A little bird told me that Hotel Abrego opened a petite dining nook inside its lobby, the Abrego Lounge. I had to go see for myself, so I grabbed my BNF (Best Noshing Friend) and headed over.
The dining room is tucked away in a corner of the lobby behind the registration desk – but you don’t get the feeling of being squashed in the corner. The handful of tables, most with deeply padded, high-backed chairs worthy of a Mad Men client dinner, cluster around a beautiful stacked-stone fireplace. A reclaimed-wood parquet floor gives the room a sense of deep history, while the cluster of geometric lights suspended from the ceiling add a modern flair. Swanky, but not over-the-top.
The menu seems deceptively simple – a few small plates, some pizzas, and a burger – but as I dug deeper I realized that the best creativity springs from limitations. The list of thin-crust pizzas started at the traditional margarita but expanded to intriguing creativity. Brie pizza? Olive tapenade pizza? Sign me up! My dining partner, a dedicated carnivore, went straight for the Abrego Double Cheese Burger.
My BNF and I each ordered a glass of wine from the well-curated, locally-focused wine list. (Beer drinkers, no worries; the beverage menu also features many tasty local beers.) We immediately received healthy pours, and the flavor far outperformed the price point, sending us both to our mobile phones to note the names and vintages for future acquisition.
So, how good can a pizza really be? So good that it was more than half gone before I took the photo. The crust was almost tissue-thin and crispy as a cracker, yet structurally sound enough to support a delicate tomato sauce, rich coating of tapenade, plus cheese and the perfect amount of artichoke hearts. I’m not normally a crust fan, but this pizza had me devouring the last of the pizza bones and picking the tiniest fragments of crust off my plate.
My partner’s burger, though not the most photogenic, was delicious. The plump, chewy bread cradled two robust and juicy patties of meat, rich cheese and two thick strips of bacon. And let me divulge about the fried goodness that accompanied said burger! The fries were thick like steak fries but super-crispy like shoestring fries – and mysteriously vanished even more quickly than the burger.
The only downside of such delicious entrees: no room for dessert. Which gives us a second excuse to go back – the first excuse being the desire to work our way through that amazing list of pizzas.
Abrego Lounge at Hotel Abrego
755 Abrego Street
Monterey, CA 93940