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Carl Spackler

Big Sur/Carmel recs

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Brother and his family will be out here in CA in June, and are thinking of driving up through Big Sur and into the Carmel/Monterey peninsula.  I've been to Big Sur 3 or 4 times, but the last time was more than a dozen years ago.  I can give him a lot of the basics in terms of what to see (Hearst Castle, Pfeiffer Bridge, Point Lobos, etc.), but it's been so long since I've been up there that I'm looking for more/different recs from those who have visited more recently.  I got some decent ideas from the SF/Napa/Carmel thread, but thought I'd start a new one to just focus on Big Sur/Carmel because my brother isn't going to have time to keep heading north to SF, Napa, Sonoma, etc.  Particularly interested in any lodging recs, but I'll take sightseeing, restaurant, and bar recs as well.  Lay 'em on me. 

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I was there with the wife for a long weekend back in November, and for my money, 7D was not good, The Cheese Shop is a must visit if they are into cheese at all, cantinetta luca has some killer octopus and squid pasta, and we stayed at Doris Day’s hotel. It was quaint but very cool. Dogs are welcome there if he is bringing one. Parking is a sin of a bitch though in Carmel.

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It's been awhile since I went but I always recommend Dametra's in Carmel-by-the-Sea.

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There are 2 threads that I found previously which had really good recs.  I'd search them

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Treebones Resort in Big Sur.  Yeah, it’s “glamping” where you stay in yurts but we loved it.  Beautiful place overlooking the pacific.  The sushi restaurant onsite is also incredible.  

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I have been twice in the last 18 months.  Once in the fall for our anniversary trip and once last summer with the kids.

With the kids, we stayed in this cottage through VRBO in Carmel Highlands.  It was an easy and quick drive to Carmel and easy access to Big Sur. It has a fantastic view of the ocean and was very comfortable.

https://www.vrbo.com/340479?adultsCount=2&arrival=2020-04-12&departure=2020-04-18

We liked Le Bicyclette the best for dinner.

We also ate at Clint Eastwood's place one night - Mission Ranch. We liked it. We also liked Casanova and Cultura.

Also, for a meal in Big Sur for lunch, do Las Ventanas over any other option. They have an incredible view with outdoor seating and the food/drinks are very good with a fair price. it is right across the road from Post Ranch Inn. I enjoyed our $90 lunches with a couple drinks each there more than the $600 I dropped for dinner and wine at Post Ranch Inn (was our anniversary).

I cannot remember all the hikes we did in Big Sur. But there are great options starting in Point Lobos near Carmel Highlands all the way down to Big Sur.

One of my favorite things we did on our anniversary trip was stop at a scenic overlook just south of Bixby Bridge -- it is up high -- and share a bottle of good champagne.

Here is the view from Ventanas outside seating area:

BS.jpg

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My most recent trip out there was to see family and they are in the Pacific Grove area. Also when traveling without my wife my focus is more on cheap eats. So take that into consideration with these food recs. In Carmel Valley, Crossroads BBQ is pretty good. It's not Franklin's or La Barbecue but for California barbecue it's really good and if memory serves they use oak. Ocean Sushi Deli in Monterey is excellent. Paprika Cafe in Monterey is a tiny Lebanese place in Monterey that is damn good. Also highly recommend Zab Zab Thai in Monterey. Alvarado Street Brewery has good beer and food. Finally for Indian food, it's tough to beat Namaste in Monterey.

If you make the drive further up the coast to Santa Cruz or Capitola, a GREAT dive of a Mexican seafood place is family-owned and run La Perla Del Pacifico in Watsonville. I can't rave enough about it. But if you're not going to order a seafood dish, there are better places. Also Phil's Fish Market in Moss Landing is super popular but really I only love their cioppino and it's usually very crowded with a long line unless you go early.

Edited by Chopper

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You wouldn't necessarily think so because it's in an off-the-beaten path location and it has such a plain name, but Monterey's Fish House is definitely my favorite seafood restaurant here. It's the kind of place where you wish every plate the wait staff comes by with were headed to your table. Unfortunately I didn't know of this restaurant sooner. But I've been spending time here this month and could eat there every day.

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I lived in the area for nearly six years.  All good recs from Chopper and Johnny.    Alvarado Street Brewery was my go to.   The beer is awesome and the menu has just enough quirkiness to set it apart from the run of the mill brewpub.  I will also heartily second Fish House.  Don’t pay the premium to eat on Cannery Row or the Wharf.  Fish House beats them all.  the only place on Cannery Row that I ever recommend is Lalla Oceanside Grill.  For breakfast/brunch, Rosine’s in Monterey is awesome.  

 I’d also recommend Jennini Wine Bar & Bistro in PG - great wine cocktails and a Spanish Mediterranean menu.  The best fried chicken I have ever had anywhere is at the Googie Grill in Seaside.

Cultura in Carmel was a favorite - great selection of tequila and mezcal.  But you can’t really go wrong in Carmel.  If it isn’t good, it doesn’t last long.  Dinner at Mission Ranch will be your best chance to run into Clint, plus it’s a nice setting with really good food.  

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19 hours ago, Guadaloopy said:

I lived in the area for nearly six years. 

The wife and I love it here. Put in an offer on a house over the weekend, a few grand over asking. Didn't get it and am still pissed that we didn't go a little higher. 

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40 minutes ago, Chopper said:

The wife and I love it here. Put in an offer on a house over the weekend, a few grand over asking. Didn't get it and am still pissed that we didn't go a little higher. 

Not sure what your work plans are for there, but the last year I caddied at PB and it was close to the best year of my life.   If I didn’t already own a house in San Diego, I would have stayed.   

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On 2/24/2020 at 10:58 PM, Guadaloopy said:

I lived in the area for nearly six years.  All good recs from Chopper and Johnny.    Alvarado Street Brewery was my go to.   The beer is awesome and the menu has just enough quirkiness to set it apart from the run of the mill brewpub.  I will also heartily second Fish House.  Don’t pay the premium to eat on Cannery Row or the Wharf.  Fish House beats them all.  the only place on Cannery Row that I ever recommend is Lalla Oceanside Grill.  For breakfast/brunch, Rosine’s in Monterey is awesome.  

 I’d also recommend Jennini Wine Bar & Bistro in PG - great wine cocktails and a Spanish Mediterranean menu.  The best fried chicken I have ever had anywhere is at the Googie Grill in Seaside.

Cultura in Carmel was a favorite - great selection of tequila and mezcal.  But you can’t really go wrong in Carmel.  If it isn’t good, it doesn’t last long.  Dinner at Mission Ranch will be your best chance to run into Clint, plus it’s a nice setting with really good food.  

Does Clint have a brother in the area?  Because when I was at Mission Ranch last there was a man that looked almost exactly like him but 10 years younger sitting by himself at a table in the bar (near piano).

I really enjoyed Mission Ranch.  Thought the food and ambiance were good and the prices were fair.

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8 minutes ago, Johnny Sack said:

Does Clint have a brother in the area?  Because when I was at Mission Ranch last there was a man that looked almost exactly like him but 10 years younger sitting by himself at a table in the bar (near piano).

I really enjoyed Mission Ranch.  Thought the food and ambiance were good and the prices were fair.

Not aware of a brother in the area, but if you saw Clint in the flesh, you would never say that he looked 10 years younger than anyone.  Father Time has tackled him and pinned him to the ground.  The couple of times I saw him, I was shocked at how feeble he looks in person.  

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Another local dive I really enjoyed was Mariscos Puerto Nuevo in Marina. It's right next to an extremely authentic neighborhood dive bar (Sportsman's Club) with pool and darts, Food was fantastic, anything with the ranchero (spicy pepper) sauce is awesome as was the grilled snapper. Parking lot is tiny though - will probably have to park on a neighborhood street.

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On 2/24/2020 at 8:21 PM, Chopper said:

You wouldn't necessarily think so because it's in an off-the-beaten path location and it has such a plain name, but Monterey's Fish House is definitely my favorite seafood restaurant here. It's the kind of place where you wish every plate the wait staff comes by with were headed to your table. Unfortunately I didn't know of this restaurant sooner. But I've been spending time here this month and could eat there every day.

This is on  point...been going to Monterey for decades, Monterey Fish House for 3 years....have no idea what took me so long. Locals spot. Get reservations. Bar-B-Que oysters are the bomb!

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Bump. Trying to pull off this trip in a few weeks. Looks like many of the parks (Point Lobo and Pfeiffer) are closed, along with the Aquarium, due to wildfires or Covid. And PCH due to construction.

Not looking good but we are going for it.

Thanks for any recs, surly never lets me down.

 

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35 minutes ago, 4th and 5 said:

Bump. Trying to pull off this trip in a few weeks. Looks like many of the parks (Point Lobo and Pfeiffer) are closed, along with the Aquarium, due to wildfires or Covid. And PCH due to construction.

Not looking good but we are going for it.

Thanks for any recs, surly never lets me down.

 

I did it a couple of weeks ago. Kayaking at moss landing was rad. Stuff in town is open, just wear a mask. Dining is all outside. 

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Having just spent the long weekend along the Russian River up north (and the ocean beaches it reaches to), an additional issue right now is with the number of parks and beaches closed for COVID, the areas that are open get utterly swamped. PCH1 looked like the 405 on Sunday. 

That area is one my favorites, and kayaking in that kelp field off the shore of the Aquarium in Monterrey is amazing. Just be prepared as to say the current situation is dynamic is an understatement. 

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