Readers' Poll

specialty foods was traveling the country with his dog Charley, chicken wings were slowly becoming an upstate New York institution. That it took decades for the dish to take over the nation is probably his fault. Had he dropped by Anchor Bar in Buffalo in the early 1960s, wings would have been an instant craze. Wood serves them with a honey chili glaze that sends your senses yo-yo-ing. They are so riveting that Food & Wine declared the wings a Top 10. But this airport restaurant is all about freshness and customization—if you prefer Buffalo-style, just ask. (But you’re missing out on that glaze!) BEST PIZZA Gianni's Pizza 725 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey (831) 649-1500, giannispizzamonterey. com How many times have the Weekly’s readers voted Gianni’s as the best? We’re not going to start counting because it may take up a page or two. Besides, who has the time? We’re not Steinbeck. He paused over To A God Unknown for five years before it made it to the shelves. Fortunately, Gianni’s can handle crowds with little waiting time. They can also serve families and winning teams at tables in their welcoming dining room. There’s a full bar around back and gelato up front—it’s a festival as much as it is a pizzeria. BEST BBQ Salinas City BBQ 700 W. Market St., Salinas (831) 758-2227, There is a photograph, circa 1955, of John Steinbeck toiling over a back patio grill on which an assortment of meats are beginning to sizzle. He’s working two-fisted, with tongs in his left hand and a baster in his right. He’s also smoking—not the meats, but a cigarette. Screw health, this was the ’50s. The folks at Salinas City BBQ do it differently, using offset smokers, going low and slow. After all, good barbecue requires patience. And the pitmasters at Salinas City must have a lot of it. No wonder they are a popular place. BEST BUTCHER SHOP Star Market 1275 S. Main St., Salinas (831) 422-3651, Don’t trust John Steinbeck’s knife skills—his characters are often eating out of a can (pork and beans, spaghetti, the list goes on). Instead, trust the experts at Star Market’s butcher counter. This locally owned grocery store is the kind of place Steinbeck might have shopped. After all, he loved to tend the backyard grill. You can get custom cuts of any USDA-choice meat you want, and grass-fed, organic offerings. Questions about portion size or whether that’s good for the grill versus the slow cooker? Ask the experts here for guidance. BEST COOKIE BEST CUPCAKE Sweet Reba's 206 Crossroads Blvd., Carmel (831) 601-4818, Everything is relative but nothing is more relative than the institution of the best cookie. The best cookie is the cookie you were having when you were the happiest in your life. Cookie-wise, we are all like Marcel Proust—senseless junkies addicted to our memories (note that both Proust and Steinbeck had a habit of doodling when writing letters). That being said, Reba is ready for you with snickerdoodles, oatmeal cranberry, peanut butter, ginger lemon drops, chocolate chip—you name it, any mood, any day. Lemon crinkle, oatmeal chocolate, strawberries and cream and funfetti are called “revolving cookies” for a reason (each day of the week—different cookie). And the cupcakes? Don’t get us started. The point is, you’ll be happiest here. BEST PIE Sweet Elena's 465 Olympia Ave., Sand City (831) 393-2063, When you think of the perfect pie, what comes to mind? Buttery, flaky crust? Fruit filling that is the perfect combination of sweet and tart? The pies at Sweet Elena’s have all of the 112 BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023 Thank you for voting us 1 9 Years in a Row ! 20052023 Compagno’s MARKET AND DELI 2000 PRESCOTT, MONTEREY 831-375-5987 Open Daily. Closed Tues. 9am-4pm [ SERVING THE BEST SANDWICHES TO THE BEST PEOPLE FOR OVER 50 YEARS Lunch & Dinner Served Daily from 11:30am to 8:30pm 57 Fishermanʼs Wharf, Monterey Reservations Recommended: 831-373-1851 • ’23 Serving Monterey’s Favorite Calamari Over 20 Ways! One of Monterey’s Original Restaurants With the Largest Patio Seating Area on the Wharf $12.95 & $16.95 Monterey County Favorite Localsʼ Menu Served Everyday THANK YOU For Voting Us The Best Calamari 20 Times!