I want to start off by saying that I have no affiliation with any of these restaurants, I’m just a guy who likes to eat. Carmel-By-The-Sea and Pebble Beach are known for some of the best scenery along the central coast of California. I do enjoy frequenting restaurants in the area but I can say that I’ve been to some pretty expensive restaurants here that weren’t really worth the cost of admission. These are my top five restaurants that I would consider not only delicious food but also you won’t have to take out a second mortgage on your house to afford eating there.
Number 5: Alvarado Street Brewery is located in Carmel Plaza, Carmel-By-The-Sea. Alvarado Street Brewery is also located on Alvarado Street in Monterey. What I like most about this restaurant is their variety of good beer and the atmosphere. There are not many bars or pubs in Carmel-By-The-Sea or Pebble Beach, so this is probably your best bet if you are looking for a burgers and beers joint. Meals will run you between $15 to $28 a plate so it is one of the most affordable restaurants in downtown Carmel-By-The-Sea. It also has a lively crowd, outdoor patio and TV’s for watching sports. My favorite options there are the Mediterranean lamb burger and the mai tai IPA.
Number 4: Akaoni is located on 6th Avenue in Carmel-By-The-Sea. It’s kind of hard to find as it is in a building without much signage. It is just up the street from Grasings in a white building on the left hand side. You can find their menu just off to the side. This is the smallest restaurant on my top five list so there aren’t many tables and it can be difficult to get them on the phone to set up a reservation. It is also the only spot open for just dinner and it doesn’t have outdoor seating. I had been wanting to try the sushi there for a long time and stumbled upon the restaurant one night after going for a walk along Carmel Beach and it didn’t disappoint. If you like sushi, in my opinion, it is the best sushi in Monterey County. I would rank the quality of the sushi as better quality at Akaoni and it is also surprisingly way more affordable than most of the sushi restaurants in other towns in the area.
Number 3: Vasuvio’s is located at 6th Ave and Junipero in Carmel-By-The-Sea. As I am half Italian and studied abroad in Rome during college, I am a sucker for good Italian food. Along with having delicious Italian food, there is a rooftop bar and patio seating which is ideal for sunny days in Carmel. Of the restaurants on this top five list, Vesuvio’s is one of the most expensive depending on what you’re planning to order. But it is still pretty affordable for Carmel as entrees cost between 27 to 36 dollars but they also have delicious wood fired pizzas which aren’t pricy. My favorite dishes are the Alla Parmigiana and the Al Forno Sinatra. Who doesn’t love a restaurant who shows respect to The Chairman of the Board?
Number 2: Hay’s Place is located at 1700 17-mile drive in Pebble Beach. This is a new restaurant as of 2021 but we had the Coldwell Banker Realty holiday party last year and the food is delicious. Not to mention the views that you get overlooking the bay. The restaurant does primarily have Mexican style cuisine. I’ve been back a couple of times since with clients and their fish tacos are some of the best fish tacos that I have ever tried. If you’re not worried about your Atkins or Paleo diet for the day, they also have lobster tin can nachos which are pretty outrageous. I was pleasantly surprised at how reasonably the food is priced here. Especially since many of the restaurants in Pebble Beach are quite expensive. Dishes run between $16 to $38. My favorite options there are the fiesta bowl, fish tacos and their Hay Good Lookin cocktail.
Number 1: My number 1 favorite restaurant in Carmel or Pebble Beach is il Fornaio in Carmel-By-The-Sea. It is located at the intersection of Ocean Avenue and Monte Verde Street. Like Vesuvio’s there is a large patio and deck pointing in the direction of Carmel Beach. Great location for sunny days or when approaching sunset. I also find the interior of il Fornaio to be one of the best places architecturally in all of Carmel-By-The-Sea. Like most of the restaurants on this list, it is usually pretty busy on weekends and during popular times of the year. Prices for main dishes run between $18 to $43 but most are in the $20-$30 range. Their wood fired pizzas are delicious. My two favorite options to eat there are their lasagna and Calabrese pizza.
Hope this list was helpful for you in your next visit to Carmel-By-The-Sea or Pebble Beach, California. Enjoy!