CHEESE PLEASE… Remember free samples? Well, with almost all Covid restrictions lifted, they’re back, save for a few health-conscious changes. The Cheese Shop is giving out samples again, served by a gloved cheesemonger on a little piece waxed paper, because the shop wants you to be able to taste (and smell) their cheeses before you commit to one. Corner of Ocean and Junipero, Carmel. 625-2272, thecheeseshopinc.com.
BIRRIA EVOLUTION… It finally happened. Birria, the stewed meat Mexican delicacy that’s all the rage right now (with good reason – it’s delicious) is now available in pizza form. Quasabirria Munoz has gone through the looking glass and added birria pizza to the menu. Try their birria ramen as well. Check them out (and order) at instagram.com/quesabirria_munoz.
NATURALLY SWEET… If you’re looking for a sweet treat without refined sugar, try an energy ball from Nice Bites. Made by hand in Carmel Valley, the gluten-free, vegan treats are packed with superfoods. Try the walnut cardamon or the Mexican chocolate and mango combo. The little nuggets are a perfect hiking snack. Find them at Jerome’s Market, 2 Chambers Lane, Carmel Valley, or online at nice-bites.com. 264-7690.
BOOZY BRUNCH… Bottomless mimosas are back! Melville Tavern offers the bubbly delight at Saturday and Sunday brunches, 10am-3pm. Their menu isn’t skimping on taste either, with items such as blackened salmon Benedict and a pulled pork omelette. Reserve a spot at melvilletav.com, 484 Washington St., Monterey, 643-9525.
A ROSÉ BY ANY OTHER NAME… Reds and whites get a lot of love, but if you’re looking for a place to try award-winning Rosé, stop by Dawn’s Dream Winery. Their pink-hued stuff has won best in the county honors several times, and they also offer Syrahs and Pinot Noirs. Don’t forget to snap a pic of yourself in their wine tub for your social media accounts (millennials love props). Seventh and San Carlos, Carmel. 659-2649, dawnsdreamwinery.com.
BEST OF THE BEST… Speaking of Best Of props, it’s time to nominate your favorite spots for food and drink, your favorite servers and chefs, your favorite huevos rancheros and cookies. The Weekly’s Best Of Readers’ Poll is back, at vote.montereycountyweekly.com.