Originally opened in 1955 as a joint-venture chocolate shop, Em Le’s welcomes visitors into its quaint A-frame dining room with the irresistible scents of fresh pasta, simmering sauces, and seared meats. The eatery is known for its french toast, made with a recipe that has remained unchanged since 1955. The batter-cooked confection is served during breakfast alongside more than 10 savory omelets and pancakes piled with fresh fruit. Guests can snuggle up to the fireplace while they browse a dinner menu of comfort food ranging from spaghetti and meatballs to short ribs served with garlic mashed potatoes and fresh veggies.
Hawaiian art and vintage surf paraphernalia deck the walls of Hula's Island Grill And Tiki Room, adding to the restaurant's island ambience. In the kitchen, cooks draw on the flavors of the Pacific Rim to craft raw ahi poke, luau pork sandwiches, and spring rolls alongside burgers, steaks, and tacos. More than 30 types of rum wait behind the bar to be poured into a mai tai or dark and stormy.
Winner of Monterey County Weekly's best burger of 2011, r.g. Burgers' grillmasters fire up juicy burgers, hunger-busting sandwiches, and a menu full of classic American eats. Homemade potato salad ($3.95) and fried zucchini sticks ($7.25) hype up mouths for burgers handmade from extra-lean ground beef, turkey, bison, chicken breast, and vegetarian falafel. The burger bazaar's bun-based creations include guacamole-swiss ($8.50), lemon pepper ($7.95), and the zesty béarnaise burger with creamy béarnaise sauce and sautéed mushrooms ($9.50). Ranch chicken sandwiches lasso lettuce, tomato, and red onion onto toasted steak rolls ($9.25), and a variety of all-beef hot dogs celebrate tubular protein at its finest ($6.50–$8.95). In addition to milkshakes and malts in flavors from coffee to peanut butter and jelly ($4.50–$5.25), the r.g. Burgers kitchen crew churns out fresh salads, soups, and desserts.
In the three decades since opening its doors, Jack London’s has evolved from a diminutive pub into a 100-seat neighborhood eatery with frothy brews, hearty pub fare, and big-screen TVs that beam in local sports. Mahogany ceilings overlook the pub’s large, comfy booths where owners Kevin Kosick and Paul Owen toast fellow feasters as they wash down succulent burgers and handhelds with domestic and imported beers. On Friday nights, local bands take the stage to fill the restaurant with live music and shatter pint glasses with piercing air-guitar solos.
The C restaurant + bar's executive chef Jerry Regester crafts a dinner menu that culls fresh, sustainable seafood and local, seasonal produce to craft sophisticated takes on classic American flavors. Steeped in a spicy Dungeness crab and saffron broth, the Monterey-style cioppino stews a sumptuous treasure chest of seafood ready to be unlocked by a discerning palate or an industrial welding torch ($25). The normally humble made-to-order clam chowder takes on justifiable airs with sweet-garlic crème fraîche, leeks, and fingerling potatoes ($12.50). Offering the charms of travel without the detailed digital embarrassment of a full-body scan, sparkling-wine flights from the new ($18) and old worlds ($23) shower the senses with shimmering bliss.
Koko's Cafe tantalizes taste buds with classic Mediterranean dishes from countries ranging from Greece to Turkey, served in a European-café-style atmosphere with Greek and Roman artwork and French, Italian, and Middle-Eastern music. Patrons can kick-start a partnered feast by dipping slivers of pita into hummus made from freshly smashed garbanzo beans and blended with tahini sauce. After a tasty warm-up, culinary caverns can embrace the slices of chicken, beef, or lamb mixed with hewed veggies and homemade tzatziki sauce found snug inside a warm gyro. As they hydrate their throats with sips of bubbly soda or calming water, diners can nibble on turkish delight, a confection so named for its ability to hypnotize turkeys.