Monterey and Carmel Restaurant Ideas

If you’re interested in a classic French bistro, I’ll suggest Bistro Moulin, which is just up the hill from the Aquarium. Dinner Wed-Sun, reservations STRONGLY suggested. Owner/chef Didier Dutertre is very traditionalist, so it’s housemade soup stocks and heavy whipping cream - calories and cholesterol should be ignored, LOL. 867 Wave St, Monterey

For hearty American comfort food in large portions - excellent salads and great fried calamari (he uses strips of calamari steak, not those tasteless babies); as well as an excellent old fashioned chicken salad with tender, juicy chunks of chicken breast - try SUR at The Barnyard in Carmel Valley. Service is excellent, popular with locals/groups. We like that they use (or did, pre-pandemic) Numi tea, as we’re very fond of the Aged Earl Grey which tastes like Earl Grey used to taste before it went all flowery and fake esters. 3601 The Barnyard, Valley Barn Building Suite A-21, Carmel

For breakfast, quick light lunch, or teatime, there is nothing - and we mean nothing - better than Parker Lusseau Patisserie. Only the tiny 539 Hartnell St. location remains open (near the Post Office). Monday-Friday 7:30-4 & Saturday 7:30-3:30. Suffice to say despite the many French bakeries (see note, below) in Monterey/Carmel/PacGrove, only PLP makes the small, delicate, fragile Parisian croissants - so good you can eat them plain, no butter/toasting/jam. Tug an end and you can unravel a strip almost 2’ long; this is a true French butter laminated dough.

Our habit was to call up PLP, place an order for plain and almond croissants, fruit pastries, and whole quiches; then pick it up as we left town, packing it all in an ice chest. Once home, immediately freeze the croissants for later. We like them better than Rotha/Albany. If you are familiar with SF’s Arnicault’s croissants, one HO member who had tried both Arnicault and PLP said they were equally good.

Note: In late 2018 we went to every bakery in the Monterey area and bought a plain croissant to do a head-to-head taste test. Wasn’t even a contest; PLP won hands-down.

And if you’re looking for an amazing Sunday brunch (and the weather’s nice):

Lucia Restaurant @Bernardus Lodge - 415 W. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley. Note this is really far down the road - we use it as our last meal before leaving the area. DIY parking as you enter, down to the left (do NOT park in the valet parking slots; public parking is just past those). Beautiful dining room, lovely veranda seating, and sybaritic outdoor dining area behind the hotel. Phenomenal service, only Aubergine at L’Auberge Carmel, the tiny 12-table five-star restaurant inside the Relais & Chateaux hotel, does better.

The location of Lucia works really well if you are taking 101 North back to the SFBA. Bernardus Resort is bordered by Laureles Grade Road, which is a wonderful scenic, twisting road that connects straight into the Monterey-Salinas Hwy 68 - after Laguna Seca.
This avoids the most crowded stretch of #68 and has made our return drive a bit less stressful.

And yes, if you feel like splurging but have never been able to pay the Benu/Atelier Crenn et. al. cost, Aubergine is a steal at $205/pp. Justin Cogley is a Relais & Chateaux Grand Chef and worth every penny. Monte Verde St &, 7th Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea.


Thank you so much for taking the time, all of you. Can’t hardly wait.

Indeed. Parker Lusseau’s croissant is sublime. Yes lots of press about Arsicault because they are in SF. But PLP is indeed excellent. We went because of @lethe2020’s recommendation and was very glad we went. So add me to the list of HO members who like them just as much.


I am about to lose my mind! Okay, no I’m not.
But I was feeling so sorry for myself that we were going to spend another year without traveling to Europe but I’m liking this. It’s going to be fun.

I second the Aubergine recommendation. They can accommodate 10 for dinner in the wine cellar, very fun.


We arrived a few hours ago, ended up enjoying dinner at La Bicylette in Carmel , but still have plans for some of your suggestions.

They got the perfect temperature on both a medium rare and a medium well steak a poivre, and the olive starter, the Brussel sprouts, and the pizza were very good too.

This is from The Playa Carmel.


I always wanted to go to the sardine factory in Monterey. Growing up in Santa Cruz . I missed its calling . Moved away . I would go for the wine list.

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Apologies! re Parker-Lusseau, I got my locations confused, so mea culpa. It’s the larger main store, 539 Hartnell St. Monterey, that has remained open. It’s inside a sunken open air strip mall, easy parking in the mall’s lot.

The location near the Post Office, on Munras, has been temporarily closed although they hope to reopen if the state lifts restrictions as expected on June 15th.


We had an enjoyable dinner at Bistro Moulin;
I had COQ AU VIN-braised chicken in red wine sauce, cippolini onions, mushrooms, lardons, whipped potato
husband and son had CANNELLONI TARTUFI-baked pasta filled with beef tenderlon, ricotta and truffle, pink Vodka sauce
Daughter had GNOCCHI AUX ÉPINARDS-spinach gnocchi au gratin, Parmesan cream sauce
A pleasant experience.
Thanks everyone!


Glad you enjoyed Moulin - it’s a sweet little place. The best French bistro used to be Fifi’s in Pacific Grove, but the owner sold it some years ago and it is no longer at the high level it used to be, sadly.

I would normally have recommended Montrio Bistro/Monterey - we rate them higher than Passionfish, actually - but they took the opportunity during lockdown to renovate and also have a new chef. We loved original chef Tony Baker but have no familiarity with the new chef, so will have to wait until we return to the area to try it out again.

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“Parker-Lusseau”. Much appreciated!


I now hate you…you have made me hungry and ENVIOUS!

LOL, enjoy them and let us know what you think!

OMG! Have you driven 17 mile drive? I was hatin’ on erybody.

I don’t eat a lot of carbs, but have made many exceptions this week.

I had a bit of the glazed croissant; I enjoyed it, but husband said it "took away from all that makes it a croissant. The crispinness of the croissants, the butter. "

@Lethe2020, Husband found the place with your first post, and says he found it near the Post Office. He says “the regular croissant is light, crispy, and flaky. Not your store bought croissant.”

Daughter immediately identified the cannele, impressing husband, and enjoying it.

There’s another cannele and I’ll try it and review it later, but right now, I’m watching Top Chef.

Mezzaluna for dinner.

Will love to hear how you like Mezzaluna - in fact, it is the restaurant that replaced Fifi’s after the second owner finally closed down. Have not been back to the area for two years so are getting sadly out of date.

Yes, we’ve done the Drive too! If you have time, sign up for the tour of Tor House; Poet Laureate Robinson Jeffers built it himself. FABULOUS!

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Dinner at Mezzaluna was very nice. Fortunately we had reservations; it was very busy for what seems like a strip mall, and we wondered about the Fifi’s in the sign.

Husband finally got his short pasta, penna with Bolognese, and I had the buccatini, because the shortage, and they gave me a scoop of pistachio gelato for my birthday.

This afternoon we are at The Wave Cafe for brunch.

Guava belinis to start, then “benedicts” ( I had arugula and bacon)

Et al

We are going back to the bakery to see if we can score some more croissants on our way out of town.


No croissant left. :neutral_face:

no croissant left>>

Alas, we too have had that happen to us. It’s why we now order ahead of time by phone and prepay with credit card, LOL.

There’s always next time!

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Lesson learned.

Both my wife and I thought our latest meal at Culturas during Sunday lunch didn’t quite match the heights from a couple of years ago. Not sure why but maybe different chefs? We got many of the previous favs. It’s still fine but it didn’t scream ‘come back and eat the same night’.




Blue corn tacos with huitlacoche. Off menu.



Shrimp tacos


The Watsonville farmers market on Fridays has a fish taco vendor, La Marea of the Sea, 4 Baja fish tacos for $15. Wasn’t sure about the place until I watched them press fresh tortillas and hand dredge a fresh piece of fish before dropping in the fryer. Excellent tacos, enough searched for their restaurant and went. Tacos were just as good, but no surprise factor like the farmers market. They also have a Santa Cruz location.

La Marea of the Sea
2904 Freedom Blvd Watsonville, CA 95076

The farmers market is a low key affair, very local. giant bouncy house set up for kids. I wouldn’t make a special trip, except for the fish tacos. A few local produce vendors, exceptional strawberries in season…because they’re grown there.

Watsonville Farmers Market (Fridays)
Peack and Union St. (at the Watsonville city Plaza, Watsonville, CA 95076