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editors' picks BEST WAY FOR ENTREPRENEURS TO LAUNCH THEMSELVES THROUGH GLASS CEILINGS El Pájaro Community Development Corporation 646 E. Alisal St., Salinas (831) 722-1224, “Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do,” Steinbeck observed. Of course, saying and doing are different matters. A lot of things can block the road to success. But there is help. El Pájaro Community Development Corporation is a nonprofit business incubator that is particularly focused on aiding entrepreneurs who often face the greatest obstacles: women and minorities in Monterey County and beyond. They provide resources, tools and training in English and Spanish. Watsonvillebased El Pájaro CDC opened a new office in Salinas on Aug. 30, with a Regional Women’s Business Center designated by the U.S. Small Business Administration. BEST WAY TO WATCH FORWARDS TRY TO BEAT AN OFFSIDE TRAP Monterey Bay F.C. Cardinale Stadium, 4111 2nd Ave., Seaside (831) 324-2560, John Steinbeck was never one for sports (though his great-grandniece, Molly Knight, is an accomplished baseball writer). Still, he would have appreciated the local pride being instilled by the region’s very own professional soccer team, which began play in 2022 and has already developed a devoted local following. “The Greatest Union of Land and Sea,” as MBFC dubs itself, has looked to create a bond spanning from the Monterey Peninsula to the Salinas Valley and across the wider 831. Games at the club’s refurbished Cardinale Stadium on CSUMB’s campus can be chilly, blustery affairs, but that doesn’t dampen the passion in the stands or the quality of soccer on display. BEST PLACE TO TRAVEL WITH CHARLEY—AND MARIO, BOBBY, A.J., HURLEY… WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 1021 Highway 68, Salinas (831) 242-8201, weathertechraceway. com John Steinbeck got in the car game early with the Model T (as he memorably recounted in his 1954 piece “Jalopies I Cursed and Loved”), and later ventured into Chevrolets, Marmons, Packards—even Jaguars. Steinbeck understood the significant place that cars hold in the American imagination, as evident in both his fiction and his travel essays. We’re pretty certain he didn’t race. But we believe he would have admired Laguna Seca’s place in racing lore—an internationally renowned road circuit revered by drivers and fans the world over, featuring dizzying elevation changes and iconic, one-of-a-kind turns like the Corkscrew. And during the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, you can see cars on the track that would have been familiar to Steinbeck. BEST PLACE TO FEEL LIKE YOU’RE DINING ON A EUROPEAN PATIO Estéban Restaurant Casa Munras Hotel 700 Munras Ave., Monterey (831) 375-0176, We like to imagine patios on the banks of the Danube or overlooking the turrets of a medieval castle. But much of the outdoor seating for Old World establishments is tucked into courtyards framed by garden walls or sides of residential buildings. When Estéban completed renovation of an expanded patio at the end of August, they created such a setting. There are stone features, iron gates and a raised area that sits alongside part of the Casa Munras Hotel. But there are also modern touches, such as a sizable fireplace, a stage for live music, table umbrellas and a pergola for shade—and great service. You don’t even notice the patio juts into the hotel parking lot. BEST CASUAL FINE DINING RESTAURANT OPEN ON MONDAY THAT’S NOT IN A HOTEL OR SHOPPING CENTER Spotted Duck 542 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove (831) 920-2662, Yes, we said “casual fine dining.” Chef Jerry Regester doesn’t like to show off, so the dishes appear simple—seared rock cod, country paté, steak frites, salads and the like. But looks can be deceiving. You see, Regester is a superb fine dining chef, and he brings those techniques, as well as a demand for the best ingredients, to each dish. In other words, he adds an unexpected wow factor to a room that is unpretentious and a menu that does hint at aspiration, but doesn’t prepare you for what you are about to experience. Sure, there are other great options on Sunday and Monday—Hula’s Island Grill, for instance. But Spotted Duck has an air of simple refinement. BEST USE OF INK IN A SHOP THAT SELLS COMIC BOOKS Sacred 8 Studios 1536 Del Monte Blvd., Seaside (831) 920-2271 Steinbeck put ink on the page. OK— technically he wrote in pencil, so graphite would be more accurate. But we’re trying to make a point here. Ink can turn into art, especially at this hidden Seaside spot. Part tattoo parlor, part collectible and comic shop, Sacred 8’s motto is “Whether it’s ink on the page or ink in your skin, we’ve got you covered.” Whimsy comes in many forms here. You might stumble upon anything from comics to vinyl in your travels. Maybe some collectibles to remind you of your trip. But a tattoo that says “I [heart] Dora Flood” would really cement the memories. 124 BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023 Sunday Marina 10am – 2pm Monday Pacific Grove 3 – 7pm Tuesday Alisal 11am – 4pm Wednesday Natividad 11am-3:30pm Thursday Seaside 3–7pm Friday SVH 12:30 – 5:30pm t es! 21 esh Rx Produce Prescriptions: healthcare sionals prescribe families in need buy produce ets) dren (WIC): WIC benefits markets All markets accept CalFresh/EBT & double all EBT purchases up to $30 – ’23 ’22 Thank you for voting us Best Farmers Market Vendor