Carmel-by-the Sea may be tiny at just one square mile in size, but this Central California gem is big on culture with 45 inns, more than 60 coffeehouses, bakeries, pubs, bistros, and restaurants, and almost 90 art studios, galleries, and antique stores.
Fifty years after Columbus discovered America, Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sighted the white sands and green pines of Carmel. Two centuries later, in 1771, Father Junipero Serra established Mission San Carlos de Borromeo on a knoll overlooking the Carmel Bay. In the early 1900s, the village of Carmel began its growth around an eclectic group of young artists, writers, and intellectuals.
Visitors can enjoy the charm of downtown Carmel and the natural beauty of California’s central coast while engaging in a variety of outdoor activities, including horseback riding; jogging, walking, and bicycling along coastal bluffs; and fishing, kayaking, surfing, or scuba diving off Monastery Beach.
Carmel’s 45 inns — ranging from casual and comfortable to elegant and refined — offer a total of 925 rooms. The majority of these accommodations are located in quaint and inviting inns, and bed-and-breakfast establishments.
Many offer special amenities, such as ocean views or secluded courtyards and fireplaces, but all feature the characteristic warmth and charm that has become a trademark of Carmel. There are also four full-service hotels in the village — notably Pine Inn, La Playa Carmel, Cypress Inn, and L’Auberge — and several larger hotels throughout the town.
Dining is diverse in Carmel. Its establishments serve a bounty of international and regional cuisines — utilizing fresh produce grown locally in the fertile Salinas Valley, and fresh seafood from the azure waters of Monterey Bay. Monterey County also is home to more than 75 wineries, many of which offer daily tastings of wines produced with varietal grapes grown on 45,000 acres of vineyards.
Carmel boasts four exceptional shopping venues: The neighborhood of quaint shops, antique stores, boutiques and galleries centered on Ocean Avenue in town; The Carmel Plaza, also on Ocean Avenue; as well as The Barnyard Shopping Village and the Crossroads Shopping Center, both located at the mouth of the Carmel Valley.
Each year, thousands of visitors are drawn to the diversity of art, drama, music, and literary events designed to promote Carmel’s celebrated cultural contributions and traditions. Some of the most popular events include the annual Carmel Art Festival, the annual Carmel Bach Festival, and the Carmel Shakespeare Festival featuring performances at the Outdoor Forest Theater and the Golden Bough Theater.
Direct flights are available from Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) to Los Angeles (both United and American Eagle). The airport is 10 minutes from downtown Carmel; rental cars are available.
For more information, contact the Carmel Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center at 831.647.1297 or 800.550.4333 or go on line to www.carmelcalifornia.org.
Carmel Country Inn
There’s no shortage of cute accommodations complete with crackling fireplaces within walking distance of Carmel’s main streets.
Carmel Country Inn is one such place that offers one and two bedroom suites as well as Romantic Studios, all with fireplaces and luxury baths. Pets are always welcome at this dog friendly inn.
A bountiful breakfast buffet is served daily at the inn to start your day the healthy way before exploring nearby Carmel Beach, Pebble Beach Golf Course, Big Sur, Cannery Row, Monterey Bay Aquarium or Carmel Valley.
The Breakfast Buffet is served each morning from 8 am to 10 am in its cheerful and cozy country kitchen.
Choose from an assortment of individual quiches, fresh baked French pastries from local Parker Lusseau Bakery, cereal and granola, hot oatmeal, fresh seasonal fruit, yogurts, juice, famed Peets Coffee, rich hot chocolate, and an array of teas. Gluten free offerings are available upon request with 24 hour notice.
Enjoy breakfast in the kitchen or surrounded by flowers on one of its lovely patios; breakfast can also be delivered to your room.
If you have a special occasion to celebrate or prefer a bit more space, the Inn’s Deluxe King Suites are what you’ve been searching for. These suites feature new outdoor decks, sitting rooms with loveseats, gas fireplaces, flat screen TV/DVD, separate bedrooms with a king size bed with small TV/DVD player, luxury bathroom with oversized Whirlpool tub for two and separate shower.
Carmel Country Inn is located at Dolores Street at Third Ave., Carmel.
For more information, call 831.625.3263, 800.215.6343, or visit www.carmelcountryinn.com.
Sip Your Way Around Carmel With Wine Walk
With wine country only a stone’s throw away, the Carmel WINE WALK By-the-Sea passport is the best way to not only find the best tasting room locations in town, but also saves money and the hassle of having to pay at each stop on your wine tasting adventure.
For $65, purchase a passport at the Carmel Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center on San Carlos between 5th and 6th.
The passport entitles the bearer to a $10 tasting at nine different tasting rooms (there are 14 participating venues), all within walking distance in a three block area.
Galante Vineyards opened the first wine tasting room in Carmel in 2004, showcasing one of the best Cabernets in Monterey County. Jack Galante, the owner, is the great grandson of Frank Devendorf who, with a partner, founded the town of Carmel.
Since 2004, Carmel has turned into a destination for wine tasting.
Besides Galante, the other tasting rooms on the passport include Caraccioli Cellars, Figge Cellars in the Winfield Art Gallery, Manzoni Cellars, Scheid Vineyards, and Wrath Wines.
Vino Napoli offers Pepe wines and other local wines as well as Italian wine.
The newest passport members are De Tierra Vineyards and two wineries sharing a tasting room on San Carlos, Blair Estate Artisan Wines, and Shale Canyon Wines.
Offering wine tasting though not on the passport are The Cheese Shop, Trio Carmel, and Nielsen Brothers Market.
To learn more, visit www.carmelcalifornia.org/things-to-do/wine.aspx.
Delectable Dining Around Carmel
With Carmel’s walkability, there’s no shortage of dining spots in the charming village whether you are looking for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Here’s a look at three favorites visited by Westside Today.
Breakfast: The Tuck Box
The Tuck Box has been a Carmel tradition for more than 60 years, serving up a simple menu of breakfast, lunch, and afternoon tea.
It was constructed by designer-builder Hugh Comstock in 1927, either as his office or in response to his wife’s hobby of making “Otsy-Totsy” dolls.
It was first used as a restaurant in the early 1930’s and was named “Sally’s”. The building just to the rear was also built by Comstock in 1929 and was used as a garden shop, and much later as The Tuck Box Gift Shop. The kiosk next to the patio gate was added in 1931.
In the early 1940’s, two sisters from England started the small tea room which they named The Tuck Box.
After operating the restaurant for eight years, Mrs. Bumbridge and Mrs. Watson, sold to another British couple, John and Elsie Grandfield. Elsie’s delicious recipes have had the greatest and most lasting impact on The Tuck Box. Many are still in use today.
In 1948, the Grandfields hired young Lucille Pinkston who eventually bought the restaurant in 1960. By 1964, Lucille had become Mrs. Glenn Berry and the couple also bought the property. In 1976, Glenn and Lucille sold the property and business to another long-time employee, Aleen Hillbun and her husband Harvey, thus ending Lucille’s 26 years of association with and devotion to The Tuck Box English Tea Room.
Many members of the Hillbun family helped in the restaurant and the neighboring gift shop in the ensuing years. After her husband, Harvey, passed away in 1987, Aleen withdrew from the business. Her sister, Phyllis Yelusich, saved the day and took over full management of the restaurant. The Tuck Box Gift Shop continued to survive until it was closed in November, 1996.
Today, the delicious preserves, scone mix, whole grain cereal, tea and other items are available for purchase at The Tuck Box or by mail order.
On Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 28,1996, ownership of both the property and The Tuck Box English Tea Room was assumed by Zigmont J. LeTowt and his wife, Dianne. Jody (known by his middle name) and Dianne have been residents of Carmel since the early 1960’s. They owned and operated Le Bistro…from 1969 until May, 1997. Sadly, Dianne passed away in May, 2002.
In late 2003, their older son Jeffrey assumed operation of the Tuck Box. Jeff was born and raised in Carmel. He graduated from Colorado State University in 1993 with a degree in resort management.
The Tuck Box is open seven days a week, 7:30 am to 2:30 pm on Dolores St. between Ocean and 7th Ave.
For more information, call 831.624.6365 or visit www.tuckbox.com.
Casanova’s focus is on the rustic, regional cuisine of France and Italy.
Revisit traditional fare of those regions of Europe that are influenced by the healthy and Mediterranean diet.
Because of the owners’ Belgian background they also include tasty traditional dishes such as “moules frites,” “pomme frites,” and great Belgian desserts.
Its menu is designed to create a festive and sharing experience at the table.
The portions are generous and whenever possible they bring to the table the dishes in which the food was prepared. Guests are encouraged to share and create a fun ambiance at the table.
Casanova is constantly evolving and inspiring those that visit them. The ‘Casanova style” has become well known to numerous designers and architects and it has echoed throughout numerous homes and commercial buildings in Carmel and beyond.
Carmelites, distinguished guests, celebrities and world travelers have become regular visitors to this landmark.
Casanova is located on 5th Ave. between Mission and San Carlos.
For more information, call 831.625.0501 or visit www.casanovarestaurant.com.
Vesuvio is the symbol of power and strength of Southern Italy. It is the volcano (Mt. Vesuvius) which overlooks the bay of Naples and erupted in 79AD burying Pompeii. Naples (Napoli) was the ancient port for Rome during the Roman Empire, and this region was the playground for the rich, famous and powerful of that era.
Chef Pèpe’s family is originally from this region, known as Campania. Vesuvio is a modern day testament to the history, style, culture, and cuisine of Campania.
Growing up in New Jersey, but traveling back to visit his relatives in Campania often, Pèpe always noticed the differences between the cooking styles of his cousins on both sides of the Atlantic.
While Little Napoli focuses on his Italian-American heritage, Vesuvio features recipes from his cousins and great-aunts in Southern Italy.
At Vesuvio, chef Pèpe’s culinary style takes the so called “Mediterranean Diet” to the next level. It is thought that the diet among Mediterranean countries is healthier than the Northern European and American diet because, in addition to olive oil, more grains, fruits, vegetables, beans, and fresh fish are consumed. The ingredients used at Vesuvio are often imported from Italy, or made in house, and always of top quality. Pèpe calls his cooking style at Vesuvio the “Italian Lifestyle Diet.”
Both of Pepe’s sons, Christian and Gian Antonio, were an integral part of the creation of Vesuvio and both are certified “pizzaioli,” having graduated from the VPN Pizza School in Napoli, and Vesuvio features an authentic Italian wood-burning oven.
Vesuvio is located on 6th Ave. between Mission and Junipero.
For more information, call 831.625.1766 or visit chefpepe.com/restaurants/vesuvio.