Where to Eat + Drink in Monterey

We’ve said it numerous times on our blog and Instagram, and we’ll say it again. We LOVE to eat. Wherever we’re traveling we try to find the best spots to dine, and this last trip to Monterey was no exception. While we were only there for around 48 hours, we made the most of our time, and did our best to hit up some old (and new!) favorite spots!



First Awakenings

You know the restaurant is good when you can’t leave without buying their shirts. (We both bought them - that never happens!) This fan-favorite, family owned restaurant is by far the most popular breakfast spot in town. And for good reason. Everything is fresh and cooked to order with locally sourced ingredients. Known for their eggs benedict, (and we both love a good eggs benedict), we both ordered different variations. And a pancake to share. Everything was delicious, and SUPER filling. Definitely go hungry, it’ll keep you full until dinner


  • The eggs benedict (ADD CARNITAS!)
  • The pancakes


Cafe Lumiere

Located in the center of Monterey, not only is this coffee shop really convenient, but it’s also really good. Whether you need a spot to sit and get some work done, or you’re looking to grab a coffee and a pastry to go, Lumiere is the place to be! 


  • The almond milk au lait
  • Any of the baked goods, we loved the croissants!


Old Fisherman’s Grotto

A Monterey classic since the 1950s and located on the wharf, you can’t beat the location, the view, or the food! While they’re known for the freshly-caught seafood, Old Fisherman’s Grotto has just about everything! We recommend going for lunch, but we’re sure they serve an amazing dinner as well. Ask for a table by the window - it’s worth the extra wait!


  • The clam chowder
  • The burger (random, but it’s SO good)
  • Any of the fresh fish!

The Sur House Restaurant at Ventana Big Sur

This is a favorite of ours, partially because we came here on our honeymoon, and partially because the views and the food simply can’t be beat! Located in Big Sur, the Sur House restaurant has a panoramic view of the California coastline, and it’s absolutely stunning. Definitely plan on taking your time and make a long lunch out of it. This spot is too special to rush! (Also, if you're splurging - just stay at Ventana!)


  • The Surf and Turf short rib sandwich
  • The Falafel Wrap
  • The Friend Chicken Sandwich


La Balena

If you love good, authentic Italian food, La Balena is a MUST during your time in Monterey County! Nestled in the quaint and cozy town of Carmel, La Balena is the perfect spot for a date night or a special occasion with friends. The menu changes seasonly, but it’s one of those places where you know that whatever you order, it will be good. Definitely make reservations, as the restaurant is small and does fill up quick.


  • Any of the pastas, you can’t go wrong.
  • The Butternut Squash Soup (if available)

Jacks Monterey

You know those restaurants where you look at the menu and EVERYTHING sounds good? That’s exactly what Jacks Monterey menu is like - we wanted it all!!! From fresh seafood to delicious burgers to vegetarian dishes… they have something for everyone. The ambiance is fun and modern, and if you happen to be staying at the Portola Hotel (like we were), it couldn’t be more convenient… it’s located in the lobby!


  • The cauliflower steak appetizer
  • The Monterey Cioppino (maybe don't eat lunch before...hehe)  



Charming, sophisticated and cozy… Grasings is the kind of bar you’d picture in Europe. Located in Carmel, it’s the perfect spot to grab a drink and an appetizer or two before dinner. While their wine list is extensive, we’re really big fans of their cocktails. And their charcuterie tray. Wow wow wow, their charcuterie tray… pictures don't do it justice!


  • Any of the cocktails
  • The charcuterie tray… and thank us later.


Beer drinkers, this is the place for you! This fun and casual beer spot serves up some of incredible craft brews and is really popular with the locals. Grab a couple pints, make some friends, and breathe in that salty ocean breeze. Oh ya, did we mention it’s outside? So make sure you dress accordingly!


  • Bloomsday IPA
  • Coffeetown Milk Brown Ale
  • Daypack Pale Ale
  • Monsoon Double IPA
  • It really just depends on your taste... they have so many beers to try!

Inn at Spanish Bay at Sunset

If you don't know about this, it could be the highlight of your trip. Each evening, at sunset, the Inn at Spanish Bay has a bagpiper close out the day with iconic Scottish sounds. Enjoy tasty libations, light appetizers, and watch the sun put on a jaw-dropping show as it tucks behind the Pacific. If you're coming from the 17 mile drive, spend $35 at the Lobby Lounge and they'll reimburse you your $10 park entry fee :) 


Revival Ice Cream

Ice cream is our weakness. Especially when it’s fresh, organic, small-batched artisan ice cream.  Revival came highly recommended to us, and after trying it once we totally see why. Their ice cream is innovative and incredibly tasty. Get a couple different flavors and share! (They change the flavors often, so some of these might not be relevant)


  • Eucalyptus Mint
  • Bee’s Knees
  • Coffee with Cocoa Nib

This post was sponsored by Monterey County. All opinions expressed here are our own