The Best Restaurants in Monterey, California

All the delights of Monterey Bay, California
All the delights of Monterey Bay, California | © robertharding / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Brendan Scully
12 September 2020

Seaside views and quaint local shops make the coastal town of Monterey Bay, California a must-visit destination for any adventurous traveler. With so many activities to cross off the list, it’s important to stay fuelled. We’ve compiled a list of top local restaurants to keep you energized.

Monterey's Fish House

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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Monterey’s Fish House has the quintessential lure of a coastal community restaurant, but what sets their menu apart is the use of an oak-fired grill. Modern interpretations of classic dishes like oysters, snapper, and swordfish (which all come oak grilled) keep people coming back time and again. One thing’s for sure – if you want an evening of mouth-watering seafood, the Fish House is the place for you.

A Taste of Monterey

Bistro, Market, Wine Bar, Bar, American, Wine, Beer, Cocktails, $$$
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If a photo is worth a thousand words, then the views at this local hotspot could fill several books. A Taste of Monterey not only boasts the best views on the North Shore, but it’s got the most exquisite wine and beer list you’ll find in the Bay. Originally opened as a tasting room in 1993, owners Ken and Robyn Rauh have developed a complementary menu of delicious fare over the years. Every dish can be paired with something good to drink.

El Cantaro Vegan Mexican Restaurant

Restaurant, Mexican, Vegetarian
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For those who prefer their tacos meat-free, El Cantaro Mexican Restaurant is gourmet for vegans. Don’t let the lack of meat scare you; the most dedicated carnivores find gratification here. El Cantaro takes everything you love about delicious Mexican classics – flavor, spice, and south of the border ingredients – and makes delicious, unique concoctions without animal products. Crowd favorites include their ‘chickin’ taquitos and potato tacos.

Hula's Island Grill

Bar, Restaurant, American, Seafood, $$$
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Hula’s Island Grill is a great spot for all the family. Moments from Cannery Row, its wide range of tropical fare is sure to satisfy all appetites. If the Hawaiian decor, relaxed atmosphere, and Bob Marley tunes playing in the background aren’t persuasive enough, you won’t be able to resist their Hawaiian jerk dishes. With a menu full of intense flavors, this tiki bar themed restaurant is a fun family vacation hangout.

LouLou's

Restaurant, American, $$$
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LouLou’s Griddle in the Middle eatery is as entertaining as it is delicious. This classic American locale on the Wharf boasts a hearty number of comfort food appetizers. You can’t go wrong with the ‘Monster Burger’, and if you’re feeling adventurous plump for their daily special which is, in their words “usually something treadmill-worthy!”

Chart House

Restaurant, Seafood, $$$
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The art of culinary creation isn’t lost on the chefs at Monterey’s Chart House. This picturesque formal dining restaurant by the sea will blow you away. We recommend starting with one of the generous portions of calamari, moving on to the succulent prime rib, and finishing the evening off with the glutinous-sounding ‘lava cake’.

La Bahia Mexican American Cuisine

Restaurant, Mexican
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If you’re on a budget but love quality food, don’t miss out on La Bahia (The Bay). With its warm atmosphere, attentive waiting staff, and homemade chips and salsa, this venue provides an all-round enjoyable experience. The sauces are rich in flavor, the tortillas are hot off the press, and the meats are tender and succulent. It’s a bargain in the Bay.

Bistro Moulin

Bistro, Restaurant, European, French, American, Vegetarian, Vegan, $$$
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If you’re looking for a little escape Bistro Moulin makes for the perfect romantic evening. This French style brasserie, complete with tablecloths and dusty wine bottles has a decadent menu full of classics such as steak bordelaise, coq au vin, and ossobuco alla Milanese. If you have any room left, indulge in one of the rich desserts.

The Fish Hopper

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Hop on down to the pier of Cannery Row, and one of Monterey’s staples The Fish Hopper. This impressive place is partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program, ensuring it only serves sustainable and environmentally responsible seafood. The menu is bursting with fresh seafood, steak, pasta, and much, much more. Come for the food, stay for the views – nowhere in Monterey offers such spectacular panoramas of the beach and beyond.
These recommendations were updated on September 12, 2020 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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