If you are looking for the best restaurants in Monterey, you’re in the right place! Full of diverse cuisine, Monterey is one of the best cities in California for foodies. You can find everything from American, Mexican, French, and Italian food to Japanese, Chinese, German, and Middle Eastern cuisine. And more!
Monterey is in an ideal location for foodies as it is blessed with year-round harvests of seafood. This history of seafood in human history in this lovely coastal town has led us to where the city is today and the way it provides seafood to visitors.
The native populations around Monterey enjoyed an abundance of seafood on the bay and when the Spanish colonized California and established the city in 1788 they had seafood as a staple in their diets.
Once California was annexed by the United States, fishing in Monterey was run mostly by migrants from Japan, China, Netherlands, Italy, Germany, and Portugal. As we progressed into the 1900s it was clear that there was enormous economic value from the seafood in the area.
The history of seafood in the city is one display as you visit the city, walk the streets, and eat at some Monterey restaurants. Whether you are looking for local delicacies, super American steakhouses, and burger joints, or something international, the city has what you are looking for.
Checking out all of the amazing eateries in town is one of the best things to do in Monterey. So, let’s dive in and check out some of the best places to eat in Monterey!
Your Monterey Restaurant Questions Answered
What food is Monterey known for?
Depending on the season, you can expect fresh salmon, albacore, halibut, white seabass, lingcod, and giant squid to be on the menu at restaurants in Monterey. In terms of types of cuisine, Japanese and Sicilian cuisine are both really popular.
Are there any vegan restaurants in Monterey?
If you are looking for vegan restaurants in Monterey, you can check out Paprika Cafe, El Cantaro, and Julias. All of these have great vegan and vegetarian options. There are tons of other restaurants with stunning vegan options on their menus as well. We will talk about some of them below!
Are there any romantic restaurants in Monterey?
Monterey is in such an idyllic location on the water, creating a space for breathtaking romantic restaurants in the area. The Sardine Factory, Bistro Moulin, Osteria Al Mare, and the Chart House are all great options for those looking for a date night spot in Monterey.
We will talk about some of the most romantic restaurants in Monterey below!
Where are the best restaurants in Monterey with a view?
There is a long list of restaurants in Monterey on the water that give guests spectacular views. Some of the best places to eat with a view include the Chart House, Schooners Monterey, Domenicos on the Wharf, and the Oceanside location of Lalla Grill. If you want a place where the locals eat in Monterey, keep reading to learn about more restaurants with views in Monterey.
22 Best Restaurants In Monterey You Will Love
London Bridge Pub
Monterey CA restaurants come in all shapes and sizes. The London Bridge Pub is one of the most amazing restaurants in Monterey. Located on the waterfront near Del Monte Beach, you can see the fishing boats anchored in the harbor from the restaurant.
At London Bridge Pub you will find fish n’ chips alongside other classic British dishes. Of course, this comes with a large selection of brews. Perfect for couples or solo travelers, the restaurant has Trivia nights, NFL Sundays, and a stunning outdoor patio with fire pits.
You can start your meal at the London Bridge Pub with pulled pork sliders, curried fries, a British pastie, or Cod bites. They have everything from warm grilled shrimp wraps and nine-grain cheese melts to jalapeno burgers and Brick Lane curry.
Plus, the fish n’ chips are Icelandic Cod deep-fried in pub beer batter; these fish n’ chips were voted as the best in Monterey County for nearly a decade!
If you are looking for a romantic dinner locale or simply wish to try a bit of fine dining while you are in Monterey, check out the Charthouse. This high eatery is a steakhouse that also serves seafood in its’ stunning setting with waterfront views.
Start your meal at one of the best restaurants in Monterey by ordering some thyme fire-roasted shrimp, shrimp beignets, or a shrimp, avocado, and mango stack. The Charthouse serves bronzed swordfish, pan-glazed shrimp and scallops, Australian lobster tail, King Salmon with potato leek cakes, and many other mouthwatering dishes.
Be sure to round off your meal with a cocktail like the Torched Apple Manhattan and a dessert like the hot chocolate lava cake!
One of the best Monterey restaurants for couples, Paluca Trattoria has had some fame in Monterey recently as it was used in the drama series Big Little Lies starring Nicole Kidman, Shailene Woodley, and Reese Witherspoon.
Other than being a great filming location, Paluca Trattoria also has the best Italian food in Monterey. It sits on the lively Fisherman’s Wharf and serves boutique beer, wines, and espresso along with a Sicilian seafood menu. They serve Linguini Alla Arrabiata, Gamberoni, Ashelina Pomodoro, and more.
If you are looking for fun things to do in Monterey at night, consider adding a dinner by firelight on the Paluca Trattoria patio to your bucket list! The location right at the start of the wharf should put this Italian restaurant on your list of places to eat in Monterey with a view!
Rosine’s Restaurant is among the best places for brunch in Monterey. You will find this lovely American restaurant on Alvarado Street where they serve basic American dishes along with desserts like carrot cake and German chocolate cake.
Breakfast food is served until 3 pm each day at Rosine’s. You will find all of your favorites like eggs Benedict (cooked in different ways!) They have a salmon florentine Benedict, a turkey avocado mushroom Benedict, and a veggie Benedict as well!
Also on the menu are steak and eggs, omelets, scrambles, pancakes, French toast, and more! While you are there for brunch, consider trying a select cocktail or perhaps indulging in the mimosa bar or going with the old tried and true Bloody Mary.
Of all the restaurants in Monterey, Rosine’s is one that really makes you feel at home and like you are enjoying a little slice of Americana. Visiting Rosine’s is one of the best things to do in central coast California for anyone looking to indulge in dishes that are the epitome of American breakfast.
Lalla Grill (Oceanside Location)
This new American bar and grill is one of the top places to eat dinner in Monterey. There are two Lalla Grill locations in the city, one in the Del Monte Shopping Center and one on the famed Cannery Row in downtown Monterey.
By far one of the best waterfront restaurants in Monterey, Lalla has a large indoor dining room as well as a patio on Cannery Row. The dining room is sleek and modern and the large floor-to-ceiling windows offer massive views of the Monterey Bay.
If you aren’t a big drinker, you will be happy to know that Lalla has a fantastic mocktail menu that includes tropical refreshers, nojitos, and Maui fizzes. Consider starting your visit with the loaded lobster nachos; they are simply incredible!
If you are looking for kid-friendly restaurants in Monterey, head to El Torito in downtown Monterey. Just a few minutes walk from the iconic Cannery Row, El Torito has some of the best Mexican food in Monterey.
You will enjoy your street corn, fajitas, tacos, and street fries with those amazing bay views that you come to expect from downtown restaurants in the city. If you are looking for a cheap place to eat in Monterey, you will want to visit El Torito on a Tuesday where you can get $2.99 tacos and $2.99 street corn.
Aside from all of the amazing dishes available at El Torito, the menu also includes are envy-inducing dessert menu as well. This includes a cinnamon crisp cheesecake, home-style flan, deep-fried ice cream, Mexican bread pudding, mud pie, strawberry sopapillas, and cheesecake banana chimi.
Sardine Factory Monterey
There is no question about it, one of the most incredible places to eat in Monterey is at The Sardine Factory. This bucket list restaurant is the place to be for memorable American cuisine in an unforgettable upscale setting. This is the place to be in Monterey if you want to dine like a celebrity. No matter your actual social status, you are sure to feel special when you are at the Sardine Factory in Monterey.
Once you see the remarkable domed ceiling of the conservatory room, learn about the award-winning menu, and taste the spectacular food, it will be easy to see why this is among the top restaurants in Monterey. On the menu, you will find starters like steamed Hama Hama clams, wild California sardines, and crab-filled baked mushrooms.
Moving on to the entrees, you can find everything from Furikake seared Ahi Tuna steak, Mediterranean style clams over linguini, and grilled wild Abalone medallions to grilled Iberico Abanico, Robbins Island Tasmanian wagyu New York Manhattan cut and prime rib au jus.
The dessert and wine menus are just as mouthwatering as the appetizer and dinner offerings. And to make things even better, this is one of the kid-friendly restaurants in Monterey as they have a complete children’s menu as well. If you only wish to dine in the lounge, you can check out the lounge menu which has appetizers and small plates, cocktails, and sandwiches.
Another option while you are at The Sardine Factory is the three-course tasting menu. This is a more budget-friendly way to enjoy the delectable options here as you get to try three of their impeccable dishes for a flat rate per person. This tasting menu also comes with special wine selections from the cellar master at an affordable price.
Chopstix Vietnamese Restaurant
Among the best restaurants for lunch in Monterey is Chopstix Monterey. You will find this lovely restaurant on Muras Avenue. This is one of the most popular areas in the city for accommodation. If you booked a stay in one of the hotels in the area, Chopstix is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat on arrival or before you leave Monterey.
With a large pho and noodle menu, you will have tons to choose from while you are there. They also have stir-fried vegetables, ramen, and tofu dishes as well. In fact, Chopstix is one of the best restaurants in Monterey for those looking for vegan food.
Looking for Mediterranean places to eat in Monterey? Paprika Cafe is one of the best restaurants in Monterey! This eatery opened in the 90s and serves incredible Mediterranean staples like falafel, hummus, and kebabs. Whether you are looking for dolmas, gyros, spanakopita, or baba ganoush, you can find them at Paprika Cafe.
This is a great place to get vegetarian food in Monterey; you will find a section on the menu dedicated to vegetarian dishes. It’s also a great place to find vegan food in Monterey. They even have vegan baklavas to choose from, including cashew, walnut, or pistachio.
This European restaurant in Monterey easily makes its way onto the list of best restaurants in Monterey. Bistro Moulin serves hearty French fare and wine in an intimate space surrounded by European art. You will find this little bistro just across from the Monterey Bay Aquarium (which is one of the best things to do in Monterey with kids!)
This Monterey restaurant is fairly unassuming but packs a punch with its delectable menu. The owner, sommelier, and chef Federico Rusciano started the restaurant in 2007. The legendary presence of Bistro Moulin in Monterey County is thanks to his lifelong work in the restaurant business and his wife’s efforts in managing the restaurant.
The dining menu includes seasonal salads, Terrine de Campagne, Moule Frites, Burratina, Bucatini Carbonara, Alaskan Halibut, and more. This is accompanied by a killer dessert and wine menu that includes pistachio cakes, profiteroles and ice cream, creme brûlée, and French Spritz.
Ambrosia India Bistro
If you are looking for Indian food in Monterey, you should check out Ambrosia India Bistro. There are two locations in town; one downtown and one on Cannery Row. If you are looking for an aesthetic dining space, the downtown location is the place to be. While the Cannery Row location is lovely as well, downtown Ambrosia has a unique atmosphere and simply stunning design and decor that make for a more exciting and enjoyable dining experience.
Ambrosia has been voted to be the best Indian Restaurant by the Carmel Pine Cone, the Monterey County Weekly, and the Monterey County Herald. The restaurant has been around since 2007 and continuously brings quality food from the Indian Sub-Continent to the people of Monterey and its visitors.
Indian restaurants are always a safe bet for those looking for vegetarian or vegan menu options. You will find a variety of delicious dishes on the menu at Ambrosia that are sure to leave you wanting to visit again and again. Vegetable Pakora, Aloo Chat, and Samosas are all great veggie starters on the menu.
Other options to consider include the lamb chop masala, crab cakes, chicken samosas, spinach mango salad, Mulligatawny soup, veggie Vindaloo, Saag Paneer, and much much more. Ambrosia is one of the restaurants in Monterey that both visitors and locals can’t get enough of!
The Fish Hopper
Fish Hopper is among the top restaurants in Monterey with a view. When you eat here, you will have expansive views of the bay. You may see sea otters, sea lions, and kayakers passing by the large dining area window while you are having lunch. Visit at dinner time and you will be graced with stunning west coast sunset while you indulge in delicious coastal dishes.
Of all the Monterey Bay restaurants, this is one of the best when it comes to classic seafood dishes with fantastic views. At Fish Hopper, you will find stunning appetizer options like bacon-wrapped scallops, crab cakes, crispy fried calamari, and oysters on the half-shell.
Everything from spicy prawn pasta. fish and chips, prime New York steak, and parmesan-crusted chicken breast are available to you when you are at Fish Hopper. And there is a lovely menu for children as well. Plus, wine lovers will be happy to hear about The Fish Hoppers’ incredibly diverse wine menu that includes wines from various U.S. states and countries.
If you are looking for family-friendly restaurants in Monterey that offer classic American dishes and items that even the pickiest of eaters will love, Sur Burger is for you. You can find this burger joint on the lively Alvarado Street. The burgers here are to die for. They have spent a lot of time creating unique and exciting burgers for guests to try.
One of the best burgers at Sur Burger is the Point Lobos. This burger is stacked with onion rings, bacon, and barbecue sauce. Top it off with grilled onion, tomato, and lettuce and you have yourself a mind-blowing burger. They also have hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, seafood, vegetarian and vegan options, and wings and fingers.
If you want to branch out a bit, you can try the chicken and waffles or the waffle burger with fries. The dining room has a super cool vibe and the outdoor dining day is perfect for those sunny coastal days when you are wanting to enjoy every minute of the good weather.
Rockfish Harbor Grill
Wanting to make the most of all of the impeccable seafood in Monterey while you’re in town? That makes total sense! The Fisherman’s Wharf Monterey restaurants have loads of seafood dishes for you to try out. A great place to start is at the Rockfish Harbor Grill.
Here, you can try dishes from the freshest seafood served in a dining room that offers excellent coastal ambiance. Rockfish Harbor Grill not only has amazing seafood offerings like west coast crab cakes, calamari steak sandwiches, crispy prawns, fresh abalone, and grilled Pacific Rockfish, but they also have delectable dishes made with California artichokes.
Artichokes in Castroville CA are the best in the world. You can get crab-artichoke gratin with crostini or Castroville artichoke that is steamed and then chilled, served with a roasted garlic aioli. When you are visiting restaurants in Monterey, it is always exciting when you can try local delicacies. And at Rockfish, there’s an abundance of options to try the flavors of California!
China Garden Monterey
China Garden is a cool place to grab Chinese food in Monterey. The food is served in an old-school building with a charming interior that serves homestyle Chinese food. You’ll find this eatery on Munras Avenue. So, if you are planning on walking around the Old Fishermans Wharf area, you can walk to the China Garden in about ten minutes from the wharf.
If you do decide to walk from the wharf to China Garden, you will be within walking distance of a coffee house, a pastry shop, the Monterey Museum of Art, and some of the most historic buildings and sites in the city including the Old Monterey Jail and Larkin House which has a beautiful garden that you can visit for free.
China Garden is among the top restaurants in Monterey to visit if you are looking for a low-key place to relax and have a chill meal. You will find everything you have come to expect from an American Chinese restaurant on the menu. Mongolian beef, orange chicken, shrimp fried rice, beef and broccoli, Kung Pao chicken, and Szechuan beef are all on the menu.
Loulou’s Griddle In The Middle
One of the most iconic restaurants in Monterey, Loulou’s Griddle In The Middle has some of the very best breakfasts in Monterey. If you watch Food Network, you may recognize the name of the restaurant as it was Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. You can find it on the Municipal Wharf which is right next door to the Old Fishermans Wharf. It sits behind Sapporo Sushi & Steakhouse and the Monterey Peninsula Yacht Club and in front of the Sandbar & Grill.
The restaurant claims that they have “good eats and crazy waitresses!” This American restaurant serves up hearty seafood dishes and incredible breakfast fare. Omelets, pancakes, French toast, oatmeal, and more can be found at Loulou’s. The coolest things to order off the breakfast menu are the pancakes because they are massive and can be filled with your favorite fruits and chocolate chips.
For lunch, you can order salads, soups, burgers and sandwiches, and of course, fresh seafood. Like most restaurants on the water in Monterey, they also serve incredible clam chowder as well. They also have an “appetizer of the afternoon” if you want to try something that isn’t normally on the menu.
Fancy some Japanese? Despite not being a seafood joint on the water, Benihana in Monterey is still super popular among locals and visitors alike. This hibachi chain restaurant serves classic Japanese dishes and sushi. If you want dinner with a show, head to Benihana where you can watch the chef’s theatrical performances as they prepare your dinner.
What makes Benihana one of the top restaurants in Monterey is the variety on the menu. Other than the popular chicken, shrimp, and beef hibachi orders, you can also get filet mignon, teriyaki beef, cold water lobster tail, colossal shrimp, California roll, lunch teriyaki bowls, udon noodle soup, nigiri, and more.
Benihana is in a nice location if you are going to be spending time on the Old Fishermans Wharf. It is just across the street from the wharf and you can grab dessert at Crepes of Brittany as it is only a few minutes walk from the restaurant or you can check out some of the historic buildings near the restaurant like the Old Whaling Station Adobe and California’s First Theatre.
Hula’s Island Grill
Hula’s Island Grill can be found on Lighthouse Avenue, just a couple blocks from Cannery Row. It is a tiki-inspired restaurant that serves Hawaiian dishes with a continental American spin. Combine the incredible tropical vibe with the huge and diverse menu and you have the perfect recipe for placing Hula’s Island Grill on the list of top restaurants in Monterey.
For anyone who has been looking for gluten-free food in Monterey, you should come to Hula’s! They have a lot of options for you, including ceviche, spicy edamame, calamari, shishito peppers, and island-style poke. There are also quite a few vegetarian options like tofu bowls served with beans, rice, cabbage, kale and cashew salad, and more.
Be sure to check out their mind-blowing cocktails while you are there. They have this Molokai Mex cocktail that is mezcal, cayenne pepper, fresh lime, simple syrup, and fresh pineapple puree that is out of this world. Many of their drinks include pineapple, but if that isn’t your thing, you can try the Summer on The Porch. It is small batch bourbon mixed with lemonade, cardamom bitters, and house-made brown sugar.
Pizza My Heart Monterey
Craving pizza? Boy does Monterey have you covered! There are loads of pizza places in Monterey that will satisfy your hankering for a slice. Pizza My Heart is a surf-themed pizza restaurant in Monterey that offers delicious pizza in a low-key dining room. You can find Pizza My Heart
The quality of the food offered here and the delicious award-winning pizzas is what make this one of the best restaurants in Monterey. A super popular option is the Big Sur. It has roasted garlic, organic tomato sauce, pepperonis, sausage, mushrooms, and green onions, This pizza has won first place at the West Coast Pizza Championships and first place in the western US at the World Pizza Games.
There is also the Little Sur which is one the best traditional pizza at the West Coast Pizza Championships. It has roasted garlic, organic tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, green onions, cherry tomatoes, and herbs to create a seriously mouthwatering pizza.
And if you are the type of traveler who is always looking for something unique to try while you are traveling, there’s the perfect pizza for you at Pizza My Heart! The Watsonville Apple pizza won the best gourmet pizza award at the West Coast Pizza Championships. It comes with a delicious list of toppings including green apple, pepperoni, sausage, bacon, Gorgonzola, green onions, garlic, and olive oil.
Toribashi [Ramen Monterey]
Some of the best Monterey food can be found at Toribashi on Albarado Street. While Toribashi is primarily a ramen restaurant, you can also find sushi here! The restaurant has a great vibe in the dining room and you will love the deep layered flavor of the food served here. It won’t take you long to see why Toribashi has made its way onto the list of best restaurants in Monterey.
If you are looking for vegetarian food in Monterey, you should try the veggie miso ramen or the veggie shio spicy ramen. And if you are looking for vegan food in Monterey, you can try the vegan ramen that is a soybean and seaweed base that comes with bamboo shoots, bean sprouts, carrots, bok choy, onions, mushrooms, and zucchini.
If ramen isn’t for you, you have a selection of noddle bowls land rice bowls that you can choose from. There is a lovely pork noodle bowl that comes with braised pork, ramen noodles, lettuce, mushroom, onions, avocado, and a yuzu citrus soy sauce.
Bubba Gump Shrimp
One of the Monterey Wharf restaurants that you can visit while you are in town is Bubba Gump Shrimp. This chain restaurant offers delicious seafood and other American dishes in a beautiful setting. The large floor-to-ceiling windows in the dining room give you breathtaking views of the bay. And if you sit outside on the patio you can enjoy the salty air as you dine next to one of the large heaters in the dining space.
It may feel weird to say a chain restaurant on the list of restaurants in Monterey that you shouldn’t miss, but Bubba Gump Shrimp is a staple in highly visited coastal towns, and if you are traveling from outside of the country, trying something that screams Americana should be on your Monterey itinerary.
You can start your meal at Bubba Gump Shrimp with an appetizer like Baja ceviche, shrimp shack mac & cheese, or a traditional shrimp cocktail before diving into a delicious dinner of a crab and shrimp boil, fried chicken sandwich, surf and turf, coconut shrimp, or a Maker’s Mark glazed salmon.
You should try one of the astonishing cocktails, margaritas, or mules on the menu while you are there as well. Some of the mind-altering drinks include the Kentucky mule, the peachy sidecar, and the crimson sangria. There are non-alcoholic options for you as well. The speckled lemonade and the mango pineapple smoothie are lovely!
Manasiri’s Crepes & Sandwiches
Is it time for some dessert in Monterey? Manasiri’s Crepes & Sandwiches has sweet crepes that will blow your mind! You’ll find this eatery in Old Monterey on Alvarado Street. There is a charming outdoor space along the street where you can relax on the wicker furniture while you devour your sweet crepes and other pastries.
Any list of restaurants in Monterey that excludes Manasiri’s is seriously lacking this absolute gem of a restaurant. The sweet crepes on their menu include the strawberry, kiwi, and honey, the caramel apple, the classic Nutella and banana, and the lemon sugar. There are also savory crepes like the cheese and smoked turkey, the cheese, spinach, and mushroom crepe, and the cream cheese, green onion, tomato, and capers crepe.
Other than crepes, they also have hot and cold drinks, paninis, bagels, and other sweet treats like baklava, croissants, and muffins. This is a super welcoming restaurant inside and out with two toned chairs and a relaxed atmosphere, you are sure to fall in love with this chill bistro. With all of the great offerings here, you will want to make sure you don’t miss this outstanding creperie in Monterey!
Hopefully now if you find yourself googling Monterey restaurants near me, you will know where to go since you have learned a bit about these awesome restaurants in Monterey. So, tell us, which do you think you will be visiting first?
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