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