May is Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month, an opportunity to celebrate the generations of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) who have enriched Monterey County’s history and are influential in its future success. To show your support year-round to the AAPI community, choose to shop at local AAPI-owned businesses found throughout Monterey County. Read on for a round-up of some amazing businesses found in our destination including dining spots, retailers, event owners, and more.
Restaurants, Wineries and Breweries
- PANGAEA GRILL (CARMEL-BY-THE-SEA)
Pangaea Grill offers a chic dining aesthetic and East-West fusion. The restaurant's succulent Korean Short Ribs and tangy Kim Chi Fried Rice are by far the most ordered items. Chef-owner Mira Porges says, “I’m cooking what my grandmother used to cook. It’s comfort food.”
- SUR AT THE BARNYARD (CARMEL)
Billy and Teresa Quon own this family-friendly and dog-friendly joint located in the picturesque Barnyard Shopping Village. The rustic-chic restaurant serving regionally-influenced fare was recently named this year's "Carmel Small Restaurant Of The Year" by the many business owners of the Carmel Community.
- FOLKTALE WINERY (CARMEL VALLEY)
Nestled in Carmel Valley, Folktale is a one-of-a-kind winery owned by husband and wife Gregory and Madigan Ahn. offering tours & wine tastings daily, live music every weekend, and concerts and special events every month. Their in-house shop, Folktale Provisions, offers a unique array of home goods, art, books, and organic food and drink. Gregory and Madigan also own Seventh & Dolores Steakhouse and Rise + Roam Bakery in Carmel-by-the-Sea
- HONG'S MARKET (MARINA)
This family business has been open since 1979 and one of the highlights of the store is the owner, energetic and super sweet Mrs. Hong! Hong’s Market specializes in Korean staples like kimchi and banchans. They are also well known for their selection of quality meats for Korean BBQ and hot pot. Follow them on Instagram to get an inside look on how they cook dinners at home using groceries from their store. They regularly provide advice, recommendations, and tips to recreate their dishes at home.
- DADDY'S CITY DINER (MARINA)
Daddy’s City Diner is a long-time favorite spot located in Marina. Owner, Jordan Kausin’s father used to own City Diner in Seaside, and Jordan continued the tradition by opening up his own place in Marina and the crowds followed! They serve up some delicious comfort food for breakfast and lunch.
- CHEESECAKE DREAMATIONS (MARINA)
Cheesecake Dreamations run by Melissa Yeater and Robert Mosqueda, offers mini cheesecakes of all flavors including Oreo, lemon, dreamsicle, and specialty flavors like Butterfinger, hot cheeto, and pineapple upside down cake. You can also create your own custom cheesecake dreamation by choosing size, crust, cheesecake flavor, and toppings.
- THE BUTTERHOUSE (SEASIDE)
There is always a line for this popular breakfast and brunch spot in Seaside, owned by Ben and Susan Mosqueda. Try a house specialty like the “The Queen Marciana’s Hand Rolled Lumpia” or “the Filipino Breakfast.”
- VALNIZZA'S DELI AND MARKET (MONTEREY)
Owned by John and Cindy Bae, Valnizza's is a deli, market and liquor store serving sandwiches with homemade, oven-roasted turkey, tri-tip, meatballs, and more.
- 'ONO 'ONO HAWAIIAN (MONTEREY COUNTY)
Rooted at the heart of his Grandma Naomi’s recipe, Joonya Lopez started making his own Laulau, a Hawaiian dish made out of pork and salted butterfish wrapped in lu'au leaves and ti leaves. Today Joonya and his family run the company, doing pop-ups and catered events. Joonya is also the owner of a shaved ice trailer serving delicious shaved ice treats and Hawaiian snacks.
- HANIF PANNI (MONTEREY COUNTY)
Hanif Panni, who goes by "Hanif Wondir" professionally, is a DJ and artist of many mediums. This mural celebrates the Asian American and Pacific Islander community’s history on the Monterey Peninsula, and can be found behind the Catalyst Dispensary at 3100 Del Monte Blvd., Marina. Panni was also the winner of Best DJ in the Monterey County Weekly’s 2023 Best Of Monterey County Readers' Poll®, in addition to his wins in 2017, 2016, 2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011. Panni DJs weddings, private parties and special events.
- KOLABO ENTERTAINMENT (MONTEREY COUNTY)
Kolabo Entertainment is owned and operated by July Barred and features elite DJs of the Monterey Bay. Book them for local events and weddings!
- WHISPER CHARTERS (MOSS LANDING)
Whisper Charters in Moss Landing, owned and operated by Joonya Lopez, offers private party charters through the Elkhorn Slough.
- EARTHBOUND TATTOO STUDIO (SAND CITY)
Owner and Operator of Earthbound Tattoo in Sand City, Marlo Lualemana has a huge national and international following. People travel nationwide and globally to get tattoos from her.
Clothing and Goods
- TOKYO ORIENTAL FOODS AND GIFTS (SALINAS)
This tiny, unique store in Salinas offers many staples for Asian dishes, as well as many unique Japanese snacks and sweets, cookbooks, dishware, housewares, and even Japanese films for rent. You can also find fresh fish and vegetables here!
- INDIA FASHION TRENDS (MARINA)
This little shop in Marina has a huge selection of beautiful designs. The owner Rana is extremely friendly and offers alterations for any of the clothing purchased.
- CHA-YA JAPANESE TEA AND THINGS (MONTEREY)
This adorable shop is located in the heart of Downtown Monterey and is home to exclusive Japanese teas, gifts, and one-of-a-kind imports. Along with great gifts, Cha-ya offers special events, classes and guest speakers to educate the Monterey Bay area on Japanese culture and traditions.
If you know of other AAPI-owned businesses in Monterey County that should be on the list, please share their details with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.