Published by Best of Monterey Bay® Eat+Drink 2023-2024 | FREE

Executive Chef Michael Rotondo artistically expresses the rhythm of the coast with the only Chef’s tasting menu in Monterey at Coastal Kitchen. Each plate is exquisitely paired with curated wines by Sommelier Conrad Reddick. Renewed with ever-changing local ingredients and fresh ingenuity, this unforgettable epicurean journey is a one-of-a-kind Monterey experience. (831) 645-4064 RESERVATIONS 400 Cannery Row Monterey, CA

VOTED “BEST RESTAURANT” IN MONTEREY BY MONTEREY COUNTY HERALD AND CARMEL PINE CONE READERS Every city has that one restaurant you can’t miss, where celebrities feel at home and every other guest feels like a celebrity. Since October 2, 1968, the Sardine Factory’s cachet has made dining in our historic Cannery Row setting a tradition for world leaders, sports heroes and entertainment icons. Our award winning chefs prepare delectable creations of fresh, sustainable seafood and USDA Prime Aged Beef. Winner of the “Best Wine List in America Award,” Restaurant Hospitality Magazine. e Lounge’s live entertainment, Happy Hours and a ordable menu are a casual alternative to our other dining rooms. One of 16 California Restaurants Every Foodie Should Try. DISTINGUISHED RESTAURANTS OF NORTH AMERICA “ ” 701 Wave Street, Monterey, CA | 831.373.3775 | | Complimentary Valet Parking for over 55 Years!



SALTWOODKITCHENANDOYSTERETTE.COM 3295 DUNES DRIVE, MARINA, CA 93933 SALTWOODKITCHEN Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette is the award-winning Monterey Bay destination to experience coastal California cuisine. Immerse yourself in a unique seaside atmosphere, where an oyster bar acts as the centerpiece and a live-fire kitchen showcases grilled masterpieces. Enjoy our full-service dining room, lively bar and lounge, or open-air patio. Private event spaces overlooking the stunning natural scenery are available for wedding rehearsals, birthdays, and more. DINNER: 5:30 PM - 9:30 PM SATURDAY AND SUNDAY BRUNCH: 10 AM - 2 PM SUNSET SESSIONS: 2 PM - 5:30 PM (EXCLUDING HOLIDAYS)

Indulge all your senses… above it all More retreat than resort, more home than hotel, Hyatt Carmel Highlands unveils a natural wonderland elevated by modern, generous hospitality. Offering epic views of the Big Sur coast, the picturesque perch provides refined luxury with modern rooms and suites, along with destination dining at Pacific’s Edge. Perfect for short getaways, longer, languid stays or celebratory events of a lifetime, the picturesque property seamlessly blends the amenities of a large hotel with the charm of a boutique hideaway. Reserve your slice of heaven today. For more information go to or call (831) 620-1234. 120 HIGHLANDS DR CARMEL, CA 93923

It has happened, the return to normal—although how we define normal at Monterey County bars, restaurants, breweries and tasting rooms may have changed a bit. There are more challenges for owners to overcome, certainly. For example, the cost of ingredients and staffing soared. Yet the situation has improved in so many ways, and there are well over a dozen local chefs worthy of national acclaim. There are now more than a dozen dining options within a few blocks along Main Street in downtown Salinas, from tacos to classic European dishes to craft beers. Winston’s joined longtime favorites like Red House Cafe and The Grill at Point Pinos to make Pacific Grove a destination for a relaxing Sunday, mimosas included. Although sushi remains as popular as ever, diners are venturing toward other Japanese favorites, such as onigiri or karaage; restaurants have responded by extending menus. Meanwhile, hotel kitchens in Monterey County are where you can find some of the more inventive concepts and talented chefs. Interesting things are happening at the county’s many wineries, too. In a region known for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, varietals once forgotten, ignored or considered fit only for blending are stepping to the forefront. Now it’s possible to learn the charms of Falanghina or the rare Mourtaou. There is much more to talk about. Inside these pages you will find just a taste of what eat and drink means in Monterey County at an exciting moment in time. -Dave Faries, editor estéban Contents 10 Pacific Grove’s Brunch Scene 14 Japanese Beyond Sushi 18 The Inn Crowd 24 Go Downtown In Salinas 28 Wine Varietal Pack 34 Local Brewery Guide 38 Culinary Cannabis 42 Signature Dishes 58 Signature Drinks Founder & CEO Bradley Zeve Publisher Erik Cushman Project Editor Dave Faries Editor Sara Rubin Art Director/Production Manager Karen Loutzenheiser Contributing Writers and Copy Editors Tajha Chappellet-Lanier, Kyarra Harris, Celia Jiménez, Pam Marino, Rey Mashayekhi, Agata Popeda, David Schmalz Photographers Daniel Dreifuss, Nik Blaskovich Graphic Designers Alexis Estrada, Lani Headley, Kevin Jewell Advertising Keith Bruecker, Diane Glim, George Kassal Business Development Director Keely Richter Cover Photo by Daniel Dreifuss A selection of grilled oysters at Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette in Marina, where they also shuck oysters from waters off the east, west and gulf coasts. The Best of Monterey Bay® is published by Milestone Communications, Inc., a California corporation. The entire contents are copyright 2023. No portion may be reproduced. 831-394-5656. DANIEL DREIFUSS 8 The Best of Monterey Bay® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 SIGN UP TODAY: FRESH, LOCAL NEWS SERVED DAILY Arts Culture Food News and More DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX DAILY MCNOW_1-3v_ED23_kpr.indd 1 3/30/23 4:09 PM

LOCATED BEHIND THE PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA | COMPLIMENTARY PARKING TWO PORTOLA PLAZA | MONTEREY | (831) 649-2699 | PETERBSBREWPUB.COM AWARD-WINNING HOUSE BREWS & SEASONAL ALES | BREWED ON-SITE SEASONAL MENU | 18 HDTV’S | PET-FRIENDLY PATIO LOCATED INSIDE THE PORTOLA HOTEL & SPA COMPLIMENTARY SELF OR VALET PARKING TWO PORTOLA PLAZA | MONTEREY, CA | (831) 649-7830 JACKSATPORTOLA.COM | Jacks Monterey is poised to provide a refreshing experience with a philosophy centered on the globally-inspired traditions of California Cultural Cuisine, emphasizing local ingredients, high-quality seafood, and more. • seasonal menu with locally sourced ingredients • handcrafted cocktails & award-winning wine list • pet-friendly outdoor terrace with fire pits CALIFORNIA CULTURAL CUISINE TWO HAPPY HOURS 4PM TO 6PM 9PM TO 10PM

They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what if it takes place later, at a leisurely pace, and involves a bubbly beverage? Surely that’s important too. Whether you’re seeking breakfast or brunch, Pacific Grove—Monterey County’s Butterfly Town, USA—offers ample opportunity for both. There are no fewer than four spots to enjoy benedicts, pancakes and more along the quaint downtown stretch of Lighthouse Avenue, plus a couple more further afield that help round out this list. Red House Cafe 662 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 643-1060, Housed in a bright red Victorian home originally built in 1895, the Red House is about as picturesque an environment for a cozy breakfast as one can imagine. The restaurant, which opened in 1996, serves all the brunch classics from benedicts and buttermilk pancakes to soups, salads and sandwiches on the savory side. With friendly, swift service and an inviting atmosphere, this house is a great place to start your day. Winston’s—A Brunch Place 602 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 324-4162, The newest addition to Pacific Grove’s breakfast and brunch lineup opened in January 2022 in the former Winston Hotel on Lighthouse. The restaurant is a light, bright jewel box of a space, with retro accents but decidedly modern clean lines. The breakfast menu covers its bases, from steel-cut oats (three different ways) to the always-popular eggs benedict. Other popular items 10 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Rise and Shine Butterfly Town USA is home to breakfast and brunch spots for all occasions. By Tajha Chappellet-Lanier The Grill at Point Pinos Brunch Bunch Daniel Dreifuss

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include the three-mushroom omelet on the savory side, or the lemon ricotta pancakes on the sweet side—fluffy buttermilk pancakes topped with a tangy lemon curd and buttery blueberry compote. The Grill at Point Pinos 79 Asilomar Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 375-1313, Located smack in the middle of the Pacific Grove Golf Links (between the 9th and 10th holes, to be exact), The Grill at Point Pinos is an understandable draw for golfers and golf lovers. But we’re here to tell you that it’s worth a trip regardless of your exact feelings toward golf— the well-appointed brunch menu and beautiful view from the patio make it so. Menu highlights include the huevos rancheros and papas poblanos. There’s also a range of benedicts for those who wish to opt for a classic, and special vegan and/or gluten-free options for those that require. Order a Bloody Mary, sit back and enjoy. Aliotti’s Victorian Corner 541 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 372-4641, Family-owned since 1977, Aliotti’s occupies a spacious corner spot with decidedly old-school charm, down to the historic photos that decorate the walls. Weekday mornings see regulars filling their regular tables, while the weekend is more of a mix-and-match with tourists visiting the area. “Quality counts,” Dominic Aliotti says of the secret to the restaurant’s longevity. Specialties include the huevos rancheros (homemade salsa) and the decadent crab cake benedict, as well as “Victorian Toast”—an Aliotti’s take on French toast using sourdough bread and served with a homemade orange sauce. Breakfast is served from 8am to 3pm, with the lunch menu kicking in at 10am. Toasties Cafe 702 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 373-7543, Need to get an early start? Toasties begins slinging omelets at 6:30am (7am on Sundays—an early start isn’t a requirement, though, because breakfast is served until 3pm). But there’s no need to feel constrained to the egg here. Toasties’ breakfast menu includes a little bit of everything, from homemade corn beef hash to hot cakes and waffles. Plus, there’s a special kids’ menu to keep the little ones happy. First Awakenings 300 David Ave., Monterey. (831) 372-1125, Okay, yes, this is technically in Monterey. But for its location just over the line on David Avenue, it deserves mention on the Pacific Grove breakfast spot guide. The bustling morning crowds at First Awakenings (which also has a location in Salinas) are matched only by the absolutely packed menu, which includes a whole section of skillets (potatoes and cheese topped with eggs, served with an English muffin), omelets and pancakes in every flavor profile. The location, conveniently near Cannery Row and the Monterey Bay Aquarium for post-breakfast exploration, certainly doesn’t hurt. This stalwart is open 7am2pm daily, or until 2:30pm on weekends. Wild Fish 545 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove. (831) 373-8523, Seafood. Fine dining. For brunch? Yes, it can be done. A smoked sablefish benedict, or a wild mushroom omelette, maybe a seared ahi tostada is how Wild Fish interprets brunch. The menu changes seasonally and according to the day’s catch, but oysters are always an option, as is the restaurant’s signature fish and chips (with the chips done “London style”). It happens 11:30am-3pm on Sunday, and they offer Saturday lunch, as well, plus a normal resturant schedule. Step brunch up a notch. Brunch Bunch Red House Cafe 12 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Nik Blaskovich

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For those who haven’t been to Japan, the first thing they should understand about Japanese food is that they probably don’t understand Japanese food. Ever since sushi restaurants became wildly popular in America starting in the 1980s, they created a false impression that Japanese food is sushi. But it is just one star in a vast constellation of culinary delights. The more recent popularity of ramen and, to some extent, udon, have widened the aperture a bit, but there is much, much more. In Japan, the daily staple—breakfast, lunch and dinner—is traditionally rice. The word for rice, gohan, is synonymous with “meal.” And not just any rice, it’s Japanese rice (the Japonica variety, some of which is grown in California), which has such a distinct, subtle flavor that it is often eaten plain with only spartan seasoning, like sesame seeds, nori flakes or perhaps a single sour plum. That rice is traditionally accompanied by a series of vegetable side dishes that include pickles and salads—cooked, and made with mature spinach, seaweed or root vegetables like burdock, daikon and carrot—with sesame seeds sprinkled on nearly everything. Then there’s a cooked protein, which traditionally is fish, but is often chicken, pork or beef. But there are countless other Japanese dishes, many of them borne out of Japan’s cross-pollination with the West following World War II, that are tough to find anywhere in America that doesn’t have a robust population of Japanese Americans (Monterey County once did—Japanese immigrants founded the local fishing industry in the late 19th century—but most didn’t return after the Japanese internment camps in the 1940s). Yet there are some of the more obscure—for Americans, at least— Japanese dishes that can be found locally. In trying them, one can start to get a sense of the range of Japanese cuisine. Ocean Sushi Deli in Monterey and Pacific Grove serves a number of such dishes, and is perhaps the only place in the county that serves natto, a fermented soybean dish with a distinctly slimy texture (like okra) that is traditionally mixed with karashi (a spicy mustard) and a sauce made from dashi, sugar and soy sauce. Mixed up and eaten atop rice, it’s a popular, quick breakfast. But it’s also polarizing—natto has a smell many 14 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Oishii Yo Japanese is about more than sushi, ramen or udon. Here’s where to find some of the cuisine’s lesser-known dishes, which are no less delicious. By David Schmalz Ocean Sushi Deli Beyond Bento Daniel Dreifuss

Best Restaurant in Monterey County Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion ’21 ’19 ’22

gaijin find off-putting. For those who acquire the taste, however, it’s delicious, and there’s no other food quite like it. Also at Ocean Sushi, as well as Zum Sushi in Pacific Grove and C.U. Sushi in Salinas, is Japanese curry, which became popular in the country in the 1950s. Now every city is filled with restaurants dedicated to the dish. Per Japanese tastes, it’s mildly spiced, and is a go-to comfort food for those looking for a tasty gravy, with meat and vegetables, to sop up mouthfuls of rice. Another popular, ubiquitous dish is onigiri—rice packed into a folded triangle of nori seaweed (like a triangular rice burrito) with a filling in the center, often umeboshi (sour, pickled plum) or some kind of protein. They literally line the racks of Japanese convenience stores, which unlike their American counterparts, stock delicious and healthy food. Onigiri make for a good snack or holdover meal on the go, and you can find them at Ocean Sushi too. But not all popular Japanese food is necessarily healthy (see: tempura), and such foods are typically not eaten in large quantities. Among them are karaage, Japanese fried chicken, which unlike its American counterpart, is made with potato starch (or flour) batter, which somehow makes the texture more delicate, and arguably more compelling. An excellent version can be found at Crystal Fish in Monterey, as well as Zum Sushi in Pacific Grove. And last on the list of wildly popular dishes, you can find locally are takoyaki, which are deep-fried balls of seasoned pancake batter with a small amount of vegetables and a piece of octopus inside, then seasoned with a sweet and savory sauce, Kewpie mayonnaise, nori and bonito flakes. Typically eaten as a street food in Japan, they’re beloved by the younger generations of Japanese, and they are, indeed, amazing. They can be found at Ocean Sushi, Kokoro Ramen and Sushi Time—both in Seaside—and elsewhere. To finish on a healthier and more traditional note, one can get a taste of a traditional root vegetable salad, kinpira (braised burdock root and carrot, available at Ocean Sushi), to get a sense of what adults in Japan are eating on the side. Or rethink rice as a main event. C.U. Sushi, for example, offers an interpretation of the basic side that includes black rice, brown rice, quinoa and barley. So the next time you go out for Japanese food, after you order your sushi, ramen or udon, look down the menu to see what else is on offer, and consider taking a chance. You might discover flavors you’ve never before tasted. And you might fall in love. Beyond Bento Kokoro Ramen 16 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Ocean Sushi Deli Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss

Passionfish restaurant Best Restaurant Monterey County, 2022-2005 Best Restaurant Pacific Grove, 2022-2020, 2018-2014, 2012, 2011 701 Lighthouse•Ave Pacific Grove•831-655-3311• Dinner nightly from 5 pm Best Restaurant Monterey County, 2022-2020, 2018-2014, 2012, 2011 Best Restaurant Pacific Grove, 2022-2005

At Coastal Kitchen, dining is an experience. Dishes are served, drinks poured. There are tables and booths. In most respects, it resembles any other restaurant. Yet Chef Michael Rotondo builds the tasting menu as movements, though he’s not reaching for a crescendo. Each course is captivating. What shouldn’t come as a surprise is that Coastal Kitchen is tucked inside the Monterey Plaza Hotel on Cannery Row. Yet hotel restaurants are often overlooked. Locals consider them the domain of tourists. Visitors are often keen to leave the hotel and scout for places around town. “It is a little challenging,” admits chef Mario Garcia of Estéban Restaurant, located in the Casa Munras Garden Hotel in downtown Monterey. On weekends and busy seasons, area residents tend to look elsewhere. “They’ll come in on a weekday,” Garcia says. But some of Monterey County’s most esteemed restaurants are housed in hotels. Aubergine, in the exclusive L’Auberge Carmel, holds the county’s only Michelin Star. Sierra Mar in Big Sur’s Post Ranch Inn brings in produce from its own plots, as well as select farms. The blackened halibut at Pacific’s Edge, the restaurant at Hyatt Carmel Highlands, will linger in your memory for years. Portola Hotel & Spa features not only a sit-down restaurant—Jacks— but also Peter B’s, a brewpub and sports bar often cited for the best chicken wings in the county. There are other examples, such as Shearwater Tavern in Carmel Mission Inn, Covey Grill in The Quail Lodge and the C restaurant+bar, in the Clement hotel on Cannery Row. These are not the dour rooms of industrial carpet often framed by the phrase “hotel restaurant.” Many feature changing menus and are guided by seasonality and sustainability, emphasizing local ingredients. The culinary team at Valley Kitchen in Carmel Valley Ranch can call upon artisans tending gardens, beehives, even goats and chickens. Chef Christian Ojeda of Lucia Restaurant & Bar in the Bernardus Lodge calls his approach “chef to farm.” Ojeda visits with farmers and gets to know them and their products. He may take asparagus from one, but turn to another for corn, depending upon their particular qualities. The forager who brings in mushrooms pulls up to the luxurious retreat in a battered and bruised Toyota pickup. It helps that, as at Valley Kitchen, Sierra Mar and other locations, the 18 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Room, Service Hotel restaurants have become destinations of their own. By Dave Faries Inn Crowd Estéban Daniel Dreifuss

Where To Find A Market As Fine As Elroy’s 15 Soledad Drive, Monterey, CA @elroysfinefoods (831) 373-3737 SAN FRANCISCO SEATTLE NYC LOS ANGELES NO FOOD MARKET COMES CLOSE TO US ON THE PENINSULA, AND PERHAPS NOT EVEN IN THE WHOLE STATE OF CALIFORNIA! That’s because nothing comes close to our selection of bulk foods encased in glass and steel rather than sitting in plastic. Or to our California Certified Organic Farmers-certified produce department - so fresh it feels like you’re at the Farmers’ Market every single day. Or our wine department where you’ll find only Natural Wines – huzzah! Plus our grocery aisles carry products that you won’t find down the street – products made by other mom & pop businesses as well as female-owned, BIPOC & POC-owned businesses, as well as local businesses we admire. WHAT ELSE MAKES US SO FINE? We don’t just offer foods for you to prepare, but also our own creative and delicious prepared foods. Not just food to take home, but also food to enjoy onsite or in Elroy’s Alley. And not just food, but also a wine & espresso bar, as well as a constantly changing selection of uncommon flowers and unusual gifts. WHAT MAKES US UNCOMMON? It’s not easy cultivating the best in product selection, customer service, and store atmosphere. And frankly trying to be the best isn’t always for making profits; however we firmly believe that being the best for our customers will ultimately be the best for us too.

Bernardus Lodge property in Carmel Valley offers an olive orchard, rows of lavender, beehives and an organic garden. Ojeda is able to change the menu as new ingredients arrive, “and when I get bored.” It’s not necessary, however, for chefs to have such direct access. “We have some great purveyors,” Rotondo observes. “The farmers are the true artists here. I don’t like to manipulate much.” For Rotondo, the tasting menu at Coastal Kitchen is a canvas that cannot be finished. There are so many brushstrokes available. He prefers to be guided by the ingredients available. Because he prepares a menu of Spanish favorites, including paella, Garcia relies in part on authentic ingredients from Europe. “You have to stay true to the dish,” he explains. Yet he also lugs bags of produce from area farmers markets and visits local farms. “I ask what they have planted,” he notes. “Many will say, ‘if you want us to grow something, let us know.’” The results of all this talent and consideration pent up in many of the county’s hotel restaurants can be stunning. At Sea Root in the Hyatt Regency Monterey, both the bread and butter are made in house. The former is sturdy, with smoky wisps, the latter rich and tangy, as if the cows ranged on wild grasslands. Pilaf studded with sausage, apricots and dates is so compelling it becomes a distraction from the chicken it supports. Little pops of unexpected flavor can be found throughout the menu— pomegranate bursting brightly from the char of an eggplant spread, fresh mint and sweet peas vying for attention in an earthy tabbouleh. Sea Root Chef Dan Elinan roams widely around the Mediterranean with his menu, while narrowing in on local flavors. “What part of those cuisines have touched us in California?” he says, explaining the concept. “We think we can offer a new level of Mediterranean.” Chefs giving standards a little elevated flair is not unusual. It is, however, quite a distance from the fundamental meat and potatoes of yore, when hotel restaurants planned for a less adventurous crowd. Chez Zachary Ladwig of The Sur House at Alila Ventana Big Sur had taken Inn Crowd 20 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Salt Wood Kitchen & Oysterette Daniel Dreifuss

an unusual step when it comes to one of the resort restaurant’s menus. For the dinner listing, he sources with care from local farms and gardens. Words like “hand-harvested,” “heirloom” and “seasonal” describe dishes. But Ladwig loosened his grip and allowed his veteran kitchen staff to develop the lunch menu. “There are places where it should be chef-centric, ego-driven,” he points out. But lunch is a more relaxed affair. And several of the line cooks have been with Sur House for more than 20 years. “They know what they are doing. They are going to cook what they like.” What they happen to like are tacos, quesadillas, wings, churrasco, burgers and other favorites—especially guacamole. “We’ve gone through every avocado known to man,” Ladwig says with a laugh. Although many of these hotel chefs have worked in Michelin Star kitchens in the past and share a devotion to ingredients and technique, their approaches vary. The first thing you notice about Ojeda’s menu at Lucia, for instance, is the utter lack of grandiloquence. There are no references to wild, hand caught, day boat or anything that may glorify the fresh seasonality. It’s just “king salmon,” “braised beef short rib” and so on. Ojeda saves loquaciousness for the plate. Slivers of strawberry tucked in an heirloom tomato carpaccio seem to launch the earthtone sweetness of fruit, while freshly spun mozzarella dissolves into an opulent finish—layered flavors that drape over the palate and engulf the senses. To bypass hotel restaurants in Monterey County is to miss out. For an hour-and-a-half at Coastal Kitchen, you are in communion with the succession of courses and the conversation they evoke. It’s not something so indistinct as “atmosphere” that envelopes diners. The meal—dining—is the entirety of the experience. Inn Crowd Coastal Kitchen DANIEL DREIFUSS 22 The Best of Monterey Bay® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 43 Fisherman’s Wharf Monterey 831-288-6218 Homemade Ice cream, SHakeS & SundaeS MTYBayCreamery_1-3v_ED22_gk.indd 1 3/29/23 3:02 PM


There are about 15 dining options in just a few blocks of Main Street in downtown Salinas, as well as breweries, coffee and more, making it an ultimate dining-out strip. In addition to lunch and dinner establishments, Main Street offers a wide early-morning breakfast selection, taquerias and something for night owls, too. At least four restaurants open at 7am daily, including the legendary and original First Awakenings (171 Main; 7am-2pm daily), in a much prettier setting and historic building compared to the location in Monterey. This classic breakfast spot serves omelets, pancakes and burgers. If in doubt, order raspberry coconut pancakes—they come schnitzelsized. Other early dining options on Main are Dudley’s Restaurant, aka Dudley Oldtown (258 Main; 7am-2pm), with daily quiches and the self-advertised best burgers in town; Portobello’s on Main (150 Main; 8am-2pm daily, Wednesday-Saturday open for dinner, closing at 8pm); and Gordon’s Café (343 Main, 9am-8:30pm, closed on Sundays). Portobello and Gordon’s specialize in sandwiches and salads, with Portobello offering such delicacies as a calamari steak sandwich or peanutty coleslaw. Beyond the American classics, Gordon’s adds additional Mexican fare. Both restaurants, just like 201 Main (201 Main; 4-10pm, until 1:30am Friday-Saturday), do catering, even though 201 Main is more of a dinner spot with many weekend specials and an all-you-can-eat “fiesta brunch” buffet every Sunday from 10am-3pm. For good, strong coffee roasted in-house and available before dawn, try beloved locals’ gathering spot Cherry Bean Coffee Roasting Company (332 Main; 5:30am5pm Monday-Friday; 7am on SaturdaySunday). Speaking of Mexican food, arguably the biggest catch in downtown Salinas is Villa Azteca (157 Main; 11am-4pm for lunch and 5:30-9pm for dinner), presenting modern Mexican food. Villa Azteca is closed on Mondays, but also offers Sunday brunch from 10am-4pm. Just a few steps from there, one can find a more traditional and less expensive approach to tacos, tortas and enchiladas: Mi Tierra (129 Main; 10am10pm daily) and breakfast-lunch-only Taqueria El Burrito King (8 Midtown Lan, 7am-2pm). For seafood lovers, Islas Marietas (330 Main; 11am-7pm) highlights a southern islander approach to Mexican cuisine. Speaking of seafood, MamiChelas (131 Main; noon-9pm Sunday, Tuesday24 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Main Attraction What to eat from 7am to midnight, in the heart of downtown Salinas. By Agata Pope˛da Villa Azteca Go Downtown Daniel Dreifuss 25 Lunch • Signature Desserts • Second Saturday High Tea •Gift Shop Tours • Private Parties • Special Events The Steinbeck House All Monterey County locals receive a 10% discount on Tuesdays in the Restaurant The Steinbeck House We are OPEN Tues.–Sat. 11:30am–2pm Gift Shop OPEN Tues.–Sat. 11am–3pm 132 Central Avenue, Salinas • 831- 424-2735 Scan to visit our website and menu We invite you to come in and enjoy a delicious meal in the boyhood home of John Steinbeck. Steinbeck_1-3s_ED23_KB.indd 1 3/29/23 4:23 PM 2012– 2022 Best Italian Restaurant Award-Winning Traditional Italian Cooking Open for Lunch & Dinner Lunch 11am-1:30pm Closed Tuesday for Lunch Open 7 Days for Dinner at 5pm • 831-324-4282 110 Central Ave, Pacific Grove fyP ilvecchio-1_1-6v_ED23_DG.indd 1 3/30/23 12:02 PM BBQ JOINT Your friendly neighborhood T&A CAFE, Home of Kleinfeldt Family BBQ 1 Harris Road, Salinas, CA 93908 | (831)225-0447 | -Great Breakfast- -BBQ Daily- -Fresh Salads- -Burgers & Hot Dogs- -Vegetarian OptionsT&A_1-2h_ED23_KB.indd 1 3/29/23 4:21 PM

Thursday, until 1am Friday-Saturday) offers sushi, but there are also two dedicated sushi spots—Sushi Daruma (216 Main, 11:30am-2:30pm, 5-9pm daily, open late on weekends) and Kokoro Sushi (216 Main; 11am-2pm, 5-9pm, late on weekends). The recently opened Italian restaurant Mangia (328 Main; 11:30am-2pm and 4:30-8:30pm, closed Sunday) became an instant favorite. Meanwhile Patria (228 Main, 4-9pm, closed Sunday) is a longtime draw, serving German, Italian and French traditions in a lovely, rustic space. Finally, in terms of drinks, Main Street has a lot to offer. Alvarado on Main, Alvarado Street Brewery’s downtown Salinas location, has arrived (301 Main; 11am-9pm daily). It’s spacious and glossy, with an expansive menu including a big raw bar, pizza, and steak and shrimp sandwich, as well as a variety of beers on tap (or cocktails, if you prefer). Dubber’s Old Town Bar And Grill (172 Main; 11am-midnight daily) has long been around and still can compete with its solid bar fare—fish tacos with aioli, sweet corn and mango. If you are into sweet, spicy fish, that is. (If not, the salads are a meal unto themselves.) After Tuesday, late-night fun on Main really starts with XL Public House (127 Main; Monday and Sunday closed, 4:30pm-10pm Tuesday-Thursday, until midnight on Friday and Saturday), Brew-N-Krew Ale House (155 Main; Monday-Tuesday closed, Wednesday 5-9pm; open late on weekends) and La Cantina Brewing Company (165 Main; Monday-Tuesday closed; noon-9pm, noon-midnight Friday-Saturday) is happy to quench your thirst. If you need coffee, don’t forget about The Bearded Bean (210 Main; 6am9pm; 11pm on Fridays-Saturdays). If you want to linger there well beyond coffee hour, just transfer to ordering draft beers. Venture a couple of blocks in any direction and all of a sudden, the offerings expand at any time of day. You will need more than a weekend on Main Street to eat, and drink, your way through it. Go Downtown Alvarado on Main 26 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Portobello’s on Main Daniel Dreifuss Daniel Dreifuss

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Valdiguie, Trousseau, Carignan. They could be Musketeers from chivalrous fiction, crossing swords with an arrogant prince and his retinue. Instead, these are three of the many winegrape varieties almost forgotten in a market saturated by Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and other favorites. In fact, 64 percent of all acreage devoted to vineyards in Monterey County grows just two different grapes—Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. People recognize the major varietals from the world’s top wine-producing regions. Melon de Bourgogne, Falanghina and others—not so much. More often than not, the tannic belt and inky hue of Petit Verdot or the brisk tone of Carignan are prized for what they bring to blends. Growers in the Italian Piedmont once planted Arneis merely to protect their favored Nebbiolo vines from predators. Name recognition sells. It also rewards vintners, who can draw higher prices for bottles of popular varietals from known viticultural areas. The Valdiguie from J. Lohr, for example, has an excellent reputation as a light, breezy red, but brings less than $15 a bottle. Though Monterey County produces 53 wine varietals, the value of the two most prevalent grapes topped $141 million in 2021, according to the Monterey County Crop & Livestock Report. Yet the less familiar varietals may be making inroads in the market. Gamay, produced by Caraccioli Cellars, I. Brand & Family and other labels in Monterey County, is fast becoming the wine of the moment. “Viognier and Albariño are also hot,” explains Kim Stemler, executive director of the Monterey County Vintners and Growers Association. The shift is occurring thanks to winemakers who are rethinking the fundamentals of their craft. Ask any about terroir—the sometimes impish confluence of soil, weather and growing season—and they can respond with a lecture. Bring up the topic with, say, Ian Brand, and the same inquiry turns into a graduate-level course. He and others have begun analyzing the particular qualities of microclimates and plots of soil with the attributes of different vines. “You need to think about what you plant,” he explains. “I’m constantly working with different varieties to find the match.” As it turns out, Arneis finds its best expression in Central Coast AVAs. The 2021 I. Brand & Family Arneis peals with aromas of ripe apple and citrus zest, with impressions of clover honey and hazelnut. It’s a fresh and welcoming introduction that continues as you start 28 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Lesser Is More Monterey County is known for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, but other varietals are gaining notice. By Dave Faries Wrath Wines Varietal Pack Daniel Dreifuss 29 vinbar_1-2h_ED23_dg.indd 1 3/30/23 3:07 PM JOIN OUR NEWSLETTER FOR TICKET RELEASE INFO! BIG SUR FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL Save the Date November 2-4, 2023 BigSurFood&Wine_1-2h_ED23_dg.indd 1 3/29/23 4:58 PM

Varietal Pack to sip, with the zing of tart apple calming as juicier notions like tangerine take shape. Underneath this refreshing sensation, the warmer, more mellow savor of honey and almond recline. In the background, but rising on the finish, is a huskier tone of toasted spice. A 2020 Vermentino from Chesebro would be one’s best friend on a warm, sunny afternoon. It’s pleasantly fruity and floral on the nose, cool and brisk on the palate, with green apple and a squirt of lime and soft earth. It’s a deftly balanced wine. The 2018 Falanghina from Wrath Wines spills aromas that promise a rich, lush wine, with dried apricot, toasted almond, meadow flowers and a hint of buckwheat honey. But it changes directions when sipped, springing onto the palate with darts of apple, apricot and citrus. Yet there is a tannic grip—a parched, gritty, leather strap finish that evens the fruit. Such wines result from a new ethic, one of finding vines suited to the terroir, rather than planting for a larger market. “One of the underpinnings of the work we do is exploration of the area,” says Brand, who believes Monterey County— the Salinas Valley in particular—is ideal for many white grape varieties. “We found some surprising things.” The process has led growers back to practices from long ago. Planting different grape varieties according to microclimates, with budding and harvest staggered—even in the same block of a vineyard—not only brings lesserknown grapes into play, but also means less damage to overall crops from fickle weather events. The team at Scheid Vineyards took to head-training some vines, one of the earliest field traditions. Treated this way, the vines appear like small trees. Their Arbolitos is a blend of Primitivo, Barbera, Charbono and Carignan, along with the more familiar Petite Sirah and Cabernet. At the same time, new generations of wine drinkers are more willing to explore. “I so appreciate that [winemakers] are so willing to experiment,” Stemler says. As winemakers delve deeper into the minutiae of soil and climate, some are 30 The Best of Monterey Bay® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 831.626.6268 | Join Us At Our Tasting Studio in the Carmel Crossroads Enjoy our wines at our Tasting Studio or call and make a reservation for an Estate Vineyard tasting. Producing handmade, highly acclaimed Chardonnays, Pinot Noirs, Sparkling and Roséée from sustainably farmed vineyards in the Legendary Santa Lucia Highlands. WINES GET YOUR TICKETS STARTING APRIL 15! The Salinas Valley Food and Wine Festival is a production of Ye Old Main Street Foundation benefiting Dorothy’s Kitchen. SATURDAY • AUGUST 5 11:30-3:00 • OLDTOWN SALINAS Dozens of Wineries! Beer & Food Vendors & Live Music! GET YOUR TICKETS STARTING APRIL 15! The Salinas Valley Food and Wine Festival is a production of Ye Old Main Street Foundation benefiting Dorothy’s Kitchen. SATURDAY • AUGUST 5 11:30-3:00 • OLDTOWN SALINAS Dozens of Wineries! Beer & Food Vendors & Live Music!

Visit Hahn For a Taste of the Santa Lucia Highlands © 2022 HAHN FAMILY WINES HAHN ESTATE 37700 Foothill Rd., Soledad 831.678.4555 HAHN CARMEL Ocean Ave. & Mission St., Carmel-By-The-Sea 831.250.7937

also returning to winemaking styles of yore. Wrath’s Falanghina, for instance, is fermented and aged in clay vessels. Such jars date back to ancient times. At Albatross Ridge, Garrett Bowlus began employing both terracotta and concrete in place of oak or stainless steel. The 2021 Piquette crafted by Russel Joyce at Joyce Wine Company is a return to a peasant-style bottling. Sprite, with a peppy effervescence, it offers a unique bouquet of toasted apple. A sip is like biting into a sliver of tart green apple that has been lightly dusted with fine salt. The drink—piquette is not really a wine—compares to a sour beer, only not as assertive. Piquettes are produced from a second fermentation of pomace, the leftovers of winemaking, rather than juice. In centuries past, these cast-offs were given away to field workers. It packs just around 6-percent alcohol. Other throwback styles have proven trendy. Orange wines (actually white wines left on skins for an extended period) and the sparkling, but unpredictable, pétillant naturel are examples. As the name implies, Stemler observes, “pét-nat is just what nature does”—a wild fermentation caught in the bottle. While two wine varietals may claim most attention in terms of bottling numbers and dollar figures, there is clearly a lot of ferment in the Monterey County wine scene. Scheid has a Petit Manseng. Puma Road bottles a Tannat. There are single varietal Carignans at both Odonata and Seabold Cellars. Among their other oddities, Pierce Ranch offers a Verdelho. “They have so many different varietals,” Stemler points out. “Everything Pierce does is incredible.” Perhaps the most unusual wine varietal in circulation—somewhat—at the moment is Cabernet Pfeffer. Both Kobza Wines and I. Brand produce a version, although winemaker Ryan Kobza identifies the grape as Mourtaou. He is, after all, the one who sent a sample to UC Davis for genetic testing. It’s a complicated story. But it’s also an old and rare vine. Between 10 and 15 acres—different figures have been published—of it exist in California, all in San Benito County. The wine can be as mysterious as the stories around it. I. Brand’s 2021 Cabernet Pfeffer promises rich, hearty fruits on the nose. But there is a delicate floral aroma sifting through the ripe berry note that indicates the wine’s true nature. It is genteel, with a reserved earthiness dabbled by pepper and cooking spices—deep, without being corpulent. Cabernet Pfeffer, or Mourtaou, creates gorgeous wine. It’s one of the many varietals turned out by Monterey County winemakers that belong alongside Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and the other big names. Varietal Pack Pierce ranch Vineyards DANIEL DREIFUSS 32 The Best of Monterey Bay® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Voted Monterey County’s BEST FISH & CHIPS Ten years in a row! Come In and See Why! Wharf #2 • Monterey 372-0581 ’22 Layers Sensation Cakes 9 Soledad Dr. Monterey 655 1544 ’22 Thank you for voting us BEST CAKES! and BEST CUPCAKES

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The locally brewed craft beer revolution came late to Monterey County. There were, of course, bars dedicated to good beer in its variety. And brewpubs like Peter B’s in Monterey date back to 1996. Apart from the original Alvarado Street Brewery, Fieldwork and English Ales, however, the other establishments on this list opened their doors within the past six years. For craft beer aficionados, the phrase “better late than never” has real meaning. Alvarado Street Brewery Brewers of beers that are often given clever names. That’s the first impression. The second and even more important one is that the beers are even more intriguing when poured. The team experiments across genres with great success (expect crowds). A favorite is Monterey Beer, a revival of a local recipe from the 1930s. And while taps rotate, there’s always a core, such as Mai Tai P.A. Alvarado Street is consistently solid, so it’s all about the beer for aficionados. However, there are distinct fun vibes at each location, as well. Alvarado Street Brewery, 426 Alvarado St., Monterey. (831) 655-2337. Alvarado Street Brewery & Bistro, Carmel Plaza, Ocean and Mission, Carmel. (831) 293-8621. Alvarado on Main, 301 Main St., Salinas. Alvarado Street Taproom, 1315 Dayton St. #E, Salinas. (831) 800-3332. Brew-N-Krew Ale House The festive, colorful space seems to have been designed with Instagram in mind. The beers are also made ready for social media in the form of cocktails. Where else can you get a beermosa? Or a beergarita? The first is with freshly squeezed orange juice. You can probably figure out the second. 155 Main St., Salinas. (831) 676-6533. 34 The Best of Monterey Bay ® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 Playing Taps County breweries offer an ever-changing lineup of craft beers. By Dave Faries Peter B’s Brewpub Brew Crew Daniel Dreifuss

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DUST BOWL BREWING CO. TAP DEPOT Depot in the title is a nod to the building, once Monterey’s railroad station. The location is a big bonus, as it sits near the wharf and the beach. But the beers from this Turlock-based brewery stand up to the setting. At its core are a range of IPAs, pilsner and lager. But they also play with fruits and even seltzers. There’s a popular taco truck on hand and patio games to fill the time. 290 Figueroa St., Monterey. (831) 641-7002, ENGLISH ALES BREWERY As the name suggests, traditional English style ales are the foundation of this longstanding favorite. There are pale ales, brown ales, strong ales, the occasional spicy winter ale and, naturally, a porter and stout. But the brewer does venture into other territory. Dozens of mugs hang above the bar, evidence of the popularity of English Ales’ Mug Club. 223 Reindollar Ave., Marina. (831) 883-3000, FIELDWORK BREWING COMPANY Fieldwork is a beer garden—as in, under the sun (or fog) with picnic tables and few frills. An outpost of the Berkeleybased brewery, Fieldwork is known for its ever-changing lineup and the brewmasters’ willingness to play in any style, even sub-styles (Bohemian lager, American lager, something they refer to as West Coast lager). So there is much to choose from, sours to Belgian-style ales, dark beers, barrel-aged and more. In addition to their brews, the fun here is the beer garden atmosphere. 560 Munras Ave., Monterey. (831) 324-0658, HIDDEN HILLS BREWING & BLENDING The brewer prefers light styles, heady aromatics and nuanced layering of flavors. But don’t think he can’t lay it on when it comes to porters, sours and other bold styles. Yet his deft touch shows throughout the lineup. The Brew Crew 36 The Best of Monterey Bay® EAT + DRINK 2023-2024 20 21 22 BREWERY AND TAPROOM with and GOOD FOOD, NATURAL WINE, LIVE MUSIC, GREAT BEER THE MONTEREY PENINSULA’S MOST RECOMMENDED PIZZERIA ’98-’22 BEST PIZZA 3 BLOCKS UP FROM CANNERY ROW/AQUARIUM AFFORDABLE FAMILY DINING Pizza • Pasta • Ravioli • Calzones • Salads Great Italian Sandwiches Gelato • Delicious Desserts BANQUET ROOM • FULL COCKTAIL BAR OPEN MON-THUR 4PM • FRI 3PM • SAT & SUN 12PM Call ahead for take-out service 649-1500 725 Lighthouse Avenue Monterey Gianni’s Pizza Family Owned & Operated Since 1974 ’15 BEST FAMILY RESTAURANT ’17 BEST PLACE FOR A BIRTHDAY PARTY

intriguing name comes from the brewery’s access to apples (yes, ciders so good he prepares them for an upscale resort) and a vineyard. It’s a neat space tucked into a corner of The Barnyard shopping center, with an outdoor space and food available. 3777 The Barnyard, Carmel. (831) 250-7311, LA CANTINA BREWING COMPANY Part Mexican restaurant, part craft beer house with a Mexican flair, La Cantina does some inventive things, such as collaboration efforts with other brewers. They do several styles, but your eyes are drawing to beers inspired by south-ofthe-border flavors, like horchata (stout) and tamarind (pilsner). 165 Main St., Salinas. (831) 320-4221 OTHER BROTHER BEER CO. Brewed in Seaside and served in a neat space with garage door walls that can roll up to let the outdoors in, as well as a popular sidewalk parklet. The beer menu changes often, but you might find a Mexican-inspired dark lager alongside a Czech-style pilsner. There are often nitros, hazies and wheats to choose from, and always a selection of IPAs. Other Brother ramps up the evening with occasional live music and weekly trivia nights. A neighborhood favorite that people will travel to. 877 Broadway Ave., Seaside. (831) 747-1106, PETER B’S BREWPUB There’s something for everyone at Monterey’s oldest brewpub: light, fruity, sour, stout—you name it. The brewmaster has a background in wine and brings a scientific understanding of fermentation and aging, as well as an ethic of sustainability, to her beers. There’s some experimentation to the lineup, but also some throwbacks, like rye or barley wine. There’s a pet-friendly patio to chill and a sports bar vibe inside. The kitchen is known for its wings (and other dishes). 2 Portola Plaza, Monterey. (831) 649-2699, Brew Crew WWW.MONTEREYCOUNTYWEEKLY.COM 37 LIVE MUSIC ROCK THE ROW! The Salty Seal Hot Spot H S 653 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940 (831) 920-2327 SaltySeal_2-3v_VG22_GK.indd 1 3/29/23 5:40 PM