My better half and I just returned from a lovely (but too-short) weekend in the Monterey area and thanks to you fellow chowhounds, did pretty well on the food front. Of the places we went, I would definitely return to Old Monterey Cafe, White House, and Lou Lou's (but would of course want to explore similar places first next time!).
3170 Vista Del Camino #N
Marina, CA (831)384-4763
Pretty tasty japanese fare, somewhat to our surprise (we ate here
because it was near'ish our motel and not a chain). Service was a
little slow, but friendly, and the food (a chicken, veggie and egg
rice bowl and an order of scallop nigiri for me and a bento box for
Sarah) was fresh and flavorful, except for the bland miso (would you
believe it actually wasn't salty enough? Rare for miso!). Our order
of california rolls never arrived, and we had to have them removed
from our bill, but as this isn't by any means a fancy restaurant, such
foibles are forgiven. Prices ware quite reasonable. We escaped for
about $28 including tax & tip - not at all bad for two dinners, an
order of sushi, a large sake and a beer.
Old Monterey Cafe
489 Alvarado St.
Monterey, CA (831)646-1021
Great food, served cheerfully and attentively, accompanied by an
excellent smoky and spicy side salsa. Sarah's eggs benedict had waaay
too much lemon in the sauce, but other than that, everything was
really well done. My scramble of salmon and eggs (sounds weird, but
tastes lovely) really hit the spot. The hash browns are cooked to a
nice crispiness without any char, and the fruit tasted fresh.
Definitely recommended for an affordable breakfast in Monterey, and
one of the best breakfasts I've had in a while.
Robert's White House
649 Lighthouse Ave.
Pacific Grove, CA (831)375-9626
Excellent, if mostly standard, upscale fare served in a beautiful old
Victorian house by very attentive staff for a reasonable price - yes!
The decor and to a large extent the menu are, as Sarah described it,
"old school," but trendy vertical food can get annoying too. The menu
is a 3-course $27 prix fixe affair, the only extra cost items being
the signature steak ($43) and dessert ($7 for the one we had). I
started with a tasty chicken wellington while Sarah enjoyed an
excellent lobster ravioli. My chicken came with a delightful and
somewhat piquant cranberry sauce that went particularly well with the
dough-wrapped chicken. Sarah was sad that there was no option to just
get a plate of the lobster ravioli and I agreed - it was very good and
full of lobstery goodness. For seconds, I'd wanted the clam chowder,
but today it wasn't available and the goulash it had been replaced by
wasn't what I wanted, so I had a roasted beet salad, served under
oranges, lightly candied pecans and chunks of blue cheese with an
orange vinaigrette. I'm not a gigantic fan of beets, but these were
really good, especially with the pecans and blue cheese. Sarah
quickly demolished her baked onion soup, commenting that it was "just
perfect." I didn't even get a bite :) My main of broiled beef
stuffed with chicken mousse with brown reduction and cream sauces was
also very good, but, like Sarah's otherwise excellently-seasoned
chipotle pork chops, was a little drier than I prefer. Throughout we
enjoyed a nice spicy '02 Mirassou Coastal Pinot Noir ($21, and one of
the cheaper bottles they have). For dessert we had their signature
chocolate box, a tall box of wonderful bittersweet chocolate, filled
with chocolate milkshake and topped with strawberries and whipped
cream. WOW. This was one heck of a good dessert! Service was
basically perfect, always there when you wanted them, and never
obtrusive. We escaped for a total of $103 including tax & tip -
very fair for what we got, I think!
Municipal Wharf #2
Monterey, CA (831) 372-0568
Tasty diner fare in a very cute little building. It was full of salty
fishermen when we ate there, adding much to it's charm. My linguicia and
eggs were good and greasy, and Sarah's crab cake was well-flavored and
cripy on the outside. Coffee was decent and refilled frequently. The
only miscue was that our potatoes arrived well after we'd finished
everything else. Our apologetic waitress said they were supposed to be
served before our orders, but they'd just put them on the grill when we
arrived. Oh well, they were tasty regardless, accompanied by basil,
tomatoes and some shredded parmesan. Did I mention how cute the place is?
570 Lighthouse Ave.
Monterey, CA (831)656-0672
Decent Korean fare served efficiently. Sarah & I were the only
folks there in the middle of a lovely Sunday afternoon. Guess the
nearby tourists at Cannery Row don't care for Korean food! I had
spicy chicken BBQ and Sarah had non-spicy chicken BBQ. There was
little difference between them save for a reddish hue to mine, but
both tasted fine for $6.95. The side dishes were a little too alike
for my taste (kimcheee, bean sprouts, mung beans, seaweed, a
spinach-like leafy green and soy beans).