Monterey will always hold a special place in my heart. I went to Cal State University, Monterey Bay and lived in Seaside, CA for a little over 4 years. Visiting here again recently brought back so many of my favorite college memories and we were able to squeeze in so many stops at my favorite local eateries. In this blog, I want to share my personal perspective on some of the must-visit places to eat and drink in Monterey County. Keep in mind, I was a cheap college kid who only went out to “nicer restaurants” when my parents were in town and would take me. Anyway, let’s dig in!
Coffee Mia is one of my favorites anywhere, not just in Monterey. It’s a delightful coffee shop and breakfast/lunch spot in Marina serving classic Italian food like panini’s. I love their pour over drip coffee and pastries, also be sure to try the Volcano. While their food is delicious, what I love most about this place though, is the family that runs it. Every single time I’ve eaten there the owner, Horace Mercurio has been the one to take my order and prepare my coffee with an energetic, lively mood that you just don’t see very often. His father, Frank Mercurio passed away back in 2016 and was always the one to bring out my food to me with such a warm smile on his face.
Located on the historic Alvarado Street in Monterey, this family-owned diner embodies the essence of comfort food. From their hearty pasta dishes to their legendary homemade pies & cakes, Rosine’s offers a delightful, a filling meal. The warm and friendly atmosphere here makes it the perfect spot to start or end your day.
This place was just a pop up stand at various locations when I was in school. Now, five years in they have their own coffee shop in Monterey that offers a cozy place to work and is the ideal stop to get your caffeine fix.
No trip to Monterey is complete without a Papa Chevo’s bacon breakfast burrito. My favorite breakfast burrito of all time. Papa Chevo’s is just a little drive through shack in Marina and probably the only place in town open 24 hours. Needless to say, it was a go-to.
For those craving Asian cuisine with a modern twist, Noodle Bar in Marina is an absolute must-visit. Their menu is a delightful fusion of Vietnamese flavors, featuring a variety of noodle dishes and boba smoothies. This was always our go to after softball games.
Alvarado Street Brewery in downtown Monterey stands as a testament to the craft beer culture. With inventive brews and a welcoming ambiance, it’s a great location to an enjoy an afternoon of casual sipping with tasty bites. Their beer selection is also largely IPA’s.
Fieldwork Brewing Company is a craft brewery originally founded in Berkeley. They have a location in downtown Monterey and it’s always a favorite stop. I love their outdoor patio and chill atmosphere. They also have a great, seasonally changing rotation of craft brews.
From Scratch Restaurant in Carmel offers a delicious breakfast experience in the Barnyard Shopping Village in Carmel. Their breakfast menu is filled with homemade dishes made from fresh, local ingredients. Whether you prefer savory omelets or sweet treats like pancakes and pastries, they have something for everyone. When you dine here, you can enjoy a relaxing meal in a cozy setting, complete with great coffee and tasty food that will start your day on a high note. My personal favorite is their homemade biscuits and gravy. *chefs kiss*
Phil’s is my dad (and many others) favorite seafood place. I don’t even like seafood but I know everyone raves about it and Jordan loves oysters. I was so sad to discover they actually moved locations from their original place opened since 1982 to a new spot in Castroville, not too far from Moss Landing. The seafood was still incredible (or so I heard) and I was pleasantly surprised to see new menu items including more pasta options without seafood in it and a variety of different kinds of baked artichokes because Castroville is the Artichoke Capital of the World. The flavor we tried was so good!
Red’s Donuts is a local donut shop in Seaside and Monterey. They are known for crafting fresh, hand-made donuts daily and have proudly upheld this tradition since 1950.
Mountain Mike’s Pizza is a chain of pizzerias mainly along the West Coast but was new to me in Monterey. It was another great spot to got to after softball games for good pizza and salads.
Pizza My Heart is another chain of pizzeria restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area but again, it was new to me and oh so good. The one in Monterey is located in the Del Monte Shopping Center.
I have only eaten here once but the food and atmosphere was great. I went with my coworkers from when I worked at Gold’s Gym. They were all locals having grown up in Monterey Bay and this was definitely a spot for the regulars and the locals. It’s located up in Carmel Valley.
Revival’s opened up on Alvarado Street when I was a sophomore in college. It’s a cute little shop that serves ice cream made with organic and local ingredients, handcrafted in small batches.
This is a wine bar in downtown Monterey that my roommate worked at for a while so we’d go there often. We even participated in one of their paint nights and had a great time.
If you’re looking for great sandwiches, this is the place. Compagno’s itself is nothing to look at, it just looks like a run down old corner convenience store. It’s truly a “dive”. Bennet, the owner is awesome and if you have the in with him, he’ll serve you a fresh, giant slice of cake with your sandwich. The sandwiches are fantastic and MASSIVE.
I’ve only been here once and it was on our most recent trip. This Italian restaurant is located in Carmel-by-the-Sea and we enjoyed delicious pizza and wine.
So, the next time you find yourself in Monterey, be sure to embark on your own culinary adventure, and let me know what other hidden gems I need to add to my list. I love you Monterey Bay, ’till next time!
As always, travel on my friends.