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Monterey food scene guide

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Every year, a large number of people relocate to Monterey. They come with the help of interstate movers Monterey has for the mild weather, proximity to the Pacific Ocean, open space, and a slower pace of life. Monterey is a vibrant city on California’s stunning central coast. The city is well-known throughout the country for several major festivals and attractions. The many things to do, are diverse enough that there’s something for every type of person. But what if you are a foodie and want to explore a bit? Rely on our extensive Monterey food scene guide that we have prepared for all food lovers.

Monterey food scene guide must include restaurants in Cannery row area
The Cannery Row area of Monterey has plenty of restaurants to choose from

There are a lot of options

Whether you live in the dreamy coastal community, a pocket of California shoreline once governed in part by Clint Eastwood, or are on a camping trip between San Francisco and Los Angeles, the Monterey area is well worth a deep dive. There are numerous top-tier breweries. The seafood options are plentiful, including sea scallops, black cod, and a variety of other finned dishes. More and more, it appears that the reasons not to visit are not nearly as numerous as the ever-growing reasons to square the shoulders and slog through all the food and drink on offer. Our trusted local movers Monterey will provide you with several recommendations to help you navigate through culinary gems.

Seafood is sustainable

If you are spending some time on the Monterey Peninsula after moving from Gilroy, you’ll find yourself talking about seafood sooner or later. When it comes to fish, most locals will want to discuss sustainability. Because of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s educational efforts, many local restaurants work to serve sustainable fish. Two places that Monterey people take particular pride in are Passionfish and Wild Fish, both of which are geographically located in Pacific Grove.

Monterey food scene guide would be nothing without fish restaurants
If you live here or are just visiting, it is impossible to avoid tasting fish specialties

Passionfish and Wild Fish

Passionfish is always on the list of the best places to eat in Monterey because they set the standard for excellent service, incredibly fresh seafood, and a lovely wine list featuring local wines. Wild Fish, which began in Little River, California, is located a few blocks up the hill. There’s a lot to eat here, from house-fermented shrubs (old-school vinegary drinks) to homemade ricotta and vegetable sides that stand out on their own. You can’t leave without trying one of their fish dishes, of course.

Old Fishermanʻs Grotto

Some consider digging into a bread bowl full of world-famous clam chowder to be the classic Monterey experience. Sample your way down the wharf to find your favorite, then grab a bowl to-go to enjoy with a view of the ocean. Continue along Old Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can shop for souvenirs, watch whales, or simply enjoy the stunning views of Monterey Bay.

Specific locations to visit

Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle, on Wharf 2 of Fisherman’s Wharf, is a nice old-school diner with generous portions and reasonable prices. (If the vibe is any indication, Guy Fieri once featured it on his Food Network show.)

Another more refined example is Paluca Trattoria, a pet-friendly restaurant on the wharf that serves cool, unique local delicacies like hand-breaded and fried Monterey Bay calamari with pesto aioli. If you have the opportunity, try it!

The smoked salmon linguini, lobster ravioli, and wild prawn bruschetta, on the other hand, are absolutely delicious. Meanwhile, the popularity and iconography of its location is likely why the Big Little Lies crew filmed so many coffee shop scenes here in Season 1 of the show.

Breakfast with eggs and bread
The greatest breakfast spots must be listed in the Monterey food scene guide because it is the most important meal of the day

Other Brother Beer Co.

If you prefer breweries to wineries, Monterey County has a thriving craft beer scene. Other Brother Beer Co. is a brewery that many tourists and newcomers overlook but that professional movers in Monterey recommend. Relax in the laid-back atmosphere of Other Brother Beer Co. and enjoy your brew with special-of-the-day sandwiches, pretzels, and other taproom snacks. While you’re in the neighborhood, visit Fort Ord Dunes, State Park. The park is a great place to see seals, sea lions, and a variety of sea and shore birds.

Must eat at the Compagno’s Market & Deli

After your flawless relocation in Monterey, you should treat yourself by visiting this location. Compagno’s Market & Deli is a neighborhood deli that serves traditional sandwiches and chips. Don’t be fooled by the humble appearance of this local deli; it’s still one of the best restaurants in Monterey. Its faded exterior and simple deli store vibe add to the authentic community vibe, and the sandwiches are really what you’re after here. You can even take them with you and eat them while exploring the city. Choose between the Torpedo and the Italian Sausage sandwiches. The Coast Guard Special is another excellent option.

Film strip
For all those movie lovers, you can find Bubba Gump Shrimp Co, a dining destination inspired by the iconic movie, Forrest Gump

Monterey food scene guide would be nothing without mentioning the Old Monterey Cafe

The Old Monterey Cafe At this iconic local cafe, make your own omelet or order a drool-worthy Southwest breakfast burrito. Furthermore, Old Monterey Cafe is unquestionably the best breakfast spot in Monterey. They serve excellent shoestring hashbrowns and utterly voluptuous stuffed Belgian waffles bursting with fruit, chocolate chips, pecans, or whatever you’d like to fill them with, in addition to diner-perfect pancakes and old-school French toast.

Everything here is made to order and delivered with endearing breakfast-joint zeal until they close in the late afternoon. They open at 6:45 a.m. and the place is always busy.

Noodle Bar

With all of the buzzy new food businesses that have recently opened up shop in Seaside, it would be remiss not to mention some of the diverse spots that have been serving locals for years. Noodle Bar, aptly named skinny hall with sparse seating and affordable Vietnamese-leaning takeout: flavorful pho, as well as soupless rice vermicelli bowls topped with cilantro, mint, house dressing, and chopped peanuts, is one such restaurant. Vegetarians can select from a full menu page of options.

The El Cantaro

El Cantaro defies any reservations customers may have about vegan Mexican food by serving up fresh, traditional flavors that no one can deny. And it’s non-GMO, mostly organic, and completely free of animal products. The menu is enormous, divided into appetizers, soups, salads, traditional plates, combination plates, enchiladas, tacos, burritos, and tostadas. Those looking to try something new should try the kipes (fried bulgur and potato croquettes) or the empanaditas (red beet flour empanadas). Traditional dishes such as mole, pozole, and enmoladas are also available, all made with Chickin’ instead of chicken.

city road restaurant
There are fast food restaurants that didn’t find their way in our Monterey food scene guide

Italian gastronomy

It may surprise you that we list Italian food among the places to eat in Monterey. However, because of the local fishing history, there is a sizable population of Italian fishermen, most of whom are from Sicily. To get a taste of that subculture in Monterey’s local food, go to the family-owned Paluca Trattoria, where Sicilian-American owner and chef Sal learned everything from how to catch to filet a fish from his grandfather. Overall, senior movers Monterey CA claim that this is one of the most distinctive and underappreciated places in Monterey.  Stay for the company and the view, but come for the expertly prepared Italian-influenced fish dishes.

Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill

This 5,000-square-foot brewery serves classic California pub cuisine and is located in the heart of Monterey on Alvarado Street, the quaint “main street.” Alvarado Street Brewery and Grill are known for its “Double Double” vegan burgers and chorizo queso fundido, as well as a rotating cast of house-brewed drafts such as Minesweeper IPA. The burgers can be enjoyed by both vegetarians and carnivores, which is part of the appeal.

Overall, this is a lively, can’t-miss destination for craft beer enthusiasts. For a classic experience, go for lunch in their industrial-chic beer garden and order the Alvarado Burger.

Fine dining in the heart of the city

Overall, Monterey is a laid-back part of California. However, the top-tier wineries and elegant resorts in Pebble Beach, Carmel, and Big Sur demonstrate a taste for the finer things.

Visit the newly opened Maligne restaurant to see how that translates to the plate. The concept is a wood-fired seafood restaurant led by Klaus Georis, whose family has restaurant and wine roots in the region. The handcrafted hearth balances a raw bar element with elevating local ingredients. We enjoyed the hamachi crudo, the dairy beef ribeye, and the slow-roasted beets with salted yogurt on a recent visit.

Photo of Wine Bottles With Cork
As wine and food go hand in hand, it is worth mentioning that Moterey has excellent wines

What kind of Monterey food scene guide would it be if we didn’t mention the wines?

If you’re looking for places to eat in Monterey, you should also look into how to do a wine tasting in Monterey to get a full picture of the area. Monterey County Pinot Noir is among the best in the world! In this region, you can also find lesser-known varietals like Albario. Here are some recommendations from residential movers Monterey has for the wineries:

  • Bernardus Winery – Try the signature Bordeaux-style blend and award-winning Chardonnay at this beautiful, sunny tasting room.
  • Boekenoogen Winery – Signature Pinot Noirs, a nice patio, and a fantastic location in the Santa Lucia Highlands.
  • Winery Hahn Family – Bring a picnic and sip your wine while admiring the scenery!
  • Wrath Wines Tasting Room – Characters in Big Little Lies are frequently seen drinking wine in various scenes. One of the labels that sent wine to the set was Wrath. Finally, their signature Pinot Noir is one of the most highly praised wines in the world.

Pacific Grove Jeninni Kitchen & Wine Bar

Jeninni Kitchen & Wine Bar is a relaxed eatery that serves tapas, Mediterranean entrees, and wine. This is a top vote for local restaurants that appear clean, minimalist, and humble but actually provide a very sophisticated experience.

Its dining room is simple and elegant, but the dishes are gourmet-level decadent. What Should I Eat? Choose a few small plates from the menu, such as the Marinated Olives, Tartine, and Chicory Salad. Next, share a plate of the Chicken Torchon with your table, paired with Jeninni Fries. Finish with an Affogato.

Two man standing in the kitchen
If you enjoyed the food, don’t forget to compliment the chef

Other things to keep in mind

You were probably already aware of this before moving to Monterey, but it wouldn’t hurt to remind you. Remember to bring sunscreen and sunglasses! The central California coast of Monterey is very bright, and the sun’s rays bounce off the coast like no other. Without sunglasses, driving in the afternoon is nearly impossible, not to mention the sunburn that can result from golfing, surfing, or hiking all day without protection. A hat is also a good idea if you plan on spending the day outside (when the weather is this nice, you’ll want to spend the majority of your time outside).

History lovers will also enjoy Monterey

Did you know that Monterey was California’s first capital city? Spanish explorers began exploring California’s Pacific Coast as early as the 1500s. Juan Cabrillo is credited with the first sighting of the Bay in 1542. However, it wasn’t until 1602 that Sebastian Vizcaino’s expedition sailed into the bay and landed. Vizcaino and his crew spent about a month in Monterey with a fleet of three ships but left in January, seemingly without learning much about the area. It wasn’t until 1769, 167 years later, that the Spanish sailed into Monterey Bay for the first time.

Our thoughts

Monterey County is a foodie’s dream, with abundant local agriculture, viticulture, and sustainable seafood. Visitors can explore this Mecca with a fork and knife, as well as tour the farm and field to get a sense of the (literal) roots of Monterey County’s gastronomic delights. Foodies can get their teeth into Monterey County in a variety of ways, from acclaimed restaurants to haute events, and farm stands to agricultural tours. We hope you found this Monterey food scene guide useful, and that one of the mentioned places becomes your new favorite.

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