All of these restaurants emphasize local ingredients, and they also advertise in
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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, entrées and desserts are all made freshly daily. Thin-crust pizzas available on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday. Open M–F 11am–7pm, Sa 11am–5pm, Su closed.
Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn
47900 Highway 1 • 831.667.2800
Executive chef John Cox has taken an iconic restaurant and made it both more imaginative and more accessible. The nine-course “Taste of Big Sur” prix-fixe dinner delivers an inventive take on the Big Sur experience through exceptional ingredients grown on site or procured from local foragers, fishermen and farmers. Lunchtime guests can enjoy breathtaking views from Sierra Mar’s floor-to-ceiling windows and a five-course tasting menu comparable to the restaurant’s evening fare at a fraction of the price. Open daily for lunch 12:15–3pm, dinner 5:30–9pm.
New Leaf Community Market
13159 Highway 9 • 831.338.7211
The perfect place to stop for made-to-order sandwiches, trail mix and picnic supplies for hikers on their way up to Big Basin or Castle Rock State Parks. All ingredients are fresh and natural, meats are hormone free, produce comes from local growers. Open daily 9am–9pm.
New Leaf Community Market
1210 41st Avenue • 831.479.7987
The Beet Café at the entrance offers great alternatives to fast food, serving economical daily specials, wraps, pizza and homemade soup and smoothies—with free wi-fi in the dining area. Inside, a full deli has made-to-order sandwiches, healthy takeout salads and entrée items. Open daily 8am–9pm.
The Penny Ice Creamery
820 41st Avenue • 831.204.2523
This outpost of The Penny’s flagship shop in Santa Cruz offers the same small-batch, made-from-scratch, organic ice cream as the original. Under the direction of Chef Kendra Baker, expect inventive flavors made with local, seasonal ingredients as well as friendly, engaged service. Open Su–Th noon–6pm, F–Sa noon–11pm.
1750 Wharf Road • 831.475.1511
Everyone’s special occasion restaurant, this unique destination is perched on a lush hillside above Soquel Creek. Its multi-level rock and redwood dining rooms are decked with fairy lights and you arrive in a vintage cable car—a truly romantic experience! New executive chef Roger Gowen offers farm-fresh local produce, fresh herbs from a rooftop garden and many vegetarian options. Open M–F 5–8:45pm, Sa 4:30–9:45pm, Su 4:30–8:45pm.
Affina Food & Wine
6th Avenue and San Carlos Street • 831.915.4756
One of the newest restaurants to wow Carmel embraces local farm-to-table cuisine with a hip and youthful edge, thanks to owners Dexter Salazar, Shane Smit and Nico Izard, as well as opening chef James Anderson. A rustic-luxe dining room decorated with reclaimed wood enjoys views of an open kitchen and the sounds of live piano music coming from the piano bar. Chefs Izard and Anderson offer creatively composed shared plates, small bites and entrées like truffled chicken, steak and king salmon. Open for lunch Tu–Su 11:30am–4pm; dinner daily 5:30–10pm.
Monte Verde at Seventh, Carmel • 831.624.8578
Located within the romantic L’Auberge Carmel, a visit to Aubergine feels a bit like a trip to Europe. But the food is the real draw here: executive chef Justin Cogley was named one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2013 and it’s no wonder. He’s an eloquent and imaginative interpreter of fine seasonal ingredients and executive pastry chef Ron Mendoza delights with surprising and inventive desserts. Select from the four-course menu or the tasting menu, and let these two experts take over from there. Open daily 6-9:30pm.
Basil Seasonal Dining
San Carlos Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues (Paseo Courtyard)
“Organic, local and seasonal” are not just buzzwords at Basil. This cozy restaurant in the Paseo Courtyard is the first and only one in the area to earn three stars from the national Green Restaurant Association. General manager/owner Denis Boaro and chef/owner Soerke Peters turn out intensely flavorful dishes—like black squid ink linguine with sea urchin sauce and Monterey abalone in vermouth butter sauce—and provide a full bar with a great selection of California wines. Many vegan entrées available. Heated, dog-friendly outdoor seating. Open daily for lunch and dinner from 11:30am, Su brunch 11am–3pm.
Doud Craft Studios • San Carlos Street at Ocean Avenue
This local’s favorite for a delicious, impeccably sourced yet relaxed breakfast or lunch now offers dinner for curbside pickup or sit-down by candlelight. You can still show up in your workout gear or bring all the kids and feel right at home, but chef Kyle Odell will cook as though heels and a sport jacket were required. Sign up at carmelbelle.com to receive seasonal Farmers’ Market Friday specials. Open daily from 8am for breakfast and lunch; dinner W–Sa 5–8pm; dinner Su pickup only, 5–6pm.
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.
Edgar’s Restaurant at Quail
8205 Valley Greens Drive • 831.624.2888
Wholeheartedly dedicated to farm-to-table cuisine, globetrotting chef Ken MacDonald has transformed this clubhouse restaurant into a paragon of fresh, local, organic meals. Enjoy salads like kale, almond and spelt or the traditional iceberg wedge garnished with foraged mushrooms. There are tempting flatbreads and hearty entrées, including line-caught Santa Cruz sanddabs, grassfed steaks and burgers, as well as vegetarian options such as quinoa pasta and seasonal ravioli. All ingredients come from local farms and ranches—including, starting in 2015, Quail’s own on-site farm. Open daily 11am–9pm.
La Balena (And coming soon, Il Grillo)
Junipero Avenue between Fifth and Sixth avenues
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 sources ingredients from local organic farms and prepares the restaurant’s pastas and slow-cooked meats from scratch daily. Back garden seating available. Watch for owners Anna and Emanuele Bartolini’s Il Grillo to open in June on Mission St. between 4th and 5th, also in Carmel. Small plates and wine will be the focus and the atmosphere, casual. La Balena is open Sa–Su 11:30am–3:30pm, Tu–Su 5–10pm. Ill Grillo will offer lunch M-F and dinner M-Sa.
101 Crossroads Boulevard • 831.625.5436
The high-energy Rio Grill features the talents of chef Cy Yontz, who produces creative regional California cuisine and the flavors of the Southwest using bold spices and an almond wood-fired grill. The recently renovated bar offers craft cocktails and an award-winning wine list, both catalogued and annotated on iPads. The Santa Fe Room (cap. 55) and Barrel Room (cap. 32) are available for private parties and special events. Open daily for lunch 11:30am–4:30pm; dinner 4:30–10pm; Sunday brunch 11:30am –3pm.
Rocky Point Restaurant
36700 Highway 1, 10 miles south of Carmel
Just 10 miles south of Carmel, Rocky Point has long been known for some of the most stunning views on the Big Sur Coast. Owners Peter Wang and his family have recently renovated the property to better welcome outdoor diners and more weddings and other private parties, both inside and out. The menu is extensive and features many seafood dishes as well as steaks and chef’s specialties. Open daily 11:30am to 8pm.
13750 Center Street • 831.659.5886
Chef Brendan Jones has created a foodie oasis, sourcing the ingredients for his exceptionally creative and sophisticated cuisine locally, and his inspiration, from Japan and Europe. Customer favorites include padrone peppers, sardine bocadillos and mac and cheese balls; the ceviche and roasted bone marrow are also not to be missed. Regional wines and craft beers are poured at a 28-foot reclaimed wood bar. All food is organic when possible. Open for dinner Thu–Su from 5:30pm; breakfast and lunch W–Su 8am–3pm.
Will’s Fargo Steakhouse + Bar
16 W. Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley
Originally built in the late 1920s to refresh travellers on the stagecoach run between Monterey and Tassajara, this beautiful, landmarked steakhouse still draws loyal customers from miles around. Attentive service and chef Jerome Viel’s excellent steaks and burgers are its trademark, but the tone is unstuffy and pets are welcome. Many new dishes make the most of our region’s fresh produce. For seating, guests may choose between the historic dining room, a seasonal outdoor courtyard patio and the lively saloon. Dinner 4:30–9:30 F–S, 4:30–9 Su–Th.
Whale City Bakery
490 Highway 1 • 831.423.9009
Davenport’s artistic charm and oceanside location make it hard not to slow when you pass through on Highway 1. Those in the know stop at the historic Whale City Bakery. The bakery tempts with housemade breads, pastries, muffins and pies, but it’s only the beginning. Whale City also offers a full restaurant that serves up comfort classics and other hearty dishes. The bar and live music every Thursday attract a loyal local following. Open daily 6:30am–8pm.
The Cremer House
6256 Highway 9 • 831.335.3976
Housed in the oldest building in Felton, The Cremer House showcases progressive, handmade food and drink with a nod to its historic mountain surroundings. This collaborative restaurant project between the Felton New Leaf Market and Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing has filled a niche in the San Lorenzo Valley, bringing organic craft beer, cider and wine on tap, and artisan, housemade breads and “pantry” products to this restored and revered property. Open Tu 3–9pm, W–Th 11:30am–9pm, Fri–Sat 11:30am–10pm, Sun 11:30am–9pm.
New Leaf Community Market
6240 Highway 9 • 831.335.7322
New Leaf offers 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. Open daily 9am–9pm.
HALF MOON BAY
New Leaf Community Market
150 San Mateo Road • 650.726.3110
Green plate specials offer healthy organic lunches for $5 daily and full dinners for $9.99. Lunches like Diestel turkey wraps and tri-tip sandwiches change daily. Hot dinner specials include classics like meatloaf with mashed potatoes and Smart chicken parmesan. Open daily 8am–9pm.
Sorensen’s Country Café
14255 Highway 88
The next time your travels take you to Lake Tahoe, remember the adorable Sorensen’s resort’s full-service restaurant. Enjoy specialties such as Mary’s natural chicken with a gremolata topping, fresh and wild fish, New York steak, garden-fresh salads and homemade desserts, such as housemade bread pudding and a wonderful berry cobbler. Accompany your meal with a fine wine or beer. Open for breakfast M–F 7:30–11am and Sa–Su 7am–noon; lunch daily 11am–4pm; dinner daily 5–8:30pm daily.
500 Hartnell Street • 831.643.1833
New chef Jason Franey, formerly of Seattle’s Canlis and one of Food & Wine’s best new chefs of 2011, has launched a new menu that embraces our local, seasonal ingredients with daring flair. Parties of six or more can book a week ahead for a reinterpretation of the mid-20th century heyday of the location as Gallatin’s, choosing from whole suckling pigs, whole roasted salmon and wood-fired goat. Cocktails of the same ‘50s–’60s period have also been added. Open Su–Thu 5:30–10pm, F–Sa 5:30pm–1am.
Jacks Restaurant & Lounge
Portola Hotel & Spa, 2 Portola Plaza • 831.649.2698
At Jacks, you’ll find deliciously unique Monterey flavors and a cozy location in historic downtown Monterey. Executive chef Jason Giles uses the freshest local ingredients, supporting local farmers, fishermen and cheese makers. Try Jacks’ signature Dungeness crab and clam chowder, seared 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 6am–noon; lunch M–F 11:30am–2pm, Sa–Su 11am–2pm; weekend brunch Sa–Su noon—2pm; dinner daily 5–10pm.
414 Calle Principal • 831.648.8880
This sophisticated, lively and beautiful bistro is located in a historic brick firehouse in Old Monterey and features the creative cuisine of chef Tony Baker, a British expat with eclectic style. Montrio’s faithful start early, enjoying the small bites menu during happy hour with a spirited, innovative cocktail program designed by mixologist Anthony Vitacca. In fact, Vitacca also keeps guests lingering 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. Open from 5pm nightly.
Peter B’s Brewpub
Portola Hotel & Spa, 2 Portola Plaza • 831.649.2699
Monterey’s first 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: house made sausages. 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, Su closed except during November and December.
Highway 68 at Canyon Del Rey • 831.647.1444
This stunning, historic California stone house—built in 1917 and set on over three beautifully landscaped acres—features seating in seven dining rooms and on a cozy garden patio. Larger-than-life chef Todd Fisher uses an almond wood grill to prepare creative American country cuisine, including wild game, prime steaks and local seafood. A full bar and comfortable lounge both offer full menu service, and the wine list features the best of Monterey County and beyond. Open daily from 11:30am.
The Wharf Marketplace
290 Figueroa Street at Wharf No. 2 and Del Monte Avenue
The go-to stop for “the bounty of the county” for some of downtown Monterey’s best chefs, The Wharf Marketplace features only the freshest locally grown produce, freshly caught seafood, artisanal cheeses and other fine locally produced foods as well as wines, beers and hard ciders from Monterey County and the region. A grab-and-go café provides breakfast and lunch made from the same high-quality ingredients. Indoor and outdoor seating. Open daily 5:30am–7pm; winetasting Th 4:30–6:30pm.
The Haute Enchilada
7902 Moss Landing Road • 831.633.5843
Gourmet Latin fusion dishes await those who venture off Highway 1 and into this fanciful restaurant with its new entertainment venue out back. Fiesta-colored walls are crammed with enormous gold leaf paintings by co-owner Luis Solano. Try dishes like Peruvian Ceviche, Squash Blossom Empanadas, Crab and Huitlacoche Enchiladas or the popular Pescado Cubano—line-caught red snapper in a pistachio/pumpernickel crust served with tomatillo avocado sauce. Ingredients are organic as much as possible. Open M–Th 11am–9pm, F–Su 9am–9pm.
Happy Girl Kitchen Co.
173 Central Avenue • 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 $6.50, and a bowl of the soup of the day is $6. To drink, you’ll find kombucha on tap and Blue Bottle Coffee brewed freshly. Homemade baked goods include a daily scone, cookies and turnovers. Open daily 7:30am–3pm.
701 Lighthouse Avenue • 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 Boulevard • 831.648.5774
With sweeping views of the coast near Point Pinos Lighthouse and a relaxed clubhouse vibe, this scenic spot has blossomed under the direction of executive chef Dory Ford. For breakfast, choose from huevos rancheros, chicken fried steak, eggs benedict and an array of tasty omelets. For lunch through dinner, enjoy dishes like Ale-Steamed Mussels, Asian-style Chicken Wings and all-natural beef burgers at lunch or dinner paired with craft beers and local wines. Open daily 7:30am–8pm. Happy hour drinks and appetizer specials M–F 4–6pm.
The Bakery Station
202 Monterey Street • 831.783.1140
In a hip vintage gas station, brother-and-sister owners Sarah and Richard Torres fire up a traditional stone hearth oven to produce crusty Old World breads, scones and muffins and serve them with Acme coffee. The Bakery Station is also a popular lunch stop, turning out addictive sandwiches like the Road Hog, with pulled pork and whiskey sauce on a brioche roll, and the BelAir, with freshly roasted turkey, bacon, avocado, gouda and homemade chipotle aioli on fresh sourdough. Open M–F 6am–4pm, Sa 7am–2pm, Su closed.
1108 Pacific Avenue
This full-service restaurant from Penny Ice Creamery founders Kendra Baker and Zach Davis offers rustic California cuisine based on local, seasonal and sustainably sourced ingredients. Chef Carlo Espinas brings a contemporary twist to the approachable yet intriguing menu. The restaurant’s wood-metal-stone décor radiates from a long community table that anchors the center of the dining room, which is filled with natural light in daytime and bathed in the soft glow of copper accents at night. Open Tu–Su 11am–11pm. Brunch offered weekends 9am–3pm.
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 take-out 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 Avenue • 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.
1723 Mission Street • 831.425.6583
3701 Portola Drive • 831.477.1940
1443 Capitola Road • 831.427.7181
This locally owned, community-minded family of coffeehouses hosts rotating exhibitions of local artists at its three Santa Cruz locations in addition to serving excellent Fair Trade brewed coffee and espresso drinks, premium hot cocoa beverages and providing high-speed Internet. Bagelry bagels come spread with housemade toppings like garlicky hummus and a unique non-dairy smoked tofu spread. Mission and Portola open daily 6am–6pm; Capitola open daily 6am–2pm.
The Crow’s Nest
2218 E. Cliff Drive • 831.476.4560
A perfect spot to enjoy lunch or catch a sunset while watching sail boats glide in and out of the harbor, the nautical-themed Crow’s Nest is a Santa Cruz institution that never goes out of style. There’s always something happening, from free seasonal Thursday night beach parties to comedy nights and happy hours. Famous for its salad bar and house-smoked salmon, The Crow’s Nest is a member of Seafood Watch and is a certified green business. Open daily for breakfast 7:30am–11:30am; lunch M–F 11:30am–2:30pm and Sa–Su 11:30am–3pm; dinner M–F 5pm, Sa–Su 4:30pm.
101B Cooper Street • 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–2:30pm, dinner 5–9:30pm.
538 Seabright Avenue • 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, M closed.
New Leaf Community Market
1134 Pacific Avenue • 831.425.1793
New Leaf’s headquarters in an old bank building on Pacific Avenue is a worthwhile stop for all foodies. Crowded with gourmet natural foods, it also has a deli with sandwiches, salads and hot entrées. A dining area out front is great for people watching and listening to street musicians. Open daily 9am–9pm.
New Leaf Community Market
1101 Fair Avenue • 831.426.1306
The Westside New Leaf has a large deli counter and coffee bar, with a big selection of sandwiches, salads, bakery items, soups and other hot foods. You can eat at an in-store counter or at tables outside. There is a community classroom here for frequent cooking classes. Open daily 8am–10pm.
The Penny Ice Creamery
913 Cedar Street • 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. Dozens of exotic flavors rotate 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 Street • 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 outside with your feet in the sand. Open daily 7am–9pm.
1917 Mission Street • 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, dinner Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–9:30pm.
1220 Pacific Avenue • 831.426.9930
This lively Irish pub with Santa Cruz style offers dozens of beers on tap, good bar snacks and so much more. Rosie’s kitchen prepares traditional Irish dishes like lamb stew, shepherd’s pie, corned beef hash and fish and chips, along with delicious California specialties such as grassfed burgers, coriander wild salmon, organic salads and fish tacos. All desserts are made in house, so save room for the Guinness-Ghirardelli chocolate cake. Open M–F for lunch 11:30am–4pm; dinner 4–10pm. Open Sa–Sun for brunch 9:30am–2pm; dinner 2–10pm.
Soif Restaurant and Wine Bar
105 Walnut Avenue
This wine-centric downtown restaurant is housed in a hip, loft-style building and includes a wine shop next door, also offering snacks and wines by the glass. Food reflects chef Mark Denham’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 open Su–Th 5–9pm, F–Sa 5–10pm. Wine bar opens at noon.
Vivas Organic Mexican Restaurant
1201 Soquel Avenue • 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.