The 2010 Golden Pine Cones
READERS OF this newspaper have refined tastes and high expectations. Many of them, despite the recession, also have plenty of money to spend. So if you’re looking for a tip about great local restaurants, wines, hotels, shops and even things such as parks, doctors and real estate agents, we don’t think there’s anybody better to ask than the Pine Cone’s avid readers.
So once again we present The Golden Pine Cones, based on a poll conducted earlier this month of 8,500 subscribers to our Internet edition. Below, not only will you find the best places to eat, shop and play, you’ll learn a lot about your community. To view the section in PDF, click here. And don’t forget: Shop locally!
FOOD and WINE
Best Neighborhood Market
Bruno’s Market & Delicatessen (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Junipero and Sixth - 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily - (831) 624-3821 - http://www.brunosmarket.com.
Whether you’re looking for a tasty deli sandwich made to order, a reasonably priced bottle of wine, a beautiful bouquet of irises, an emergency supply of aspirin, the basics to prepare a gourmet dinner at home — or a dinner fully prepared for you — Bruno’s Market has what you need. In the back at the meat counter, top-grade beef, choice cuts of pork and other prime ingredients can be found. Add to that gourmet treats, pizzas and barbecue, and you know why Pine Cone readers make this market No. 1. Owner Fermin Sanchez specializes in giving locals what they need and supplying visitors with their on-the-road basics.
Crossroads Safeway (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — The Crossroads Shopping Village, Rio Road and Highway 1 - open 24 hours daily - (831) 625-8820 - http://www.safeway.com.
As the new buildings and businesses fill in around the Safeway that led the pack with a lavish remodel and expansion, the supermarket continues to improve and impress. Even for people living on the other side of the Peninsula — including some Pine Cone staffers — it’s the go-to place for gourmet goods and basics, alike. Well organized and roomy, the store is complete with an olive bar, huge wine selection, fresh bakery, salad bar, well stocked deli, beautiful produce aisles — and a full-scale Starbucks.
Best Organic Produce
Whole Foods Market (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 800 Del Monte Center, Monterey - 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily - (831) 333-1600 - http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com.
The market that brings organic fruits and vegetables to the masses in an upscale, contemporary setting — and with knowledgeable, friendly staff and loads of samples to taste — is the place to find whatever pesticide-free, chemical-free fruits and veggies you seek. The parking lot may be a nightmare, and the prices may be a tad high, but devotees swear by Whole Foods’ extensive offerings of artfully displayed organic produce from near and far. Need something obscure or encouragement to try something new? You’ll find it here.
Best Seafood Market
Sea Harvest Fish Market & Restaurant (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 100 The Crossroads, Carmel - (831) 626-3626; 598 Foam St., Monterey - (831) 646-0547 - hours vary by location - http://www.seaharvestcarmel.com.
Its simple but tasty restaurant and shelves of condiments nicely complement Sea Harvest’s well stocked counter, where patrons can get close enough to see how fresh the fish really is. Of all foods, seafood is the most difficult to purchase and definitely has to be fresh from the water, and owner David Deyerly ensures Sea Harvest brings in the best. “Our promise to you is to provide the freshest seafood available,” he says. “We stand behind our product being 100 percent guaranteed fresh.”
Best Wine Store/Section
Nielsen Bros. Market (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Northeast corner of San Carlos and Seventh - 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily - (831) 624-6441 - http://www.nielsenmarket.com.
This charming corner market has long had a corner on the wine market in Carmel. Family owned and operated, the store boasts a cellar housing a collection that spans the globe, ranging from affordable Southern Hemisphere wines, to hard-to-find vintages with triple-digit prices. Longtime owners Merv and Nancie Sutton sold their market to Tigran and Azniv Amirkhanian, who are carrying on the Nielsen’s tradition and have just celebrated their first anniversary as owners. The store’s staff will happily offer advice about which wine to pour with what foods, the best gift bottles or the ideal wine in your price range.
Best Place to get Fruits and Vegetables
Farmers Markets (also winner in 2009) — www.oldmonterey.org/farmers.html - www.montereybayfarmers.org - http://www.everyonesharvest.org.
The Monterey Peninsula is awash in farmers markets — both seasonal and year-round — pretty much guaranteeing one of them is conveniently located and fits into your schedule. The largest markets are held on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey Tuesday afternoon, and at Monterey Peninsula College Friday morning and early afternoon, while the Monday-afternoon Pacific Grove market on Central Avenue is more intimate. A market at The Barnyard at the mouth of the valley is held Tuesday mornings May through September, and the same group launched a new market last summer outside Whole Foods at Del Monte Center on Sunday mornings. That market is seasonal as well. Beyond the Peninsula, farmers markets can be found in Marina on Sundays and Salinas on weekends and Wednesdays.
Patisserie Bechler (also winner in 2008) — 1225 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove - Tues. to Sat., 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. 7 a.m. to noon - (831) 375-0846 - http://www.patisseriebechler.com.
When wedding guests hear the happy couple have ordered their celebratory cake from Patisserie Bechler, they make a point of sticking around for the cutting. After all, someone who has created more than 5,000 cakes of all shapes and sizes during the past quarter century must be doing something right! The quality and creativity found in their stellar cakes shine in everything owner and master pastry chef Gérard Bechler and his staff make and sell, from tarts and cookies, to croissants and eclairs. And the quiches are downright incredible. The bakery also includes a small restaurant open for lunch, with salads, soups, crepes and other tasty items on the menu.
Best Catering Company
Michael Jones, A Moveable Feast (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — P.O. Box 902, Carmel Valley - (831) 659-5100 - http://www.a-moveable-feast.com.
Classically trained in the United States and abroad, the talented and creative Michael Jones is a caterer like no other. For almost 35 years, his incredible and innovative small bites and extensive feasts have delighted guests. A Moveable Feast reflects his philosophy of bringing “New World freshness and innovation to the Old World techniques and tradition of service,” using locally grown organic ingredients from small farms, fresh meats and fish caught in Monterey Bay. Whenever you see Jones, with his chef’s coat and trademark beret, you know the food will be fabulous.
Best Kitchen Shop
Sur La Table (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Carmel Plaza, lower level - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 626-6433 - http://www.surlatable.com.
When Sur La Table opened in Carmel Plaza, Peninsula residents who love to cook rejoiced. This well stocked and well organized store, which has its roots in Seattle’s Pike Place Market and now boasts dozens of locations nationwide, carries everything a home cook could want, from full cookware lines, to irresistible kitchen gadgets and a nice collection of condiments from around the world. The friendly and knowledgeable employees — and the fact they will even sharpen knives for you — top off the list of reasons Sur La Table is a local favorite.
Best Monterey County Chardonnay
Favorite Monterey County Wine
Bernardus (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Tasting Room at 5 West Carmel Valley Road - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. - (831) 659-1900 - http://www.bernardus.com/winery.
Bernardus Pon launched his namesake winery in Cachagua more than two decades ago, and it has come to be known for producing some of the best wine in Monterey County. Pine Cone readers have selected Bernardus for Best Monterey County Chardonnay and named Bernardus the best winery overall in Monterey County two years in a row. The winery prides itself on purchasing the finest fruit from area growers, while also cultivating its own Bordeaux varietals under the watchful gaze of vineyard manager Matt Shea in Cachagua. Skilled at finessing every varietal to maximize its most desirable characteristics, winemaker Dean DeKorth and his talented team work to produce compelling vintages, year after year.
Best Monterey County Pinot Noir
Morgan (also winner in 2008) — Taste Morgan - 204 Crossroads Blvd. - 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily - (831) 626-3700 - http://www.morganwinery.com.
Another longtime presence on the local wine scene, winemaker
Dan Morgan Lee has consistently wowed oenophiles and pleased palates with his Pinot Noir. Lee and his wife, Donna, launched Morgan in 1982 and bought the Double L Vineyard in 1996, planting it all in organically grown Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. In addition to producing Pinot from its own Double L, Morgan offers vintages using fruit from the highly regarded Rosella’s and Garys’ vineyards, and the Tondre Grapefield. Taste Morgan also offers special tastings of library wines on Sundays and cheese pairings on Fridays.
Best Monterey County Merlot
Georis Winery (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 4 Pilot Road, Carmel Valley - 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily - (831) 659-1050 - http://www.georiswine.com.
No one in Monterey County makes Merlot like Georis makes Merlot. The winery’s estate bottling of the varietal is always sought after for its robust fruit and the complexity borne of French influences and 18 months in Bordeaux chateau barrels, all in the talented hands of winemaker Damien Georis. Walter Georis — who also brought Casanova restaurant to Carmel — offers his family’s wines for tasting in a lovely room and garden.
Best Family Restaurant
Rosine’s Restaurant (also winner in 2009) — 434 Alvarado St., Monterey - Sun. to Thurs., 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and until 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. - (831) 375-1400 - http://www.rosinesmonterey.com
A family-run restaurant for three decades, Rosine’s was a hit from the start, with its extensive menu and towering desserts. The bright and friendly spot on Alvarado Street in downtown Monterey is the perfect venue for families, as it’s casual, lively and a little loud, while it definitely does not compromise on the quality of food or service. The menu has something for everyone, from entree-size salads and hot and cold sandwiches, to fresh fish of the day, steaks and pasta dishes. But leave room for dessert, because Rosine’s is famous for its towering cakes, specialty cream cakes, cheesecakes and other sweets, all baked fresh onsite daily.
Best French Restaurant
Fifi’s Bistro Café (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 1188 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove - 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun.; 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Mon. to Sat.; 5 to 9 p.m. Sun. to Thurs. and until 9:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat. - (831) 372-5325 - http://www.fifisbistrocafe.com.
Fifi’s Bistro Café is heralded for the authenticity of its French specialties and other dishes. Sunday brunch might well be Eggs Benedict with smoked salmon, accompanied by a Bloody Mary or a mimosa, while lunch could be indulgent Croque Monsieur or Moules Frites. And for dinner? Perhaps Duck a l’Orange or Filet Mignon aux Truffles. Diners love Fifi’s authentic flavors, bistro ambiance and talented kitchen.
Best Chinese Restaurant
Tommy’s Wok (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Mission between Ocean and Seventh - Tues. to Sun., 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. - (831) 624-8518 - http://www.restauranteur.com/tommyswok (yes, they spell it "restauranteur," for some reason.)
Tucked inside Redwood Court, Tommy’s Wok features Szechwan, Hunan and Mandarin cuisine — and everything on the menu is homemade. Chef Tommy Mao and his sisters, Van and Joanne, have had two other successful restaurants in Sausalito and Oakhurst. They say, “Tasting is believing at Tommy’s Wok,” and if you don’t feel like dining in, the takeout is the best.
Best Indian Restaurant
Ambrosia India Bistro (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 565 Abrego St., Monterey - Champagne lunch buffet 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sat. and Sun; lunch buffet 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mon. to Fri.; and dinner nightly 5 to 10 p.m. Happy Hour daily 5 to 6:30 p.m. - (831) 641-0610 - http://www.ambrosiaib.com.
Chef/owner Bhupender Singh believes in creating memorable, flavorful meals that speak of India in their preparation, aromas and presentation — and has done so well that he opened a café on Cannery Row last year. The lunch buffet at the Abrego Street location is unbeatable (especially the butter chicken), and Ambrosia’s tandoori ovens produce all types of naan, and bone-in marinated chicken skewered and roasted. The mixed grill includes chicken, minced lamb and prawns, all marinated and spiced with care. Vegetarian delicacies, appetizer, soups and salads, rice, chicken, lamb and seafood entrées are all tempting and affordable. Dine indoors or in the lovely garden.
Best Italian Restaurant
Little Napoli (also winner in 2009) — Dolores and Eighth - Noon to 10 p.m. daily - (831) 626-6335 - http://www.littlenapoli.com.
Restaurateur Rich Pèpe’s restaurant is as lively and personable as he is, offering Italian comfort food in a warm, homey atmosphere. Looking for something rich? Try the Veal “Osso Buco” Ravioli with porcini-cream reduction and roasted mushrooms. Want fish? How about the Cioppino Rosso? Pèpe’s expansive menu also includes several creative pizzas, sandwiches, salads and entrées that speak of his Italian heritage and Jersey roots.
Sushi Heaven (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Dolores between Seventh and Eighth - Mon. to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m. - (831) 625-2067.
For the warmest welcome in any sushi restaurant, anywhere — accompanied by an extensive and creative menu offering some 150 varieties of fresh sushi and rolls prepared by sushi masters before your eyes — look no farther than Sushi Heaven. Owner Soon Huh is always well endowed with cheer, and his menu features popular Japanese dishes, including tempura, sashimi, bento boxes, exquisite soups, salads, entrées, desserts and much more. Sushi Heaven has a loyal following of locals and repeat business of visitors who discover it and come back, time after time.
Best Mediterranean Restaurant
Best Middle Eastern Restaurant
Dametra Cafe (also winner in 2009) — Ocean and Lincoln - 11 a.m. to 10:30 or 11 p.m. daily - (831) 622-7766.
Opened by best friends Faisal Nimri and Bashar Sneeh, Dametra Café features a veritable Mediterranean bounty, with a menu listing Greek, Italian, Spanish, Moroccan, Turkish, French, Israeli and Lebanese dishes. Fans of this always lively, always packed restaurant swear the owners make them feel just like family. Just call ahead to make sure they have room to add you to the family tree!
Best Mexican Restaurant
Peppers MexiCali Cafe (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 170 Forest Ave., Pacific Grove - Mon., Weds. and Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. and Fri. and Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. No lunch on Sun., but dinner 4 to 9:30 p.m. - (831) 373-6892 - www.peppersmexicalicafe.com.
As a testament to its delicious food and its popularity among locals craving its Latin American cuisine, Peppers MexiCali Cafe is almost always bustling at lunch and dinnertime. Seafood is heavily emphasized, including the the grilled prawns with fresh lime and cilantro dressing. Entrées include tacos, enchiladas, chiles rellenos, tostadas, burritos (try the Mission District burrito platter), and tamales when available. Fish and meat entrées include Mahi Mahi Veracruz with tomato, green chiles, capers and lime juice, and carne asada (marinated and grilled New York steak). Peppers also has a full bar showcasing several tequilas, and the bartenders make a mean margarita.
Best Thai Restaurant
Baan Thai — 1760 Fremont Blvd. No. F1, Seaside - Mon. to Fri., 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., Sat. noon to 9 p.m. - (831) 394-2996 - http://www.BaanThaiSeaside.com.
Flavorful, fresh Thai dishes at reasonable prices in the convivial atmosphere of this tiny restaurant make Baan Thai (which means, “Thai House”) a favorite. Owners Surut (Tom) Somboonsam and his wife, June, want their customers to expect authentic Thai cuisine and hospitality. “We treat our guests like family, and we want our customers to feel cozy and at home. We prepare each entree with fresh ingredients to ensure the highest quality,” they said. The lunch specials are unbeatable.
Best Restaurant for Seafood
Best Restaurant in Pacific Grove
Passionfish (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 701 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove - Dinner nightly from 5 p.m. - (831) 655-3311 - http://www.passionfish.net.
Ted Walter, who owns Passionfish with his wife, Cindy, is an inspired chef who focuses on seafood sustainability, organic produce and original cuisine. This multi-award winning restaurant offers unique appetizers, like sea scallop with caper-raisin-walnut relish, and unusual salads, including baked gorgonzola on curried greens served with chutney and candied pecans. The Walters’ main thrust is, of course, fresh seafood. Try his lightly smoked rainbow trout with red-wine-braised vegetable salad and basil aioli. The ever-changing menu also features ribeye, duck confit and a vegetarian selection.
Best Restaurant for Steak
Will's Fargo — 16 East Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley - 4:30 to 9 p.m. daily and until 10 p.m. on weekends - (831) 659-2774 - http://www.bernardus.com/lodge/restaurants/index.htm
For any cut of beef prepared any way you like it, there’s nowhere better to go than Will’s Fargo, a restaurant that’s been around for more than a half-century. Originally built as a tea room in the late 1920s and then serving as a road house on the “milk run” between Monterey and Tassajara, Will’s Fargo Dining House and Saloon became a landmark steakhouse in 1959. Bernardus founder Ben Pon bought the restaurant in 2002, bringing his high-powered fine-dining staff to the kitchen. The place remains comfortable and old fashioned, while its reputation for excellent dining and service has been renewed.
Best Restaurant for Vegetarians
Tillie Gort’s Cafe (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 111 Central Ave., Pacific Grove - Mon. to Fri. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sat. and Sun. 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. - (831) 373-0335 - http://www.tilliegortscafe.com.
Established in 1969, this restaurant with a friendly coffee shop atmosphere features vegetarian, vegan and organic foods, including two vegetarian soups daily. But carnivores are welcome, too, and many items on the menu cater to the meat eaters among us. Favorites among locals are the Huevos Rancheros and the Mexican fiesta salad, and if you’re feeling adventurous, the No Meat Loaf or the All-in-One Plate.
Rio Grill (also a winner in 2009) — 101 Crossroads Blvd. - Lunch Mon. to Sat. 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., brunch Sun. 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., dinner from 5 until 9 p.m. weeknights and 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. - (831) 625-5436 - http://www.riogrill.com.
Southwestern flair reaches new heights in the hands of creative chef Cy Yontz, who turns out contemporary cuisine with his unique flair. The appetizers are downright fabulous. Order the Dungeness crab cakes, Castroville artichoke, buffalo carpaccio with crispy capers, bacon-wrapped scallop bruschetta and a haystack of superthin and crisp onion rings, and you might just not have room for the main course. The Rio is one of Tony Tollner’s three restaurants. Another of his establishments, Montrio, was named Best Restaurant in Monterey by Pine Cone readers this year.
Henry’s BBQ — 401 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey - Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sun. 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. - (831) 646-6999 - http://www.henrysfamousbbq.com.
Locals go crazy for Henry’s generous plates of tender, juicy, flavorful meats. While pondering the menu, customers might nibble pork riblets glazed with Henry’s special honey BBQ sauce. Henry’s BBQ meals come with beef and bean chili; your choice of potato salad, macaroni salad, cole slaw, green salad or French fries; and Bert’s Bacon-Cheese Bread or garlic bread, and are offered with one, two or three meats: pork spare ribs, tri-tip, chicken, Hawaiian-style pulled pork or boneless pork loin. The menu includes many other options, as well.
Katy’s Place (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Mission between Fifth and Sixth - 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily - (831) 624-0199 - http://www.katysplacecarmel.com.
Katy’s boasts the largest breakfast menu on the West Coast. There are 16 varieties of three-egg Eggs Benedict on the menu, as well as eight waffle plates, including the signature Belgian waffles. Owner Randall Bernett also offers blintzes with fresh berries, Swedish pancakes, corned beef brisket hash and Miss Audrey’s biscuits and gravy, just to name a few. Patrons can eat indoors at tables or at the bar in front of the kitchen where a friendly chat with chef is in order. Or — and this is a big favorite with locals — eat on the deck at the front of the restaurant under a giant redwood tree. Lunch includes seven burgers, 11 sandwiches, eight salads and the favorite huevos rancheros. If Katy’s Place is good enough for the locals, it’s also good enough for the King of Jordan, who dines there from time to time.
Carmel Valley Roasting Co. (also winner in 2008) — Ocean between Lincoln and Monte Verde - 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily - (831) 626-2913 - http://www.carmel-coffee.com.
Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Co. won out over all the other coffee roasters on the Monterey Peninsula, so they must have terrific coffee. Established in 1994, CVCRC roasts and serves 100 percent certified organic arabica gourmet coffee, with its signature blend being Organic Carmel Foglifter. Other locations include Mid-Valley Shopping Center in Carmel Valley and the Crossroads in Carmel.
Carmel Coffee House & Roasting Co. (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — South side of Ocean Avenue west of San Carlos Street - 7 a.m. until afternoon daily - (831) 626-2095 - http://www.carmelcoffee.com.
Carmel Coffee House & Roasting Co. is the town’s only onsite roaster, processing beans in small batches to ensure freshness, and the welcoming employees serve up the best espresso drinks, brewed coffee, hot tea and other drinks in town. Add to that a nice selection of baked goods, sandwiches and snacks — as well as an idyllic courtyard, quiet indoor seating area and free wifi — and it’s no surprise that Pine Cone readers named it their favorite coffeehouse.
Best Happy Hour
Il Fornaio (also a winner in 2009) — Ocean Avenue & Monte Verde Street, Carmel-by-the-Sea - Mon. to Fri., 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Happy Hour 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Mon. to Fri. - (831) 622-5100 - http://www.ilfornaio.com.
Want to hang out with the movers and shakers in Carmel over a glass of bubbly or a creative cocktail? Then head for Happy Hour at the expansive, welcoming bar at Il Fornaio. The restaurant is part of an upscale California chain, but local management maintains its hometown feel. Of course, Il Fornaio also includes a bakery and restaurant, featuring the cuisine and wines of Italy. Menus include a selection of antipasti, soups, salads, wood-fired pizza, housemade pastas, grilled and rotisserie-roasted meats and a wide variety of desserts.
Best Ice Cream
Baskin Robbins — 406 Lighthouse Ave., Monterey - 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily - (831) 375-3131 - http://www.baskinrobbins.com.
Founded more than six decades ago by Burton Baskin and Irvine Robbins, Baskin-Robbins has grown from a Southern California collaboration to an ice cream empire with more than 6,000 franchises in 35 countries. From classic favorites like Cookies ‘n Cream and Jamoca Almond Fudge, to seasonal flavors such as Caramel Praline Cheesecake and special offerings like Quarterback Crunch, Baskin-Robbins is sure to have an ice cream to your liking. Local franchise owners ensure BR always has a hometown feel and contributes to the community.
Allegro Gourmet Pizzeria (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 3770 The Barnyard - 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily - (831) 626-5454 - http://www.allegrogourmet-pizzeria.com.
Since it opened in 1988, Allegro has been known for its unique pizza creations and relaxed atmosphere. Its owners say they wanted to create a “soulful pizzeria like the kind that exists in every Italian neighborhood ... no big deal, just great food, friends and wine.” A crowd favorite is the thick-crust Chicken & Basil Pesto with chicken tenderloin, pesto, artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella, smoked and fresh, but the list is long and also includes fresh salads pasta, panini and vino.
Best Fast Food
Chipotle Mexican Grill - Del Monte Center, Monterey - 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily - (831) 641-9353 - http://www.chipotle.com
It may be fast food, but it’s good food: fresh, high-quality ingredients, humanely raised meats and abundant portions, all for decent prices. Steve Ells opened his first Chipotle in the site of a former Dolly Madison ice cream shop in Colorado in 1995 and has since expanded the chain promising “food with integrity” throughout the country. Best known for its burritos, which could easily feed two, Chipotle also offers burrito bowls, salads, crispy and soft tacos, and chips and guacamole.
Best Outdoor Dining
Mission Ranch (also winner in 2008 and 2009) – 26270 Dolores St. - Dinner nightly from 5 p.m., Sunday Jazz Brunch 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. - (831) 624-6436 - http://www.missionranchcarmel.com.
The restaurant in the hotel owned by former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood, and where he occasionally appears to have a drink by the fire or play the piano, offers a decadent brunch ($27.95 for adults, $13.95 for kids 12 and under, and $5.50 for toddlers) with everything one could want on a relaxing Sunday, including live jazz. Starting with a complimentary glass of bubbly, the brunch includes a salad station, main dishes like Eggs Benedict and whole baked salmon, an omelet station, carving station, classic breakfast dishes and desserts. In the evenings, a great dinner (starting with Mission Ranch’s famous clam chowder, perhaps), is made even better when it can be enjoyed outdoors on the deck. Well equipped with heaters for those chilly Peninsula evenings, the venue offers sweeping views of pastures full of grazing sheep and the craggy coastline.
Best Wine List
Most Romantic Restaurant
Best Restaurant in Carmel
Casanova (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Fifth Avenue between Mission and San Carlos - 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily - (831) 625-0501 - http://www.casanovarestaurant.com.
With so many accolades from Pine Cone readers for so many years, Casanova must be really special — and it is! Founded in 1977 by brothers Walter and Gaston Georis, their sister Denise and her friend Michel, Casanova combines old-world elegance and hospitality with culinary innovation and has remained a Carmel favorite since its inception. Its wine list is deeply varied and a point of pride for the owners, especially considering Walter’s ownership of Georis Winery, winner of the Golden Pine Cone for Best Monterey County Merlot. Casanova’s menu changes daily, but memorable dishes include lamb brochettes, linguini with seafood, and fresh mussels with shallots. Longtime chef Didier Dutertre departed to open his own restaurant in Monterey (Bistro Moulin) three years ago, but the quality, freshness and romance at Casanova have not changed.
Best New Restaurant
Basil Seasonal Dining — west side San Carlos Street north of Seventh Avenue - 11:30 a.m. to midnight Mon. to Sat. - (831) 626-8226 - http://www.basilcarmel.com.
Chef Michele Cremonese, born in Verona, Italy, is the owner of this new contemporary spot in the heart of Carmel. At Basil, he transforms fresh, organic, local ingredients into creative fare and offers equally creative cocktails, such as the Passionfruit Basil-tini, to match. Consider the watermelon and feta salad or fig and brie salad, and the duck prosciutto-wrapped chicken as examples. The small venue offers a few tables indoors and a few outside in the patio.
Most Dog-Friendly Restaurant
Cypress Inn (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — east side Lincoln Street north of Seventh Avenue - lunch, noon to 4 p.m.; afternoon tea, 1 to 4 p.m.; dinner, 5 to 10 p.m. daily - (831) 624-3871 - http://www.cypress-inn.com.
Whether you’re craving lunch, dinner, cocktails or afternoon tea — in the company of your faithful furry companion — Terry’s Lounge in the Cypress Inn is ready to welcome you both. Crab cakes served with orange and Grand Marnier cranberry chutney or the Cypress Burger topped with Gruyere cheese makes a great lunch, and dinner is equally delicious, but afternoon tea is particularly pleasant. The complete tea service features a selection of homemade scones and cookies, sandwiches, cakes, jam and thickened cream for scones, and a range of Mighty Leaf teas. Dogs, meanwhile, can enjoy their own tea tray of impressive snacks.
Best Restaurant for a Special Occasion
Pacific’s Edge — Highlands Inn, 120 Highlands Drive, Carmel Highlands - dinner 6 to 9 p.m. nightly - (831) 622-5445 - http://www.pacificsedge.com.
When you live in one of the most beautiful places on the planet, there’s no need to hop a jet to go celebrate an anniversary, birthday or other milestone. Instead, head to Pacific’s Edge. Perched above the Pacific, the restaurant in the Highlands Inn offers stellar contemporary cuisine at the hands of executive chef Matt Bolton, an extensive wine list and recommendations from the knowledgeable Paul Fried, lovely ambiance and impeccable service. An evening at Pacific’s Edge often proves unforgettable, making it perfect for a celebration.
Best Restaurant in Big Sur
Big Sur Bakery — Highway 1 26 mi. south of Carmel, Big Sur - bakery opens at 8 a.m. daily; lunch Tues. to Fri., 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; brunch Sat. and Sun., 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Tues. to Sat., starting at 5:30 p.m. - (831) 667-0520 - http://www.bigsurbakery.com.
Michelle and Philip Wojtowicz and Mike Gilson have made Big Sur Bakery a mandatory stop, not just for the killer mocha cookies and great coffee, but for the satisfying lunches and dinners. The bakery is situated in a house built in 1936 “that has continuously been used as a place to restore weary, hungry travelers,” they say. “And it is our pleasure to keep the tradition alive today.” The food is high quality and creative, but not fussy. It’s largely seasonal, as well.
Best Restaurant in Carmel Valley
Café Rustica (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 10 Delfino Place, Carmel Valley - Tues. to Sun., 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 to 8:30 p.m. - (831) 659-4444 - http://www.caferusticacarmel.com.
A favorite with locals, Cafe Rustica offers enormous salads full of fresh ingredients, mouthwatering pastas and an extensive menu that melds the best of California and Mediterranean cuisine. But it’s the thin-crust, wood-oven-fired pizzas that make owner Julien Belliard’s restaurant one of the busiest in the valley.
Best Restaurant in Pebble Beach
Roy’s (also winner in 2008) — The Inn at Spanish Bay, Pebble Beach - (831) 647-7500 - http://www.roysrestaurant.com.
Before Asian fusion was commonplace in the culinary world, chef Roy Yamaguchi began combining European techniques with bright and exciting Asian and Pacific Rim foods and flavors. He opened his first restaurant in Honolulu, Hawaii, more than two decades ago and now has 31 locations in the United States, Japan and Guam. At Spanish Bay, the venue offers sweeping bay views and elegantly presented cuisine in a bright and lively setting.
Best Restaurant in Monterey
Montrio (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 414 Calle Principal, Monterey - 4:30 to 10 p.m. nightly, and until 11 p.m. Fri. and Sat. - (831) 648-8880 - http://www.montrio.com.
Take creative cuisine with European and American influences, add an historical Monterey firehouse and a fabulous bar, combine the two with great service, and you have Pine Cone readers’ Favorite Monterey Restaurant for three years in a row. This year, chef/co-owner Tony Baker revamped the menu, retaining some old favorites while deftly applying his creative touch — and love of rich, bold food — to craft new dishes, like the Pork-trio, the Bacon & Egg salad and Ratatouille Risotto Fritter. The Happy Hour is unbeatable, and this bistro with big-city ambiance is one of Monterey’s favorites for all occasions.
Best Restaurant in Sand City
Papa Chano’s — 915 Playa Ave., Sand City - 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily - (831) 393-9133.
When you want a gigantic burrito, half a chicken, a plate of enchiladas or tacos, or any other Mexican fare fast and fresh, Papa Chano’s is the place to go. Tried and true recipes, a fresh salsa bar and a super-efficient kitchen make this taqueria not only quick and easy, but the provider of the best food in Sand City.
Best Restaurant in Seaside
Noodle Bar — 1944 Fremont Blvd., Seaside - Mon. to Sat. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. - (831) 392-0210.
It went undiscovered by the masses for a little while, but the hole-in-the-wall Noodle Bar in a strip mall on Fremont has finally received the recognition it deserves. This restaurant turns out some of the best Vietnamese food around, at remarkably low prices, and everything on the menu is reliably good. Some of the best items include five-spice chicken, spring rolls and pho. The Noodle Bar has an L-shaped bar equipped with stools, and while the employees are gracious and it can be fun to catch glimpses of the action in the kitchen, it’s best to order takeout and eat elsewhere.
Best Restaurant Service
Flying Fish Grill — Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh avenues in the Carmel Plaza - 5 to 9 p.m. nightly, and until 9:30 p.m. Fri. and Sat. - (831) 625-1962 - http://www.restauranteur.com/flyingfishgrill (yes, they spell it "restauranteur," for some reason).
The Flying Fish Grill not only serves really tasty Asian-inspired appetizers and entrees showcasing the freshest fish and prime meats, but the people doing the serving are wonderful, too. From the warm greeting by longtime host Rich at the door, to the attentive table-side service from waitstaff Tony, Lynn, Manuel, Gabriela, Nicole, Annie and Ann, and busboys Jerry and Pedro — as well as chats with owner Kenny Fukumoto — the Flying Fish has the people side of the business nailed, making for a truly lovely dinner, every time.
SERVICES and HEALTH CARE
Best Auto Repair
Nystrom Automotive — San Carlos and Fifth - 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Mon. to Friday - (831) 626-4407.
Part of the Napa Auto Care program, owner Eric Nystrom says his shop was picked because of its honesty, integrity and quality. Nystrom, a lifelong resident of Carmel, acquired the former Lugo’s Shell in 2004. The shop does general car repairs, including smog inspection and can take care of everything from oil changes to engine exchanges. It also sell tires and batteries and repairs air conditioning.
Best Dry Cleaners
Carmel Cleaners (also winner in 2009)— Junipero and Third - Mon. - Fri., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. - (831) 624-3616.
Carmel Cleaners says, “Good clothes deserve good care,” and offers same-day service if garments are dropped off by 10 a.m. Brides who want to dry clean their wedding gowns can take their dresses to Carmel Cleaners, which calls itself a “wedding-gown expert.” The shop also performs alterations and other laundry services and has a new “green” cleaning machine. It has had the same owner, Deok Cheong, for 30 years.
Best Airline from MRY
United (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Monterey Peninsula Airport and hundreds of destinations around the world - (800) 864-8331 - http://www.united.com.
From Monterey, United flies only to San Francisco, Los Angeles and Denver. But from there, the airline can take you practically anywhere. That includes business destinations such as Chicago, Atlanta and New York, vacation spots like Hawaii, Cabo San Lucas and Orlando, and exotic foreign capitals, including Beijing, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo. Air travel isn’t as easy as it was 10 years ago, or as luxurious as it was 30 years ago, but it’s still a modern-day miracle to have lunch in San Francisco and be in Paris by midnight.
Best Travel Agent
Bob McGinnis Travel — Fifth and Mission - (831) 624-2724 - http://www.bobmcginnistravel.com.
When it comes to planning a trip for a customer, Bob McGinnis Travel takes its role very seriously. Beyond creating thoughtfully crafted itineraries, they explain your travel insurance options, translate supplier cancellation policies, and serve as your advocate before, during and after your journey. “While travel offers personal enrichment, it also builds a bridge of understanding between cultures. And we stand committed to your continued discovery of a world ever beautiful and large,” the company says.
Best Hair Salon
March Hare (also winner in 2009) — Fifth Ave. and Mission - (831) 624-3024 - http://www.marchharesalon.com.
Pine Cone readers think March Hare in Carmel is the best salon. “Today I went to the March Hare Salon and had such a great experience,” one online reviewer commented. “Not only did I love my hair, but I left feeling so good about myself. The service was excellent! Always offered tea and water, and a selection of magazines to look at during my color. I would expect nothing less from an Aveda Salon!”
Best Nail Salon
Nails by the Sea (also winner in 2009) — Seventh and Monte Verde - Call for appointment - (831) 625-2623 - http://www.nailsspabythesea.com.
The goal of Nails by the Sea and its professional staff is to pamper clients with the highest quality nail care and spa treatments in a relaxing and nurturing atmosphere. Nails by the Sea invites its customers to relax and rejuvenate their minds, bodies and spirit in its full-service nail and skin care salon, nestled in the heart of Carmel-by-the- Sea.
Best Skin Care
Yon-Ka Signature Day Spa (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 118 The Crossroads - (831) 625-4410 - http://www.Yonka-Signature.com.
Yon-Ka Signature Day Spa offers a full variety of spa services, but it’s the expert skin care, led by veteran owner and aesthetician Chatal Tourtin, that pulls in the raves. Yon-Ka has more than 70 proprietary products that bring a European approach to skin care treatments to the Peninsula. Working with every type of age and skin type and customized for each person’s specific needs, the staff provides services in cleansing, anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, deep hydration, eye and lip contour, and treatments for blemishes, sun spots and pigmentation problems.
Best Massage Therapist
Daniela Urbassek (also winner in 2009) — (831) 521-1117.
Big Sur and the Monterey Peninsula are home to some of finest massage practitioners anywhere, which makes sense considering the proximity of the Esalen Institute, which hosts one of the world’s premier massage schools. Daniela Urbassek, who was selected by our readers as the best local massage therapist, has been a member of Esalen’s massage crew since 1990, but she also teaches massage at Esalen. A gifted bodyworker, Urbassek’s massage is influenced by her studies in craniosacral therapy, aromatherapy, yoga, and dance. She also maintains a private practice in Carmel, and she’s available by appointment.
Spa at Pebble Beach (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — The Lodge at Pebble Beach - 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily; holiday hours vary - (831) 649-7615 - http://www.pebblebeach.com.
Pure indulgence in rest and relaxation with the utmost and award-winning service, The Spa at Casa Palmero won’t disappoint. Located in a former mansion near The Lodge, the spa offers relaxation, rejuvenation and revitalization of the mind, body and spirit through an array of services, including massages, body scrubs, wraps, water treatments, skin, nail and hair care. Casa Palmero provides a soothing and inspiring environment, including 25 treatment rooms, Jacuzzi, sauna, steam and inhalation room, salon, conservatory and outdoor pool.
Best Place to Volunteer
SPCA for Monterey County — 1002 Highway 68 - (831) 373-2631 - http://www.spcamc.org.
Formed in 1905 to address the problems of stray “dogs and cats about town” as well as to discuss the “different diseases prevalent among horses” and to “investigate the abuse and fast driving of donkeys and horses,” the SPCA has had a long and rich history of helping people and animals in Monterey County. The SPCA is not a chapter of any other agency and does not have a parent organization. According to its mission statement, the group’s doors are open to “all animals in need from dogs and cats to horses, wildlife, exotics, and more. We shelter homeless, neglected and abused pets and livestock, and provide humane education and countless other services to the community.” It is also the local agency to call to investigate animal cruelty, rescue and rehabilitate injured wildlife, aid domestic animals in distress, and so much more. All the group’s work is made possible by its thousands of donors and hundreds of volunteers. And there are always lots of volunteer opportunities!
Best Place to Work (tie)
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea and Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula
City of Carmel-by-the-Sea — City Hall, Monte Verde between Ocean and Seventh - 8 am. to 5 p.m., Mon. - Fri. - (831) 620-2000 - http://ci.carmel.ca.us.
From some local media coverage of a recent sexual harrassment suit, not to mention the vitriolic comments of political opponents of Mayor Sue McCloud, you’d think city hall was a place where only a masochist would want to work. But according to our reader poll, it’s actually the best place in the Monterey Peninsula to punch your time card! The voters, who apparently included many city employees, weren’t given the opportunity to explain their votes. But suffice it to say that wages and benefits are generous, and the workplace environment is good, too.
Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 23625 Holman Highway, Monterey, and numerous other locations - (831) 624-5311 - http://www.chomp.org.
Everyone knows Community Hospital as the place to go if you need medical services, but according to our readers, the hospital known as CHOMP is also the Monterey Peninsula’s best place to work. The hospital has about 2,000 employees and hundreds of volunteers taking care of patients’ families and manning the hospital’s Fountain Court and gift shop, and raising money for projects, such as the Bloodmobile. Also, about 125 people volunteer at the hospital’s hospice, another 300 help out with the Grief Busters program for children who have experienced loss, 30 volunteer for the therapy dog program, and 40 local ministers help out as chaplains. On top of all that, CHOMP has cutting-edge technology in many medical specialties.
Best Retirement Community
Carmel Valley Manor (also winner in 2008)— 8545 Carmel Valley Road, Carmel Valley - (831) 624-1281 - http://www.cvmanor.com.
Carmel Valley Manor’s mission is to provide high-quality and fulfilling life care for the elderly in a safe, attractive and congenial environment, where residents can live and enjoy an active role in the community, secure in the knowledge their privacy, dignity and welfare will be respected and protected, all in the warm sunshine in beautiful Carmel Valley.
Best Place To Get Married
Highlands Inn Park Hyatt — 120 Highlands Drive - (831) 620 1234 - http://highlandsinn.hyatt.com.
To locals, the Highlands Inn is a hotel perched on a cliffside in the Carmel Highlands with a warm, art-filled lobby perfect for a drink by the fire and a spectacular bar and restaurant with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. But to visitors, it’s a picturesque oceanfront retreat that seamlessly blends the amenities of a large property with the refined charm of a boutique hideaway. For both groups, it’s also the perfect place for an intimate sunset wedding ceremony or a large wedding celebration. “We truly believe Carmel California weddings should be extraordinary, once-in-a-lifetime events and we take pride in handling the details so you can spend time on what’s most important: creating memories in a stress-free environment,” the hotel’s website says.
Cate Electrical (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Dolores and Seventh - (831) 624-5361 - http://www.K8electric@aol.com.
Cate Electrical covers the entire Peninsula, including Marina, to Big Sur and all points in between. Mike Cate and Janine Cate Boone own and operate the business, which was started by their father in 1961. Cate Electrical is committed to the local community in emergency work, residential, commercial, remodel, repair and generators. With four professional electricians, including Mike Cate, Jud Boone, Sean Morgan and Nic Beatty, Cate Electrical provides top quality service, with honest and high attention to detail with satisfaction guaranteed.
A&R Plumbing, Inc. (also winner in 2008) — 1720 Contra Costa St., Sand City - (831) 394-7221 - Mon. to Fri., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. - http://www.aandrplumbinginc.com.
All your plumbing needs, including the kitchen sink, can be handled by A&R Plumbing. Established in 1974, A&R services residential and commercial plumbing needs, including new homes, remodel projects, repairs, replacements, water, sewer and gas lines, sewer video inspections, drain cleaning, sewage ejector and sump pump repair and replacements, to name a few… and, yes, kitchen sinks, too. Family owned and operated, A&R offers superior customer service with a strong work ethic.
Eric Miller — 157 Grand Ave., Pacific Grove - (831) 372-0410 - http://www.ericmillerarchitects.com.
The designer of numerous high-profile projects, including The Carmel Foundation’s new Trevvett Court and the proposed Carmel Sands Lodge, not to mention dozens of homes from Pebble Beach to Rancho San Carlos, Eric Miller and his staff have risen to prominence in the Monterey Peninsula by virtue of their outstanding designs and flawless executions. The firm, “balances the vision of clients with site features such as views, to create buildings with character defining appearances which result in extraordinary interior and exterior spaces. These exceptional buildings, both commercial and residential, allow his clients to live a lifestyle that includes convenience, style and beauty,” according to its website. Miller (the architect) is brother to Monterey Assistant Fire Chief Andrew Miller.
Best General Contractor
SBI Builders - 2320 Del Monte Avenue, suite A-1, Monterey - (831) 274-2518 - http://www.sbibuilders.com.
Specializing in multi-family and single family housing, commercial and office buildings, building and site rehabilitation, and tax credit housing construction, SBI offers full construction management, scheduling, cost reporting, value engineering and quality control services. It is an open shop, highly competitive, general building and contracting firm delivering quality residential and commercial products throughout California, according to its website. It is also a LEED certified organization. According to owner Dan Silverie, outstanding local construction projects include Trevvett Court, the additional Carmel Presbyterian Church, and a dining commons at CSUMB. “Our specialty is affordable housing,” said Silverie, who graduated from Carmel High in 1963. The company also has projects in Mountain View, Palo Alto, Tehachapi and many other parts of California.
Best Real Estate Company
Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty (also winners in 2008 and 2009)— 3775 Via Nona Marie, Carmel; Junipero and Fifth, and Ocean Ave. and Lincoln; The Shops at The Lodge, Pebble Beach; 501 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove - (831) 626-2222 - http://www.CAmoves.com.
Perhaps it’s no surprise Coldwell Banker Del Monte Realty is The Pine Cone readers’ favorite three years running: With more than 130 agents, including several of the local superstars of real estate sales, and about 40 percent of the annual market share in Carmel, CBDMR is certainly the largest local firm. But managing broker Rita Lewis knows that’s not all it takes: “We have a terrific team of very knowledgeable sales associates, and they really work hard to do a great job for their clients,” Lewis says. “That’s the name of the game.” Despite the severe slowdown in the national real estate market, Lewis also points out that “coastal property is limited and there are always people with money who want to live near the ocean.”
Best Real Estate Lender
Best Personal Bank
Best Business Bank
Wells Fargo (also a winner in 2008 and 2009) - (877) 937-9357 - http://www.wellsfargo.com.
Despite all the turmoil in the real estate and mortgage markets, not to mention bank failures, Wells Fargo has thrived and is now the dominant real-estate lender in California. It’s also our readers’ favorite to do their business and personal banking. Wells Fargo has locations in Carmel, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Monterey.
Best Title Company
First American (also winner in 2009) — 3855 Via Nona Marie, Suite 100, Carmel - (831) 625-5980 - http://www.firstam.com.
Closing escrow can be a nerve-wracking experience. Just signing all the documents is daunting! It takes a very professional company to make sure everything goes right, and Pine Cone readers say First American Title Co. is the best. Drawing on more than a century of experience, First American says it “offers accurate, efficient and cost-effective title and settlement solutions.”
Best Investment Advisor
Doolittle & Ganos, LLC (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 100 Clock Tower Place, Suite 210, Carmel - (831) 624-3317 - http://www.doolittleganos.com.
Founded in 1975, Doolittle & Ganos offers professional services in wealth management, investment management and trust administration, and provides sophisticated investment management and financial planning solutions for clients’ complex needs. The firm works with individuals, family businesses, trust and nonprofit organizations with net worths between $2 million and $20 million. Todd C. Ganos is principal and portfolio manager; Jerry Matecun is portfolio manager and senior research analyst.
Ocean View Veterinary Hospital — 109 Central Ave., Pacific Grove - Mon. - Thurs, 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Fri., 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Sat., 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. - (831) 649-4111 - http://www.ovvh.com.
Ocean View Veterinary Hospital has been offering high quality, friendly veterinary care for the Monterey Peninsula for more than thirty years. A full-service veterinary hospital it provides care for dogs, cats, rabbits, rats, guinea pigs and hamsters. “At Ocean View, we believe in offering the best veterinary medicine possible and therefore we are proudly accredited by the American Animal Hospital Association,” its website says. Veterinarians include owner Frank Kocher, Karen Fenstermaker, Maria Kuty and Amanda Sharp. The practice manager is Rod Gilchrist.
Best Yoga Studio
Carmel Yoga Center (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 10th and San Carlos - (831) 624-4949 - http://www.yogacentercarmel.com.
Beginners to advanced can look to Carmel Yoga Center to find inner peace and outer strength through a variety of styles. Located in the heart of Carmel since 1989, the Carmel Yoga Center brings Hatha Yoga to clients to help reduce stress, develop strength, increase flexibility, and improve balance and breathing. Since your body does not take a holiday, the Yoga Center is open on some holidays to help you get a session in before a celebration. It also has classes available for kids.
Dr. Brad Carl (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 26485 Carmel Rancho #3, Carmel - (831) 624-2111 - http://www.bradcarl.com.
Dr. Brad Carl is devoted to restoring and enhancing the natural beauty of smiles using conservative, state-of-the-art procedures that result in beautiful, long-lasting smiles. Seeing a dentist may not be the most relaxing experience for some, but Dr. Carl and his staff work to make each visit positive, comfortable and as pleasant as possible. From restoration, preventative, cosmetic, cleansing and periodontal disease treatments, to education, Dr. Carl provides the services to give patients a reason to smile.
Dr. James Rheim (also winner in 2008) — 757 Pacific St., Monterey - (831) 373-4404 - http://www.jamesrheimmd.com.
Dr. James Rheim and his staff work to help clients achieve healthier skin through prevention and treatment. Treatments for conditions such as acne, actinickeratosis, eczema, excessive sweating, psoriasis and rashes are Dr. Rheim’s specialties. Botox, Derma fillers, hair reduction, foto facial, krypton laser and whisper laser are among the cosmetic procedures offered at the Cosmetic Laser Center. Through medical and cosmetic services, Dr. Rheim can diagnose and treat skin to promote its greatest health and beauty. He has been in practice on the Monterey Peninsula for more than 30 years.
Dr. Leland Rosenblum (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 21 Upper Ragsdale Drive - (831) 372-1500 - http://www.montereyeye.com.
Dr. Rosenblum’s expertise includes cataract surgery, glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, refractive surgery and oculoplastic procedures. In practice since 1994, he prides himself on a personal approach to eye care, treatment and prevention and a winning strategy for every vision goal.
Best Plastic Surgeon
Dr. Douglas Sunde (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 856 Munras Ave., Monterey - (831) 372-0200 - http://www.plasticsurgery.org/md/drsunde.html.
Ask any gorgeous, middle-aged woman reading The Pine Cone at the Beach and Tennis Club or Mission Ranch her secret, and she’ll whisper, “Douglas Sunde.” A Stanford grad who also specializes in reconstructive surgery, Sunde has a gifted touch with your most important parts. The staff is very friendly and professional, and Sunde treats his patients with respect and discretion. Check the website for a list of his specialties.
Tiger Lily Florist (also winner in 2009) — San Carlos and Seventh - Mon. to Sat., 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - (831) 625-1029.
Located in the heart of downtown Carmel for more than 30 years, Tiger Lily Florist specializes in natural, garden-style arrangements. They’ve also earned a reputation for exceptional wedding work, from making bouquets, boutonnieres and corsages, to creating church decorations, centerpieces and cake flowers for receptions. Tiger Lily has an extensive selection of orchids, plants and exotic flowers.
Best Furniture Store
Homescapes Carmel — The Barnyard Shopping Village - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mon. to Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday - (831) 624-64966 - and soon to be at Carmel Plaza - http://www.homescapescarmel.com.
The idea for Homescapes Carmel began more than 15 years ago when brothers Beau & Thompson Lange began converting a condemned historic laundry in Pacific Grove that eventually was home to their first store, The Grove Homescapes. The success of their first venture in retail led them to import directly to keep up with the demand. In 1999, they expanded their business by opening Homescapes Carmel in the brothers’ hometown of Carmel-by-the-Sea. The store received local and national recognition for its products, design and community involvement. In 2006 and 2007, Homescapes Carmel was named “Best Furniture Store, Western Region” for excellence in retail at the ARTS Awards in Dallas, Texas. Last spring, the Langes announced they would move their Carmel store to Carmel Plaza, with an opening planned later this year. They also opened a store at The Barnyard, in the location of the former Succulent Gardens.
Best Golf Shop
Golf Mart (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 2040 Fremont Blvd., Seaside - Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 583-1000 - http://www.worldwidegolfshops.com.
Opened in 1999, Golf Mart has approximately 12,000 square feet of retail space dedicated to clubs, clothing and other equipment essential for avid Peninsula golfers. Golf Mart carries all the best brands, including Callaway, Titleist, Ping, Top Flite, Mizuno, Adidas, Wilson, MacGregor, Odyssey and Taylor Made. Used equipment is also available.
Best Hardware Store
Best Housewares Store
Best Garden Shop
Brinton’s Remarkable Home and Garden Store (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 546 Carmel Rancho Shopping Center - Mon. to Fri. 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sat., 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sun., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 624-8541 - http://www.brintons.com.
Located at the mouth of Carmel Valley, Brinton’s has been serving the local community for 47 years and has become a no-brainer for hardware, housewares, linens, landscaping and furniture. The store offers 38,000 square feet of merchandise, a warm shopping environment, plenty of parking and friendly, knowledgeable staff members committed to giving the personal attention Peninsula residents deserve.
Best Pet Store
Diggidy Dog (also winner in 2009) — Mission and Ocean - Open daily at 10 a.m. - (831) 625-1585 - http://www.diggidydogcarmel.com.
Diggidy Dog in Carmel-by-the-Sea, which has an eclectic selection of products for cats and dogs, is advertised as a pro shop for pets. The 2,600-square-foot store — opened in 2003 by Napisa and Jeff Pollock — offers distinctive clothing, tasty bakery treats, comfortable pet beds, pet collars, unique toys, travel items, food bowls and bones galore. Diggidy Dog also has a website for online orders. “The best part of Diggidgy Dog is seeing all the wonderful pets that come into the store, and sharing that love with their owners,” the store’s website says.
Best Camping/Skiing/ Surfing store
REI (also winner in 2009) — Imjin Parkway and Second, Marina - Mon. to Fri., 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 883-8048 - http://www.rei.com.
Featuring a dazzling array of gear, equipment and clothing for just about every imaginable recreational activity, REI is a one-stop shopping paradise for anyone who loves the outdoors. Whether you’re backpacking in Big Sur, running along the beach in Carmel or preparing for a winter ski trip to Lake Tahoe, REI has everything you need to stay warm, dry and stylish.
Carmel Drug Store (also winner in 2009) — Ocean and San Carlos - 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily (the pharmacy opens at 9 a.m.) — (831) 624-3819.
A full-service pharmacy that offers free delivery, Carmel Drug Store has been located in the heart of Carmel for nearly a century. The popular drug store also offers film, cameras, sunglasses, cosmetics, travel items, greeting cards and fine gift items. Longtime locals agree: Ocean Avenue wouldn’t be the same without Carmel Drug Store.
Best Camera/Photo Store
Green’s Carmel Camera Center (also winner in 2008) — Fifth and San Carlos, Carmel-by-the-Sea - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 624-8880 - www.greenscamera.com.
It’s great to have a local store where residents can buy cameras and camera accessories, and Pine Cone readers obviously believe so too. That’s why they voted Green’s Carmel Camera Center the best camera store on the Peninsula. The store sells Nikon, Canon, Panasonic, Casio, Fuji, Samsung and other camera brands. Green’s also has a variety of camera bags, memory cards, cables, etc., and offers many camera services such as black and white and color printing. The store will print wallet-size to poster-size photos. And if you haven’t gone digital yet and still have a 35 mm SLR, Green’s will take your 35 mm film and send it off to be processed! Visit the store’s website for more info.
Best Toy Store
Thinker Toys and Books (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — San Carlos and Seventh - Mon. to Thurs. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Fri. and Sat. 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 624-0441 - http://www.thinkertoys.com.
Even if you don’t have kids, you’ve seen the giant K’NEX Ferris Wheel in the front window, and you’ve probably encountered some of those cute, animated animals on the mat out front. The store’s motto is “Toys for Thinking Kids of All Ages,” and those include games, puzzles, books, novelties, musical instruments and building sets.
Best Children’s Clothing Store/Boutique
Sprout Boutique — 210 1/2 Forest Avenue, Pacific Grove - Thurs. and Fri. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. - (831) 373-5437 - http://www.sproutbabyboutique.net.
Sprout Boutique, owned by sisters Jaime Shoemaker and Lisa Thomas, features unique yet practical items for infants, toddlers and big kids, with a focus on clothing and accessories that are creative and memorable. Many of the items found at Sprout Boutique are hand-crafted original designs, responsibly made and sustainable. From socks to shoes, hats and clippies, blankies and cuddly friends, Jaime and Lisa have drawn upon their experience as mommies and aunties to carry items that leave a lasting impression. Sprout is not open every day of the week yet, but there are personal shopping appointments and group shopping appointments available on the days it’s not open.
Best Men’s Clothing Store
J. Lawrence Khaki’s (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 3744 Carmel Plaza - Mon. to Fri., 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sat., 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sun. 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - (831) 625-8106 - http://www.khakisofcarmel.com.
Opened 15 years ago by Jim and Connie Ockert, Khaki’s has become the local favorite men’s store not only for its wide variety of top-of-the-line merchandise — from tuxedos, to resort wear — but for its community involvement. And earlier this year, the store made an oh-so-ambitious move to Carmel Plaza, where it occupied one of the most prominent storefronts. Khaki’s is one of Carmel’s most famous retail stores and features many clothing lines for women, too.
Best Men’s Shoe Store
Hedi’s (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Ocean Avenue at Mission Street - Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sat., 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sun. 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 624-5580; and 3630 The Barnyard - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily - (831) 625-2055 - http://www.hedi.com.
Hedi’s specializes in comfortable and stylish shoes from around the world, including Ecco, Alan Edmonds, Clark’s New Balance and many more. Buying shoes from an inexperienced salesman can be a very frustrating experience ... but that has never been a problem at Hedi’s.
Best Women’s Clothing Boutique
Anthropologie — Carmel Plaza - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 624-2129 - http://www.anthropologie.com.
Anthropologie is an inspiring shop that offers clothes, shoes, accessories, jewelry and home decor for the sophisticated woman who wants one-of-a-kind designs. The store offers a beautiful collection of dresses, blouses, sweaters, shoes and much more. “What I’ve noticed about this Anthropologie is they carry a lot more items than the other Anthropologies I frequent,” according to a San Jose visitor to the Carmel store in an online review. “The cardigan selection is awesome, it seems like they have more of a variety of colors in stock.” The woman also raved about the service, saying the “sales associates are so friendly, accommodating — just excellent customer service all around. This is my all time favorite Anthropologie EVER!”
Best Women’s Accessories
Two Sisters Designs (also winner in 2009) — Northwest corner of Monte Verde and Ocean - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily - (831) 625-1203 - http://www.twosisters1.free-servers.com.
Sisters Pat and Paula Hazdovac, the latter a longtime member of the Carmel City Council, recently moved their women’s accessories boutique to a dream location on Ocean Avenue. They’ve been in Carmel for 17 years, and they’ve earned a devoted local following for offering stylish women’s accessories like scarves, jewelry and hats at reasonable prices. “We really are two sisters,” Pat Hazdovac explained. “We make some of our items, and others we pick out one by one.”
Best Women’s Shoe Store
Lloyd’s (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Ocean Avenue at Dolores Street - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun. 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 625-1382 - http://www.lloydsshoes.com.
A favorite in downtown Carmel since it opened in 1975, Lloyd’s offers a unique and extensive collection of women’s footwear from Italy, Spain, Brazil, Asia and the United States, along with professional (not overbearing) service. Lloyd’s also has handbags, leg-wear and socks.
Best Place to Buy Designer Clothes
GBG — Mission at Seventh - 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily - (831) 626-3368.
Since it opened more than a decade ago, GBG (Girl Boy Girl) has rightfully established its reputation as THE place to go for upscale boutique and designer goods in Carmel. Owner Sweet Pea puts her mark of personality on the selection of clothing, which is simultaneously chic, colorful and quintessentially Californian. All the staff treat you like you’re the most important person in the room!
Best Vintage Clothing Store
Yellow Brick Road — 26388 Carmel Rancho Lane - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and until 6 p.m. Weds. - (831) 626-8480.
Yellow Brick Road Benefit Shop has been described as “the best thrift store around” by an online reviewer. The store carries an eclectic assortment of used, vintage and consignment items for sale, and has donated more than $3.5 million to local nonprofits since 1989. “Designer threads are donated by the Carmel, Pebble Beach and Big Sur locals, and have usually been well cared for,” according to the reviewer. “The volunteer workers and staff are respectful, friendly and polite. An added bonus is that the proceeds benefit other charitable activities. Good work, ladies and gents!”
Best Jewelry Store
Hesselbein’s (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 143 The Crossroads - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sun., noon to 4:30 p.m. - (831) 625-2522.
Founded by Arthur Hesselbein in 1968 in King City, Hesselbein’s is a local favorite not only for its exclusive and extensive inventory — watches by Rolex, Patek Phillipe, Breguet, Omega and Ebel; pearls by Mikimoto and Faberge jewelry — but because it does service and repairs for watches and jewelry. In fact, where jewelry is concerned, Hesselbein’s does it all, which is not true of most jewelry stores nowadays.
Best Shopping Center/Area
Del Monte Center (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Munras Avenue at Highway 1, Monterey - (831) 373-2705 - http://www.delmontecenter.com.
So many changes have happened at Del Monte Center in the last f ive years, it’s def initely worth a visit if you haven’t been there in a while. In addition to anchor tenant Macy’s, DMC has the 13-screen Century Theater, an Apple Store and Williams-Sonoma, plus Whole Foods, Hollister, California Pizza Kitchen and P.F. Chang’s, not to mention Pottery Barn, Lalla Grill and Islands, and will soon have a Forever 21. With all the quality shopping in Carmel and at the mouth of the valley, Pine Cone readers chose Del Monte Center as their favorite shop- ping area — which is quite a tribute.
Best Antique Shop
Trotter’s (also winner in 2008) — 590 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove - Mon. to Sat., 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 373-3505.
Owner Lee Trotter has been selling top-quality antiques on the Monterey Peninsula for 60 years, and she hasn’t slowed down a bit. “I don’t go out looking for anything,” Trotter said. “People call me because they know I appreciate nice things, and I strive to have the most unusu- al and best in the shop.” She also has an exten- sive antique doll collection. One online review- er from Washington who bought a roll-top desk from Trotter’s called Trotter an “absolute delight.” “Every time I go back to Pacific Grove, I make a point of stopping by,” the happy customer wrote. “And even though I’ve never bought another thing, Mrs. Trotter con- tinues to treat me like a long-lost friend every time I walk in.”
Borders (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Edgewater Center, Sand City - Mon. to Sat., 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sun., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. - (831) 899-6643 - http://www.borders.com.
With so much book buying moving to the Internet, a host of locally owned bookstores have disappeared in recent years, and even peo- ple who don’t like to shop at chain stores have to be glad Borders is here. With a vast array of titles in hardback and paperback, DVDs, the best selection of magazines this side of Manhattan, and a very pleasant coffee bar, Borders is a great place to shop or browse.
Best Car Dealer
BMW of Monterey (also winner in 2009) — 1 Geary Plaza, Seaside - Mon. to Fri., 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (866) 681- 6838 - http://www.bmwmonterey.com.
Long a favorite of luxury car aficionados, in recent years, BMWs have also become known for their high-tech reliability. BMW of Monterey’s inventory includes new models, such as the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series Convertible, 6 Series Convertible, 7 Series Sedan, M3 Convertible and Z4 Roadster. BMW of Monterey’s factory-trained auto mechanics and technicians provide quality vehicle service and auto repair (lube jobs, tire rotations, clutch, brakes and more) with original BMW parts and accessories.
Best New Car
Lexus (also winner in 2008) — sold locally by Lexus Monterey Peninsula, 1721 Del Monte Blvd., Seaside - Mon. to Sat., 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (877) 204-2818 - www.lexusmontereypenin- sula.com.
Since Toyota launched its line of luxury cars in 1990, the Lexus brand has become synonymous with superior technology, out- standing fit and finish, and great value. Among the most popu- lar models are the LX570 SUV, the superior luxurious LS460, and sportscar, the IS F. More possible reasons for the interest in Lexus among Pine Cone readers: the cars are the “official vehi- cles” of the Pebble Beach Resorts, and Lexus is a major sponsor of Pebble Beach Food & Wine.
Best New Truck
Toyota trucks — sold locally by Victory Toyota, 5 Heitzinger Plaza, Seaside - Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., Sat., 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (877) 204- 0178 - www.seasidetoyotascion.com.
The compact Toyota Tacoma, staring at $16,365 and the full-size Toyota Tundra at $23,935, are known as reliable and tough trucks. It’s not surprising that the Tundra was Motor Trend mag- azine’s Truck of the Year in 2000 and 2008 and the Tacoma was voted Truck of the Year in 2005.
Best Gas Station
Carmel Shell — Fifth and San Carlos - (831) 625-3513.
Shell — 7 Carmel Center Place - (831) 622-1591.
Carmel motorists have several gas stations to choose from when fueling their vehicles, but the Shell stations in downtown Carmel and at the Mouth of the Valley beat the others for Best Gas Station. The employees at both locations are friendly, and the gas prices are competitive with others in the area.
El Estero (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 590 Fremont St., Monterey - Mon. to Sat., 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Sun., 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. - (831) 373-1801 - http://www.elesterocarwash.com.
El Estero Hand Car Wash has been serving the Monterey Peninsula’s motoring public for more than 50 years, and its own- ers have an equal amount of experience in the carwash business. At El Estero, they like to say that everything begins and ends with the customer. Also, El Estero recycles its water and sup- ports the community by donating to local schools, organizations and charities. It has a great selection of greeting cards, too.
Best Computer Store
Apple — 240 Del Monte Center, Monterey - Mon. to Fri., 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Sun., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. - (831) 647-4480 - www.apple.com
Whether you’re in the market for an iPhone 4, iPad, the new iPod Touch, MacBook Pro laptop, iMac, or just need some advice about running a program on your Apple computer, the Apple Store in Del Monte Center is the place to go. The Apple Store is more than just a retail shop. Its Genius Bar offers super expert advice, insight and hands-on technical support from its resident “Geniuses.” Truly, with the introduction of the Macintosh com- puter in 1984, the iPod in 2001, the iTunes store in 2003 and the iPad this year, Apple computer has changed the world.
Best Carpet and Flooring Store
Bereman Carpets (also winner in 2009) — 1070 Del Monte Ave., Monterey - Mon. to Fri., 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Sat., 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. - (831) 373-7759.
Bereman Carpets has been serving the entire Monterey County area with distinction for years, and offers quality products and honest, dependable craftsmanship. Bereman offers a compre- hensive selection of brands and products, including area rugs, carpeting, laminate, specialty and wood flooring, and flooring accessories.
RECREATION and THE ARTS
Best Local Artist
Steven Whyte (also winner in 2009) — Su Vecino Court on Dolores between Fifth and Sixth - (831) 620-1917 - http://www.stevenwhytesculptor.com.
One of the world’s foremost sculptors, Steven Whyte is also known as the “Sculptor in the Park” at the annual Carmel Art Festival, where he creates a larger-than-life-sized statue of a noted figure in American history at Devendorf Park while an audience looks on. “Visitors see firsthand the work that goes into the art, and hopefully they leave inspired and educated, and they have a greater appreciation for the pieces they see in the other Carmel galleries,” Whyte says. He has been selected to create numerous monuments, including a tribute to Martin Luther King, Jr., for Hollywood, Fla. He is also the creator of the 13-figure Bob Hope tribute on display in San Diego, and Heisman winner John David Crow for Texas A&M.
Best Photo Gallery
Weston Gallery (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — North side of Sixth between Dolores and Lincoln - 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Tuesday to Sunday. Closed Mondays - (831) 624-4453 - http://www.westongallery.com.
It comes as no surprise the best local photo gallery bears the Weston name. A world leader in vintage and contemporary fine art photography, the gallery is home to the work of many of the world’s finest image makers, including family patriarch Edward Weston and his talented sons, Cole and Brett.
Best Sculpture Gallery
Richard MacDonald sculpture at Dawson Cole Fine Art gallery — Lincoln and Sixth - Mon. to Sat., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sun., 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. - (800) 972-5528 -http://www.dawsoncolefineart.com.
Sculptor Richard MacDonald is “world-renowned for artistry that reveals a profound understanding of the human experience and which celebrates the ascendancy of the human spirit,” according to his website. It’s not surprising, then, that Pine Cone readers voted his work as their favorite. MacDonald, who creat- ed “Momentum,” depicting a golfer mid-swing, for the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach in 2000, is one of the most collected fig- urative bronze sculptors. His new building behind the Pine Inn has become a downtown landmark.
Best Art Gallery
Carmel Art Association (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — West side of Dolores between Fifth and Sixth - 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily - (831) 624-6176 - http://www.carmelart.org.
The oldest gallery in one of America’s great art towns, the Carmel Art Association was founded in 1927. Featuring an impressive roster of more than 120 mostly local artists, the art association displays a wide variety of styles and media, and changes its exhibits monthly. The gallery is the second oldest nonprofit arts cooperative in the United States.
Best Concert Venue
Sunset Center (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — San Carlos between Eighth and Ninth - (831) 620-2048 - http://www.sunsetcenter.org.
For decades, Sunset Center — in its various incarnations — has been at the heart of Carmel’s thriving performing arts scene. An extensive renovation in 2002 transformed the center into a world-class facility. In January 2008, executive director Peter Lesnik took over the leadership of center, and he has specialized in bringing diverse and colorful acts to the theater, which is also home to the Carmel Bach Festival, the Monterey Symphony, Chamber Music Monterey Bay and the Carmel Music Society.
Best Place to Dance
Cibo Ristorante Italiano — 301 Alvarado St., Monterey - (831) 649-8151 - http://www.cibo.com.
Located in the heart of downtown Monterey, Cibo offers the liveliest dance floor on the Monterey Peninsula, featuring a dynamic mix of live jazz, R&B, soul, funk, reggae and Latino music. For the late-night crowd, the bar is open until 2 a.m. Cibo, with dinner served from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., also presents an extensive menu of new and old world cuisine, with a special emphasis on Italian favorites and local seafood.
Most Dog-Friendly Hotel
Best Place to Relax and Listen to Music
Cypress Inn (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Lincoln and Seventh - (831) 624-3871 - http://www.cypress-inn.com.
Famously owned by animal-lover Doris Day and businessman Denny LeVett, the Cypress Inn offers every comfort, including recently remodeled rooms and the personal service of a thought- ful staff, not only for its human guests, but for their canines, who can often be seen snoozing in the bar while their owners enjoy cocktails or making friends with other pooches in the lobby. The Cypress Inn has 44 rooms on two floors, a large vaulted ceiling living room lobby, and a beautifully landscaped courtyard, both with fireplaces. Terry’s Lounge, a great setting for a continental breakfast, afternoon tea, and appetizers, is also known by locals and visitors as a great place to wind down and listen to live music. A testimonial by a New York visitor to the inn sums up the experience: “When we arrived, there was a great buzz in the lobby and bar area. A live singer was performing, people were all smiles and enjoying glasses of wine and a few cute dogs were hanging out with their owners.”
Best Piano Bar
Mission Ranch (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 26270 Dolores St. - (831) 624-6436 - http://www.missionranchcarmel.com.
Historic Mission Ranch, owned by former Carmel Mayor Clint Eastwood, is one of the most spectacular spots on the Monterey Peninsula. Offering unique rooms, a historic 1850s farmhouse, complimentary continental breakfast and use of the tennis courts, Mission Ranch includes several different types of rooms with names such as the Farmhouse Room, the Hay Loft and Meadow View Room. The exquisite views are unrivaled: mead- ows stretch to the south, joining the wetlands and Carmel River Beach. Point Lobos can be seen in the distance across Carmel Bay. The Ranch consisted originally of 160 acres and was owned by Juan Romero, a Native American who is believed to have lived in the village next to the Carmel Mission. Needless to say, the Mission Ranch restaurant has outstanding casual cuisine, a welcoming fireplace and a great patio for Happy Hour drinks. And in the piano bar, jazz is the preferred genre (for obvious rea- sons). Don’t be surprised if you spot a celebrity or two there.
Best Hiking Trail
My Favorite Park
Best Place to Take Visitors
Point Lobos (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — West side of Highway 1 about 3 miles south of Carmel Valley Road - 8 a.m. to 30 min. after sunset - (831) 624-4909 - http://www.pointlobos.org.
Called the “greatest meeting of land and sea in the world” by artist Francis McComas (a quote somehow erroneously attributed to many others), Point Lobos reportedly inspired the geo- graphical setting for Robert Louis Stevenson’s “Treasure Island.” It was established as a state reserve in 1933 and has since become a magnet for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts. Noted for its dramatic, rocky coastline and dense groves of Monterey pines and Monterey cypress, the reserve features miles of walking paths that lead to stunning vistas, secluded pic- nic spots and sandy beaches. Adjacent to the reserve is one of the world’s steepest submarine canyons, making it a popular des- tination for divers. A museum at the reserve pays tribute to its fascinating legacy as a whaling center, and also has some inter- esting exhibits about Hollywood movies made nearby.
Best Place to Walk Your Dog
Best Place to Watch the Sunset
Carmel Beach (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — Foot of Ocean Avenue and west side of Scenic Road.
Carmel Beach has everything you’d want from a beach. Its fine white sand is the envy of beachgoers all over the world. Located just down the hill from downtown and in the lee of Pebble Beach, it features less fog and wind than most nearby beaches. Finally, it offers locals and visitors a generous postcard-perfect slice of California coastline that stretches from Carmel Point to the tantalizing greens of the famous Pebble Beach Golf Links. All that, dogs are allowed off-leash, and the parking is free! Indeed, for many local dogs — as well as their owners — a walk along Carmel Beach is the social event of the week.
Best Golf Course
Pebble Beach Golf Links (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 17 Mile Drive, Pebble Beach - Hours vary by sea- son - (800) 654-9300 - http://www.pebblebeach.com.
Since 1919, the exquisite beauty and unique challenge of Pebble Beach Golf Links have thrilled golfers and spectators alike. The famed course has been the site of golf’s most prestigious tour- naments, including the annual AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am and the 1972, 1982, 1992, 2000 and 2010 U.S. Open Championships. Designed by Jack Neville and Douglas Grant, the course hugs the rugged coastline, providing wide open vis-tas, cliffside fairways and sloping greens. It is a delightful chal- lenge for all players. Pebble Beach Golf Links also includes chipping and putting greens, the Peter Hay par-3 golf course and a practice range.
Best Local Theater Company
PacRep Theatre — Monte Verde and Eighth - (831) 622-0100 (box office) - http://www.pacrep.org.
The only professional theater on the Monterey Peninsula, PacRep “produces bold and daring interpretations of the great plays from the world stage — plays that engage, excite, educate and inspire, presenting a world-class theatrical experience,” according to PacRep’s website. “The Country Wife” is playing at the Circle Theatre until Oct. 17, and Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” will play Oct. 1 - 17 at the Forest Theater.
Best Fitness/Health Center
Carmel Valley Athletic Club (also winner in 2008 and 2009) — 27300 Rancho San Carlos Road, Carmel Valley - Mon. to Fri., 5:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sat. and Sun., 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. - (831) 624-2737 - http://www.cvaconline.com.
Carmel Valley Athletic Club has all the services expected from a state-of-the-art tennis and fitness club at the private, sunny Carmel Valley location. CVAC offers all-new cardio strength equipment, new spin bikes, aqua fitness, personal training, body sculpting, pilates and more. CVAC also has a tennis club that offers clinics and private lessons. The club also offers basketball, a lap pool and bocce, and it has a wellness center and Gill’s Grill, which is open for breakfast and lunch. A fire recently destroyed the old clubhouse but left the rest of the club’s excellent facili- ties unscathed.
La Playa Hotel — Camino Real and Eighth Avenue - (831) 624-6476 - http://www.laplayahotel.com.
With its proximity to the Pacific Ocean, its impeccably land-scaped grounds, an intimate lobby and professional staff, it comes as no surprise that La Playa Hotel and Cottages-by-the- Sea has been recognized as the Grande Dame of Carmel. A Mediterranean villa in 1905, today La Playa still rests in a picture-perfect setting amidst oceans of flowers and cypress, with the sea itself just a stroll away. Here, design, decor and atmos- phere are all in the classic tradition of good taste. The hotel features 73 charming, comfortable guest rooms, two spacious suites with ocean views, five quaint, private cottages, complimentary wireless Internet access, five function rooms for meetings and receptions, al fresco dining at the Terrace Grill, outdoor heated pool, Garden Spa Treatments and complimentary parking.
Tickle Pink Inn — 155 Highland Drive, Carmel Highlands - (831) 624-1244 - http://www.ticklepinkinn.com.
The Tickle Pink Inn is a small oceanfront hotel dramatically situated above the rocky coastline at the north end of Big Sur, and just a few miles from downtown Carmel. The inn offers every amenity, from cozy European bedding and private decks with sweeping views, to homemade breakfast pastries and an evening wine and cheese reception with soothing classical music. Tickle Pink, which advertises itself as a step up in luxury from typical bed-and-breakfasts, is an intimate resort with 35 casually ele- gant rooms and suites. Peaceful and secluded, it is ideal for a romantic getaway, vacation or business meetings. Established and independently operated by the Gurries family since 1956, the inn has earned a reputation as a Carmel oceanfront hotel renowned for gracious hospitality and attentive service.