Central Coast Culinary Road Trip
PART ONE: Monterey Bay Region
A culinary road trip along the Central Coast is the ideal escape for adventurous travelers looking to trade the urban grind for wining and dining along 350 miles of beautiful California coastline. Home to several of the country’s leading wine regions with 675 wineries/tasting rooms, a rich selection of farm-fresh produce and artisanal foodstuffs, more than 70 breweries/distilleries, off-the-hook seafood and countless innovative chefs and restaurateurs, the Central Coast’s culinary scene is an under-discovered foodie paradise.
Start your culinary adventures in the northern most region of the Central Coast – the MONTEREY BAY REGION, located less than two hours south of San Francisco.
- ANNUAL EVENT – Big Sur Food & Wine Festival (November) – The three-day festival is a connoisseur’s dream-come-true with delicious cuisine and acclaimed wines from local and visiting restaurateurs, resorts and wineries. Attendees team up for dinners and tastings at unique Big Sur locations, with proceeds benefiting the local community.
- MICHELIN STAR – Aubergine in the heart of Carmel-by-the-Sea features a daily changing eight-course tasting menu directed by Executive Chef Justin Cogley. His creations celebrate the region’s bounty in a seasonal and unique manifestation. The staggering 2,500-bottle wine cellar carries wines from Monterey County and France. In 2019, both Aubergine and Chef Justin earned a coveted Michelin Star in the 2019 California Michelin Guide. Seven additional Carmel restaurants were recognized in Michelin’s first-ever state guide.
- ANNUAL EVENT – Carmel-by-the-Sea Culinary Week (January) – Experience the Art of the Plate at the first annual Carmel-by-the-Sea Week. Immersive food experiences, special prix fixe menus and events are featured throughout town.
- ANNUAL EVENT – Relais & Châteaux GourmetFest (March) – A foodie extravaganza featuring an exclusive roster of Relais & Châteaux Chefs and the World’s Best Wine Estates in the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Events include an opening night welcome party, a cooking demo, wine tastings, off-site tours combined with exciting lunches, featured chefs, world-class wine dinners, a rarities dinner, and a closing event, the Taste of Relais & Châteaux.
- AWARD WINNER – Solis Winery: Amidst scenic vineyard views and a laid-back vibe, taste the Overall Best in Show, from the 2019 Central Coast Wine Competition: this vineyard’s 2018 Estate Fiano. The unique varietal from southern Italy presents a fresh, crisp white wine. Tasting daily from 12 – 5 pm.
- NEW – The Market & Creamery at Carmel Valley Ranch: The Market is stacked with picnic supplies and is home to artisans-in-residence including a cheese maker, world-renowned gardener, fisherman, and beekeeper, providing interactive tastings and demonstrations. Next door, The Creamery produces goat milk products. Learn to make cheese and try ice cream and yogurt.
- Monterey Bay Aquarium Restaurant: The fresh, global cuisine at the Monterey Bay Aquarium features sustainable seafood rated “Best Choice” by the Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program. Award-winning Executive Chef Matthew Beaudin uses seasonal, organic ingredients to master modern American cuisine deeply rooted in farm-to-table principles.
- ANNUAL EVENT – Get Hooked Restaurant Week (January) – For more than 20 years, Monterey Bay has served as the epicenter of the sustainable seafood movement, helping conscientious eaters all over the world choose dishes that are delicious, healthy, and better for our oceans. Get Hooked week brings this mission to the dinner table with specialty dishes featuring local, sustainably sourced seafood.
- ANNUAL EVENT – Pebble Beach Food & Wine (April) – Premier epicurean lifestyle event, featuring more than 100 celebrity chefs and 250 acclaimed wineries. An unforgettable four-day celebration with intimate access to the pinnacle of culinary and wine talent at wine tastings, cooking demos and some of the most exclusive, unique dining opportunities in the world.
See Central Coast Culinary Road Trip: PART TWO – San Luis Obispo Region
See Central Coast Culinary Road Trip: PART THREE – Santa Barbara Region
See Central Coast Culinary Road Trip: PART FOUR – Ventura Region
Download or request a Central Coast Visitors Map here.
To further assist you in planning your Central Coast Road Trip, check out this helpful Itinerary here.
Discover all of California’s Central Coast Regions here.