20 Best Restaurants In Carmel-By-The-Sea

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a charming, seaside town located on California's central coast. Though it is close to Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea is much smaller. In fact, the main village center is only about 1 square mile. The architecture in the village is truly reminiscent of what you'd find in a European fairytale, including small cottages along with French-inspired galleries and bakeries. Despite its very small size, Carmel-by-the-Sea is also home to some amazing restaurants and wine-tasting rooms

From high-end hotels to more locally-owned bistros and eateries, the food scene in Carmel-by-the-Sea is well-worth planning a trip for. If you're a California local, simply drive along Pacific Coast Highway until you reach the idyllic destination. Whether you're craving Italian, French, Mexican, or even sushi, this beloved beach town has it all. Of course, fresh seafood is also a must when staying along the coast. That said, keep reading for our list of the best restaurants in Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Aubergine Carmel

With its intimate dining room, delicately prepared dishes, and ingredient-driven menu, Aubergine reflects the many reasons why locals and visitors alike love the dining scene in Carmel-by-the-Sea. This California hotel restaurant is tucked into L'Aubergine Carmel, a boutique accommodation built in 1929, and serves up a renowned tasting menu that changes daily. Aubergine demonstrates a distinctly Californian feel and dishes include oysters served with a yuzu emulsion and cucumber gelee and uni topped with sweet soy and potato.

The ocean's influence not only impacts each plate, but it has also shaped the dining room decor. The sky-blue walls are illuminated by the massive windows that frame one side of the restaurant. Warm orange lights add to the marine-inspired ambiance, highlighting coastal artworks and dishware. 

A meal at Aubergine Carmel is an ode to seaside life, and, with a location mere blocks from the sand, a long walk on the beach is the perfect way to end your evening.

La Bicyclette Restaurant

At La Bicyclette guests return time and time again to enjoy creative takes on the classics of European country cuisine. Bright copper pots, high ceilings, well-worn woods, and chalkboard menus give La Bicyclette a distinct bistro feel that pairs perfectly with the restaurant's French-Italian influence. The Carmel-favorite is owned and operated by the Georis family, who were raised in the countryside of Belgium, and eventually brought their childhood classics to the California coast.

When it comes to the wood-fired pizzas, La Bicyclette serves up go-to flavors such as its margherita and classic pepperoni. However, the champignons pizza topped with portobello mushrooms, trumpet mushrooms, mozzarella, thyme, caramelized onion puree, and a drizzle of truffle oil is a decadent must-order. 

If you're craving some greens, the rainbow beet carpaccio with mixed baby greens, rainbow beets, coconut goat cheese, candied walnuts, and orange champagne vinaigrette is the perfect way to lighten up your meal.

Seventh & Delores

Seventh & Delores may be known for its impressive selection of drinks, but the steakhouse has some delicious dishes to boot. Scour the extensive wine list for your perfect bottle, or opt for a custom cocktail. The bar's barrel-aged spirits make for a delicious smoked old fashioned. The menu at Seventh & Delores is prepared with a similarly detail-oriented approach and is shaped by thoughtfully and humanely-sourced ingredients from top to bottom.

Go all-in on the steakhouse experience or pick up a bowl of its renowned 1200° onion soup for a flavorful bite. The dining room is bright and airy with sky-high ceilings, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a bar framed by white marble. If you're craving some fresh air, you can even opt for a seat at its massive outdoor patio and soak up the sun alongside the Monterey pines and coastal oaks that shape the town's landscape.

Cultura Comida y Bebida

Cultura Comida Y Bebida's bar specializes in seasonal cocktails and features one of the state's largest collections of traditional Mezcal in the state. Romantic lighting, dark woods, and green velvet cultivate a cozy atmosphere perfect for an intimate date night or catching up with friends over a drink. The menu is shaped by the culinary culture of Oaxaca, Mexico, with specialties like mole, enchiladas, and tacos serving as pillars of each meal.

Order the rich, citrus-forward Cultura mole to enjoy a captivating combination of smoked pork cheek, sesame, orange, pickled vegetables, cabbage, and saffron tortillas. If you're craving a light, out-of-the-box snack, pick up an order of chapulines, Cultura's toasted, and seasoned grasshoppers. 

The restaurant has a sizable array of vegetarian and vegan options and it's easy to brighten up your plate with an order of calabacitas, which is made with zucchini ribbons, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and cauliflower puree.


This bougainvillea-draped restaurant has been serving Carmel-by-the-Sea locals and visitors alike since its founding in 1958. Located in an unassuming cottage just off of Junipero Street, stepping into L'Escargot reveals a dining room framed by classic French prints, white tablecloths, and subtle beachy accents like the dark wooden beams that span the dining room ceiling.

House favorites include a roster of French classics, such as the golden-brown beef Wellington, the richly caramelized French onion soup, and the eponymous escargot, which can be ordered in the shell or stuffed into mushroom caps. The rack of lamb is another dish that is not to be missed. It is served with a cabernet reduction and is unbelievably tender with each bite falling off the bone and complemented by a crisp herb crust.

Cantinetta Luca

Cantinetta Luca offers a delicious roster of traditional Italian staples that are cooked up using a combination of high-quality local ingredients and imported Italian products. The restaurant is dedicated to showing you a good time. Its playful decor features brightly upholstered booths, walls lined with spirited prints, and wine bottles displayed in candy-colored alcoves.

The menu is filled with crowd-pleasing staples ranging from wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizzas to savory side dishes like roasted Brussels sprouts. That said, diners are in for a well-rounded meal. However, Cantinetta Luca's pasta is the star of the show. 

The pumpkin ravioli, served with prosciutto, sage brodo, amaretti crumbs, and sweet saba sauce, is among its most popular dishes. On the other hand, the rich and herby tagliatelle bolognese with salumi, veal, beef, and mirepoix is another classic pasta dish that Cantinetta Luca does right.

Mission Ranch Restaurant

Mission Ranch encapsulates 22 idyllic acres of grazing sheep, coast live oaks, and ocean views. The hotel property also hosts the Mission Ranch Restaurant, which serves up a menu of luxurious coastal fare for breakfast, brunch, and dinner. Guests can start their day off right with a generous selection of egg preparations ranging from huevos rancheros to eggs Benedict. On the weekends, the brunch selection expands into a buffet, with made-to-order omelets, cuts of prime rib, a salad station, a dessert table, and more.

The restaurant is closed for lunch on weekdays, but it reopens from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. for early grazing and cocktails. The mid-afternoon menu includes upscale bar food like jumbo shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, and potato skins. Save room for the restaurant's dinner menu, which includes comforting appetizers like almond-coated baked goat cheese with sun-dried tomatoes and high-quality cuts of coriander-seasoned king salmon, lamb, and whiskey-marinated beef brochette.

Brophy's Tavern

Complete with a refreshing selection of hand-crafted cocktails, draft beer, and old-school jukebox records, Brophy's Tavern is the perfect place to swing by for a good time. From its menu to its decor, Brophy's is imbued with a playful, infectious spirit. 

If you like your cocktails served up with a balance of spice, citrus, and sweetness, the Dock Ellis No-No — made with Casamigos Blanco, Cointreau, lime, passion fruit, agave, jalapeño, and tajín — is your order. You can also browse Brophy's selection of craft brews, which come in sizes ranging from a 16-ounce glass to a pitcher for the whole table. 

The tavern also serves up some tasty pub staples alongside its drinks. The fish and chips are one of Brophy's best-sellers as the crisp snack is perfect to split between friends. The grilled cheese sandwich and tomato bisque are also the ideal meal on a foggy Carmel evening as the marine layer rolls in.

La Balena

La Balena's cozy courtyard ambiance and menu of Italian staples and seaside setting all combine to create one of the best dinners that Carmel-by-the-Sea has to offer. In true Californian fashion, most of its ingredients are sourced from local farms, and La Balena offers an adaptable menu to match. 

However, the restaurant offers a series of coastal staples to keep an eye out for! The octopus (or pulpo) is one of the restaurant's most popular dishes and includes a refreshing mix of grilled octopus, watermelon, mint, carrots, and fennel.

The pollo fried chicken is another solid dish and is paired with mashed potatoes for a winning combination. La Balena also boasts a delicious selection of beef-based recipes, including its tender osso buco and braised short ribs.

Flying Fish Grill

At Flying Fish Grill the menu is stocked with Japanese-Californian fusion dishes and the restaurant is best known for its thoughtfully selected and deliciously-prepared seafood entrees. Diners keep coming back for its black bean halibut, which is topped with fermented Chinese black beans, mushrooms, ginger, and scallions, and served alongside steamed vegetables and a grilled rice ball. 

The California Tower is another go-to order and it's served up as a deconstructed California roll with Dungeness crab, avocado, sushi rice, and seaweed. Flying Fish Grill also offers up a set of dishes that pair seafood with angel hair pasta, many of which are among the most popular dishes on the menu. The rare peppered Ahi, yin-yan salmon, and seafood pasta, which is chock-full of prawns, scallops, fresh fish filets, clams, mussels, and squid, are all served atop a bed of buttery angel hair noodles.

Il Tegamino

Il Tegamino is tucked into a sun-soaked courtyard just off of Ocean Avenue, serving as the ideal venue to indulge in Italian comfort food classics while en route to the beach, or to refuel after basking in the sea breeze. Diners can choose to enjoy their meal on the brick-lined outdoor patio or they can indulge in Il Tegamino's intimate dining room.

As the self-proclaimed "place for pasta lovers," it's no surprise that many of the restaurant's best dishes are pasta-based. The paccheri al ragu Napoletano is a must-order for fans of flavorful, meat-centric pasta dishes. Short rib, pork rib, sausage, slow-cooked tomato sauce, parmesan, pecorino, and basil top this Il Tegamino staple. The restaurant is also known for its antipasti and the parmigiana di zucchini and burrata caprese are two house favorites.

Pangaea Grill

Pangaea Grill's brightly lit and colorful dining room echoes its inventive, fusion-focused menu. Owner and Chef Mia Porges seeks to expand the pallets of her guests at breakfast, lunch, and dinner and pulls inspiration from around the world to do so. Porges was inspired by the ancient supercontinent of Pangaea, which began to split apart into the seven continents we know today 175 million years ago and sees food as a way to celebrate and connect people across our modern cultures.

Porges' kimchi fried rice, served with sauteed pork belly, medium spicy kimchi, rice, sweet potato noodles, fried egg, and green onions, is the restaurant's most popular dish. The Korean short ribs are another top order and is served alongside rice, kimchi, and sautéed vegetables. These Korean staples are served alongside dishes like chicken parmesan, sand dabs with roots in the Pacific, and tuna poke.

TreeHouse Cafe

TreeHouse Cafe is the perfect place to grab a bite on your first day in town. You can get some fresh air and take in Carmel-by-the-Sea from its famous terrace before making the trek downhill to the beach. And, with a menu that offers dishes with Mediterranean, Thai, and Italian influences, it's the perfect crowd-pleasing spot to refuel and shake off any remaining grumpiness that inevitably follows a long day of travel.

It even offers a dog menu, ensuring that each member of your pack is well-fed. Despite its international influences, TreeHouse Cafe's Monterey Bay clam chowder is a delicious take on the American classic, and one of the restaurant's most popular dishes. Opt for the Greek salad for a refreshing bite with a hefty portion of protein, or sip on a warm, nourishing bowl of the yellow Thai curry to counteract the cooling sea breeze.

Casanova Carmel

Casanova Carmel has cultivated a winning menu of French and Italian dishes which are served up in a charming, buttermilk yellow cottage. It is owned and operated by the Georis family, the same family that has channeled their Belgian culinary roots into La Bicyclette. Where La Bicyclette offers a menu that is wholeheartedly French, Casanova offers a hearty infusion of Italian dishes.

The gnocchi casanova, which is a spinach gnocchi au gratin, is a simple dish but still a must-order. With its seaside setting, it's no surprise that Casanova also offers some showstopping seafood. The linguini, served with clams, mussels, prawns, calamari, veloute sauce, and herbs will win the heart of any seafood lover. If you're looking to add yet another European culinary influence to your meal at Casanova, save room for the Basque cheesecake for dessert.


Stationæry has a fresh, modern, and light-filled space that is the ideal place to kick off your day in Carmel-by-the-Sea. In line with its contemporary aesthetic, avocado toast is among the most popular items at Stationæry. The West Coast staple is brightened up with Meyer lemon, radish slices, sprouts, red pepper flakes, and a dash of Monterey Bay seaweed for some central coast flair. Guests can also lean into the cafe's seaside locale by ordering a lobster roll served alongside a savory fingerling potato salad.

If you're craving something sweet, the blueberry pancake with Meyer lemon, salted butter, and maple syrup is sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. Stationæry also offers a takeaway menu of food and wine so you can create the seaside picnic of your dreams.


Head to Yafa to step into a Greek oasis, complete with a menu stacked with Mediterranean staples paired with Moroccan lamps and white, blue, and yellow decor. Locals know to order the watermelon salad at Yafa. Each light bite is made complete with a refreshing combination of feta, basil, pine nuts, and olive oil.

The grilled octopus is another memorable appetizer, topped with an oregano, lemon, garlic, and olive oil sauce. If you're craving something more substantial, the mishmish chicken is one of Yafa's most popular entrees. The Moroccan dish consists of chicken breast with apricot sauce and almonds, served alongside butternut squash and a hearty portion of rice. 

Wrap up your meal with one of Yafa's signature desserts! Order the floating island and tuck into the decadent baked meringue atop a bed of créme anglaise, sprinkled with toasted almonds.

Cafe Rustica

With a spacious outdoor patio and casual atmosphere, Cafe Rustica is the perfect place to enjoy California's famous weather on a family day trip. Its menu offers a bevy of modern French and American comfort foods, all at a more affordable price point than most of Carmel-by-the-Sea's notoriously pricey food options.

The butternut squash ravioli topped with parmesan bread crumbs, fresh sage, and beurre blanc sauce is sweet, slightly tangy, and a sure-fire crowd-pleaser. If you're looking to order something a bit more outside the box, try Cafe Rustica's smoked salmon wood-fired pizza. The thin crust pie emulates the flavors of a bagel and lox, topped with crème fraîche, red onions, capers, and chives. You can also try the Lorraine pizza, which uses quiche staples like caramelized sweet yellow onions, maple smoked bacon, gruyère cheese, and Italian parsley to top the pie.

Anton & Michel

This poolside getaway harnesses modern European flavors to create an enticing menu that is perfect for your next family celebration. Anton & Michel's dining room is decorated in warm earth tones, hosts a roaring fire, and bridges a lounge feel with its dining space to create a casual, yet upscale ambiance. That said, its selection of meat cuts is the menu frontrunner.

The rack of lamb topped with a citrus port sauce and served alongside oven-roasted vegetables and bacon-leek potato gratin is an indulgent favorite, while the American Kobe beef short ribs served with wild mushrooms, cipollini onions, and horseradish mash is reminiscent of a traditional steakhouse dish. If you're looking for a decadent option that is a bit less filling than a full meat entree, the French onion soup is one of Anton & Michel's hallmark dishes.

Toro Sushi

Toro Sushi strikes the delicate balance between celebratory and casual, fit for early-in-the-game dates, birthday dinners, and everything in between. The indoor dining room is cozy, but high ceilings and massive windows give the space a breezy feel. Much of the restaurant's seating is located outdoors, in a brick-lined alleyway outside of the entrance, but Carmel-by-the-Sea's famed scenery gives the space a romantic feel.

Toro Sushi's selection of rolls is generous, but not overwhelming, ranging from classics rolls like the rainbow roll to creative house specialties like the Maine Squeeze, which is a roll filled with crisp tempura lobster, and spicy tuna before being topped with hamachi, snow crab, avocado, toasted macadamia, unagi sauce, and micro greens. The sushi bar also specializes in seared rolls which are topped with unagi sauce, spicy mayo, and torched. The Carmel roll is a local favorite!

Restaurant at Folktale Winery

This sun-soaked vineyard produces grapes that are 100% organic and farmed by hand, which are then pressed into some truly delicious wines. The Folktale team was inspired to showcase its bottles, so it set out to create a menu of California-inspired dishes to complement each glass.

Guests are encouraged to collaborate with the folks at the Folktale Wine Garden to craft the perfect pairing of food and drink throughout the meal. Folktale Kitchen's emphasis on shareability enables guests to experience a wide variety of dishes and wines. Its food menu encapsulates a variety of light bites that everyone will love. Its creative selection of wood-fired flatbreads includes a pesto-based pie and a sweet and salty pizza topped with creme fraiche, bacon, alliums, and gruyere, as well as classics like pepperoni and Margherita. Of course, save room for Folktales' fruit-forward, seasonally inspired desserts.