The 9 Best Restaurants in Monterey

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The seafood served at restaurants in Monterey is legendary, and has long attracted appetites from across the globe. While some of the eateries around the city focus on tourists, there are still plenty of options where locals regale in the freshness and flavors of the land and sea, with flavors that balance the bold and the classic; here are some top picks:

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Montrio Bistro

Montrio Bistro is housed inside a converted firehouse built in 1910, and still retains its exposed brick charm. This sensibility for the past also inspires the chefs: the grilled steaks, salmon, and lamb chops are all standouts on the menu, which combines classic European inspirations with New American flavors. The wine list is long, and the staff is knowledgeable, so rest assured that the pairing recommendations are on point.

Insider Tip

Montrio Bistro is worth a visit just for the cocktails. Inventive creations like the Saving Private Ryan mix unusual ingredients like walnut liquor and smoked ice.

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Monterey's Fish House

Heaping servings of seafood harvested straight from Monterey Bay will define your dining experience at Monterey’s Fish House. Expect a crowd and a potentially boisterous-yet-relaxed atmosphere, as well as classics including artisan seafood pasta and ahi tuna. The prawns are huge, and oysters are cooked over an oak-fired grill.

Insider Tip

Try Monterey’s Fish House’s refreshingly light take on the cioppino, a classic Northern California soup made from fresh seafood and tomatoes.

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Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurants - Monterey

Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant is quaintly decorated with colorful tablecloths and nautical bric-a-brac hung on the walls. Since it also doubles as a market, the seafood served in the restaurant is some of the freshest in Monterey, making it a local favorite. The squid, for example, is cleaned, tenderized, and breaded in-house for a terrific fried calamari, and the oysters and seafood kabobs make for a great light lunch.

Insider Tip

If you want to try whatever is in season, just ask your server for the freshest fish they have.

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Chart House - Monterey

Of all the tourist-focused spots on Monterey’s bustling Cannery Row, Chart House is one of the most refined options around, and the flavors of the food back up the atmosphere. The panoramic views of the Monterey Bay or the city lights beyond are worth the visit by themselves. For vegetarians, a giant salad bar means this seafood restaurant will probably be among your best choices on Cannery Row.

Insider Tip

If you make a reservation, ask if a corner table is available for window seating, overlooking the bay.

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Old Fisherman's Grotto

Old Fisherman’s Grotto was founded in the 1950s and is known as a “must-visit” restaurant in Monterey, a title it strives to earn with every dish that comes out of the kitchen. The Hawaiian swordfish is a perennial favorite, and the Boston-style clam chowder has won awards several years running. No matter how delicious the food, Old Fisherman’s Grotto never feels pretentious; the dining area keeps the cozy atmosphere of a family-run restaurant.

Insider Tip

If you can’t decide which ocean bounty to devour, get a taste of everything with the grilled combination platter, featuring shrimp, scallops, sand dab, and salmon.

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Sardine Factory

While the name might not proclaim high-end, The Sardine Factory serves an extravagant menu that has attracted world leaders, sports stars, and celebrities of every stripe for decades. Situated in Monterey’s historic Cannery Row, The Sardine Factory is renowned for its seafood, all sustainably procured and fresh from the ocean. The main dining room suggests European-style formality, but the restaurant also features a lounge with live music, happy hours, and a more casual menu.

Insider Tip

The restaurant specializes in abalone and serves buttery mollusk several ways: President Ronald Reagan specifically requested the abalone bisque for one of his inaugural dinners.

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Restaurants /

Domenico's on the Wharf

With tantalizing options including Alaskan King Crab, Domenico’s On the Wharf is able to serve high-end food without any fussiness—a factor that makes this restaurant a favorite of Monterey residents. The menu is formal, but the service is friendly, so don’t expect any sort of dress code. With a combination of fresh seafood and Italian-inspired cuisine, Domenico’s On the Wharf serves up classics like Oysters Rockefeller and mussels in wine and garlic sauce.

Insider Tip

If you’ve brought your dog along for lunch, don’t worry: Domenico’s On the Wharf is pet friendly.

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Bistro Moulin

Bistro Moulin might be one of the best French restaurants in the city of Monterey, but the aura in the dining room is friendly and relaxed. Although seafood is plentiful, Bistro Moulin also serves up delicious landlubber favorites like spinach gnocchi and veal osso buco. Save room for dessert: the delicate tarts and other pastries bring a touch of Paris to Northern California.

Insider Tip

As with any decent French restaurant, Bistro Moulin has several great, authentic champagnes available.

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The Fish Hopper

With a focus on traditional seafood dishes utilizing the best of Northern California’s fish and produce, Fish Hopper is one of most beloved Monterey restaurants for both locals and visitors. If you decide to sit on the heated patio, you’ll actually dine directly over the crashing waves of Monterey Bay, a vantage point that offers spectacular views of the marine life. The menu includes comfort food like fish and chips, but also boasts high-end favorites like lobster tail and swordfish

Insider Tip

The cocktail list is fun and bizarre, and points have to be given for the seafood Bloody Mary, garnished with a fresh oyster and a crab cake slider.

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