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The Best Food & Drink Spots In Carmel

cocktail with sprig of rosemary for carmel food guide post

Having lived in the area for years as a local Carmel wedding photographer, I’ve collected a list of my favorite spots to eat and drink in Carmel into a Carmel food guide! Everything from coffee, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and drinks, you’ll find it all right here. Let’s dig into it!

Carmel Coffeeshops

I love the Carmel Valley Coffee Roasting Company for their Americanos- it’s my go to order! Since they’ve got four locations scattered across Carmel, Carmel by the Sea, Carmel Valley, AND Monterey, they’re perfect for getting your caffeine on anywhere in the area. 

I’m also very fond of Wild Goose Bakery Cafe, not just for their cute name, but also for their herbal tea! If coffee’s not your speed, they have a great collection of loose leaf teas to choose from. Plus their homemade bagels and muffins make for the ultimate pairing!

Breakfast: This Carmel Food Guide’s Most Important Meal Of The Day!

When it comes to breakfast, pancakes with fruit are among my favorites and Wagon Wheel really takes the (pan)cake! They have pretty pictures all over the walls, plus lovely outdoor seating. True to the name, it has that charming cowboy feel to it too! A lovely start to the day on this Carmel food guide.

For pet friendly patios and hearty, delicious breakfasts, I go to Trailside Cafe! I’m a big fan of their veggie omelettes and fun events that they host like Breakfast For Dinner, Mug Club, and Discount Bottle Night.

An always-packed, All-American breakfast spot I adore is Jeffrey’s Grill & Catering. Especially for their apple fritters! They have a superb, homemade hollandaise sauce with their omelettes, and since they’re only open for breakfast and lunch, they’re a hot commodity! For lunch, you HAVE to have their reuben sandwiches. Oh, and they sell roasted nuts like pecans, cashews and almonds for on the go snacking too!

Lunchtime!

I talked up their scrumptious, homemade blueberry muffins on my Carmel Valley Elopement Guide, but tor quick salads and smoothies to go, Earthbound Farms is also where it’s at. I like taking my lunch to the nearby park and enjoying the afternoon there!

Sandwich lovers like myself enjoy popping into Jerome’s Carmel Valley Market for all things subs and salads but also for their custom cuts and even sausages at their neat little deli!

If you’re looking to have a late lunch hangout, I recommend Baja’s Cantina. I love their chips and salsa, and they have the best tacos and margaritas in town! As mentioned in my Carmel Valley Elopement Guide, they also host a community car show featuring antique vintage automobiles on Thursday evenings which is such a treat!

Now this place I’m ALWAYS at at least once a month for their lavender cocktails, The Valley Kitchen! Their cheese boards are the perfect afternoon snack, especially paired with their vegetarian risotto- you’ll find them listed down below in the dinner section too!  

Your Carmel Food Guide To Dinner

Inside the Bernardus Lodge and Spa (mentioned in my Carmel Valley Elopement Guide as a premier elopement venue) is the Lucia Restaurant and Bar with an awesome French-inspired menu. You’ll need to call ahead to make a reservation but the experience is so worth it! 

Once again, The Valley Kitchen is a big favorite of mine for lunch and dinner too! Their sunset views are amazing and because of their seasonal garden, they rotate their items so you’ll always have something fresh and fantastic! I highly recommend their halibut ceviche. It’s to die for!

To those of you craving wood-fired oven roasted pizza, I love the mushroom pizza from Corkscrew Cafe. It’s full of thyme, shallot, mozzarella, and truffle oil goodness! I also go there just for the blue cheese pear salad!

Right in beautiful Carmel by the Sea, Sur Carmel has the best ever appetizer, that is, thick cut bacon! They also have amazing burgers and my personal favorite chicken sandwich. 

Drinks

I love wining and dining outdoors, particularly with the Pinot Noirs from The Wine House! They have a lovely fire pit and plenty of cozy seating. 

The tasting room at the Cowgirl Winery is a beautiful vintage experience with its rustic redwood barn, perfect for all your special occasions and just plain enjoying time spent with friends and family over a bottle of Rosé! Since they’re right across the street from the Corkscrew Cafe, you can also enjoy those awesome pizzas I mentioned too!

Speaking of Rosé, my absolute favorite can be found at the lovely Folktale Winery! I’ve nicknamed it “pink bubbs” personally. True to its name, Folktale Winery really does live up to its charming castle-like outdoors with its white walls and surrounding green trees.

For more French-inspired wines, the Petit Sirah at 1. Brand & Family is another favorite. I’m always trying to support family-owned businesses and they’re definitely among the sweetest.

Carmel Valley Ranch is my next-door neighbor at The Cottage where I work. I love this because it means I’m never far away from their refreshing, seasonal cocktails or their delicious goat cheese tastings!

Finally, for beers both imported and domestic, I recommend the Trailside Cafe. Recognize them from breakfast? They have a serene little beer garden too that I love! An oatmeal stout can be considered part of breakfast, right? Trailside Cafe also has live music on Friday and Saturday nights which is so awesome!

That about wraps up my Carmel food guide! Many of these locations also double as venues for special occasions like elopements and weddings. If you find yourself here for that, reach out to me and check out my Carmel Valley Elopement Guide! As a local Carmel wedding photographer, I’d be happy to assist you! Contact me here

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