Santa Monica to Carmel ~ Foodie Road Trip!

friesNine hours – home to destination. Drive, stop, eat, shop, sightsee, gas up again, go!  Print this post out. Tuck it in your “California road trip” file.  Good eats on the horizon.

This was a three-day foodie road trip from LA’s Westside up the coast with fellow bloggers Dorothy of Shockingly Delicious and Erika of In Erika’s Kitchen. PR folks invited us for an immersion into one of our golden state’s most special spots. Carmel-by-the-Sea, on the Monterey peninsula. Seriously cool. You could hole up alone here and write that novel. Inspiration, beauty and awesome eats will fuel you, guaranteed.

But our goal on this “girlfriend getaway” was NOT to hole up. Quite the opposite, our plan was to go-go-go and eat-eat-eat. Here, for your road trip planning and dining pleasure, were our eats:

  • Pea soupPea Soup Andersen’s, Buellton.  You come here for the pea soup, which is simple, heartwarming, belly filling and unlimited. And it’s vegan. I wrote all about this a few years ago in this post, and included the recipe.
  • Wine & Cheese at Hofsas House.  A smart $30 add-on to your stay at the family-owned inn featuring Ventana wine and cheeses from The Cheese Shop in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Upon arrival, we staked out an outdoor table and chairs, pointed ourselves West and drank in the glorious California sunset and local products.
  • Mundaka, Carmel-by-the-Sea. This Spanish tapas spot debunks the area’s slightly stuffy reputation. Bunk, I say! Our evening at Mundaka was comfortable, hip, and incredibly tasty. Tapas {small plates} are just the right size for sharing. A little of this, a little of that. Veggies, meats. And spectacular fried garbanzo beans with truffle salt – Erika practically swooned {she’s known for her passion for truffles}. When not in the mood for a big feast, or that traditional steak or seafood dinner, tapas at Mundaka is a great choice.


  • Carmel Food Tour.  We walked from our hotel into the village and met up with tour owner Staci outside the first of eight tasting destinations we’d hit in three hours: Carmel’s iconic cheesery The Cheese cheese guyShop, romantic Casanova Restaurant, a meat lovers’ dream stop Salumeria Luca, The Bountiful Basket for Sharon’s olive oil and vinegar tasting, La Bicyclette Restaurant to sample renowned pizzas, Caraccioli Cellars to pick up appreciation pointers for excellent local wines. The adorable Lula’s Chocolates shop sweetly topped off the mid-day experience. This walking tour really gave us a full flavor of Carmel-by-the-Sea.
  • Fandango Restaurant, Pacific Grove.  Continentally cluttered, the kind of place that “speaks” Monterey Peninsula, it was FILLED with locals (an excellent sign). Our mouthwatering seafood dishes were great choices. I savored scampi so garlicky good, I seriously thought about for DAYS. And I managed to sop up plenty of Erika’s bouillabaisse and Dorothy’s snapper sauces. Excellent meal, burp.
  • Jack’s at Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey.  Quiet, easygoing but upscale, Jack’s takes a little effort to find — it’s inside the Portola Hotel on the wharf. MAKE the effort (parking is validated, big smile). Locals are all over the killer salad bar as a workday lunch. But we opted for mixing and matching {at this point, chummier than sisters when it came to sharing} Glory be, the signature crab chowder was to die for. Their menu changes often, keep going back.
  • tacosJack in the Box, Oxnard – Being silly here, but I won free taco coupons at a Laker game. So, after leaving Monterey, many hours in the car driving home, coupons burning a hole in my wallet, the gals gave into my whining and we stopped. The tacos were adequate. Fried. Beef. A sprinkling of cheese, lettuce and spice. Retail price of 99-cents for two tacos, they serve a purpose.  Back to the better stuff, below.

chef brandon


chef giles


responsibly sourced

Pea Soup Andersen’s, Buellton

Wine & Cheese at Hofsas House.

Mundaka, Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Carmel Walking Food Tours.

Fandango Restaurant, Pacific Grove.

Jack’s at Portola Hotel & Spa, Monterey.

{Disclosure: our meals and stay were complimentary, but all opinions published here are my own. Businesses such as the above, as part of their marketing strategies, occasionally invite writers to experience their wares. They know we are not obligated to write about any of it. But in all honesty, it was great. Our meals were over-the-top fabulous, and I want you to know about them.  Well, Jack-In-The-Box tacos, you can skip.}

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Priscilla - She's Cookin' July 6, 2014 at 5:07 pm

I think I need to re-familiarize myself with the Monterey peninsula. With Chloe at UC Santa Cruz that’s all I’ve seen in the past 4 years! I bet it’s been 15 years since we we visited Pebble Beach/Carmel/Monterey. Thanks for sharing some must-dines 🙂

2 Sara June 2, 2014 at 7:56 pm

I am saving this for my girlfriends and I to do this Fall! What a fun little trip!

3 sippitysup February 10, 2013 at 7:23 pm

It’s not whacha do it’s the way whatcha do it! XOGREG

4 Christina February 10, 2013 at 10:24 am

I’d drive 9 hours JUST to go to Salumeria Luca! OMG, that plate looks like heaven to me!! How fun-can’t wait until the next time we go that way!

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