Taste Monterey

From the verdant Salinas and Carmel Valleys to the watery refuge of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Monterey County offers everything from farm to table and sea to sustainable platter year-round. The unparalleled culinary tradition sprouts from a perfect mix of climate and geology that combine to nurture produce of all kinds. With 40,000+ acres of vines and nine different American Viticulture Areas (AVA's) this region’s bounty of harvest outpaces entire states with its abundance of unique offerings. These gifts and the picturesque backdrop of the crashing surf and white sand beaches lend itself to Monterey County creating the ultimate in California cuisine.



Food & Wine Scene

A Taste of Monterey

on the Road


Monterey County proudly proclaims some of the most celebrated chefs in the world. Of the hundreds of restaurants in Monterey County, many have been honored with the food industry’s highest awards, including DiRoNa (Distinguished Restaurants of North America) and Wine Spectator’s awards for excellence.

Here you will find legendary culinary creators such as Cal Stamenov and Mark Ayers as well as renowned restaurants such as Aubergine Restaurant, Sardine Factory, and Anton & Michel. These chefs not only participate in the Pebble Beach Food & Wine - an annual event that brings more than 60 legendary chefs from all over the world to the Monterey Peninsula, they also play a part in the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program -- and forage the daily farmers markets and local fisheries. These chefs and others in Monterey County shine a light on what it means to be stewards of the land and sea by using fresh vegetables and sustainable seafood to create delicious delicacies.


Foodies can literally find a Farmers Market every single day of the week, and often twice on Sundays! A visit here delivers the heartbeat of the region, with farmers proudly displaying local artichokes, broccoli, herbs, micro-greens and an abundance of sea life. The county has a number of regular farmer’s markets in Old Monterey, Monterey Peninsula College, Salinas, Pacific Grove, Marina, Soledad and Carmel. Visitors can purchase fruits and vegetables straight from the folks who grow them.


Since the arrival of Portuguese fishermen, local squid has been a mainstay in the waters off Monterey Bay. On a busy night, dozens of fishing boats can be spotted on the bay, trolling for these giant cephalopods. Much of the local catch goes to Japan and some is jet-set to San Francisco, but a large portion of the catch stays right here in Monterey, heading to local restaurants to be used in fried calamari and squid salads. Local chefs are trained and skilled in the proper preparation, to bring out the subtle tastes - the squid is tender yet firm—a pure white patty with a simple flavor. Perhaps no fish is more representative of Monterey Bay and can be enjoyed year round.

Farm-raised California Red Abalone is also sustainably raised by Monterey Abalone Company at the tip of Commercial Wharf #2. Here, visitors can purchase and take home fresh abalone in a hermetically sealed pack or dive into any local restaurant from the Sardine Factory to seasonal “Super Abs” tasting menu at The Highland’s Inn.


Monterey County, and in particular the Salinas Valley, is perhaps known best as the “Salad Bowl of the World.” The county is one of the nation’s leading agricultural producers, and the third largest agricultural economy in California. A temperate climate, rich soils and unparalleled infrastructure make the both Salinas and Carmel Valley an ideal place to grow cool-season vegetables like artichokes, raspberries, strawberries and flowers in every color and variety of the rainbow. Take an agricultural tour, wine trek or visit the nation’s first working organic farm – Earthbound Farm. Monterey County also commands nearly 90 percent of the packaged salad and pre-cut fresh vegetable market. In short, agriculture is big business here. The Farm also offers a child-proof working farm providing insight into the daily drill that delivers America’s freshest produce.


Known for the rugged coastal beauty of Big Sur and the charm of Carmel, Monterey lies within the Central Coast AVA and is home to nine distinct AVA’s, including top-ranked Santa Lucia Highlands, Arroyo Seco, Carmel Valley, Chalone, Hames Valley, Monterey, San Antonio Valley, San Bernabe and San Lucas. The deep, cold waters of Monterey Bay deliver morning fog and strong cooling afternoon winds, making Monterey County particularly well-suited to cool climate grapes like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.


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