My fiance and I love going on dates. It is our favorite thing to do, and Thursday is our date night(with other days sprinkled in depending on what’s defrosted at home). There are so many restaurants we love on the Monterey Peninsula, but here are a few of our favorites. We might eventually have to make a list of 70 or 80 must-try restaurants, but this is a good start for anyone looking for an outstanding experience. I should also inform you that I started this paragraph with 15 places, and it’s quickly escalated to 29. The restaurants are broken down into categories:

Cocktail with a View

  • Spanish Bay – champagne, fire pit, waves crashing in front of you.
  • Hotel 1110 – rooftop bar with sweeping views of the bay
  • Tides – modern setting with glass walls and the best sunset views in town
  • Schooners – brunch outside on the water

Fun and Lively

  • Vesuvio’s – rooftop bar with tasty bites

Treat Your Parents

  • Cafe Rustica – incredible pizza, great wine list
  • Hogs Breath – best outdoor vibe in Carmel
  • Village Corner – best outdoor breakfast in Carmel
  • Montrio/Rio/Tarpy’s – Family owned, all three are unique and fantastic in their own way.


  • 7D Steakhouse – perfection, and you’ll pay for it
  • Bernardus – beautiful setting, amazing food, famous chef
  • Carmel Valley Ranch – beautiful setting, amazing food, famous chef

Local Gems

  • Monterey Fish House – tight fit, make a reservation, as fresh as it gets
  • Sur – great lunch in the Barnyard
  • Baja Cantina – order the fajitas, live music and dancing..

First or Second Date/Anniversary

  • Luca – great Italian food, gorgeous dining room.
  • Il Vecchio – similar to Luca, it’s a must try. Top 5.

Go with Friends

  • Alvarado Brewery – best beer in town, usually packed.
  • Portola – the renovation is stunning. Have a drink by the fire.

Family Day

  • Lulu’s – Quick breakfast 10 steps from the beach
  • Peppers – big portions, authentic wonderful food.
  • Carmel Belle – quick bite, coffee, fresh juice, then walk to the beach
  • First awakenings – classic PG breakfast – huge portions!
  • Quail – Great menu, enjoy a day of golf with the kids and a nice meal after


  • Zum – hidden gem in Monterey. Very fresh
  • Crystal fish – busy restaurant and rightfully so!

We hope this list helps guide you in your search for the best dining experiences on the Monterey Peninsula! Comment your favorites below!

  1. My guests from The Netherlands, and I, were happy to have dropped in here last Saturday night. They loved the vibe, the beer options, and we were filled up on appetizer choices. It was great fun!

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