Visitors to the Monterey Peninsula can’t help but notice that the area is blessed with an extremely high number of fine bakeries.
In the words of one Yelper: “Okay, teeny, tiny Monterey has at LEAST four fabulous bakeries. How come in Newport Beach we have zero???”
We don’t know why, and we’re certainly not about to question our good fortune. Here are just a few of our favorites:
Parker-Lusseau Pastries • 539 Hartnell, Monterey
This weathered white adobe with a petite porch looks as if it were transported from another era… and the savories, croissants, and pastries are as delectable as any you will find in the finest Parisian patisserie.
Paris Bakery Cafe • 271 Bonifacio, Monterey
A downtown tradition, the almond croissants (especially if you’re lucky to get one warm from the oven) are to die for. But you will have a mighty difficult time stopping there when faced with an extensive display of pastries pretty enough to paint.
Pavel’s Backerei • 219 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove
Pavel’s is yummy and reasonable – check out the Texas-sized glazed donuts for only $2.50. (And oh, those apple fritters and the gigantic cinnamon rolls… and don’t get me started on the bombolinis!)
Patisserie Bechler • 1225 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove
You’ll swoon from the sugary aroma when you walk in the door. Locals rave about the quiches and the French macarons (colorful little bites of heaven in flavors like caramel sea salt and pistachio). And the adjoining cafe is a good spot for breakfast or lunch.
Pastries and Petals • Mission & 5th Ave., Carmel
Hard to find but definitely worth the search. Surrender to their scrumptious cheesecake and red velvet cupcakes, lemony treats, breakfast muffins and warm cinnamon pull-aparts… accompanied by a delicious latte or cafe mocha, of course.
Wonder who makes the best burger on the Monterey Peninsula? I asked the staff at Monterey Rentals – and they must’ve been hungry – because I was inundated with responses.
Ashley: R.G. Burgers in Monterey and Carmel has the BEST burgers.
Frank: R.G. Burgers, Monterey and Carmel!
Jo: R.G. Burgers. I like the way they taste.
Michelle: Sorry, I went to R.G.’s about a month ago and my burger was supposed to be turkey but they gave me beef that was red in the middle. I like the one in the mall way better… Islands Burger?
Frank: Sacrilegious!!! Scandalous!!! Do NOT listen to Michelle. She must have gotten Mad Cow disease at the “other” place.
Michelle: Ha, ha… probably!
Patricia: Edgar’s Restaurant at Quail Lodge: ½ pound char-grilled beef patty with hickory-smoked bacon, sharp cheddar, red onions, tomato, lettuce, and pickles on a brioche bun…. well, yum!
Rhiannon: Wow, 11 emails about burgers?
• Quail Lodge Golf Club: 8000 Valley Greens Drive, Carmel
• Islands Restaurant: 300 Del Monte Center, Monterey
• R.G. Burgers: 570 Munras Ave. #30, Monterey, and 201 Carmel Crossroads Shopping Center
Monterey Vacation Rental reservationists Ashley Magallanes and Rhonda Navarro turned me on to Sushi Heaven in Carmel. “The combinations really are heavenly,” Rhonda said.
A person would be foolish not to follow up on a recommendation like that, right?
Sometimes “hole in the wall” is a good thing, like this super cozy sushi bar tucked away on Dolores Street, two blocks east of Ocean Avenue.
Whoever wrote the menu really had some fun, and the chefs back up all the writer’s promises. Try their nigiri/sashimi/roll combos: the “Fantasia,” the “Love Boat” – or, for big eaters – the “Titanic.”
I couldn’t help ordering the “Mama’s Boy” roll – crab, green onions and nuts – because it reminded me of a boss I once had, but the sushi roll combinations go on for pages: from “Crunch” (a California Roll topped with shrimp tempura) to the alarming “911” and the intriguing “007.” Golfers might enjoy the “Whole Nine Yards” or the “Grand Slam” – while honeymooners will probably lean toward “Sensual Pleasure”… or go straight for the “Climax.”
Speaking of cozy, why stay in a hotel when you can rent a two bedroom cottage just a few blocks away? Reminiscent of times gone by, Las Ardillas is lovingly furnished in old-style Carmel with antiques and knickknacks.
Snuggle next to the stone fireplace, or share the outdoor patio with an ardilla (squirrel) or two, under Carmel’s legendary bluebell skies.
Cinco de Mayo is right around the corner, and that always puts me in the mood for Mexican food.
But then again, I’m always in the mood for Mexican food.
So I took a poll among Monterey Vacation Rental agents, because this team is all about having fun on the Monterey Peninsula – and here are the results:
Sarah Borgomini gives Michael’s Taqueria in Pacific Grove three (!!!) exclamation points. “But it’s not authentic refried beans,” she warns, “it’s more black beans and grilled blackened shrimp.” Sounds good to me.
Agent Rhiannon McCraner swears by Lopez Mexican Restaurant in Monterey because, well, “it’s “yummy.” Matt Collins recommends Jose’s and El Palomar in Monterey, while Lindsay Napoli loves La Tortuga in Seaside and Peppers in Pacific Grove.
But when agent Frank Gallagher heard the above he told me not to pay any attention. “Go to Island Taco at the Crossroads Shopping Center in Carmel for the best fish tacos,” he commanded. (A motion that was seconded by Howard Hartman, who calls their chicken rice bowls “muy bueno.”)
After dinner and drinks – or heck, even a shot or two of Patron – you might consider heading upstairs to El Mariachi on Cannery Row. Because after a few margaritas, riding a mechanical bull might suddenly seem like a great idea.