7564 Soquel Drive • 831.685.3926
A cozy, green-certified take-out or eat-in café, Carried Away has a menu that changes weekly and features primarily organic, locally sourced ingredients. Owner/chef Tom McNary worked for many years at Chez Panisse and his dishes reflect the seasons. Soups, salads, entrees and desserts are all made fresh daily. Thin-crust pizzas available on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Open M–F 11am–7pm, Sa 11am–5pm, closed Su.
The Restaurant at Ventana
48123 Highway 1 • 831.667.4242 • www.ventanainn.com
A peaceful fireplace setting and rustic wood interior give way to a legendary terrace with some of the most amazing views Big Sur has to offer. Chef Truman Jones’ cuisine uses fresh, seasonal and sustainable ingredients sourced from local farms and foragers and reflects his memories of growing up on a farm and his experience working in some of the world’s most-acclaimed restaurants. The menu changes frequently; the wine list is award-winning. The Ventana Bistro is available for private events. Open daily for breakfast 7:30–10:30am, lunch 11:30am–4:30pm, dinner 6–9pm.
New Leaf Community Market
13159 Highway 9 • 831.338.7211 • www.newleaf.com
New Leaf offers some of the best fresh food made and grown here on the Central Coast. Made-to-order sandwiches, salads and hot foods are all natural. No nitrates, hormones, antibiotics or artificial ingredients. The Coastal Kale Salad is a big favorite; wide selection of picnic supplies to be found here, too. Open 9am–9pm every day.
New Leaf Community Market
1210 41st Avenue • 831.479.7987 • www.newleaf.com
See description under Boulder Creek. Open 8am–9pm every day.
San Carlos Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues
831.626.8226 • www.basilcarmel.com
Locally sourced and seasonal aren’t just buzzwords at Basil. Chef/Owner Soerke Peters turns out beautiful dishes with intense flavors—like black squid ink linguine with sea urchin sauce and Monterey squid, or Monterey abalone in vermouth butter sauce on fingerling potato hash. This cozy restaurant in the Paseo Courtyard has heated outdoor seating. There’s a full bar and a good selection of California wines, including many organic or biodynamic choices Recipient of two stars from the national Green Restaurant Association. Lunch and dinner daily from 11:30am.
California Market at Hyatt Carmel Highlands
120 Highlands Drive
831.622.5450 • www.highlandsinn.hyatt.com
Locals and visitors alike enjoy the rustic elegance of this casual bistro. Whether dining al fresco overlooking magnificent Yankee Point or indoors by the pot-bellied stove, the California Market menu offers an eclectic array of offerings. At breakfast, look for frittatas, omelets, breakfast paninis, sticky bun French toast; lunch includes fresh seafood, pastas, sandwiches and daily specials. Service begins at 7am.
Doud Craft Studios • San Carlos Street at Ocean
831.624.1600 • www.carmelbelle.com
Passionate about sourcing the best local ingredients and meticulous about identifying them on the menu, Carmel Belle is a delicious choice for breakfast or lunch. Almost everything is organic, from the coffee to the meats and cheeses. Faves include a warm slow-cooked Berkshire pork sandwich with red onion-currant chutney on ciabatta, and their house-made mozzarella and asparagus panini. Open daily 8am–5pm.
Earthbound Farm’s Farm Stand
7250 Carmel Valley Road • 831.625.6219
Organic is essential at Earthbound Farm. In addition to fresh organic produce, prepared foods and gourmet groceries, the farm stand has a colorful salad bar and a certified organic kitchen. Under the direction of Executive Chef Sarah LaCasse, the kitchen turns out homemade soups and bakery goods daily. Take out or eat on site at tables set in the garden. The Farm Stand also hosts cooking demonstrations and other classes and activities. Open M–Sa 8am–6:30pm, Su 9am–6pm.
Junipero Avenue between Fifth and Sixth avenues
831.250.6295 • www.labalenacarmel.com
La Balena’s seasonal menu changes daily but always expresses a spectacular and inventive take on the rustic food of a classical Tuscan Trattoria. Chef Brad Briske has a deep love for love for and knowledge of the bounty of ingredients that grow here in the Monterey Bay region and purchases all produce from local organic farmers. Much of the charcuterie is house-made and pasta and slow-cooked meats are prepared from scratch daily. Owners Anna and Emanuele Bartolini have created a charming atmosphere complete with back garden seating. Open 11:30-10, Tu–Su.
Le St. Tropez Cuisine of the Sun
Dolores between Ocean and Seventh Avenue
831.624.8977 • www.lesttropez.com
Owners Jean and Mary Medora Hubert use local, sustainably raised and organic ingredients whenever possible to create a menu that celebrates the seasons. The food is distinctively French Provencal, well-seasoned and loaded with vegetables. From Mary’s chicken with artichokes to salmon with fennel and Meyer lemon, you’ll find no shortage of farm-to-table freshness in this cheerful country-style dining room. Open daily 11:30am–10 pm.
San Carlos Street between Ocean and Seventh
831.624.7400 • www.mundakacarmel.com
A convivial Spanish restaurant and tapas bar hidden away at the back of a Carmel courtyard, Mundaka is named for a coastal town in the Basque country and has a loyal following of locals. A surprisingly authentic kitchen led by Chef Brandon Miller produces organic specialties to share like patatas bravas, croquetas, tiny lamb chops and paella. Open for dinner 5:30pm–late every day.
Pacific’s Edge at Hyatt Carmel Highlands
120 Highlands Drive
831.620.1234 • www.pacificsedge.com
Hyatt Carmel Highlands offers awe-inspiring views of the Pacific, stellar service and food that draws inspiration from local farms and purveyors. Built atop a craggy cliff overlooking the dramatic Big Sur coastline, there is no better perch from which to view the setting sun or a breaching whale. Start your experience with a craft cocktail at the Sunset Lounge, followed by dinner in the glass-walled dining room at Pacific’s Edge (daily 6–9pm), featuring sophisticated California coastal cuisine from Chef Matt Bolton.
101 Crossroads Blvd.
831.625.5436 • www.riogrill.com
The high-energy Rio features the talents of Chef Cy Yontz, who produces creative regional California cuisine and the flavors of the Southwest using bold spices and an oak-wood fire. The recently renovated bar offers elevated cocktails and an award-winning wine list, catalogued and annotated on iPads, which are handed to guests along with their menus. The new Barrel Room is available for private events. Open daily for lunch 11:30am–4:30pm, dinner 4:30–10pm and Sunday brunch 11:30am–3pm.
New Leaf Community Market
6240 Highway 9
831.335.7322 • www.newleaf.com
See description under Boulder Creek. Open 9am–9pm every day.
Oak Tree Ristorante
5447 Highway 9 • 831.335.5551
Nestled under the boughs of an ancient oak, southern Italian food using seasonal, organic ingredients is the specialty of this Felton trattoria. Picture windows bring the redwood forest into the dining room or you can eat on the patio outside. Chef Sebastian Nobile uses recipes handed down from his Italian grandmother and fruit and vegetables from Dirty Girl Produce. He makes his own pasta and uses a wood-fired grill for meats, including house-smoked ribs. Open M–Th 4–10pm, F–Su 8:30am–10pm.
Wild Thyme Deli & Café
445 Reservation Road • 831.884.2414
Chef Terry Teplitzky offers a dizzying array of influences on the menu at his quaint and cozy café. A tantalizing slate of salads includes everything from traditional tuna and Greek to Asian cabbage and Chinese noodle. Also on offer is some of the best mango-chutney-bursting curry chicken in the region. East Coast classics, such as massive submarines, housemade corned beef and pastrami, as well as great Jersey-style cheesesteak might smack of fast food, but everything is prepared with organic, locally sourced ingredients. Open M–Sa 10am–5:30pm.
Jacks Restaurant and Lounge
Portola Hotel & Spa, 2 Portola Plaza • 831.649.2698
Jack’s clubby atmosphere complements Executive Chef Jason Giles’ brand new seafood-driven menu. He uses the freshest local ingredients available, supporting local farmers, fishermen and cheesemakers. Try Jack’s signature Dungeness crab and clam chowder, Portola Day Boat Scallops or the Harris Ranch New York Strip with wild mushrooms and shallot bourbon sauce. For a glimpse behind the scenes, an oyster bar with champagne is tucked inside the kitchen. Open for breakfast M–F 6–10:30am, Sa–Su 6–11am; for lunch M–F 11:30am–2pm, Sa–Su 11amd2pm; for dinner daily 5–10pm.
Cindy’s Waterfront/Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row • 831.648.4870
Renamed for aquarium culinary partner and Napa celebrity chef Cindy Pawlcyn, the aquarium restaurant and café reopened in late April with a new look and a new, seasonally changing menu showcasing the area’s bounty of local foods. Expect Pawlcyn and Executive Chef Jeff Rogers to provide a more spacious self-service café and new menu choices—but the same sweeping ocean views and the same focus on featuring delicious and sustainably sourced seafood and other ingredients. Complimentary binoculars offered for viewing sea life in the bay. Restaurant is open daily 11am–5pm; self-service café is open 10am–5pm. Aquarium admission required.
414 Calle Principal • 831.648.8880 • www.montrio.com
This sophisticated bistro located in a historic brick firehouse in Old Monterey lures with a creative, seasonal menu created by Chef Tony Baker, a British expat with an eclectic style. Montrio’s faithful start early, enjoying the small-bite menu during happy hour at the lively bar—with a spirited, innovative cocktail program designed by mixologist Anthony Vitacca. Dinner begins at 5pm nightly, and patrons often linger well into the night. Montrio embraces sustainability, purchasing from local farms and vendors, following Seafood Watch guidelines and employing a triple-filtered tap water system.
Peter B’s Brewpub
Portola Hotel & Spa, 2 Portola Plaza • 831.649.2699
Monterey’s only craft brewery and one of the few breweries in the country to be found in a hotel, Peter B’s has a loyal following of beer geeks and sports fans. With charming brewmaster Kevin Clark at the helm, the pub stocks five housemade craft beers, along with an ever changing menu of seasonal lagers, ales and stout. Delicious appetizers, pizzas, burgers and sandwiches fill out the menu, including the locals’ favorite: beer battered artichoke hearts. Open M–Th 4–11pm, F–Sa 11am–1am, Su 11am–11pm.
Stone Creek Kitchen
465 Canyon del Rey Boulevard • 831.393.1042
A glass-walled kitchen in the middle of a spacious cookware shop turns out imaginative Mediterranean deli treats and sweets to take away or eat under the market umbrellas outside. Petite baguette sandwiches—like grilled chicken, artichoke hearts and Boursin cheese—are little works of art. Don’t miss the pistachio/cherry chocolate bark or the paella Fridays. Open M–F 10am–7pm, Sa 10am–4pm, closed Su except during November and December.
2999 Monterey Salinas Highway • 831.647.1444
This romantic, historic stone roadhouse—built in 1917 and set on five, beautifully landscaped acres—features dining in several semi-private rooms and on a cozy garden patio. Chef Michael Kimmel uses a wood-burning grill to prepare American country cuisine, including wild game, prime steaks and local seafood, daily from 4:30pm. A popular site for Sunday brunch (11:30am–3pm) and local weekday “power lunches” (11:30am–4:30pm), Tarpy’s also attracts a spirited bar crowd and is a popular spot for large banquets, meetings and celebrations.
The Haute Enchilada
7902 Moss Landing Road • 831.633.5843
A fanciful world where Frida Kahlo and Andy Warhol prints hang side by side on fiesta-colored walls and a mermaid fountain gurgles in the courtyard, The Haute Enchilada serves Spanish, Mexican and Peruvian dishes with an emphasis on fresh seafood and local wines. Try salmon tacos with fruit salsa for lunch or chilaquiles for a hearty brunch. Open M–Tu 10am–4pm, W–Su 10am–9pm.
Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
173 Central Ave. • 831.373.4475
The menu changes daily at Happy Girl’s airy and bright Pacific Grove café, but the food is always delicious, organic and reasonably priced. The sandwich of the day is $5.50 and a bowl of the soup of the day is $4.50. To drink, you’ll find kombucha on tap and Blue Bottle Coffee brewed fresh. Homemade baked goods include a daily scone, cookies and turnovers. When it’s time to go, take home some famed Happy Girl preserves or another local artisan food product from the café’s wide selection. Open daily 8am–3pm.
Julia’s Vegetarian Restaurant
1180 Forest Avenue, #F • 831.656.9533
Chef-owner Michael Brown has been running this vegetarian oasis named for his daughter since 2010; he calls it his “workshop and studio” for experimenting with local flavors. Brown gathers his bounty at farmers’ markets, and creates reasonably priced, tasty salads, soups, pizzas, and entrées. Vegan and gluten-free options are available; reservations are strongly recommended. Sunday dinner is served family style at communal tables. Dinner Th–Su 5–9pm (family-style dining Sunday).
La Crème Monterey/Crema
481 Lighthouse Ave.
831.375.1300 • www.lacrememonterey.com
By day an espresso bar and by night a tapas and wine bar, Crema is the creation of La Crème Catering’s Chef Jon Moser and owner/party organizer extraordinaire Tamie Aceves. Moser and Aceves have a dedication to fine organic and local ingredients worthy of the renowned kitchens where Moser worked previously, including those of Chez Panisse, the French Laundry and Manresa. Espresso bar open daily from 7am; tapas bar open Th-Su 4–8pm.
701 Lighthouse Ave. • 831.655.3311
If you’re looking for a restaurant with playful, spectacular food and a scrupulous commitment to sustainability, this green-certified restaurant is hard to rival. The elegant dining room is celebratory yet relaxed, and the award-winning wine list features many sustainable names and is priced at retail. Chef Ted Walter’s menu is ever-changing with the seasons, but always includes delicious organic local produce, inventive slow-cooked meats and an array of sustainable seafood choices. Open daily 5pm.
Point Pinos Grill
79 Asilomar Blvd. • 831.648.5774
Now serving dinner! Despite being located near Point Pinos Lighthouse and adjacent to a golf course, Point Pinos Grill’s biggest draw is its food, thanks to Chef Dory Ford and his team from Aqua Terra Culinary. Breakfast and lunch classics get his sustainable, gourmet spin, like buttermilk blueberry pancakes made from scratch, heirloom tomato tart, or arugula, fig and prosciutto salad. Happy hour prices and appetizer supper specials start at 3pm. Open M–Tu 7am–5pm, W–Su 7am–8:30pm.
Cascade Bar and Grill
Costanoa Lodge, 2001 Rossi Road at Highway 1
650.879.1100, x4 • www.costanoa.com
Just a short drive up a gorgeous stretch of coastline from Santa Cruz’ Westside, Cascade aims to reflect its setting in its food. Chef Hunter Brawley has lightened and localized the menu, offering seasonally driven dishes featuring the harvest of Cascade’s garden and those of neighbors like Harley Farm and Swanton Berry Farm. He’s also put much more (sustainable) fish on the menu, including a rich cioppino, as well as a number of local, biodynamic and sustainable wines. Part of the Costanoa ecoadventure resort, Cascade can also offer diners a chance to spend the night. Open daily 7:30am–9pm.
The Bakery Station
202 Monterey St. • 831.783.1140
In a repurposed gas station, bakers Ana Melissa Garcia and Erika Olivarez fire up a traditional stone hearth oven to produce crusty Old World breads, scones and muffins. The Bakery Station is also a popular lunch stop, turning out sandwiches like the Road Hog—with pulled pork and whiskey sauce on a brioche roll. Open M–F 6am–4pm, Sa 7am–2pm, closed Su.
702 Soquel Avenue • 831.458.3020
Tantalizing cakes, pies, tarts, pastries and European-style breads fill the display cases inside this friendly, only-in-Santa Cruz bakery and café. On the deli side, everything is freshly made, from soups to salad dressings, using local produce from places like Live Earth Farm as much as possible. Lots of takeout options are available including daily special dinner entrées, but you can’t go wrong ordering their famous turkey potpie. Open daily 7am–7pm.
Charlie Hong Kong
1141 Soquel Ave. • 831.426.5664
Charlie Hong Kong has been providing the Santa Cruz community with healthy, fresh, high-quality food since 1998. The restaurant’s fusion of Southeast Asian influences and the Central Coast’s local organic produce is what has made it a neighborhood favorite. Its slogan is “love your body, eat organic,” and its cuisine is proof that fast food can be good for you. Open daily 11am–11pm.
2341 Mission St. • 831.252.2253
After five years on the farmers’ market circuit, Companion has opened its own bakery/café. It has a brick oven, where organic sourdough bread is baked throughout the day, and there is a long communal table for sharing a coffee with your neighbors. Eight kinds of sourdough bread and seasonal pastries are made with local, organic ingredients. Tuesday night is pizza night and Thursday, fish tacos. Open Tu–F 7am–1pm, Sa–Su 8am–2pm, closed M.
910 Cedar St. • 831.457.1677 • www.gabriellacafe.com
One of the city’s most charming dining spots, Gabriella Café serves a California-Italian menu starring organic produce from local growers and the nearby farmers’ market, as well as humanely raised meat and sustainable seafood. There is a candlelit patio and a cozy dining room that showcases the work of local artists. Open for lunch M–F 11:30am–2pm, dinner daily 5:30–9pm, brunch Sa–Su 11:30am–2pm.
101B Cooper St. • 831.423.4545
Exotic flavors of the Silk Road are served in a stylish dining room decorated in eggplant and pistachio colors and on a hidden candlelit patio. Locals rave about Laílí’s homemade naan served warm from the oven with a selection of Mediterranean dips. There is a wide variety of deliciously spiced vegetable dishes, organic whenever possible, and all meats are hormone free and free range. Open daily for lunch 11:30am–3pm and for dinner 5–9:30pm.
538 Seabright Ave. • 831.457.2782
A cozy neighborhood bistro not far from the Santa Cruz yacht harbor, La Posta Chef Katherine Stern prepares northern Italian cuisine using local ingredients—some foraged and some grown on nearby organic farms. Charcuterie is house-cured and the rest of the menu reflects whatever produce is freshest right now. Visit the chickens in the restaurant’s backyard and enjoy the eclectic atmosphere. Open Tu–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–9:30pm, Su 5–8pm, closed M.
New Leaf Community Market
1134 Pacific Ave. • 831.425.1793 • www.newleaf.com
See description under Boulder Creek. Open 9am–9pm every day.
New Leaf Community Market
1101 Fair Ave. • 831.426.1306 • www.newleaf.com
See description under Boulder Creek. Open 8am–10pm every day.
The Penny Ice Creamery
913 Cedar St. • 831.204.2523
Lines out the front door of its converted Spanish bungalow are evidence of Penny’s popularity. All ice cream, including bases, is made from scratch on the premises using local organic ingredients when possible. Flavors change seasonally, but two favorites are bourbon bacon chocolate and strawberry pink peppercorn. Open Su–W noon–9pm, Th–Sa noon–11pm.
The Picnic Basket
125 Beach St. • 831.427.9946
Across the street from the main beach, owners of the Penny Ice Creamery have opened an alternative to boardwalk fast food. Sandwiches, organic salads, coffee and beer, all from local food artisans, and of course Penny’s popular ice cream are all on offer to eat in or eat outside with your feet in the sand. Open daily 7am–9pm.
1917 Mission St. • 831.427.0135
This popular, Mediterranean-style bistro recently moved into a lush, more upscale location with a larger bar and expanded seating to better accommodate its loyal fans. Avanti’s menu remains true to its long-time commitment to supporting local organic farms as well as local ranchers, foragers and fishermen. The menu changes with the seasons and specials are offered every day using local organic produce and meats, wholesome oils and imported Italian cheeses. Open for lunch M–F 11:30am–2pm, for dinner Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–9:30pm.
Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar
105 Walnut Ave. • 831.423.2020 • www.soifwine.com
This wine-centric downtown restaurant is housed in a hip, loft-style building and includes a wine shop next door. Food reflects Chef Santos Majano’s love for Mediterranean flavors, and each dish is paired with a wine suggestion from the vast wine list. Monday evenings there is a raw oyster bar with live jazz. Tuesday is tapas night. Restaurant and wine bar open Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–10pm.
Uncie Ro’s Pizza
Santa Cruz Area Farmers’ Markets • 831.419.8191
New York-inspired pizzas made with fresh, organic California produce and meats make Uncie Ro’s a favorite at five farmers’ markets in the Santa Cruz area, where they are served bubbling hot from a unique mobile wood-fired Mugnaini pizza oven. Take-and-bake versions can be found at natural foods markets throughout the Monterey Bay area. Follow the wood-fire scent Tuesdays at the Felton Farmers’ Market, Wednesdays at the Downtown Santa Cruz Farmers’ Market, Saturdays at the Westside and Scotts Valley Farmers’ Markets and Sundays at the Live Oak Farmers’ Market.
Vivas Organic Mexican Restaurant
1201 Soquel Ave. • 831.425.8482
A splashing fountain suggests an old Mexican patio but the food is a modern, organic and delicious take on south-of-the-border classics like tacos, tostadas, quesadillas and burritos. All meats and vegetables are organic. Local juices, organic white and brown rice are available, as well as vegan options. Open M–F 10am–10pm, Sa–Su 9am–10pm.
Main Street Garden Café
3101 N. Main Street • 831.477.9265
Eat in a lovingly restored creek-side home or, when weather permits, on the back patio next to the wood-fired pizza oven overlooking lush vegetable gardens. Chef Chris Carloni creates Italian-style dishes, inspired by fresh produce straight from the backyard. Meats come from nearby Fogline Farm. Homemade charcuterie and pastas are also on the menu, along with a popular selection of veggie-laden pizzas. Open W–Sa starting at 5:30pm, Su for lunch and wine tasting 11:30am–4pm.
55 Peckham Road • 831.722.1056
Visitors from great distances love this third-generation, family-run farm business that popularized the “pik-yor-self” experience just east of Watsonville’s Interlaken neighborhood. Tour the farm, pick fresh apples or berries or watch the action inside the juice-pressing barn. No one leaves hungry if they spend time at the bakery-deli that pleases with its fresh pies, shortcakes and pastries, along with hearty sandwiches and box lunches. This family friendly experience is also a treat for kids, who will enjoy the wide-open spaces and the homemade popsicles and slushes. Open daily 8am–5pm.