Big Sur + Monterey Bay

Restaurants in Big Sur + Monterey Bay

A seaside town through and through, restaurants in Monterey Bay specialize in fresh fish and shellfish dishes.

For those looking for Monterey Bay restaurants that serve casual fare, Monterey’s Fish House is worth a visit. But be sure to make a reservation! The popular joint – whose specialties include blackened swordfish, barbecued oysters, and Mexican squid steak – is consistently crowded and attracts a casual, friendly rowdy crowd on weekend nights.

True seafood lovers shouldn’t leave without dining at the Sandbar & Grill. Considered to be one of the best restaurants in Monterey Bay, the establishment is located on a pier and boasts panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Specialties include rustic dishes like heaping bowls of creamy clam chowder and enormous crab club sandwiches.

In the unlikely event that you get tired of seafood, there’s always Crepes of Brittany. The cash-only stand, located directly on the beach, serves both sweet and savory crepes and attracts long lines on weekends.

Catch a spectacular sunset at The Sea Chest Oyster Bar and Restaurant, reminiscent of a New England cottage, while feasting on fresh oysters and garlicky scampi.

Hang out on the patio with a burger and microbrew.

Dig in to butternut squash enchiladas or brick-roasted chicken; the chef promotes the local and sustainable.

Don’t miss the curried chicken sandwich.

Dine at Michel Richard’s Citronelle, at the Carmel Valley Ranch resort—and be sure to order the Monterey Bay abalone with caviar cream.

Fill up on morning blueberry pancakes or cinnamon raisin French toast at this local breakfast haunt.

The bacon-and-egg topped “breakfast pizza,” available on weekends, is worth the drive from anywhere.

For dinner, pull the kids away from Bubba Gump and head for Passionfish in neighboring Pacific Grove. On the menu: more grown-up dishes such as sea scallops with tomato-truffle butter and risotto custard and ratatouille ravioli topped by aged asiago.

Enjoy an “Ambrosiaburger” on the terrace of a house reputedly once owned by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth.

At dinner, go for broke at Marinus, where you can enjoy an elaborate seafood-focused tasting menu by a roaring fireplace.

The bland façade may look quiet and unassuming, but inside, executive chef Scott Cater turns out some smart New American cuisine. His special Colorado rack of lamb with raspberry sauce and black truffles is to die for. The beach views aren't too shabby, either.

The kitchen delivers fancy but family-friendly Mexican: the shrimp burrito is a favorite.

Dive into Italian seafood—shrimp scampi, and salmon fettuccine—at the waterfront, touristy-but-fun restaurant.