For a true foodie experience, make reservations at any one of these Monterey County restaurants.
47900 HIGHWAY ONE BIG SUR
With all of the tables positioned just right to enjoy the spectacular ocean views at this swank restaurant that sits high above the cliffs at Post Ranch Inn, we’re sure you’ll be as pleased with your perch as you are with your fare. Enjoy the indoor fireplace at night and the telescope on the deck.
Feast on executive chef John Cox’s nine course Taste of Big Sur tasting menu that changes nightly but always showcases dishes featuring bold, primal flavors along with locally-sourced ingredients. He’s a master at preparing red abalone four different ways, and his kampachi collar with Big Sur citrus, on the four-course prix fixe menu, resembles a piece of art.
The dark chocolate and California bay laurel leaves combine for a flavorful finish.
You’ll be hot to trot with The Hottie, made with Skyy pineapple vodka, cilantro and jalapeño.
Photo Credit: Aneisha Townsend
5TH AVENUE ( MISSION & SAN CARLOS) CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA
Casanova’s delightful rustic setting provides the perfect atmosphere for lovers as well as friends simply getting together to break bread. With a multitude of darling indoor and outdoor dining areas, it’s Carmel-by-the-Sea’s largest restaurant with a 204-seat capacity.
You can opt for the halibut with corn, peppers and heirloom tomato or one of the scrumptious classics such as cannelloni with braised beef or gnocchi Casanova made with light spinach dumplings—but for a haute occasion book the Van Gogh table so executive chef David Baron, a San Francisco native, can surprise you with a personalized five- or nine-course tasting menu that you’ll devour while seated at the same table where Vincent van Gogh dined during his stay at Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise.
You’ll be transported to France with the crème brûlée, made with traditional French vanilla cream.
A hand-dug wine cellar holds more than 2,000 selections that go up to $16,000 a bottle.
GRASING’S COASTAL CUISINE
Photo Credit: DMT Imaging
6TH STREET & MISSION STREET CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA
With casual seating in the bar area, white tablecloths in the two-level main dining room and West Wing and a heated, dog-friendly patio outdoors, chef Kurt Grasing’s restaurant has something for everyone.
There’s a reason Kurt’s four-onion tart has been on the menu since the popular eatery opened in 1998; it’s delicious!. We’re also quite fond of the foie gras with cauliflower puree, caramelized apple and kumquat compote as well as the heirloom salad topped with bur- rata. The paella—lighter than most because it’s made with orzo instead of rice—shouldn’t be missed, and the steaks are a carnivore’s dream.
The white peach and blackberry crisp is perfect this time of year.
The Natural, a margarita made with lime and agave, is the natural choice.
ANTON & MICHEL
Photo Credit: Glen McDowell Photography
MISSION STREET (OCEAN AND 7TH) CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA
Floor-to-ceiling windows in owner Tony Salameh’s 35-year-old eatery, renovated in 2013 to make it Carmel-by-the-Sea’s prettiest and most elegant restaurant with dramatic stonework and a glass entryway, offer a beautiful view of the Court of the Fountains, where a fire pit lends itself to al fresco dining in a dog-friendly atmosphere.
After the gregarious general manager Bert Simpson greets you, his talented brother, chef de cuisine Mark Simpson, will feed you. Start with the Hawaiian tuna tartare then go for the rack of lamb (carved tableside), maple leaf duck breast, or American kobe beef short ribs.
The flambé desserts are more than just a visual treat.
The tiramisu martini goes down way too easily.
Photo Credit: Scott Campbell
ONE OLD RANCH ROAD CARMEL
Formerly called The Lodge, this re-imagined eatery at Carmel Valley Ranch unveils more than just a different name in July. Now you can connect with the outdoors thanks to this casually elegant eatery’s new, jaw-dropping 1,500-square-foot terrace that offers sweep- ing valley and vineyard views, where hanging lanterns twinkle from ancient oaks at night.
Chef Tim Wood’s new, more sophisticated menu allows for shared bites and nibbles of fare. Our mouth-watering picks include the seasonal ravioli, big eye crudo, vegetarian risotto, beef carpaccio with Moroccan spices, signature croutons with salmon rillettes and black angus filet of naturally-raised beef.
You won’t want to share the warm market fruit crisp with brown butter-hazelnut streu- sel and vanilla ice cream.
With 7,000 lavender plants on the property, the lavender lemon drop is a must!
PÈPPOLI AT PEBBLE BEACH
Photo Credit: Patrick Tregenza
2700 17-MILE DRIVE PEBBLE BEACH
General manager Federico Rusciano, who hails from Rome, sets the Italian tone at this ristorante inside The Inn at Spanish Bay. While the décor and scents of Italian herbs and spices transport you to a cozy Tuscan villa, the daz- zling golf course and water views remind you of where you really are.
Brilliant chef de cuisine Angela Tamura has mastered both the traditional Antinori family recipes and her own Northern Italian dishes. You’ll mangia bene [eat well] when you order the salsiccia e polenta, [Pèppoli spicy Italian sausage with crispy polenta & fonduta sauce], spaghetti carbonara, gnocchi di ricotta and the osso bucco all’Antinori [veal shank braised with Pèppoli Chianti, broccolini & lemon gremolata].
Even true Italians will love the tiramisu.
It’s no surprise that you’ll find the finest collec- tion of Antinori wines available outside of Italy here, including multiple vintages of Tignanello, Solaia and Guado al Tasso.
LUCIA RESTAURANT & BAR
Photo Credit: Bernardus Lodge
415 WEST CARMEL VALLEY ROAD CARMEL
Bernardus Lodge’s glitzy, renovated eatery with comfy white leather chairs trimmed in black and plenty of glass is so chic that you won’t know you’re in the Valley. We love the small chef’s table in the kitchen, where plenty of VIPs have signed the wall, and the interactive experience is memorable.
Acclaimed chef Cal Stamenov’s decadent four- course tasting menu is no longer the only dining option—though we still suggest you opt for it to thoroughly appreciate his culinary creativity. A la carte hits include the Monterey salad made with spot prawns, abalone and seaweed, and the seared foie gras with Cal’s chicken egg purple mizuna and fig vinaigrette.
The caramelized banana cream pie with coconut tapioca, vanilla-pineapple sauce and passion fruit sorbet is a happy ending.
You’ll purr when you taste the Purittia [El Rey mescal, yellow chartreuse and lemon]
THE RESTAURANT AT VENTANA
Photo Credit: Ventana
48123 HIGHWAY ONE BIG SUR
Take in sherbet sunsets from the sunken indoor dining room or let the ocean views mesmerize you when you relax on this restau- rant’s spacious terrace. An open kitchen and two fireplaces add pizazz.
We’re gaga over executive chef Paul Corsentino’s hamburger, but to fully understand his talents, try the golden beet and apricot gazpacho with toasted sunflower seeds and lemon yogurt, followed by the grilled swordfish with lemon cous cous, English pea broth and hearts of palm, or the grilled pork chop with braised artichoke and cannelloni beans.
Reward yourself with the mixed berry and rhubarb crisp.
You’ll be happy you chose the Botanical Blues, made with Uncle Val’s gin, limoncello, blueberries and tarragon.