Gusto setting

Gusto is back in full force, with weekly live music. 

BACK IN ACTION… Covid-era restrictions on businesses lifted in California on June 15. That means all seats are a go for restaurants and bars. Raise a glass, and don’t forget to tip generously.

ROLLING ON… Emerging from the rugged coast, Big Sur Taco has been getting noticed with their handmade tortillas – unusual for a lot of places, and especially for a taco truck. Try the shrimp tacos, or one of their vegan and gluten-free options. They post up at El Estero Park in Monterey, the Carmel Valley Farmers Market and of course, in and around Big Sur. Catch up with them at

SLOW SMOKE… It’s back – the delish brisket grilled cheese sandwich is back on the menu at Alvarado Street Brewery and Bistro. Their cheese-slathered brisket sando, smoked for 14 hours, includes pickled jalapeño, onion jam and a house BBQ sauce with nitro stout. It’s so rich, you may need to take a nap halfway through. Pick one up at Carmel Plaza, Carmel. 293-8621,

NIGHT AND LIFE… Emerging from the pandemic may require a few stiff drinks, and Barmel is back open to help. The “where young people in Carmel go” bar is now open until 2am. San Carlos and Seventh, Carmel. 626-2095.

BEAN BOYS… Coffee and beer cafe The Beerded Bean just celebrated the two-year anniversary of their bricks-and-mortar location in Oldtown Salinas, and another location in Carmel is now in the works. They are always good for a morning caffeine fix or an afternoon beer and a chill place to sit any time of day. 210 S. Main St., Salinas. 202-0966,

LA MUSICA… Seaside mainstay Gusto’s now has live music nights, called Musica dal Vivo, every Thursday. Try one of their amazing pasta dishes or a pizza and pick up a drink during their extended happy hour, 5:30-8pm. 1901 Fremont Blvd., Seaside. 899-5825.

LOCAL BUCKS… A good lunch deal on some of the best vegetarian food in the county awaits you at Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant. During the locals lunch special, from 10am-2pm Mon-Fri, you can pick from a coconut or pumpkin curry for only $15. They also have a late-night happy hour that means free vegan tamales with every drink after 8pm. 1180 Forest Ave., Suite F, Pacific Grove. 656-9533,

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