Like the majority of California’s travelers, you probably aren’t thinking of a big-little city called Monterey.

Most people come to visit LA or San Francisco, but Monterey acts as a breath of fresh air between cities for travelers who want something more relaxed.

Known for its extensive and interactive aquarium on the iconic Cannery Row, Monterey has a steady supply of options for all travelers, from whale watching to the eye-opening 17-Mile Drive.

But what is a pit stop without good grub?

If you’re in town and your stomach starts to grumble, the following restaurants will satisfy your every craving:

Hula’s

Located on Lighthouse Avenue above Cannery Row, Hula’s tiki-styled lounge has a great Hawaiian atmosphere with comfortable outdoor seating.

hulas-bacon-burgerIf you’re in the mood for a good dinner or a lunchtime cocktail, don’t pass on this location! From bacon burgers to fish tacos, Hula’s will never fail to hit the right spot.

Their outside seating comes with heaters and blankets for any additional comfort. Although a non-smoking area, it provides a quiet escape from the noise in the main restaurant.

Tuesday nights is Happy Hour from two until close, and most of the drinks from the menu are included.

Whatever you do, make sure you don’t leave without trying their famed Hula sauce at least once — best dipped in some of the house-made sweet potato fries.

Lalla’s

There are three different Lalla’s locations, and while they all offer different food varieties, their drinks stay the same.

If you’re in the mood for a one-and-done cocktail, give their TreeSmacker a spin.

lallasAs for the different locations, Lalla Grill, the first (and probably best and highest-rated) is located in the Del Monte Shopping Center directly across from the movie theater.

Good luck taking your eyes off the wall-length bar that has employees using a ladder to reach the top.

Though a perfect location for a dinner-and-a-movie date, Lala Grill is also available for lunch.

Lallapalooza, located with the other bars along Alvarado Street, is a dinner-only restaurant. It may not extend into the later hours like the surrounding bars, but one drink from the “Long Vacations” menu should put you right where you’d like to be.

Lalla’s Oceanside, the newest of the bunch, also acts as a lunch or dinner option — with better views to match. The biggest difference this restaurant has over the other two is the extensive amount of seafood choices. Lobster nachos, anyone?

But honestly, check out the “Long Vacations” menu at any of the restaurants. You won’t be sorry.

Chart House

If, at any point in your trip, you want any fine dining option, don’t pass up Chart House. They may have multiple restaurants all over the country, but each location provides a different and spectacular view.

chart-house-4Chart House Monterey, arguably, has one of the best.

This is the only corporate chain on the list, and is operated by Landry’s. Through them, you can sign up for a frequent dining membership that offers benefits in over 400 locations throughout the country.

The best part?

It also includes more casual dining options such as Bubba Gump’s (which is down the street from Chart House) and the Rainforest Cafe.

Let’s be honest, here — you’re traveling, and you may not have enough money to spend a couple hundred dollars on dinner for two.

Don’t stress!

Chart House offers a killer (and highly affordable) Happy Hour Sunday-Friday. If you’re keen to get a taste of what all of the fuss is about, try out the KimChee Calamari or the Coconut Crunchy Shrimp. If you make it to the dinner side, don’t pass on the Prime Rib.

Specific to the Chart House in Monterey, this location is a dinner-only option (unless you’re coming on a major holiday.)

First Awakenings

bacadoIf you’ve had a good night at the bars on Alvarado, First Awakenings might help you out the next morning. With inside and outside seating, substantial portions, and affordable breakfast, First Awakenings will take care of the most important meal of the day for you.

Popular items include any of the omelettes or pancakes, but Rachael Ray favored the California Crepe on her visit. If nothing on the main menu appeals to you, give their carnitas burrito off their secret menu a go.

Everything is made in house, and though they consistently have a wide variety of pancake decisions, their seasonal house-made pumpkin pancake stands out. Add that alongside of a fan-favorite omelette and you’re set for the day.

Voted Best Breakfast in Monterey, First Awakenings will jump-start any day.

Rosine’s

Located in Downtown Monterey on Alvarado Street and featured on Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives, Rosine’s is the ultimate in Italian cuisine and bakery.

rosinesThe only restaurant on the list that’s open from breakfast through dinner, Rosine’s is hard to beat. Family run since its opening in 1980, Rosine’s never fails to deliver. A bad meal is unheard of under this roof.

Popular meals include the lasagna or the tortellini, but never pass on an opportunity to kick off the meal with a cup of their house-made minestrone soup.

If you’re not a fan of Italian, they have a multitude of other options, including chicken parmesan, New York steak, and a selection of sandwiches and salads.

If all else fails, you can never go wrong with a slice of that cake.


Have you been through Monterey? Tried any of these out? What other restaurants have you enjoyed?