Where to Eat in Monterey

Pacific Coast Highway Travel's guide to where to eat in Monterey including on Fisherman's Wharf and Cannery Row, fish restaurants and the best clam chowder.

The Old Monterey Cafe is one of the best places to eat in MontereyThe Old Monterey Cafe

Choosing where to eat in Monterey is a nice problem to have as there are many good fish restaurants, several serving excellent clam chowder, and places ranging from fine dining to where to get an inexpensive sandwich. Here's our personal choice, strictly in alphabetical order, with one or two excellent places in neighboring Pacific Grove.

Best Guide to Carmel and Monterey


Where to Eat in Monterey

Bistro Moulin

Interior of the Bistro Moulin in MontereyThe Bistro Moulin

If you're visiting Cannery Row or the Monterey Bay Aquarium, it's worth going a block inland to Wave Street. Bistro Moulin is a two-minute walk from the aquarium entrance and is a casual French-style bistro with European art and posters decorating the walls. Chef Federico Rusciano goes beyond bistro food, though, and his dishes are also influenced by Asian, Mexican and Italian cuisine, as well as Californian.

He's also a Certified Sommelier, meaning the wine list is first class. There's plenty available by the glass, and if you find one you like you can buy a bottle to take home as they also have a retail license. The atmosphere may be casual but the food is certainly not, with dishes like steamed mussels with shallots and leeks in a Sauvignon herb broth.
867 Wave St, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 333 1200

Compagno’s Market & Deli

A sandwich and a cup of coffee from Compagno’s Market & Deli in MontereyTasty Sandwich from Compagno’s Market & Deli

If you want a picnic or a sandwich to enjoy, maybe somewhere along the lovely Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, then head for this place, just a few minutes from the Presidio. It's nothing special to look at but does carry a good range of fresh sandwiches, bread, cheeses, cold meats, salads, and other easy-to-eat and inexpensive items.
2000 Prescott Ave, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 375 5987

Crystal Fish

A colorful plate of sushi from the Crystal Fish Japanese restaurant in Pacific GroveColorful Sushi at Crystal Fish

This place is in Pacific Grove but is still only a 20-minute walk from the aquarium along Lighthouse Avenue, mostly past suburban homes. It's well worth it if you're a sushi fan as they serve every kind of sushi you can imagine, and of course being in Monterey the fish is fresh every day. We like their udon noodle soup followed by teriyaki salmon, though it's hard to go wrong here.
514 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 373 2222

Hula’s Island Grill

A plate of food from Hula’s Island Grill in Pacific GroveHula's Island Grill: Full of Flavor

Just beyond Crystal Fish is another really good Pacific Grove eating place, though very different in style and cuisine. It depends what you're in the mood for! This is a Hawaiian-inspired place, although the menu is multinational with dishes like calamari with a lime, ginger and cream sauce, Cubana pork tacos, or spicy Thai chicken. You can get house wines by the glass and there's naturally a range of tiki-style cocktails.
622 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 655 4852

Montrio Bistro

A cocktail at the Montrio Bistro in MontereyA Cocktail at the Montrio Bistro

If you're looking for food that's a little more upscale then try Montrio. With its exposed brick walls and low lighting, it has a romantic vibe and the food is exceptional.

Combining elements of European and Californian cooking, and fresh local ingredients, they produce superb dishes like pan-seared duck breast with a cherry-port sauce, a sweet potato/green onion mash, and charred asparagus. Mmmm!

 We also like it because its sustainable practices have seen it voted as one of the greenest restaurants in Monterey.
414 Calle Principal, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 648 8880

Old Fisherman's Grotto

A crab plate at the Old Fisherman's Grotto on Fisherman's Wharf in MontereyThe Freshest of Seafood

This Fisherman's Wharf stalwart is now in the second generation of the same family, and is one of our favorite eating spots along the wharf. There are plenty of other places, though, if these guys are full, as they often are, and the Abalonetti Bar and Grill is our second choice.

The Grotto is also a fishmonger, so you know the fish is going to be fresh, and is smarter inside than it looks from the outside.

They only take limited reservations as they only have so much space, and they get a lot of passing trade, but try phoning ahead to see if you can get a table by the window looking out over the water. We love their clam chowder (a benchmark for us) and their whole roasted garlic appetizer is a must if you're a garlic fiend. We are.

The seafood is naturally top class, and they only serve seafood recommended by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program. However, they also do good steaks, a range of pasta dishes, and plenty of vegetarian options.
39 Fisherman's Wharf, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 375 4604

Old Monterey Cafe

Breakfast pancakes at the Old Monterey Cafe in MontereyBreakfast Pancakes at the Old Monterey Cafe

Close to the Monterey Museum of Art, the Old Monterey Cafe opened in 1985 and has been serving breakfast and lunch ever since. We recommend both, and breakfast is always available. And generous. They cook  each dish to order and we actually like the fact that they serve each dish as soon as it's ready, rather than stick it under a heat lamp and wait for the whole order.

It's a typical diner menu, and then some, with a range of scramblers, waffles, omelettes, Benedicts, pancakes, burgers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, They throw in a few Mexican dishes too, and we can't resist their chile rellenos
489 Alvarado St, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 646 1021


A dessert with chocolate sauce at the Passionfish restaurant in Pacific GroveOur Kind of Dessert at Passionfish!

This is another place that is worth going to Pacific Grove for, if you're based in Monterey. That's because it's consistently voted the best restaurant in Monterey County. They were using sustainable farms and fisheries long before that hit the mainstream, and they buy their supplies fresh daily direct from the producers. They also work with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program.

Their greens are organic, and they love doing slow-cooked meat, so tender it falls off the bone. Their 12-hour lamb breast served with a chickpea and Meyer lemon stew, and a goat cheese sauce, is to die for. But it's seafood they're best known for, as the name tells you, and any seafood dish will be divine, guaranteed.
701 Lighthouse Avenue, Pacific Grove, CA 93950
(831) 655 3311

Schooner's Monterey

A plate of oysters at Schooner's restaurant in MontereyYou Can't Beat Oysters at Schooner's

If you're on Cannery Row then one of your best eating choices is hidden away in the Monterey Plaza Hotel: Schooner's. Located at the rear of the hotel it overlooks Monterey Bay, and has been voted the best place in town for a drink with a view. Check their cocktail list for some original creations, all using quality spirits.

When it comes to food, they have a raw bar, so it's always tempting to start with some oysters. You can then move whichever way you like - juicy steaks, fresh seafood, pasta, vegan... you name it, they've got it. They serve fresh-pressed juices, craft beers, wine by the glass, and those very more-ish cocktails.
400 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA 93940
(831) 372 2628

Other Monterey pages

Recent Articles

  1. Slingshots, Color, and Open Roads: How to Explore California’s Spring Wildflowers

    May 01, 24 11:10 AM

    Beaches. Mountains. Deserts. Cities. California has a lot, and it’s known for a lot, but in the mix of some of the most incredible scenery in the United States, one excellent feature is often overlook…

    Read More

  2. Best Things to Do in Monterey

    Apr 30, 24 07:57 PM

    The best things to do in Monterey, chosen by Pacific Coast Highway Travel, include the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Cannery Row, whale watching and Fisherman's Wharf.

    Read More

  3. Pacific Coast Highway Fully Reopens 2 Months After Mudslide

    Apr 24, 24 11:14 AM

    After two months of lane closures on PCH in Malibu, the highway has fully reopened.

    Read More