Down-Low Diner: Sandbar & Grill
If you have been to Monterey there is a good chance you have been to Old Fisherman’s Wharf. Most visitors and some locals have never noticed that there is an additional pier across from its more famous cousin. Wharf #2 is mainly used for commercial fishing boats but it also holds one of my personal favorite seafood restaurants.
The Sandbar & Grill is a locals’ hotspot for lunch and dinner. The fresh seafood, competitive prices, friendly staff and fantastic waterfront panoramas make for quite the loyal fan base, which is why I was thrilled to join some colleagues here for lunch.
I easily found parking along the pier and took the stairs down towards the bar and grill. The casual restaurant is tucked beneath the wharf giving way to incredible vistas of the harbor and wildlife below; if you are lucky you might even spot a sea otter!
Every seat in the house has a view of the Pacific Ocean and the marina but I was particularly delighted that we were seated at a table alongside the window. I kept finding myself dazing off into the distance, wondering where the fishing and sailing boats were whirling off too.
The menu is humble but has some of the classic wharf favorites like clam chowder, fish and chips, calamari and sand dabs. Wanting to keep things light, I went with the Ahi tuna salad.
The Sandbar does not disappoint when it comes to seafood and I was ecstatic to see a hearty dose of Ahi tuna sprawled over fresh greens, tomatoes, pieces of hard boiled egg and cucumber. Thick slices of tuna were perfectly seared with a peppery sesame crust. The decadent tuna was fantastic all on its own, however, the creamy mustard vinaigrette made this dish a true show stopper. Before I knew it my entire plate was licked clean!
My co-worker ordered a cup of New England clam chowder and the fried oysters. Their clam chowder recipe is one of the best on the central coast; it is thick, creamy, and filled with a generous amount of clams, exactly the kind of coziness you would hope to expect from a chowder. I suggest pairing it with their ample supply of oyster crackers.
The fried oysters smelled fabulous. Fresh pacific oysters had been lightly breaded and fried to a sublime golden crisp; I could hear my co-worker’s crunch from across the table which made me slightly jealous.
Unfortunately we didn’t have room for dessert but the bread pudding is a must. You wont’ be able to resist the whiskey sauce!