CHAMPCAR/CART: Kika's Guide to dinning in Carmel, Monterey, Pebble Beach, Pacific Grove

Buon Appetito! - Bon Appétit Carmel-by-the-Sea , with a population of 5,000 residents, plays host to thousands of visitors each year. By the 1920's Carmel had already achieved its international reputation as an artists' colony. Now its...

Buon Appetito! - Bon Appétit

Carmel-by-the-Sea , with a population of 5,000 residents, plays host to thousands of visitors each year. By the 1920's Carmel had already achieved its international reputation as an artists' colony. Now its biggest attractions are the downtown shopping district and its beautiful beaches. You won't find many sidewalks, streetlights, neon signs or mailing addresses, but you will find specialty shops, boutiques, art and photography galleries and great restaurants. Carmel Valley is a combination of sunshine and countryside.

Casanova : 5th btw Mission & San Carlos, 625-0501. Carmel - Reservations suggested. The owner - Michel - is crazy about racing and the restaurant is very popular among CART drivers and the rest of us. This charming restaurant located in a Mediterranean-style house with white-washed walls and a large heated garden has been a landmark for many years. Casanova serves both Italian and French country-style cuisine in a romantic old-world style. The restaurant is famous for its homemade pasta dishes and its generous selection of desserts. Their Grand Award winning wine cellar offers a superb collection of California and European wines.

Anton and Michel Restaurant: Court of the Fountains, Mission between Ocean and 7th, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 831/624-2406 . Lunch is served from 11:30 to 3pm. Dinner is served from 5:30pm to 9pm. The Lounge is open from 11am to closing. Open daily. This Carmel culinary landmark is one of the most romantic and beautiful restaurants in Northern California. Superb, innovative European cuisine and attentive service, enhanced by outdoor fountains and gardens, have made Anton & Michel a favorite among locals and visitors for more than 20 years. Voted "Best Restaurant in Carmel" by the 1998/99 Adventures in Dining Readers' Choice Awards, Table-side service of fine traditional continental cuisine is the house specialty. Watch the preparation of your very special Rack of Lamb, Anton and Michel's signature dish, and delicacies such as steak flambe, Chateaubriand, Caesar salad and a variety of desserts flambes. Anton & Michel upholds the lost tradition of a dessert cart wheeled to your table for your personal perusal and temptation.. Anton & Michel is known for an award-winning wine list to impress and satisfy the most seasoned wine connoisseur. Reservations suggested

Il Fornaio (eel for-NIGH-oh) at the Pine Inn - Ocean Avenue at Monte Verde, Carmel-by-the-Sea, 831-622-5100. Reservations are recommended. Open daily for breakfast, lunch, dinner. Brunch on weekends. V, MC, DC, AE, $$. Award winning, authentic Italian cuisine. Located in the heart of Carmel in the historic Pine Inn, Il Fornaio's Chef David Beckwith has created a menu abundant with crisp wood-fired pizzas, rotisserie meats and fowl, mesquite - grilled local fish, and fresh regional pastas. Each meal includes house baked breads, rolls and breadsticks. Another CART favorite - also great for breakfast . If you are looking for a cup coffee, here you can find: Espresso, Doppio Espresso, Cappuccino, Caffe Macchiato, Caffe Latte, Caffe Latte Scremato, Cafe au Lait, Caffe Mocha, Caffe Americano, Caffe Corretto (con grappa, sambucca, brandy). Every month, the Il Fornaio restaurants feature a new menu celebrating the incredible diversity of food and wine from a different region of Italy. This month from September 4 - 17 as Festa Regionale features a menu created by Chef-Partner Nicola Nieddu highlighting the bread, food and wine of his native region: Sardegna. Seating is comfortable next to a warm fire or outdoors on the terrace. A 50 seat private dining room is available for special occasions.

Caffe Napoli Si Parla Italiano (Italian spoken here)Ocean Ave near Lincoln, 625-4033. Carmel. .L 11:30am-4pm, D 4-10pm, daily. Dinner reservations suggested. V, MC, $$. Enjoy a brief trip to Italy with Italian home-cooking & warm hospitality as you remember it... Caffe Napoli is known by locals & visitors alike as Carmel's Little Italy. The menu features 3 generations of handed-down family recipes by chef/ owner Richard Pepe. Enjoy antipasti, country-style pastas (many with local seafood), crisp-crusted pizza, risotto, cannelloni, couscous & traditional Italian desserts. The wine cellar is stocked with well-chosen, value priced selections, many offered by the glass. Voted one of the Top Ten Best Value restaurants in Monterey county. All menu items are available for take-out.

Mission Ranch Restaurant - Owner Clint Eastwood -26270 Dolores, Carmel, CA 831/625-9040 -Hours: Dinner 4:30-9:30 pm seven days - Lunch 11 am-3 pm Sat only - Brunch 10:30 am-2:30 pm Sunday, The dining room has a comfy ranch look, with checkered tablecloths and a huge stone fireplace designed to look like it was built 100 years ago. There's also an antique, pot-bellied stove that was used in Eastwood's film "The Unforgiven." The bar is just as popular a hangout for locals as it ever was.On the patio or in the dining room, this restaurant's atmosphere is ranch-style and fun. There is a piano in the bar. The views are gorgeous in the setting above the place the Carmel River meets the Pacific Ocean. The food is fresh and prepared nicely. The basic menu concept hasn't changed, possibly because locals didn't want it to change. It's still hearty, ranch-style food with emphasis on prime rib, steaks and BBQ ribs. Fresh fish is also featured. In addition to the salmon, there's always a catch of the day (on one occasion, the grilled mahi mahi was excellent) and a delicious version of jumbo scallops, sauteed in brown butter with baby artichokes, capers and tomatoes. Roasted chicken and beef brochette are also available and for the vegetarians, meatless lasagna with layers of vegetables, cheeses and a tomato-basil sauce. Baby back ribs can be ordered as an appetizer or an entree. Either way, they're lean, cooked till the meat is ready to fall off the bone and finished with a sweet-tangy sauce. Many regulars won't order anything else.

La Boheme Dolores & 7th, 624-7500. Carmel - Open nightly at 5:30pm. V, MC For over twenty years, the cozy French country atmosphere and prix-fixe menu (three courses that change daily) have earned La Boheme the enviable reputation of a first class restaurant offering consistently high quality food at attractive prices. Each meal begins with salad garnie, followed by a special soup and the evening's entree. Luscious desserts, espresso and cappuccino are also offered. California and French wine selections feature half bottles and vintageBordeaux.

Chez Christian - Ocean between Lincoln & Monte Verde in the Court of the Golden Bough, Carmel. Dinner reservations recommended. Open 7 days per week. Lunch 11:30-2:30, Dinner 5-10. These hours are until Labor Day, then closed on Monday. V, MC $-$$. Offering quality cuisine at reasonable prices in a quaint atmosphere. Chef/owner Christian Viollaz, who hails from Evian, France, offers a varied menu selection of pasta, fresh seafood, chicken and steaks along with rack of lamb, frog legs and his personal speciality, Confit de Canard, a classic French preparation of duck. Lunch offers patio seating with a selection of fresh salads, omelets, burgers and entrees. Espresso and cappuccino available as well as beer, French and California wines.

Terrace Grill, (at La Playa Hotel) $$ Eighth Ave and Camino Real, Carmel 624-4010. Located at historic La Playa Hotel, the Terrace Grill sports a casual and relaxed ambiance. Colorful garden views, stunning sunsets and sounds of the sea are yours to enjoy while dining al fresco on the Grill's heated terrace. The setting is always romantic and features a selection of entrees, like Black Angus Prime Rib, Angel Hair Pasta and Prawns, Lobster Tamale and great fresh seafood. Sunset Dinner Specials from 5:30-6:30pm; B 7-10:30am; L 11:30am-2pm; D 5:30-10pm, daily; Pub Menu 11am-11pm, daily. AE, V, MC

The Grill on Ocean Avenue Ocean Avenue between Dolores and Lincoln, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA 831/624-2569 . Lunch is served from 11:30am to 3pm. Dinner is served from 5pm to 10pm. Open daily. Bathed in a comforting blend of light, tapestry, fire, and warm oak, The Grill offers an atmosphere that is both relaxed and stylish. Chef Hisaku (Max) Muramatsu's lunch and dinner creations blend the best of French, Japanese and California culinary traditions. Choose from salads, sandwiches, fish, pastas and viandes on the lighter and refreshing side to the heartier and more filling. It has been said that the Grill on Ocean Avenue serves the best Caesar salad on the Monterey Peninsula... Mesquite oak charbroiling brings out the best flavors of salmon, tuna, New York steak, filet mignon.... Special desserts are new daily. Chef Max trained at Maxim's in Paris and was twice named Best Chef in Tokyo. The wine list is extensive and fine California. Prices are reasonable.

PortaBella - Ocean Avenue between Lincoln & Monte Verde Carmel - 831/624-4395 The cuisine of the Mediterranean sun countries, rich in color and flavor, delights the palates of diners in this romantic, quintessential Carmel restaurant. From the arched dining rooms to the enchanting indoor courtyard, the exceptional food, wine and ambiance generate a lively atmosphere. Entrées, divided between the land and the sea, are served with locally grown, organic produce. Open daily for lunch from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. Cocktails from 11 a.m. to midnight. Year-round, heated garden-patio dining (dogs and their owners welcome).

Flaherty's Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill - 6th Avenue between San Carlos & Dolores - Carmel - 831/624-0311 (Oyster Bar) 831/625-1500 (Grill) Two restaurants under one roof, Flaherty's Oyster Bar and Seafood Grill create Carmel's seafood emporium. Named among California's 10 best fresh-catch seafood restaurants by the San Jose Mercury News, Flaherty's offers a feast of fresh regional dishes, specialty fish, shellfish, prawns, homemade chowders, cioppino, pasta and meats. Beer and wine. Oyster Bar open daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Seafood Grill open 5 to 10 p.m. daily.

The Gem San Carlos between Ocean & 7th - Carmel-by-the-Sea - 831/625-4365 Tucked in the heart of Carmel, The Gem restaurant guarantees a "you-nique" visit. The colorful and charming décor reflects the diversity of a menu filled with delicious choices. Serving a wide array of Euro-American dishes; local seafood, steaks, pastas, lamb racks, veal, frog legs, and the house specialties: Steak Diane, choucroute Alsace and cassoulet. To dine at The Gem is to experience AFFORDABLE EXCELLENCE. Locally known for the quality, value and portions of their food, a visit to The Gem is a must!

Robert's Boulevard Bistro 217 Crossroads Boulevard - Carmel - 831/624-9626 This affordable, yet serious French bistro serves outrageously good cuisine, ranging from French classics such as rack of lamb to country fare, like cassoulet. A selection of seafood is offered as well. Equal attention is given to the classically French appetizers and desserts. The carefully composed wine list includes imported and domestic selections. Reminiscent of an intimate French country inn, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed. Dinner served nightly from 4:00 p.m

The Covey at Quail Lodge Valley Greens Dr. & Carmel Valley Rd. Carmel 831/624-1581 . The Covey offers extraordinary culinary inventiveness and exquisite Euro-Californian cuisine. Renowned chef Bob Williamson presents an á la carte menu using fresh, local ingredients, complemented by an award-winning wine list, highlighting rare California and Monterey County vintages. Enjoy the casual, elegant ambience of The Covey, while overlooking a sparkling lake with fountain and charming footbridge, flourishing gardens and the graceful rolling hills of Carmel. The perfect ending to any day is relaxing on The Covey deck or by the fire in the lounge. Dinner from 6:30p.m; Breakfast daily from 7 a.m.; Cocktails daily from 4 p.m.

Sole Mio Caffé Trattoria - 3 Del Fino Place - Carmel Valley - 831/659-9119 Italian-born proprietor and chef Domenico Vastarella shares the passion for his own "cucina regionale" from the romantic isle of Capri by projecting his culture and personality to create an experience that measures up to more than a good meal. Capri cuisine is many things to many palates at Sole Mio. The scenic 15-minute drive down Carmel Valley Road has dispelled the myth that Carmel Valley Village is too far to drive for an authentic Italian meal. Open Tuesday through Sunday; lunch 12 to 2 p.m.; dinner 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Closed Mondays.

Ferrante's top the Monterey Marriot Hotel, 350 Calle Principal, 647-4020.D 5-10pm daily; Late Night Dining 10-11pm Fri-Sat; Bar open 5-11pm daily. Champagne Jazz Brunch 10am-2pm, Sun. AE, V, MC, O, $$ . Ferrante's is the soul of Italy, in the Heart of Monterey. You will be amazed by the panoramic views of Montery Bay. We invite you to experience our traditional Italian cuisine - served for sharing. Our entirely new menu features a blend of innovative and authentic Italian dishes. Try the chef's sampler platters of savory Risottos, Pastas and Antipasti. We offer an enticing Martini Menu, each shaken and poured at your table. Even the strongest of wills can not resist our Tiramasu and unique coffee menu.

Pebble Beach is a gated community located between Carmel-by-the-Sea and Pacific Grove. Its 17-Mile Drive draws hundreds of visitors daily where views of the ocean, cypress trees, fabulous houses and deer, not to mention the world's most dramatic golf courses, are truly breathtaking

Pèppoli - Fine dining is a paramount feature of The Inn at Spanish Bay. Exceptional restaurants offer distinctive cuisine for your dining pleasure. Italy's rich traditions, culture and cuisine join in a welcoming embrace at Pèppoli at Pebble Beach, the newest restaurant at The Inn at Spanish Bay. Authentic Tuscan-style dishes pair with a wine-centered, casual atmosphere to create memorable dining. Pèppoli takes its name from a wine estate of Marchese Piero Antinori, called "the most important winemaker in Italy". Carciofi alla Griglia - Marinated Castroville Grilled artichoke with aged balsamic vinaigrette, Cacciucco alla Livornese Saffron-scented soup with assorted fresh fish & shellfish, Livorno style. Linguine Pescatore della Tenuta Belvedere Prawns, scallops, calamari, clams & mussels simmered in a marinara sauce with linguini. Tiramisu' Rivoire Espresso soaked Italian lady fingers layered with Marsala-flavored Mascarpone zabaglione. 831-647-7423

Club XIX/The Lodge at Pebble Beach - 17 Mile Dr, 625-8519. L 11:30am-4pm, D 6:30-10pm, daily. All major credit cards. $$$ Club XIX offers award-winning French cuisine in an intimate atmosphere that commands breathtaking views of the world-famous 18th green at Pebble Beach Golf Links and Carmel Bay. For lunch, you can dine al fresco on the patio from a choice of salads, sandwiches and light entrees. Club XIX celebrates a lighter approach to gourmet French cuisine, with two prix-fixe meals each evening - one always vegetarian.. Dinner offerings include tantalizing appetizers, exquisite entrees that reflect Chef Lisa Magadini's Mediterranean background, and an array of tempting desserts.

The Bay Club - The Inn and Links at Spanish Bay, 2700 17 Mile Dr, Phone: 647-7433. Hours: D 6-10pm nightly. AE, V, MC O $$$ In the intimate and romantic setting of The Bay Club you will dine on contemporary Northern Italian cuisine. Experience dishes like risotto with fresh peas, mint and prosciutto or rack of lamb with roasted potatoes, thyme and garlic sauce, while enjoying classical music that sets the mood for a perfect evening. The Bay Club also has an exceptional international wine list which has earned the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence for the past five years.

Fandango - 223 17th Street - Pacific Grove - 831/372-3456 In the warmth of a Mediterranean setting, enjoy the spirited, flavorful foods of European, country-style cuisine. Feast on a variety of specialties from the open grills, such as seafood, rack of lamb and steaks. Or, choose from regional dishes, which include pastas, paella and couscous. More than 400 wines grace the award-winning wine list, all at fair prices. Full bar service and decadent desserts enhance the food and fun - taste a tradition. Open daily for lunch and dinner. Fandango cookbooks are available. Private parties for groups of 10-50.

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