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editors' picks Best Fry Of A Quintessential local fish Epsilon Restaurant 422 Tyler St., Monterey (831) 655-8108, One of John Steinbeck’s hobbies was fly fishing, but we like to think he and his best friend Ed Ricketts spent some time fishing in Monterey Bay. Among the many fish available for them to catch includes Pacific sand dabs. The small and quirky-looking flat fish are ubiquitous on restaurant menus on the Monterey Peninsula. They have a delicate taste that is both slightly sweet and salty. The best way to prepare them is with a little seasoning, a fine coating of flour or breadcrumbs then frying in a pan or on a flat top grill. It sounds simple but sometimes the simplest cooking methods can go haywire and instead of delightfully crispy, you get soggy. While most local restaurants do right by the sand dab, the best filets we’ve eaten are at Epsilon. Epsilon’s sand dabs, with just the right amount of seasoning and crispiness, are perfectly served on top of a Greek salad. Opa-licious! Best Place To Go Along For The Ride Marina Pump Track Gloria Jean Tate Park, 3254 Abdy Way, Marina (831) 884-1253, In 2023 on one side of the Peninsula, a city council shot down a proposed skate park project, bumming out the parents, teens, and kids who had worked and lobbied hard. In another city, the 6-year-long development of a similar recreational park was unveiled. At Gloria Jean Tate Park in Marina, three tracks offer people on bikes, skateboards and scooters the chance to roll up and down a series of berms—go down one side of the mound you gain momentum to cruise on up the next. New to this concept? You can cut your pump track teeth on the beginner track. The first of its kind in Monterey County, this project is celebrated (and widely used) by Marina residents, bikers, skaters, and scooter operators from around the county. Best Reason To Keep Waiting El Rinconcito Restaurante Y Café 246 El Camino Real, Greenfield (831) 856-8228 It’s been said that the way to tell if a restaurant is any good is the speed at which you can be seated. El Rinconcito disproves this point with an ever-present clientele lining up to wait for a table. There are several other options within a few blocks but folks in the know will patiently and hungrily wait for an opening to get their fix of chorizo, barbacoa or mariscos. With a vast menu of options spanning land and sea it’s easy to see why they are worth the wait. Their selection of alcoholic beverages—really big ones—certainly doesn’t hurt. Best opportunity to wear glitter to breakfast Diamond Drag Brunch Paper Wing Theatre 711 Cannery Row, Suite i, Monterey (831) 905-5684, The spirited drag performers are all dolled up for brunch—there’s no reason audience members shouldn’t get into it too. This regular brunch event at Paper Wing Theatre includes a buffet with all of the breakfast and lunch classics, plus mimosas, beer and wine. But more importantly than the food (not to minimize the food) it’s a venue for regular drag shows, and about 90 minutes of comedy and sass on stage. Sit back, order a mimosa, and take in all the glitter. Best unexpected roadside wine shop The Power Plant 7990 Highway 1, Moss Landing (831) 453-0022, Moss Landing’s Power Plant coffee shop is a great roadside stop for any number of things—coffee, avocado toast or Gizdich Ranch pies (the “power” part), or plants, books and retail (the “plant” part). But what a first-time visitor might not be expecting is the excellently curated selection of wines. The lineup is small but nuanced, featuring local winemakers like Ian Brand and Samuel Louis Smith, as well as European wines, all at quite affordable price points. You’ll never show up empty-handed when The Power Plant is on your way. Best Place To Go Along For The Ride | Marina Pump Track 126 BEST OF MONTEREY COUNTY® 2023