Carmel: Breakfast Lunch Dinner. My picks for restaurants.
When you take a quick getaway– determined to relax, unwind, and reconnect. The last thing you have time for is a disappointing meal. After all, a good meal is a prelude to all the good things you were hoping for when you decided to take that long romantic getaway. Carmel: Breakfast Lunch Dinner.
This means, on these sorts of weekends there just isn’t enough time in the day for poor choices. You can scour YELP. Sometimes YELP is very helpful. But sometimes YELP makes me cry for HELP! Just who the heck is Sweet Pea from Tallahassee? And what does she know about sustainable seafood in California?
In instances like this, I turn to bloggers. I turn to bloggers I trust. So here I am, trying to return the favor.
I recently spent some time in Carmel. I had some good meals. I had some okay meals. I had some bad meals. Some were pricey. Some were cheap(ish). Now I am home and I’d like to pass along my Carmel restaurant trifecta. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Carmel, California.
Carmel: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
BREAKFAST: La Bicylette Restaurant Dolores St at 7th NW Corner 831–622-9899
We walked into La Bicyclette knowing it was the place for savory baked goods in Carmel. That’s because we had been by earlier in the week as part of Carmel Food Tours. The reason I knew there would be quality things from the oven is that I had already been introduced to pizza from the restaurant’s wood-burning oven. The pizza was great. The bread from that oven was great too. I expected that. There is nothing like bread, freshly baked in a wood-fired oven. What I didn’t know was what a wood-fueled flame could do for baked eggs. I came back for the eggs and can honestly say I rate their breakfast as a must-have on your next trip to Carmel.
LUNCH: Casanova Restaurant 5th Avenue between Mission & San Carlos 831–625-0501
On our last day in Carmel, we checked out Casanova, billed as the most “romantic” restaurant in Carmel. It’s a beautiful, antique-filled cottage with rough-hewn tables tucked into nooks, fire-lit rooms, and al fresco patios. The diversity of interesting objects and the attention to detail is part of what makes this restaurant so “romantic”. However, this artful little retreat was once nothing but a rundown shack at the edge of the village. The renovation from shack to restaurant may feel a bit contrived with its mismatched this and that, but I promise you you will feel transported once you settle in and take in the ambiance.
The backroom is dominated by a fireplace. Which is a good thing. Carmel can be foggy. Especially in the summertime. I suggest that lunch at Casanova is a lovely way to while away the gray– a blazing fire, a plate of gnocchi, and a glass of wine. By the time you’ve finished your leisurely lunch, chances are good that fog will have burned off and a sunshine-filled afternoon awaits you.
About Casanova from their website: “We revisit traditional fare of those regions of Europe that are influenced by the healthy and Mediterranean diet. Because of our Belgian background, we also include tasty traditional dishes such as “moules frites”, “pomme frites” and great Belgian desserts. The menu is designed to create a festive and sharing experience at the table. Our portions are generous and whenever possible we bring to the table the dishes in which the food was prepared. We encourage sharing and creating a fun ambiance at the table. Our cuisine is rustic yet very elegant”.
Carmel: Breakfast Lunch Dinner
DINNER: Mundaka San Carlos Street between Ocean & 7th Avenue 831–624-7400
This was my favorite meal in Carmel. Mundaka. It’s a Spanish style tapas restaurant in the heart of the village. It’s not too big, so it feels casual and friendly. The menu is varied with plenty of choices, but it’s not so large that it isn’t easily navigable. Our server was very helpful in guiding us through our choices.
This is a tapas place. Most of the items are served small plate style. Though there is paella for two and a 24 oz rib-eye if you prefer to have traditional “main courses”. We stuck to tapas, however. If you know and love Spanish tapas like I do you’ll be pleased to see all of your favorites: Potatoes bravas, tortilla española, and marinated olives (aceitunas) that flood your mouth with flavor. They also serve definitive Mediterranean white anchovies with garlic chips (bocarones) and a delicious duck breast escabeche. Two more classic dishes that keep this menu from feeling mundane.
For the more adventurous there are also unexpectedly innocent-looking bites that are new and creative enough to make the evening a culinary adventure. Standouts include: mozzarella served with roasted Catalan “ugly” tomatoes, clams (almejas), and chorizo in a shrimp broth that shoots paprika smoke out of your nostrils (in a good way) and crunchy, fried garbanzo beans judiciously dusted with truffle salt– a seemingly simple preparation that will thrill you.