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ExtraMSG

Central Monterey Bay Area Help?

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I should note that I'm not just looking for a place my grandmother would enjoy. Also, she's very experienced with food, so there's no reason to dumb-down the choices for her, if you're worried about that.

Just name whatever you think is best in the area, maybe both some nice options and cheap options.

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In Watsonville, there are two places that come to mind.

The first is Green Valley Grill. I have never eaten there, but I would like to. I have only heard good things about it. It's American bistro food, and I am pretty sure it's local/organic. (They don't have a website, and I may just have to do something about that.)

The second is a Mexican place that is always recommended on the Chowhound board: Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo. People rave constantly about the quality of food there, and its authenticity.

US Restaurant Guide posts their top ten lists for Watsonville and a separate list for the surrounding area:

Watsonville's Top Ten

1 Green Valley Grill

2 Mansion House

3 Jalisco

4 Fiesta Tepa-Sahuayo

5 El Alteno

6 Zuniga's Mexican Food

7 Anna Maria's

8 Cilantro's on Main

9 Romeos

10 Lorene's Packing Shed

Also nearby, and well worth a visit for lunch, is Phil's Fresh Fish at Moss Landing, which is to the south probably less than ten miles, across from the huge smokestacks at the PG&E plant. The choices are staggering, and it's as fresh as it gets. The clam chowder there is world class. Oddly enough, though, despite being right on the marina, there is no outside seating or view. The food's great, though.

If you don't mind going a bit further afield, within a half hour or so south (and a dazzlingly beautiful drive) is the charming town of Pacific Grove. This thread for Pacific Grove, Monterey and Carmel is loaded with suggestions.

Within twenty minutes north, there is tons of fine dining. In my little town of Soquel, Theo's Restaurant is exquisite. They've got an organic garden in the back (it's in a house), and everything is of the absolute highest quality. I recommend it highly. Chef Nicci Trip worked for seven years with David Paul in Maui. The food is incredible and the wine list is wonderful. If your grandmother is a woman who appreciates beautiful surroundings and fine food, she will be very happy there. Plus they are very nice people: warm and friendly. That would be my best recommendation for a fine and memorable meal. It is a treasure, truly, on par with the best.

Let me know if you want more recommendations, or activities, etc.

Are you coming to the Dunes, too?

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Thank you very much. Yep, me and my wife will be coming down for a W-Sa along with the rest of the family. Even some family from Hawaii is flying in.

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When we are in that area, we love lunch at The Rio Grill, Hwy. 1 and Rio Rd, Carmel. We also love the french fried artichoke hearts in Castroville. They are served with a variety of dipping sauces. Buy a bag full and eat away. We either go to Pezzini Farms (which might be closed?) or The Giant Artichoke, but there are lots of other places and roadside stands. Have a nice time.

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Is there an artichoke season? I know artichoke plants live a long time, but is there a season?

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Is there an artichoke season? I know artichoke plants live a long time, but is there a season?

In that part of the state... spring through fall is artichoke season.

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Funny you should mention it, EMSG. This week's SF Chronicle food section has a feature article on the glorious globes. The artful artichoke (There are actually two seasons, sorta kinda, but they're available all the time.)

Can you tell me your dates, or is that private?

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Calendar of events for Santa Cruz County (searchable)

Also, make sure to pick up a Good Times when you get to town. It's the local arts/entertainment weekly, jam-packed with everything you need to get around.

My last suggestion would be to consider buying an Entertainment booklet for Monterey/Santa Cruz area. It's only $15, but there are literally thousands of dollars worth of coupons for really good deals on everything from fine dining to coupons for discounts on multiple admissions to the Monterey Bay Aquarium, etc.

Examples: Monterey Bay Aquarium: $3/off regular admission for 4 adults

2-for-1 Kayak or bicycle rentals from Adventures by the Sea

Two-for-one meals at every fast food joint you can think of:

  • KFC
  • Taco Bell
  • Domino's/Straw Hat/Round Table/Mountain Mike's/Papa Murphy Pizza
  • Subway
  • Burger King
  • Baskin Robbins
  • Farrell's Donuts

Also nicer places like Zuniga's Mexican, Billy Quon's, Manicomio Cafe (Italian place in Capitola village: real Italians), Ideal Bar & Grill, The Tinnery (Pacific Grove), and a bunch more. Plus the area's got more coffee places than Rome has churches, I bet.

I buy one every year. It pays for itself in one outing.


Edited by tanabutler (log)

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Plus the area's got more coffee places than Rome has churches, I bet.

You're talking to someone from the NW. We've got intersections up here where all four corners have a coffee house on them. And only two of those would be a Starbucks. :wink:

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... We also love the french fried artichoke hearts in Castroville.  They are served with a variety of dipping sauces.  Buy a bag full and eat away.  We either go to Pezzini Farms (which might be closed?) or The Giant Artichoke, but there are lots of other places and roadside stands...

I'm just back from a week down the coast-stopped in at The Giant Artichoke for an order of fried artichokes. Yuck-greasy & tasteless. I LOVED these many years ago-when Highway One ran right past The Giant Artichoke- but boy, have they gone downhill! I hate when that happens. To make matters worse, we ate lunch at Gayle's Bakery but "saved room" for the artichokes. Sigh... I could have sat there and made a complete and utter pig out of myself at Gayle's, but instead I had a half-sandwich and half an eclair. :angry: Joe Ortiz's breads made the sandwiches to-die-for, and well, the picture of that pastry counter speaks for itself.


Edited by marie-louise (log)

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Gayle's Bakery & Rosticceria is the best place in the world, and I mean that literally.

A few years ago, my daughter (then seven) and I did an all-day cooking class together. One kid + one adult, five classes (including bread sculpture, "easy vinaigrettes" taught by Marion Cunningham, etc.), plus they fed you, for only $75 for both of us. Plus Joe and Gayle are two of the greatest people I know. They're huge supporters of the arts, and they're awesome folks.

I love taking people there.

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