nice, though.

We discovered Alvarado St (super cute) afterward, looking for dessert. There’s a MidiCi there (drat!). Next to MidiCi is an ice cream place with a VERY long line, Revival. It’s quite good. Partner had the bees knees, and I had the pluot. Pluot is auite sweet and jammy, in case you were hoping for something a bit more acidic. I sampled thentahini raspberry, which was strangely bland.

Breakfast at Cafe Lumiere. The apple pie might’ve been reheated in the microwave, bc it came out sweaty and inconsistently heated through. A shame, bc the taste was otherwise pretty good. Fruit from the deli case was ICE cold, which was a bit unpleasant. It’s a stylish space, though.

Had dinner the following night at Frutti de Mar (not a typo). The place feels a but like Fritto Misto in Santa Monica, but without the deafening acoustics and with less sloppy food. The seafood actually had the flavor of the sauce and was grilled. A very enjoyable place that’s a step up from a mom-and-pop place. Very polite (if young) waitstaff. Had Revival again (one of the workers there remembered us!), and zi enjoyed the strawberry. Overheard one random customer saying that he liked Bloomfield more; I haven’t been, so I can’t comment on that.

Parker and Lusseau for breakfast today. This place is a MUST, and an absolute gem! The croissant was a flakey, buttery delight (@Chowseeker1999), and everything we tried there (tomato and goat cheese tart, spinach croissant, fruit tart, kouign amann, curry chicken criossant, rhubarb tart) was delicious. Look at the layers on the quiche crust!!! My only regret was that we accidentally threw away the cinnamon roll when were cleanly out the car. :disappointed_relieved:


RIP, Cinnamon Roll. :sleepy:

That is a very sexy croissant!!

Yes. Especially in summer. We far prefer Carmel but again in summer it’s a mess.

Same here. I think it’s worth the extra drive to go to Carmel.

The best place we ate at in Monterrey was Passionfish. Great wine list and fresh seafood.

passionfish in pacific grove is not horrible. really good seafood and wine list with only a 50% markup.


Unless you dislike sand dabs, maybe that’s what you should’ve ordered. :o) GF loved them. I had halibut or seabass (IIRC) with a scampi sauce, and it was excellent. Really good potato gratin as well. We went for a second visit – GF had the scallops, I simply repeated my previous order. Might be our favorite place in the area.

Parker-Lusseau is an great bakery. We were staying around the corner one time, and I loved walking over there for croissants and quiche.

As for the restaurant known for horrible food, that was probably Fishwife.

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Thanks for the great report @paranoidgarliclover. I will have to bookmark your new croissant discovery. :slight_smile:

It turns out I’ll be returning the Monterey Peninsula in a few weeks and will try to report back. So thanks for this, lots of great updated intel!

There are some touristy places for sure in the area (particularly if anywhere near the aquarium or Cannery Row) but I guess you have to use a combination of yelp, look at pictures, and use best judgement to try to weed out the places that seem super popular.

I am very tempted to give Passionfish a try, so I might go for it and skip repeating places I’ve been to in the past. Plus their wine list looks the best so far that I’ve seen…particularly the Rieslings section which would be really great with the white fish and shellfish. Plus they have half bottles.

Normally I just head to Carmel for meals and hit up places like Akaoni (sushi dictator kind of attitude from what people say), and some of the other local Italian joints like Il Tegamino.

Last time I stepped into Parker Lusseau to take a look, the style appeared far more French American than classic French. Might have to actually give it a try and see! Sadly no place in Carmel or Monterey had coffee that I liked at all (not even the pancake breakfast places), and nothing that tasted better than Philz… Usually I end up at Crema in Pacific Grove for their pastries and coffee for something passable.

I recall a meal at Max’s Grill in Pacific Grove that was quite decent, a Japanese expat couple doing local cuisine with slight Japanese influences. I quite enjoyed my tempura sand dabs.

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