The Carmel Food Tour was hands-down my favorite activity on my trip to Carmel-by-the-Sea. Our tour guide, Staci, was so knowledgeable about the area and had a great, dry sense of humor. (If you take this tour, see if you can request Staci as your guide!) We stopped at seven places to wine and dine, and each restaurant’s chef was kind enough to greet us and talk a little about their restaurant and philosophy.
Here were our stops in order (list and descriptions via CarmelFoodTour.com):
- Anton & Michel: Modern European with signature tableside service
- Affina Food | Wine: Adult comfort food – fresh, hip, & local
- Casanova Restaurant: Carmel’s most romantic restaurant, 34,000-bottle wine cellar
- Trio Carmel: Trio = olive oil/vinegar, art and wine!
- Terry’s Lounge at the Historic Cypress Inn: Classic cocktails and old world charm
- Caraccioli Cellars: Elegant, local wines
- Lula’s Chocolates: Locally-made confections, family owned for more than 100 years
We met outside the Sunset Center, Carmel’s entertainment hub. They bring $1 million worth of acts to the stage every year, including dance, comedy, music, theater, and even Bollywood shows. A big renovation in recent years has made the Sunset Center’s acoustics nearly flawless, so people come from all over to see shows there.
Our first stop on the tour was Anton & Michel, where we had Kobe short rib over polenta paired with a rosé pinot noir. The restaurant was recently renovated and it is absolutely beautiful.
Next, we visited Affina. It had a modern rustic interior and an open kitchen concept. Chef James talked about how having a small space challenges him to use the freshest ingredients he can find since he doesn’t have the space to freeze or store things long-term.
Here we tasted a salad of local tomatoes, basil, and burrata cheese from Di Stefano Cheese. It was AMAZING. Almost everyone on the tour threw caution to the wind and finished the whole thing, even though we were supposed to save room for the rest of the tour. The wine was a viognier from Le P’tit Paisan.
Between stops, Staci talked a bit about some of the charming buildings around downtown Carmel, like this one, which looks like it’s straight out of a fairy tale. There are many like this all around town, giving the city a unique charm.
Then was Casanova, which is said to be the most romantic restaurant in Carmel. Like pretty much everything else in town, it’s incredibly charming and picturesque.
Casanova served us my favorite meal of the day. We started with crispy breadsticks with tapenade for dipping, and the main event was gnocchi. But it wasn’t like any gnocchi I’d ever had before – in fact, it wasn’t even made with potatoes. It was French-style, made from spinach pâte à choux (a light dough). It was smothered in cheese sauce and baked in individual dishes. I ate every bite.
Our next visit adventure was olive oil and balsamic vinegar tasting at Trio Carmel, including an unexpectedly tasty spritzer of balsamic and soda water as well as green chile olive oil drizzled over vanilla bean gelato from Salumeria Luca. Yeah. I know. It was wicked.
Terry’s Restaurant & Lounge inside the Cypress Inn – famously dog-friendly and owned by Doris Day! – welcomed us with something a little different to drink: a classic old-fashioned instead. I don’t typically go for drinks from the whiskey family, but I must admit, I liked this one. The old-fashioned was served – and color-coordinated! – with an African-spiced meatball.
One of my favorite stops on this tour was Carraccioli Cellars, which is famous for sparkling wine, or as they called it, “bubbles”. I love any excuse to drink sparkling wine or champagne, so this was right up my alley. We had the distinct pleasure of trying a brut cuvée as well as a non-bubbly pinot noir. I really loved the crisp, dry, refreshing brut cuvée, and even thought about taking a bottle home with me. But then I remembered I already had to cram two other bottles into my tiny carry-on sized suitcase. Womp womp.
We then arrived – alas – at our final destination, Lula’s Chocolates. We’d all been raving about Lula’s ever since receiving a Carmel-themed gift basket in advance of this trip that included a gift box of several sea salt caramels WHICH WERE AMAZING. Truly delicious and worth ordering online, if you and your waistline dare.
I am so grateful that I got to have this amazing food experience in Carmel. There is not much I enjoy more than food, drink, and learning new things, and to be able to do all three at once and in such a beautiful setting? Well, I consider myself very lucky.
Comments & Reviews
Abby @ BackAtSquareZero says
WoW! Next time I visit my Oma in Monterey I need to do this!
I have always wanted to go to Carmel by the Sea. The food looks amazing. What a wonderful experience you’ve had.
All of the food looks really delicious. I must say I love the dinning area of Casanova it is so beautiful.
What an amazing experience. Carmel sounds like a great place to visit.
All the food looks delicious. I’m curious about the chocolate. I would love to try it.
Elizabeth O. says
Me too! Chocolate is love!
vidya sudarsan says
I love Carmel by the sea! I did not know about the food tour.. wonder how much I can enjoy being a vegetarian, though! You have captured nice pictures and I enjoyed reading about this tour.
Elizabeth O. says
I love participating in food tours, I think it’s one of the best experiences ever. You learn a lot from it and you get to eat good food.
Robin (Masshole Mommy) says
I’m just gonna be honest – you had me at food. You are very WELL in Carmel it sounds like.
Jessica Harlow says
It does look like such a charming town full of unique eateries and wineries! I would love to go on a tour like this although I’m sure I’d run out of room by the end! I’d have a hard time not finishing such amazing dishes!
What an amazing time you had at Carmel. I wish I could visit, too.
Kristen from The Road to Domestication says
OH, how fun is this!!! I’d like to do a gluten-free food tour…I wonder how I get hooked up with that?! LOL
Michelle T says
That looks like a lot of fun to do. Especially liked the sea salt carmel and the spiced meatballs looked really good. Looks like you had a great tour.
How beautiful! I could spend all day just soaking in the atmosphere.
Looks like a fun and yummy day! That’s awesome you had a chance to try it, I’ll add it to my bucket list if I ever travel there. Thanks for sharing!
Stacie @ Divine Lifestyle says
That sounds like a wonderful tour. I really love the architecture. I’d love to go on this tour.
Kobe Short Ribs???? That was the starter?
Spinach gnocchi? You know I love gnocchi!!!!
Salted caramel chocolates?
I’m (almost) literally drooling on my keyboard. Great review and great photos!
We were just out there a year ago… loved the area. Now when I see your post about the tour it make me want to go back!
I have read a few posts lately about this place and I can’t wait to check it out one day! There are so many things I want to try! I would LOVE to see that win seller and try all the food you did!
Brandy M says
Did you say Chocolate? I NEED to come! I love chocolate! What does best with chocolate? Wine OF COURSE! Great tour and I hope to visit it one day.
Amber Edwards says
Wow, I love Casanovas! That place looks amazing! When we were in Foreign countries we had the best experiences with guided tours. I woudl love to take this tour!
such a beautiful place. I love the decor of the place. so relaxing.
Mama to 5 BLessings says
Looks like a beautiful place! What a neat experience and the food looks amazing!
CanCan I just skip it all and have the chocolate? lol. For real, I would love to visit all of these places but especially d Affina. I love that he uses fresh ingredients.
How neat to sit at Van Gogh’s table! I would have loved eating all of the delicious food in Carmel!
I love Carmel, I lived in Monterey for a year and spent a lot of time in Carmel. Its so adorable!
Looks like you got to try some amazing dishes! I would have dug into that fresh tomato and burrata salad.
Ana De- Jesus says
Looks like you had a wonderful tour, I love the look of the salad and the picturesque houses are adorable.
April G says
I’ve been to Carmel, but I think in general, I need to take more time to go on tours to find out what each place really has to offer.
all i know is that any time that there is food involved in a tour…. 😀
Lois Alter Mark says
Ha ha! I am so with you on that one!
Lois Alter Mark says
I love food tours and I love Carmel. This is a win win, for sure!
You are right, food tours are the best. It’s a great way to sample awesome cuisine.
Carmel looks like the ideal place to visit. Quiet and charming, I would think! The food all looks amazing! I’m sure this is a tour you are always going to remember!
tara pittman says
A food tour would be so much fun.Yummy too.
Heidi Gray says
Oh my goodness this sounds fantastic!
It does! It makes me want to plan our next vacation there.
Onica (mommy factor ) says
What a fun food tour, Im sure you had fun and enjoyed it.
I don’t dare order those caramels–I would eat them all at one time from the way you described them!! I have never been to Carmel by the sea but have a feeling I and my taste buds would LOVE it.
Mary Larsen says
The tour sounds amazing. Definitely have to check it out!
Oh wow this food tour looks amazing! That spinach gnocchi would be the first thing on my list!
Brett Martin says
What a fun tour for a die hard foodies like myself! That spinach gnocchi looks heavenly.
This food tour sounds amazing. I think the food looks so good!
Love the rustic style! This would be so much fun
Food and wine, two of my favorite things. This looks like a great tour and a fantastic time.
Amber NElson says
That sounds so good. I’d say you had a great time!
I love the look of all the restaurants but especially Casanova. It’s so rustic looking. And the fact that they have Van Gogh’s table is awesome.
This sounds like a really great tour! The photos are just stunning, I’d love to visit places as beautiful! The food looks great!
I loove food tours! It must be so exciting to participate in a food tour.. I live vicariously through your pictures. Everything looks so good
Saidah Washington says
Liz every time I visit your blog is seems like you’ve done something else fun. I’ve never been part of a food tour but it is on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing
No wonder you say it was the best… look at it all. HA! It all looks delicious and so beautiful. Thanks so much for sharing
Chasing Joy says
Wow! This tour is impressive. I’d love to do something like that.
Ann Bacciaglia says
I agree! I would love to do this tour as well!
I love tours like this – and the food that you get to try! Thanks for sharing this!
What a fabulous tour! No wonder you thought it was the best!
Ann Bacciaglia says
A food tour would be so much fun. It looks like you had a great time. I will have to see if there is going to be one near me.
The French-style spinach gnocchi looks amazing. I would love to go on a food tour. I enjoy trying new foods.
Carmel looks like an amazing place to vacation!
Brenda Brown says
Wow! This looks amazing!! I am so jealous!
Everything looks amazing! From the views to the food, I am drooling over here! That is crazy about Van Gogh!
Oh my goodness, I wish I was there, I love going in a place that have a lot of foods.
Beautiful photographs! Casanova looks beyond delish!
These photos are great, it looks like you had a great time (and lots of great food!)
Jeni Hawkins says
I grew up on the Central Coast, and my brother lives in Carmel – it’s an AMAZING town and it looks like you got to see the best of the best of it!
Vera sweeney says
A food tour sounds like so much!! Everything looks amazing I would have to try every thing!
Janis @MommyBlogExpert says
Carmel is such a beautiful place. I haven’t been there in years but all your photos and story are making me put that on my list to visit again soon.
Carol Bryant says
I am heading out west next year for the BlogPaws Conference and might need to stop by this area – your pics are glorious!
What a fun culinary trip! Sounds like you had an amazing time!
I have never been there before. Looks like a very charming place.
Great photos! I want to try their Gnocchi! Looks so delicious. Food tour? Count me in!
Jasmine Watts says
Wow.. All the photos are stunning and Carmel sounds like a great place to visit!!
I can see why it was a fave. Pretty sure I’d have felt the same way too. Loved reading about it and seeing your posts!
Terri Beavers says
I would absolutely love to have gone on this food tour. Your photos are the next best thing to being there but I’d still love to see all there was to see and sample those tasty looking goods.
Rachel Mouton says
The food, the scenery, EVERYTHING! It’s just beautiful 🙂
Kim Croisant says
What a gorgeous place. I love the covered patio dining area. I want to go there.
Denise C says
That all sounds amazing. “Bubbles” and chocolate are right up my alley!
This looks like a really pretty place to go. And I might add that the food there looks really good too!
Mistee Dawn says
Food tours are the best! And this one looks absolutely amazing. Would love to take this tour.
How have I gone this long without being on a food tour?!?! It sounds like a blast!
Chubskulit Rose says
The spinach gnnochi looks delicious. Wha a great way to spend the day!
Nicole Keener says
This is really really awesome! I am so glad you had fun!
A food tour?! I love food and that’s right up my alley. I would certainly love to experience a food tour too.
Oh my goodness! It all looks so good. I am inspired by the idea of a small space and not storing things that are frozen or full of preservatives. Fresh is so often much healthier.
Megan Yarmuth says
This looks so fabulous! Just added to my bucket list!
Yolanda @ Seeing It Their Way says
Oh my I would love to do a food tour. My friends and I would have a ball on the Carmel food tour. Who can resist delicious food and wine.
Claudia Krusch says
Food tours are the best! This one sounds absolutely amazing! Would love to have experienced this tour!
Oh wow!! All of that food looks amazing!! I would love to go to Carmel one day!! #BucketList
Shaney Vijendranath says
Never been on a food tour before. Sounds like so much fun. I love exploring and trying new restaurants.
dana vento says
Oh the Carmel Food Tour looks delish, it must have been fun.
You had me at carmel! This sounds so great! I know my daughter would love it!
Shell Feis says
So I didn’t know that food tours were a thing and now that I know I am adding it to the top of my bucket list!! How fun is that! I am always down for a buffet and this is almost like that but with a cool new place to check out for each dish!
Looks like you had a great time! So many amazing places and delicious food! I really woul love to visit Carraccioli Cellars.
Laura funk says
wow the tour and the food looked awesome. I would love to check out Carmel
Brittany Y says
Love this! It looks amazing. I’d love to go on a tour like this!!
Chelley @ A is For Adelaide says
A food tour!? This sounds amazing!!!
Travel Quest says
I love going on a country side tour like this there is a sense of simplicity and fun all together. Thank you for taking us to your adventure.
I love the restaurant and the beautiful ambiance. It’s so important to be able to relax to truly enjoy these experiences.
Food tours are awesome! I did one in Chicago once and we all loved it! Yours looked just as awesome as mine!
Oh my this really does sound and look like the best tour ever! But then again, it would be hard to go wrong with a food tour!
Rocio Chavez (@yoursassyself) says
OMG looks like so much fun. totes jealous 😀
Melanie of ¿Que Means What? says
You had me at “Kobe short rib over polenta paired with a rosé pinot noir” and everything else sounds like it was amazing! I can see why this was your favorite.
Teresa Bowen says
That all sounds just incredible. I wouldn’t know where to start choosing a favourite.
Lisa Rios says
Sounds like you had a wonderful food experience at Carmel. I always wanted to attend one such event, but never had a chance. The pictures are so beautiful & the food looks delicious as well.
Amanda || Growing Up Madison says
Wow this food tour sounds like it was truly amazing and the food looks oh so delicious.
I can’t lie I am kind of jealous you got to go on this food tour. That spinach gnocchi looked AMAZING!
Food and tour? Yes please! That looks like a delicious time.
Bonnie @wemake7 says
Looks like an amazing time. I would love to go on a tour like that.
I have never been on a food tour before, but it sounds like something I’d enjoy! I love trying out different foods.
I have always wanted to visit. It looks like a nice place to go.
Sounds yummy! The rustic decor is nice too
Wow! I want to go on this tour! The food looked amazing!
Sara P. (@SensiblySara) says
What a fun experience!! The Casanova is a beautiful building! All that food sounds so tasty but I think the short rib over polenta would be my favorite.
Okay. I want to go on a food tour now. That looks amazing! I’m definitely jealous in the best way!
Life as a Convert says
What a tour! I would love to go on this.. and can I just say I would love to have that piano in my house.
Ellen ThatChicMom says
How perfect, that is my kind of tour. I love that it was more than just food and wine but an experience!
Jason Young says
Love Carmel. Haven’t been in years but one of the coolest places in California for sure. Gotta try this tour next time I go.
Shannon Gurnee says
Carmel is a beautiful place to visit! Sounds like you had a great time!
Tiffany @ Daily Leisure says
I’ve never been to Carmel (or heard of it)! This food tour looks so fun! I’ve also never been on a food tour, but think I might have to schedule one because that food looks amazing! I love that you get to sample a bunch of different places and dishes all in one trip! 🙂
Wow this is awesome! It looks like it was an amazing time and your pictures are gorgeous!
I did misread at first and thought this was the Caramel Food tour as I was gonna flip and say where?? Oopsies! This still look like a great food tour everything looked yummy!
omg, how fun would this be! Seriously need to get out more!