414 Calle Principal, Monterey
From high spirits (happy hour) and beyond (stunning desserts), Montrio Bistro continues to receive high marks from local readers who, once again, say it’s the best the city has to offer. And for good reason: It’s hard to beat the amazing apps, mouth-watering mains and delectable desserts—and world-class wines and spirits, which use fresh, local fruits, herbs and vegetables (yes, you read that right)—proffered from inside the historic firehouse. It would be easy to stick to small bites, like the truffle tater tots with Grana Padano cheese or white anchovies with garlic toast and lemon oil, and call it a night. But save room for the artichoke ravioli (with smoked bacon, peas, Italian parsley and crème fraiche) or herb-crusted Arctic char (with maple carrots, potato confit, arugula and tarragon butter). Desserts like the chocolate ganache cake with caramel mousse, stout caramel and coffee ice cream are, well, the icing on the cake.