There are many reasons why Carmel, CA, is a wonderful place to visit, including its stunning coastline and its many activities and attractions. During your visit to this small city on California’s coast, you will also find that there are many fantastic places to eat, with a diverse range of eateries serving a wide range of cuisines. To help you choose the best restaurants to meet your needs and budget, here are the 10 best places to eat in Carmel, CA.
10. Etats-Unis French American Bistro
*Permanently Closed as of December 2020
French cuisine is given some new American flare at this small bistro in Carmel. Etats-Unis is the French name for the United States, so the name perfectly reflects the menu on offer at this establishment. It is a certified green restaurant that focuses on sustainability and using local produce. There is a greater emphasis on the flavor of the food than on dramatic presentation. It is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
9. Rise + Roam
Rise + Roam is one of the newest eateries in Carmel, and it is one of the best restaurants if you are eating out during the day. It is a Roman-style bakery and pizzeria that is run by local chef Todd Fisher. The restaurant is divided into two spaces. On one side, there is a bakery that sells delicious pastries. On the other side, there is a pizzeria with an open kitchen. Although the main dish served in the pizzeria is pizza, there are many other options on the menu.
Travel Awaits says that one of the best places to eat in Carmel is Stationaery. It is open for breakfast and lunch service daily, and there is both indoor and outdoor seating. The eatery is owned and run by couple Anthony and Alissa Carnazzo, who also live on the second floor of the cottage that houses Stationaery. It is a cozy restaurant with just 34 seats, and it specializes in elegant comfort food and specialty coffees.
7. La Balena
La Balena is one of the newer establishments in Carmel, yet it is already a highly-acclaimed venue that has received excellent reviews from critics and diners alike. The restaurant is operated by Chef Brad Briske, who creates a daily menu of delicious Italian fare using local and organic ingredients. Therefore, the menu changes daily depending on what the chef picks up on his visits to the local farms and markets. Along with traditional Italian dishes, he has included some innovative dishes on the menu that introduce new and interesting flavors. You will find La Balena on Junipero Street in Northwest Carmel.
*Permanently Closed as of December 2020
Mundaka is a Spanish restaurant with a tapas-style menu. The restaurant is decorated in a Spanish style, so diners can enjoy a true experience of Spain through both the food and the surroundings. The interior of the restaurant is a cozy space, and the floor-to-ceiling windows lined with empty wine bottles are one of the most impressive interior features. It is a venue that is equally suitable for a date night or a casual night out with friends or family.
5. Treehouse Café
It is a combination of excellent food and the magical atmosphere that makes Treehouse Café one of the best restaurants in Carmel. The menu consists of a diverse range of international cuisines, including Greek and Thai dishes. However, it is more than just the food that attracts people to this restaurant. The restaurant is elevated to the level of the treetops, hence its name. Although it is open for both lunch and dinner service, the best time to eat at the restaurant is in the evenings when the trees are illuminated by twinkling lights. There are both indoor and outdoor dining spaces at Treehouse Café.
4. Mission Ranch
Not only is Mission Ranch one of the top accommodation options in Carmel, but its restaurants is also one of the best places to eat. The ranch is a historic building on 22-acres of grounds, and it is known for its high-end American menu. Although the food is exquisite, that is not the only positive feature of this restaurant. Diners can also enjoy live Jazz music while they dine, and there are spectacular views over Carmel River Beach, the Pacific Ocean, and Point Lobos.
3. Cantinetta Luca
Those who are fans of Italian cuisine should book a table at Catinetta Luca. Executive Chef Jason Balestrieri uses the best local ingredients sourced from local purveyors, fishmongers, and farmers. Every item on the menu is made in-house, including the artisanal salamis, the fresh pasta, the multiple cheese offerings, and the homemade bread. The restaurant is known for its wood-fired pizzas. Their specialties also include grilled meats, whole fire-roasted fish, and a vast selection of antipasti. Cantinetta Luca has an extensive wine list that consists exclusively of Italian wines.
Chef Justin Cogley is at the helm at Aubergine, and Food & Wine magazine named him as the Best New Chef. The restaurant has two menus; one that allows diners to order a la carte, and the other that offers a tasting menu that allows diners to sample various small plates. The dishes combine tradition with innovation, and they showcase the best ingredients available seasonally in the local area. It is a contemporary restaurant that offers wine pairings carefully selected from its 2,500 bottle wine cellar.
1. La Bicyclette
According to The Culture Trip, La Bicyclette is the best place to eat in Carmel, CA. The restaurant prides itself on using locally-sourced ingredients. Despite the French name and the local ethos, the menu consists of dishes from across the globe. For example, they make wood-fired pizzas and Kurobuta pork short rib. It is open from breakfast through to dinner, and it is located on 7th Avenue in the Golden Rectangle. Former diners praise not only the delicious food but also the great ambiance and excellent customer service.