Best Of 2011 -Restaurants
Montrio Bistro had Best Restaurant in Monterey in a headlock – in other words, owner Tony Tollner and his team were on top of their game. But they didn’t rest on their pancetta-wrapped prawns, instead uncorking an ambitious craft-cocktail program, a reimagined menu, a new oven, a refreshed decor and a recommitment to local sources. The result: two more Best Ofs in two brand-new categories, Best Chef and Best Bartender – and that familiar, and fine, honor of being the best in Monterey. The reason? They didn’t let being on top take them away from upgrading their game.
Best Restaurant in Monterey
Best Restaurant – Pacific Grove
701 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove
All the sustainable ethics, farmers market freshness and fiendishly wise wine finds in the sea wouldn’t mean much if Passionfish didn’t create tastes like these: Gorgonzola salad with aromatic yellow curry vinaigrette and a phyllo-wrapped, oven-baked cheesy treasure in the center. Mussels steamed in a cilantro-chipotle tomato broth so good that at least one customer announces he wants to bathe in it every night. Nova Scotia scallops pan-seared in a rich, tomato-black truffle butter. Sturgeon slow-poached and served with almost-electric spicy red curry vinaigrette – super delicate texture and bold flavors that dance beautifully with an Austrian Riesling. Crispy, rich and moist pear bread pudding with Madeira caramel sauce and freshly whipped cream. Yes, you can die now. El Carmelo Cemetery is conveniently located just down the street.
Best New Restaurant of 2010
Cannery Row Brewing Company
95 Prescott Ave., Monterey
Buzz. Crowds. Slick design. Rockin’ music. Cool indoor and outdoor spaces. Seventy-three beers on tap, 30 small batch bourbons. A menu of both classic and modern American entrees, as well as sandwiches, burgers, barbecue, lots of apps and snacks – all well done, all aimed at customers with fine taste, and for the most part featuring recession-sensitive prices. Kitchen credit is shared by executive chef Mark Ayers and the more hands-on chefs Scot McMullen and German Perez – and of course, their wider team.
Best Restaurant More Than 10 Years Old
223 17th St., Pacific Grove
On any given day, Fandango’s dining room is filled with locals (and visitors) of every stripe, there to celebrate just about any occasion – from the white-haired couple toasting their umpteenth anniversary, to a bridal party hosting a rehearsal dinner, or a young duo on a first date laughing too hard at each others’ jokes. The Bains have been serving up sumptuous Mediterranean and continental cuisine with a dash of California style since 1986. Signature dishes like the seafood-studded paella and wood-grilled rack of lamb, combined with superb service, keep patrons coming back.
The Crown & Anchor
150 Franklin St., Monterey
It’s 5pm on a Thursday afternoon, and patrons circle the bar at Monterey’s Crown & Anchor Pub. In a dark “Crown” sweatshirt and black shorts, server Valerie Arveson moves quickly on the floor, filling waters, taking drink orders, listening to old guys ask if she needs to see their IDs, bouncing from the kitchen with curries and meat pies and fish ‘n’ chips. It’s a brisk juggle of jobs within a job. Later in the evening, things will get crazier as the pub’s patio fills with patrons, but Arveson won’t blink. She traffics in smiles, not stresses. It’s about “anticipating needs,” she says, “prioritizing, learning to work well under pressure.”
Best Restaurant – Big Sur
510 Highway 1, Big Sur
The family-owned-and-operated coastal spot made lasting impressions on Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton while filming The Sandpiper in 1963 and has been doing the same to visitors ever since. Three key reasons: 1) the incomparable Ambrosia burger; 2) the powerful and tasty punch of the refreshingly evil South Coast margarita; and 3) the sweeping views of the Pacific, which have the ability to make whatever you’re eating or drinking taste even better.
Best RestaUrant – Carmel
Dolores between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel
Executive Chef Jason Balestrieri brings out bold, authentic Italian flavors – grilled octopus, wild arugula and roasted beets, grilled king prawns with corona beans – using fresh, seasonal ingredients in a casual and relaxing atmosphere that buzzes like no other eatery-by-the-sea. The focus is on hand-crafted Italian specialties: pastas, wood-fired pizzas and a dozen different house-made salamies hanging visibly in a glass curing room. You can watch the chefs prepare your dish in the kitchen, located in the middle of the gorgeous restaurant. Friendly bartenders, fun cocktails and a huge list of Italian wines, complete with a visiting sommelier, add to the experience.
Best Restaurant – Carmel Valley
10 Delfino Place, Carmel Valley
A cozy and charming atmosphere, delicious wood-fired pizzas, creative salads and California-infused European comfort food make Rustica Carmel Valley’s little gem. A great wine list, locally sourced produce and sustainably raised meat with generous portions and attentive wait staff only elevate that rare fare. Saturday dinner offerings include the famous oven-roasted maple duck – be sure to call in advance, as this dish sells out – but the dog-friendly patio or the, well, rustic country cottage setting welcome folks for lunch and dinner every day but Monday. Hard to go wrong here.
Best Restaurant – Marina
Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse
3295 Dunes Road, Marina (at Sanctuary Resort)
Consisting of equal parts all-American steakhouse, tropical Tiki lounge and destination sushi bar – a veritable mirror of mellow Marina – Kula Ranch is a culturally and geographically diverse chutney of presentation styles, flavors and olfactory senses. Kula’s burgeoning culinary rep – and this award, likely – comes from its consistently fresh and classily prepared array of steaks and seafood, and a boost from a loyal Otter following. Taco Tuesdays has become a staple of the CSUMB student lifestyle, with hundreds of starving students descending en masse to chow cheaply and live a little in the spacious, niftily adorned house of flavor.
Best Restaurant – Monterey
414 Calle Principal, Monterey
Whether it’s an after-work drink and a snack or a fancy celebratory dinner, Montrio Bistro delivers for every occasion. It’s easy to tear through Chef Tony Baker’s “Small Bites” menu, including the sinful oatmeal-crusted brie while sipping a creative cocktail like the “Beta Vulgaris,” which employs roasted beet juice in a delightful way. Take care to leave some room to savor entrees like the pork trio, though – bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with shredded pork. A worldly wine list and inspired “dessert bites” menu, which features items like doll-sized carrot cake with coconut cream cheese ice cream, complete the incredible.
The question was put to Baker, “What makes a great chef beyond the requisite education, experience and skill?” His answer: Integrity when it comes to ingredients, using the local bounty to advantage, listening to customers, going the extra mile to satisfy people and great support staff (“I’m nothing without my team.”).
Best Restaurant – North County
Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery
7600 Sandholdt Road, Moss Landing
Go get a giant bowl of cioppino, the classic tomato-and-wine infused stew loaded with fish, clams, mussels, crab and shrimp. A single bowl could easily serve a family of four, but screw them – make them get their own. The other food here is fabulous, too: artichokes done a number of ways, shrimp and fish platters, oysters, sardines, clams… for a seafood lover, it’s sheer paradise. And for people-watching, it can’t be beat. The lines almost mandate a convivial atmosphere, and when you catch a glimpse of Phil DiGirolamo himself behind the counter, it’s like staring into the face of a seafood god. A grim, grumpy god, sure, but one who knows his stuff.
Best Restaurant – Pebble Beach
Roy’s at Spanish Bay
2700 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach
Say aloha to the Lakanilau Roll – seared Kobe beef wrapped around dynamite crab, with tempura asparagus and avocado – or the Hawaiian Dragon Roll and its tempura shrimp and papaya, topped with avocado, barbecue eel and crushed macadamia nuts. Meet the ahi-poke martini with tobiko, and the deep fried lobster and shrimp dumplings with yuzu-miso butter. Hang with the Mongolian-grilled chicken breast salad or the wok-seared shrimp, bok choy and bean sprout chow mein. Kick it with crab crusted sea bass, the Japanese-style misoyaki butterfish and the truffle-apple crusted pork loin. To know them is to understand that the world is Chef Roy Yamaguchi’s kitchen. We’re just salivating in it.
Best Restaurant – Salinas
Gino’s Fine Italian Food
1410 S. Main St., Salinas
There are those nights, when there’s no dinner plan and no possibility of one, that families all around Salinas and up the Highway 68 corridor give thanks that four generations of the Bozzo family have kept this delicious institution going. The portions are large, the red sauce bursts with spice and fresh tomato flavor, and the cream sauce lovingly coats its host pasta, whatever that pasta may be. The starters could make a meal on their own, featuring a Calabrese plate covered in roasted vegetables, salami, cheese and bruschetta, and moving on to Zia Gina’s meatballs, made in-house and braised in that spicy sauce. Pasta rules here, sure, but the folks in the kitchen know how to handle seafood with aplomb: the calamari is among the best around. What else? Cocktails, wine, beer, pizza and, blissfully, a to-go counter for the planning-challenged. Here’s looking forward to a few more generations of real Italian.
Best Restaurant – Sand City
Sweet Elena’s Bakery
465 Olympia Ave., Sand City
When you roll in for coffee and a decadent almond croissant, Elena and her crew have already been up and baking – everything here’s made from scratch – since 5am. The rustic home-kitchen vibe is enough to settle in for, but once you’ve had breakfast – Elena recommends the granola she’s been making for 18 years – you should consider staying for lunch, then an afternoon pastry, perhaps a slice of berry pie overflowing with Watsonville strawberries. At that point, might as well have a glass of wine or a beer. And another dessert.
Best Restaurant – Seaside
789 Trinity Ave., Seaside
She’s a bronze California girl with a Caribbean lilt. Think Rihanna, but older, more complex… and married to a fish. Fishwife has taken this category for a decade and a half straight thanks to her well-rounded assets: a solid upbringing, good moral character and a sexy seascape of flavors. The 12-table Seaside lady (there’s another in P.G.) mandates freshness, sourcing produce from Salinas Valley and fish that’s almost still flopping. The sauces and soups are good enough to take home to your mama, but this wifey has a conscience too: Fishwife offers a scholarship to local high schoolers who beat the odds to succeed. And as a pioneering Seafood Watch partner, the restaurant is committed to sustainable ocean fare. The Wife is also fertile: The signature x’nipec fire-roasted habanero salsa (featured at sister restaurant Turtle Bay Taqueria next door) is famous for making ready-to-pop pregnant women go into labor.
Best Restaurant – South County
1155 Front St., Soledad
The stick-to-your-ribs goods here will stick in your head too, without sticking it to your wallet. Check out the chicken-fried steak topped with country sausage gravy and scrambled eggs, biscuits and country pancakes ($8.95); the Windmill burger ($8.95) smothered with barbecue sauce and topped with bacon, avocado, tomato, Swiss cheese on grilled sourdough; and the extra-large broccoli baked potato ($6.95). Everything here is as hearty and textured as the South County itself – including the enchiladas supreme ($8.50), the ribeye ($17.95), and, yes, the fudge fudge brownie ($5.25), a double stack of brownies with vanilla ice cream, Hershey’s hot fudge and clouds of whipped cream, Oreo crumbs and almonds.
125 Oceanview Blvd., Pacific Grove 372-1125
171 Main St., Salinas 784-1125, www.firstawakenings.net
It takes a special kind of breakfast place to make wheat germ taste this good. The “bluegerm” (blueberry and wheat germ) pancakes, each the size of your head, are so yummy you’ll want to devour the whole stack even if you have to waddle home. But whether you choose the breakfast burrito stuffed with egg and chorizo, chicken-fried steak smothered in country gravy, or turkey-dill crêpeggs, sweet crêpes combined with fluffy whipped egg and topped with hollandaise, you’ll forgive the tacky Hawaiian shirts and leave with a smile on your face.
Best Cheap Eats
1944 Fremont Blvd., Seaside, 392-0210
215 Reservation Road, Marina, 384-6225
The Seaside location won a loyal following not for its décor, its accommodations (a counter that seats 12 elbow-to-elbow) or its customer service (clipped and efficient). It was, instead, the food – big, steamy portions of slurpingly tasty pho noodle soups, hot and fresh plates of lemongrass chicken, shrimp or tofu over steamed or fried rice, rotating bi-weekly chalkboard specials like deep fried catfish – that won convert after convert… not to mention the low prices ($5.50 for lunch, $6:50 for dinner) that pinged it as a locals spot. Due to demand it opened another location, a bigger, proper restaurant space, with a more expanded menu, Sunday hours and the hot topic of boba drinks. That spot will add Vietnamese sandwiches in May or June, says Seaside store owner Kim Nguyen. Secret off-menu hot item: traditional udon noodle soup.
Best Place for a Business Lunch
2999 Salinas Highway, Monterey
This lunch menu means business: sandwiches like Texas-style beef brisket and chicken breast-country ham-havarti, small plates like buffalo-style artichoke hearts and Cajun-Philly-cheese-steak spring rolls, salads like crab cake and rare ahi tuna, plus impressive seafood (grilled tiger shrimp and wild lobster), ranch fare (meatloaf and pork shank) and grill goods (lamb tenderloin and Angus filets). But grub alone doesn’t create good commerce. That’s where the setting, standout wine list and quick service close the deal.
Best Family Restaurant
Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
720 Cannery Row, Monterey
1) What is life like, according to Forrest? 2) What is his favorite book? 3) Where on his body did Forrest get shot? 4) What joint has just the right mix of kid-friendly dishes (Hubba Bubba Popcorn Shrimp, Mac n’ Cheese Pleez), souvenirs, youthful and resilient staff and enough roar to outshout the baby’s screaming? (Answers: A box of chocolates, Curious George, his butt, and Bubba Gump.)
Mission between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel
When you are a small, rather stashed-away restaurant, your food simply has to be outrageously good to win this award, given the competition. Tommy’s, tucked away in one of those classic Carmel nooks – behind a house of fancy skivvies, and all of 600 square feet, with maybe 20 tables – does just that. Tommy’s Wok creates a stir week in and week out with savory, silky wonton soup, oh-my-God-these-are-good broccoli prawns and a full menu of similarly killer fare across the spectrum of Mandarin, Szechuan and Hunan. It’s not unusual to get a freshly made, hot meal in just five minutes. And not overlooked in locals’ vote making: the super-affordable lunch menu, which offers huge plates for generally under $20 for two, with soda and tea.
867 Wave St., Monterey
“Say-bohne!” would be the most reasonable reaction a Frenchie could have after eating at Bistro Moulin. French chef Didier Dutertre knows how to complement local halibut so expertly with his deliciously decadent citrus beurre blanc you couldn’t blame local folks for feeling like they’re in Côte de Beaune sipping Puligny Montrachet. Only there you wouldn’t get a view of harbor seals barking on rocks as you eat duck confit and sip Santa Lucia Highland Pinot Noir. Colleen Manni, resident manager/sommelier, continues to hone her wine selections to further spotlight her sweetie’s cuisine. One more touch of French: “Say Mah-nee-feek!” Translated: best French Restaurant in Monterey County.
Ambrosia India Bistro
565 Abrego St., Monterey
The weekday lunch buffet and weekend champagne buffet presumably allow a broad, non-committed sampling of the intoxicatingly spiced but familiarly homey flavors, but really, they occupy many-a-people’s regular weekly check-ins: Some wise bands of buddies make a habit of doing the buffet before trekking over to a matinee at Osio. The food is infused with unique flavors via Chef Bhupender Singh’s use of whole spices, minus MSG and artificial flavors, with the heat level as adjustable as a stovetop burner, on tandoori and curry dishes like lamb vindaloo, chicken tikka masala, vegetarian palak paneer and side staples like garlic naan and poori puff bread. The décor, inside and out, is idyllic, the prices are reasonable, and the breath-freshening mix of dry herbs and sugar after a flavorful meal leaves people feeling as happy as a Bollywood musical.
Joe Rombi’s La Mia Cucina Restaurant
208 17th St., Pacific Grove
Mama mia! Dining at Joe Rombi’s is like having dinner at nonna’s except instead of a doting Italian grandmother, Joe Rombi himself is waiting at the door to welcome you. Every meal starts off with complimentary bruschetta, soup and salad. And dinner only gets better, with appetizers like the sausage-and-mozzarella-filled arancini (fried risotto balls) and fried calamari. The house-made ravioli, rolled, filled and cut by hand, are a local favorite for good reason, and the spicy sausage tortiglioini pasta titillates with every forkful. It’s no wonder the regulars pack this neighborhood ristorante every week.
514 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey
Crystal’s known for doing creative things with some of the freshest ingredients around. The breadth of vegetarian (cue the superlative Green Apple Roll) and sustainable-seafood options (like fresh Monterey Bay sardines) make this a favorite for the posse of ocean activists working in nearby Heritage Harbor. Other loyal customers rave about the Green Salmon Roll and Tobiko with Raw Quail Egg Yolk. The tempura-fried cheesecake has almost enough devotees to constitute a religion. Which reminds us to issue a word of caution about dabbling in Crystal: Ya might get addicted.
Nak Won Korean BBQ House
330 Reservation Road, Marina
A round robin of military folk, locals, summer tourists, CSUMB, MIIS and MPC students (the latter two groups traveling far for the privilege) and golfers come for lunch box specials ($5.25 – $7.95), kalbi and bulgogi barbecue (which one can cook oneself at several inset grills), jab chae noodles and the traditional medley of banchan dishes that flavor each bite in wild ways. For dinner, lubricate the meal with soju or the new makgeolli rice wines, and Nak Won’s meaning becomes clear: It translates to “paradise.”
Southeast corner of Ocean and Lincoln, Carmel
Among the hills of Greece lie homes with blue rooftops. Beneath the blue lies hummus galore and hospitality for days. The same goes for Dametra, our little slice of the Mediterranean. Owners Faisal Nimiri and Bashar Sneeh say their kitchen is small, but their heart is big. And so is their menu, stuffed with gyro, brushetta, Istanbul kebab, lamb shank, chicken shawarma and falafel sandwiches. The ginger walls draped with grapevines stir a cozy feeling. Whether it’s a romantic date or lunch with the familia, the owners will whip out their guitars and break into the tunes “Besame Mucho” or “Happy Birthday.” A combination of fine service plus delicious food guarantees there’s a full house there to hear it.
Peppers Mexicali Café
170 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove
The California-inflected Mexican cuisine (think artichoke mushroom enchiladas and salmon tacos) is always fresh and tasty, the portions are way generous and it’s a family-friendly spot in the early evenings. Plus, barflies actually have somewhere to go after 9pm in sleepy Pacific Grove. And did we mention the blood orange margaritas? Nuff said!
Best Middle Eastern
477 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove, 649-2530 435 Alvarado St., Monterey
A sneeze is all it takes to miss the little shoebox spot next to Red’s Donuts in downtown Monterey, but the big flavor is nothing to sneeze at, since it hails from the longtime P.G. headquarters, which has garnered a dynastic number of Best Ofs. We’re talking hero gyros – chicken and beef and lamb, with tomato, onions, romaine lettuce, sauced with super cucumber-garlic tzatziki love – and baba ganoush, baby. Falafel, my friends. Mad hummus, homies – plus tabouli and tahini and super shawarma. Best of all: A combo – a gyro, salad, fries and a soda – is just $8.95.
Thai Bistro II
159 Central Ave., Pacific Grove
Southeast Asian street food has seen a recent surge in popularity, but the folks at Thai Bistro II have been dishing out flavorful favorites for more than a decade now. Authentic noodle dishes plated fresh from a searing hot wok, curries rich and redolent with spice, and much, much more, exit the Thai Bistro kitchen swiftly to feed the steady stream of customers who come to enjoy reasonably priced lunch specials and robust dinner menu. It also has seasonal specials and a wide selection of vegetarian items, making it truly a restaurant for every palate.
1153 Fremont Blvd., Seaside
Out-of-towners may snigger at the name – yes, pho is pronounced “fuh” – but regulars know other reasons the restaurant’s shirts are such hot commodities. The King has mastered the tricky art of the Vietnamese sizzling crepe: a batter of coconut, rice flour, turmeric, scallions and beer, cooked to crispness, folded over sautéed meat and steamed sprouts, served fresh out of the pan with herbs and a tangy dipping sauce. Lunch options under $10 include phos, cold noodle bowls and saucy rice dishes, which helps explain why the place is usually popping mid-day. We’re guessing proprietor Tam Nguyen knew exactly what he was doing when he named the place, but we propose adding one more word to it: Pho King Awesome.
Best Appetizers/Small Plates
San Carlos between Ocean and Seventh, Carmel
The Spanish know good things come on small plates. And Mundaka owner Gabe Georis knew Carmel could use a hip tapas spot – a hunch that paid off last year, when Weekly readers anointed Mundaka Best New Restaurant of 2010. The kudos continue this year, thanks in no small part to suave chef Brandon Miller, who sips from a seemingly endless glass of inspiration, composing new lines for the poetic menu daily. One of his recent eurekas is the foie: seared Sonoma liver paté with fried plantains, honey and radicchio. And the tagine: cinnamon braised goat and root vegetables on a polenta fritter. But the $4 bravas – fired to golden perfection and lounging in a tomato – chili aioli – are a love that stays. Que rico.
Best Outdoor Dining
The Forge in the Forest
Junipero and Fifth, Carmel
This employee-owned Carmel institution was a blacksmith shop in the ’40s, an artists’ studio in the ’60s, a restaurant and saloon in the ’70s, and for the last 20 years, the reigning champ of best outdoor eats in the county. With two lovely patios lined by gardens with a rustic, Kinkade-esque beauty, it’s easy to see why, and there might not be a more dog-friendly spot on the planet: Not only are dogs welcome on one of the patios, they can score a free Milkbone for a wag, and if their owners are feeling flush, a special “Dog Pound Menu” has offerings that range from “Plain Ol’ Kibble” ($2.50) to “Good Dog!” ($12.95), eight ounces of grilled and sliced New York steak “for the very, very good dog!”
Best Vegetarian Menu
111 Central Ave., Pacific Grove
In a county where vegetarians often get cornered with one or two options, Tillie Gort’s comes strong, year after year, with a garden of choice. A look at the veggie-friendly number-crunch for lunch and dinner offerings: four salads, seven Mexican dishes, six specialties, seven pastas, four sandos, four burgers and more sides than a gem. Those items that do have meat can be made vegetarian or vegan, so whether it’s for hummus-stuffed whole wheat pita with avocado, tomato and sprouts, organic tofu enchiladas, or “No-Meatloaf,” the more herbally inclined keep coming back for more, and they don’t even have to eat the same thing twice.
John Pisto’s Whaling Station
763 Wave St., Monterey
This little slice of beef heaven has been filling bellies with lightly seasoned Nebraskan USDA Prime Grade for nearly four decades. From New York steak bone-in “Kansas City cut” and center-cut top sirloin to porterhouse and filet mignon, every meat is complemented with a choice of béarnaise, green peppercorn, Roquefort butter or Pinot Noir sauce. Chef John Pisto himself guarantees that every piece served comes from corn-fed cows and is aged 28 days.
Monterey Fish House
2114 Del Monte Ave., Monterey
The place to go for all fresh-caught, local seafood. Be sure to order the delectable, oak-grilled, juicy oysters on the half shell. Sumptuous scallops, clam chowder, bouillabaisse and cioppino are also favorites customers return for time and again. Everything seafood is wonderful here, and the portion size is big, so come hungry or be prepared to share. You will need to be ready to brave the crowds – this local hot spot is always busy with a line wrapping around the restaurant, so be sure to make a reservation.
Best Restaurant To Splurge
Bernardus, 415 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley
This place is our closest thing to Napa’s esteemed French Laundry. The wine pairing approximates peace and love on the palate. You might start with N.V. Billecart-Salmon Champagne and accompany it with a chilled carrot soup. Follow that with a dry Muscadet with Kumimoto oysters that cleanse the palate and free your spirit. Next, savor a ’01 Eitelsbacher Karthauserhofberg Spatlese Riesling with ahi sashimi garnished a sweet-spicy coulis. Things are still just getting started when the ’08 Ingrid’s Vineyard Pinot Noir drops in your glass and the duck over truffle risotto arrives. Don’t get tired. A delicious ’04 Lail Blueprint Cabernet blend will go with Wagyu beef and béarnaise might reignite your appetite. The opportunities are endless. These folks, under the guidance of commander Cal Stamenov, have it dialed.
Best Wine List
701 Wave St., Monterey
Arvind Dutt, the current wine director, is a veteran with a stunning resumé – as is appropriate when managing more than 32,000 bottles of wine and around 1,575 selections. Whether it’s a modest Burgans Albariño or an 1870 Lafite, these folks can serve it with style – and unlike some restaurants with giant wine cellars, they actually have the bottle that you order (some places have a thick wine list, but don’t have the bottle you order). That’s why Weekly readers call this wine cellar the best in Monterey, and everyone can call it one of the best in the world.
Best Restaurant for Romantic Dining
Highlands Inn, 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel
Wine Spectator calls the Edge one of the best 20 restaurants in the country. Weekly readers call it the culinary equivalent of Barry White – if you can’t impress a date here, you’re doing something wrong. “Sweetie, this Montrachet Chardonnay is everything I dreamed of. The food is excellent and the view of the Pacific makes me feel like, like… I love you, honey.” Newsflash: Basic Instinct was filmed nearby. Maybe the inspiration for their sexy scenes came from this sexy place? Or slipped into pure sensual mode after nibbling on the hamachi poke with Japanese cucumber, fennel pollen and California select caviar, the butternut squash tart and and the red wine-braised short rib with potato risotto, swiss chard, forest mushroom and natural jus.