Monterey County sees new restaurants and wine tasting rooms emerge
Monterey, Calif., – Residents and travelers alike will attest that Monterey County, Calif. is a hub of some of the country’s freshest food and wine. The region is perfectly positioned to access both coastal seafood from the Monterey Bay and verdant fields, home to the Salad Bowl of the World, Artichoke Capital of the World and nine different wine appellations. With its fertile lands (and waters), culinary business owners are keen to setup shop in Monterey County, even amidst a pandemic and wildfires.
Since sheltering in place began in March, 16 business owners have opened new and reimagined restaurants and wine tasting rooms throughout the iconic destination, including expanded outdoor seating, takeout and delivery services. From a surfer shack hot dog restaurant in Pacific Grove to Southern soul food in Seaside and the largest wine tasting room in Carmel-by-the-Sea, these new spots are bringing much needed hope and a flurry of international flavors to Monterey County.
Carmel Grill House
Opened in June at the corner of Ocean Ave. and Mission Street, this new Mediterranean restaurant offers traditional favorites like baba ganoush, hummus, kizartma fried vegetables and tzatziki. Small bites include stuffed dolmas and octopus or opt for a heartier menu item like the signature grilled lamb chops.
Featuring a menu that draws inspiration from around the globe, The Pocket’s owners bring 80 years of restaurant experience combined. Enjoy 5-star worthy cuisine that includes flavors from Italy to Mexico and California. Pair an entree with impeccable wines picked by the restaurants Sommelier for an unforgettable culinary experience.
This new sushi and sake bar serves authentic Japanese cuisine using the highest quality ingredients. Diners can choose from traditional rolls, dumplings, seaweed salad, a delicious assortment of fish and stand-out sake service including sparkling, junmai varieties and nigori.
A European excursion may be off the table this year, but Le Souffle is bringing traditional French cuisine to the charming seaside town. The main dish? A variety of Souffle’s that range from savory to sweet.
Talbott Vineyards Tasting Room
Visitors to Carmel-by-the-Sea can now enjoy Talbott Vineyards award-winning chardonnay and pinot noir on their private patio. The new tasting room is considered the largest of the village’s 16 tasting rooms.
Albatross Ridge Tasting Cottage
The beloved Carmel Valley vineyard has opened its second tasting room in Monterey County, this time closer to its vineyards in Carmel Valley. Situated in Carmel Valley Village, Albatross Ridge transformed the historic dairy barn into a new tasting cottage that offers a variety of wines including some different varietals from its Carmel-by-the-Sea location.
Blue Fox Cellars
Adjacent to Cowgirl Winery in Carmel Valley Village, Blue Fox Cellars offers Italian-style wines to enjoy outdoors. Choose from a variety of reds and whites, and of course, some rosé.
Bacon lovers will delight in local chef Tony Baker’s newest venture. Formerly at Monterey’s Montrio Bistro, Baker recently opened his own shop at 445 Reservation Rd. in Marina. The store offers his signature Baker’s Bacon, which was previously only made available to high-end restaurants, and other artisanal food products.
Tutto Buono Eataliano
This new fast casual eatery brings Sicilian favorites from a family with nearly 30 years of restaurant experience within Monterey. Owner Michelle Spadaro expanded her catering company to a brick-and-mortar business this August to include family recipes of Sicilian pan pizzas and Italian street foods.
Monterey Bay Creamery
Head to Old Fisherman’s Wharf for a refreshing taste of homemade ice cream from newbie Monterey Bay Creamery. The ice cream storefront offers sundaes, shakes and an assortment of hard served ice cream flavors to choose from including strawberry, cookies and cream, sea salted carmel, bubblegum and more.
Long-time favorite Lallapalooza was refreshed and reopened as Palooza in downtown Monterey this August. The new concept offers both classic and contemporary comfort food dishes, as well as a new beverage program. Diners will find small plates, pizzas, burgers, steaks and some iconic Lallapalooza dishes, too.
Having just opened at the end of 2019, Pearl Hour’s goal was to bring a new cocktail culture to Monterey. With state-order shutdowns since March, Pearl Hour shifted gears in August to create an adult-only European-inspired coffee shop. The menu includes coffee, espresso, teas, herbal elixirs and a few treats and a bottle shop focused on Pearl Hour’s original concept – spirits.
Lucy’s on Lighthouse
Located near the Pacific Grove Municipal Golf course, Lucy’s on Lighthouse combines two iconic American foods – hot dogs and ice cream. With options including bacon-wrapped dogs, dogs with chili, nacho cheese, sauerkraut, pulled pork and more, kids and adults alike will want to make multiple stops to try their favorite. Plus, the menu includes an assortment of ice cream options – from triple scoops to sundaes, shakes, malts, floats (including a hard root beer) and a banana split.
Right before Monterey County began sheltering in place, Deja Blue opened to bring blues and soul food to Seaside from owner Daryl Choates, who led Monterey Bay Blues Festival for nearly a quarter century. While dining is currently only allowed outdoors or to-go, diners can choose from fewer than 20 items including baby back ribs, steak, shrimp and grits and more.
Babaloo Cuban Café
Gladys Parada has brought her long-time love of Cuba to a brick-and-mortar spot in Seaside. The restaurant features a variety of mouth-watering Cuban sandwiches and sides including empanadas, plantains and more.
Helados La Yaquesita
This new Mexican frozen treat shop offers 28 flavors of Marianne’s Ice Cream, milkshakes, smoothies and dozens of fruit-infused popsicles with a Mexican twist. For those seeking a savory treat mixed with their dessert, Helados La Yaquesita has nacho-inspired bites, sandwiches and more.