My husband and I stayed in Monterey Sat. and Sunday. Thanks to the suggestions on this board, we enjoyed several good meals. Saturday night we found Tarpy's Roadhouse, which was a lovely venue (there was a wedding party going on, photographer taking pix of bride & groom, etc.) While the menu at Tarpy's seems on the casual side, I felt slightly underdressed, as I went in jeans and sneakers. Nonetheless, the waitstaff was perfectly nice, and though we didn't have reservations, we were seated within 5 minutes (we got there before 6pm). What did we eat: shared the roasted artichoke, stuffed with a fresh tomato salsa, with a rosemary aioli on the side. Upon being seated we were given bread, warm and crusty sourdough baguette and we would have loved more to sop up the juices from the artichoke. For entrees, my husband had the half rack of spareribs, which came with excellent fries and half an ear of corn. I had the grilled mahi mahi, served over wild rice with a tropical salsa topping and grilled vegetables. My dish was excellent, and while my husband enjoyed his ribs, his only quibble was that it was obvious they were parboiled prior to grilling. My husband had a glass of Sangiovese which our waiter had recommended, and he liked it, esp. when he didn't get a headache afterwards. For dessert, we shared a dessert special, a lemon shortcake with whipped cream and raspberry puree. The shortcake was more like a light eggy spongecake, three layers filled with lemon curd. Delicious.
The following day, lunch at Taste Bistro in Pacific Grove. We arrived at 12:15 and were the first ones there. We tried the fried calamari appetizer and the escargots. Both were excellent. We then shared the Caesar salad and split a seafood pasta, with shrimp, mussels, salmon, squid and fresh wild mushrooms in a light tomato sauce over capellini. We were stuffed. By the time we finished, the restaurant was half full. I hope they are surviving, as they give excellent value. Because of our large midday meal, we went to the London Bridge Pub at Wharf#2 for a "light" dinner. I had the fish & chips (so good - I wish they would give another piece of fish and fewer chips), and husband got the shepard's pie, I think they call it a cottage pie, which was pure comfort food.
This morning, before we left town, we stopped off for pastries and coffee at Paris Bakery on Washington & Bonifacio in Monterey. I couldn't resist and brought some palmiers and butter cookies home with me.
Thanks to everyone for some great suggestions. We really enjoyed the more "local" hangouts.