September 18, 2023

Where to Eat and Drink In Monterey

Where to Eat and Drink In Big Sur, Carmel, and Monterey

I travel a ton, and one of the best parts of traveling is visiting the less mainstream coffee shops, beer joints, etc. If you’re a couple planning a wedding in Big Sur or Monterey, and you’re looking for some spots to hangout at that are a little less touristy, here’s your list of where to eat and drink in Monterey, Carmel, and Big Sur. They’re basically just all the places Megan and I and our friends hangout at, so chances are high you’ll eventually run into us!

And remember these are just based on my tastes and preferences. Most couples I photograph are pretty same same in this way, but nothing wrong if you prefer Taco Bell and Starbucks. 


Captain + Stoker 

If you’ve been following me for any length of time, this won’t come as any surprise. Captain + Stoker is 100% the best place to grab coffee in the area. I’m a low-key addict and this places just hits every attribute shared by my favorite coffee shops. The coffee is awesome, of course; the music is on point (think alt-J + The National); and the locations (yes, there are two) are super great. Monterey is their big OG store and Pacific Grove has their newest outpost.


If you’re already far down the Big Sur coast and looking for coffee, your options are pretty limited. Thankfully COAST Big Sur exists and you can find an awesome cold brew or capp there. It’s not too far from popular wedding venues like Glen Oaks or Loma Vista Gardens. It’s also a pretty epic wedding venue itself!

Baked Goods

ALTA Bakery

Yep. This is the place for your morning croissant, quiche or cinnamon bread deliciousness. The earlier you get there the better since they sell out of some of the more popular things quickly. There’ll also be a line. 100% stand in it. It’s worth the wait.

Ad Astra Bread Co.

Ad Astra just opened a new space on Alvarado Street in Downtown Monterey. These fellas pops out some incredible loaves but also some pastries and flat breads that are out of this world.


Wedo’s Taco Truck 

Whenever we’re in a taco/nacho mood, we head straight here. They’re a permanent taco truck located in the beer garden of Dust Bowl Brewery that is super worth going to even if you don’t want a beer (you don’t have to get a beer to eat at Wedo’s). Favs for us are the carne asada nachos and/or their fish tacos. Also their Al Pastor tacos. Goodness they’re delicious.

Peppers Mexicali Cafe

This is more of a sit-down situation. Not fancy, certainly casual, but more of a dinner with the parents or date-night vibe. Really love the salmon tacos. Can’t go wrong with the enchilada’s either.

Michael’s Taqueria

They’re located in Pacific Grove and absolutely give the blackened chicken burrito or tacos a shot. We go here once a week and it always hits the spot. Long live Michael’s.


Alvarado Street Brewery

OK so this place is near and dear to our friend group’s heart since we started going here together (several times a week) since they first opened. They’ve now become a low-key famous brewery putting out beers that win awards basically everyday. It’s gotten way more popular and crowded as a result on weekends. Weekdays are still great, and that’s when we go. Their IPAs are killer and same with their sours.

Other Brother Beer

If it’s a weekend and we want beer, we go here. We lived up the street from Other Brother for a couple years and we’d walk down here all the time when Madison was still just a wee infant. Mems. Similar to Alvarado, their IPAs are excellent and they often do food collabs with area chefs to put out some seriously amazing eats. We love this place.

Dustbowl Brewery

They’re the home of Wedo’s Taco Truck. Their beer is pretty great. Though I prefer the Alvarado and Other Brother, if we’re already there for tacos… twist my arm to add a beer or two to the tab. Cool vibe in their outside space. It’s right next to the harbor, so you get some of that harbor breeze.

Other Favorites


Incredible breakfast in Carmel. Like… this is the breakfast spot to go to for sure. It’s not your mainstream bacon & eggs kind of place. There are loads of those around town that area all same same. Go here if you’re looking for something a little more creative and interesting for the morning meal. Their menus changes often, so check out their site for what they’re serving. But yeah – add this to your list.

Revival Ice Cream Co.

Love ice cream? Me too so much. They make their own here and they’re also changing their menu all the time. They’re good about posting their daily menu on Instagram. Favs for Megan and I – Milk & Cookies (gluten free and epic) and Eucalyptus Mint. It’s basically mint chip but tastes like real mint. Winter or summer, stand in that line.

Il Vecchio

I studied Italian in college and then went to Italy to put that language to use. Let me tell ya – this is actual Italian food and it’s unfair how delicious it is. I’d go here every meal if I could. Check it out. I’ve heard they’re open to rehearsal dinners too if you’re looking for a place to host one.

Go Explore!

This post is by no means static. I’ll always be changing and updating it as I find new favs or couples ask for more recs. That list should get you started, but definitely go out and explore the area too. Let me know what you find!