16 Best Restaurants in Monterey, CA

A seaside, Central California town with lots to offer, Monterey is famous for its bay and its wide variety of aquatic life. Its rugged coastlines and colorful wharfs are popular destinations for both tourists and residents, and the plentiful seafood makes for plenty of great restaurants.

Whether you’re looking for a bite while stopping through to visit the aquarium or a local hoping for a new spot to add to your restaurant rotation, we’ve compiled a list to help you find the perfect spot. Below, find some of the best Monterey restaurants ranging from casual to fine-dining, backed by guest reviews and quality that’s sure to make for a memorable meal.

1. Bistro Moulin

$$$ | (831) 333-1200 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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For a California coast take on European cuisine, look no further than Bistro Moulin, a charming and intimate spot for upscale French fare. Signature dishes include head chef Didier Dutertre’s Parisian-style spinach gnocchi, along with classics like confit de canard and moules frîtes.

In true French fashion, their wine selection is impressive as well, curated by co-owner Colleen Dutertre to make for the perfect complement to the menu.

 

 

2. Whaling Station Steakhouse

$$$ | (831) 373-3778 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Boasting international acclaim, Whaling Station Steakhouse sources their beef with care, believing that all stages of preparation are important for a great steak.

With offerings like silver-tray cut selection and an in-house dry-age room, you’re sure to get the full steakhouse experience. Steak isn’t the only thing they do well, though. You can also enjoy their lively bar and deliciously-prepared sides and seafood.

 

 

3. Kokomo’s at the Grotto Fish Market

$$ | (831) 372-3769 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurants in Monterey, CA

Located at the Old Fisherman’s Wharf, Kokomo’s seafood is as fresh as it comes. A laid back spot with a full bar – cocktail and raw oyster – it’s a popular place for quick bites and evening sports games.

Choose from seafood classics like shrimp cocktail, steamed crab and lobster, and bread-bowl clam chowder while enjoying the tropical-inspired decor.

 

 

4. First Awakenings

$$ | (831) 372-1125 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A casual, beachy breakfast spot known for its fresh ingredients and friendly staff, First Awakenings is a local favorite.

You’re sure to find something to please on the menu, which ranges from gourmet pancakes and Mexican-inspired breakfast to all-American sausage and potatoes. Our only word of warning – come early to avoid long waits on the weekend.

 

 

5. The Sardine Factory

$$$ | (831) 373-3775 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Monterey was once the center of the sardine-packing industry, and the Sardine Factory is a key remnant of that history. Lauded with awards, this upscale joint has long history of providing some of the best seafood, entertainment, and service in the area.

With a wine list that’s garnered international renown and ambience fit for a Hollywood movie scene (Clint Eastwood once filmed at the bar), you’ll feel as though you’ve stepped into a life of old-world glamor as soon as you walk in the doors.

 

 

6. Stokes Adobe Restaurant

$$ | (831) 264-8775 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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For a vibe that feels a bit more like home, Stokes Adobe Restaurant is the place. The restaurant is the latest – and possibly the best – occupant of a historic two-story home that’s seen everything from a printing press to a pottery studio between its walls.

Featuring a rustic menu that lets the simplicity of its flavors shine, the restaurant excels both at great food and a welcoming atmosphere, with separate dining rooms and an outdoor patio making for the perfect intimate setting.

 

 

7. EPSILON

$$ | (831) 655-8108 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A long-standing Monterey favorite, EPSILON opened its doors in 1991. Its roots go back even further, however, as it aims to bring the authentic taste of Greece to the California coast.

Dishes on the menu include avgolemono soup, lamb gyros, and chicken souvlaki , all executed with the spirit of the Mediterranean. With traditionally-inspired decor and nights with live international music, it’s a lovely place both to grab a bite and experience a culture.

 

 

8. Crystal Fish

$$ | (831) 649-3474 | WEBSITE

Best Restaurant in Monterey, CA

While coastal Monterey abounds with seafood, finding a great sushi place is tougher than you’d think. Crystal Fish, with its unassuming exterior and no-frills dining area, seems to hide in plain sight, but the sushi is as authentic and fresh as any you’ll find.

Voted best sushi restaurant in town eight years in a row, their standard is unmatched. With a wide selection of rolls and sashimi, along with beer, wine, and sake, Crystal Fish showcases their creativity and unique take on the local California coast cuisine.

 

 

9. Montrio

$$$ | (831) 648-8880 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Located in a building that used to serve as a firehouse, Montrio is unique in more ways than one. Serving up dishes that are an elegant fusion of American and European cuisine, it aims to provide diners with a fresh and thoughtfully-created dining experience.

Menu highlights include the Muscovy duck and artistic appetizers like the scallop crudo and shrimp risotto. Another plus – the restaurant places a prime importance on sustainability, with locally sourced ingredients and operations that aim at zero-waste.

 

 

10. Sandbar & Grill

$$ | (831) 373-2818 | WEBSITE

Monterey, CA Best Restaurants

Perched right on the wharf, Sandbar & Grill offers lunch and dinner service with an all-around view of the marina, courtesy of their wall-to-wall windows.

The menu is a match made in heaven for seafood-lovers, with steak and ribs added as options for dinner. Quaint and casual but with first-rate service, this is a popular tourist spot that still manages to attract many local regulars with its charms.

 

 

11. Rosine’s Restaurant

$$ | (831) 375-1400 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Known particularly for their desserts – chocolate-lovers, make sure to check out the German chocolate cake – Rosine’s is a family-run spot that’s been serving up American-style comfort food for three generations.

The restaurant has a classic diner feel that will make you feel at home right away, and they’re sure to impress with their homemade soups and generous portions. Their hearty fare is available breakfast through dinner, served with a smile and bottomless coffee regardless of the time of day.

 

 

12. Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle

$ | (831) 372-0568 | WEBSITE

Monterey, CA Best Restaurant

A small institution with a charming, divey feel, Loulou’s has been a favorite of locals and passersby for decades. Packed with character and quirk, the interior is warm and inviting, and features a counter where you can watch the cooks do their magic.

The menu includes items like the Royal Treatment Special (“price depends on our mood and your attitude”) and their famous, hubcap-sized griddle cakes. Bring a friend to enjoy!

 

 

13. Wave Street Cafe

$$ | (831) 718-8171 | WEBSITE

Restaurants in Monterey, CA

Serving breakfast and lunch right across the street from the beach, Wave Street Cafe is another breakfast spot you can’t miss.

Vibrant and colorful, Wave Street is known for tasty dishes like their crab cake benedict, cinnamon bun pancakes, and unique hot chocolates. Dine outside under the flower-covered veranda to enjoy brunch with an ocean view, or sit snugly inside for a taste of their warm, Southwestern-style dining area.

 

 

14. Nacho Bizness

$ | (831) 241-6948 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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Ever wondered if Mexican food could still taste as great vegetarian? Nacho Business is here with the answer. A quick spot that offers make-your-own burritos and bowls, Nacho Bizness is reminiscent of Chipotle but twenty times better.

With lots of vegetarian and even vegan options, and plenty of meat as well, they provide fast and friendly service that’s perfect for a late night snack or quick after-beach bite.

 

 

15. Heirloom Pizza Co.

$$ | (831) 717-4363 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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If you’re looking for a simple but stylish pizza joint, Heirloom Pizza is the place. Known for its deep-dishes, a bit of an unusual speciality on the west coast, Heirloom is run by chef Michael Foley, who’s been making pizza for more than 15 years.

Featuring classic combos with a fresh twist, the restaurant prioritizes quality and simplicity, aiming to the highest standard for both tourists and locals alike.

 

 

16. Cella Restaurant & Bar

$$$ | (831) 920-1046 | WEBSITE

 

 
 
 
 
 
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A relatively new addition to Monterey’s restaurant scene, Cella is more than just another New American spot. Marked by its signature aqua blue door and trim, Cella’s menu stands out for its creativity and balance of flavors, and rotates seasonally so you’ll always have a fresh round of choices.

With a trendy but still down-home vibe and service that’s consistently praised for its knowledge and attentiveness, Cella is sure to delight and surprise.

 

 

Conclusion

With that, we’ve just about wrapped up our list of the best restaurants in Monterey. We hope you enjoy your seaside visit and take advantage of all that this little coastal town has to offer – there’s plenty of exploring to do, and lots of delicious food to try!

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