There are many great options on where to dine in Carmel-by-the-Sea and the Carmel Valley. Here are my top recommendations on where to eat.
La Bicyclette Restaurant: At the corner of 7th and Dolores in Carmel, this restaurant came highly recommended by Chicago friends who have a second home in Carmel. It has a casual, fun atmosphere. The food was really excellent as were the wines. I had a trout entree with yogurt sauce plus fingerling potatoes and vegetables. I loved the rose and the homemade prosecco sorbet topped with mixed berries. The service and attention was excellent. I would definitely go back!!
They also have the Casanova restaurant for French and Italian food, which is a touch more formal and comes highly recommended by new friends I met in Paso Robles at Zin Fest.
The Restaurant at Mission Ranch is a really a great find. It seems to attract more of a locals crowd. It has both indoor and outdoor seating with wonderful views. There is a piano bar too. I had an excellent halibut entree with coconut.
In Carmel Valley, Bernardus Lodge & Spa is a wonderful place to eat as I explored the Valley. There new restaurant is Lucia Restaurant & Bar. There is great outdoor seating as well overlooking the croquet lawns.
Earthbound Farms Farm Stand Market & Organic Cafe: I buy their products in Chicago. Make sure to visit the Farm Stand Market & Organic Cafe where it all started in Carmel Valley. In the Cafe, you will find salads, soups, sandwiches, coffee drinks and frozen yogurt. You can also walk through some of the gardens including the herb garden. 7250 Carmel Valley Road.
Carmel Valley Village has the biggest concentration of restaurants and tasting rooms. Stop by Cowgirl Winery. I had their Georis Rose at La Bicyclette, in Carmel and loved it. Cowgirl also has Casanova in Carmel listed above and Corkscrew Cafe in Carmel Valley which I was told is excellent. The outdoor patio is really lovely. 55 W. Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley.
Hyatt Carmel Highlands: Formerly the Highlands Inn, this is a lovely property just south of Carmel-by-the-Sea with stunning views of the coast. If you decide not to stay there at least go to the California Market at Pacific’s Edge which is a combination of the prior two restaurants at the resort. The views from the restaurant of the coast and Point Lobos are incredible. I was there at sunset years ago before it was the Hyatt. Not sure about the food, but with that view, I would go anyway. They also have the Sunset Lounge for cocktails with great views.
My other local friends love Cantinetta Luca on Dolores between Ocean and 7th. I also hear that Flying Fish Grill is good for seafood at Mission near Ocean. Chicago friends just back from Carmel raved about Grasing’s Coastal Cuisine, Cafe Rustica in Carmel Valley and Carmel Belle. Carmel Belle, as a locals hangout, has exceptional breakfasts and a great lunch menu of salads, soups and sandwiches. They also liked The Inn at Spanish Bay for drinks where bagpipers play on the outdoor terrace at sunset!
Il Tegamino is recommended for Italian comfort food and pasta in a hidden courtyard along with Flaherty’s Seafood Grill and Cultura Comida y Bebida for Mexican specialities from Oaxaca. Aubergine at the L’Auberge Carmel is a lovely fine dining spot. In 2016 and 2015 they were nominated for a James Beard Foundation award including Best Chef, West and Outstanding Service.