First, thanks to all the 'hounds who posted suggestions for Monterey/PG/Carmel eats. Like any tourist destinations, we found that a lot of the food suffered from the captive audience problem--people are here, they have to eat, so the restaurants don't really have to try that hard.
First, though, the good stuff.
Red House Cafe in Pacific Grove. Very sweet place, homey little restaurant in, yes, a red Victorian, with a big porch and two rooms (one with fireplace) inside. Breakfast menu looked great; we went for lunch, which was packed with happy middle-aged (or older) ladies enjoying the day's special, a roast chicken sandwich on fresh ciabatta roll with a cup of good broccoli soup on the side, served in an old-fashioned pedestal bowl. Good interestings sandwiches and a few salads.
Fishwife on Asilomar/Sunset in PG. OK, the interior is a little tacky (aqua-painted exposed beams, fieldstone walls, fish-patterned stained glass, plastic tablecloths) but they were very friendly. Boston clam chowder was of the thick-and-gloppy variety, with few clams, but the "Sea Salad" was good--lettuce, cooked broccoli, radishes, red onion rings, spicy cabbage slaw, salsa, topped with a piece of greasy but tasty, mildly spicy sauteed snapper. Garlic bread--garlic butter on blah cotton bread.
Passionfish was a little disappointing. Nice place, high end, waiter knew his stuff but disappeared after taking our order--food was all brought/cleared by runners, and he never checked back to see how things were going. Fried squid was a big mistake--it was so pale as to be almost white, and very greasy--clearly underfried. But no one checked back with us, so I couldn't send it back. However, the cilantro/herb dipping sauce was great. Good salad of beets, blue cheese, and greens. Mahi mahi was also a little undercooked, and had a rather overwhelming gas-grill taste. Came with mushy green rice patty and a thin, hot nuoc cham type dipping sauce. Decent veg option--butternut squash ravioli with shredded asiago, sundried tomato, and arugula. Good wine list.
Stokes Adobe, in Monterey. Hard to find, but nice place-they were nearly empty when we arrived at 8pm on Sunday. Big place in a historic adobe bldg--fireplaces, full bar/lounge, several dining rooms. Chef used to work at LuLu in SF, and it shows--food is very SF. We mostly had apps and bar food--fava bean crostini, Hobbes pepperoni pizza, baked in wood-fired oven, spinach gnocchi baked with walnut-sage butter, butter lettuce salad with grapefruit and avocado. All good--would like to go back for a full meal on a busier night.
Carmel. the business end of Carmel was pretty horrifying--like a Thomas Kincaid painting come to life. Village Corner played syrupy pop music and served indifferent, mall-Meditteranean fare--limp spring mix, lots of balsamic vinegar and portobello mushrooms. I had a Greek salad with pre-shredded feta and lots of Romaine stems; my friend had an overdone, dry omelet with greasy potatoes. Katy's looked good for all-American breakfast/lunch fare; we should have gone there instead.