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When in Carmel

Over the past year, we've spent a fair number of weekends in Carmel — in part because we have a free place to stay there. Since we've become regular visitors to the seaside town, we've developed a list of go-to spots:

  • Cottage of Sweets: This candy shop is about the size of my kitchen, and is packed with all sorts of sweets. I always get the gummi peaches and chocolate-covered gummi bears; occasionally, I treat myself to a piece of fudge, too.
  • Luca: I love the homemade pastas at this casual and affordable Italian eatery. And the bellini martini is a pretty good reason to come here, too. The restaurant recently opened a Salumeria next door, so my new thing is to pick up half a pound of fresh pasta as well as a pint of bolognese, and take it home to enjoy for dinner. (In fact, that's what we'll be having tonight!)
  • Aubergine: This is a sister restaurant to Luca; it's located in L'Auberge hotel and offers a more sophisticated experience. You can dine in the main room, or there's also a lounge (basically a room between the hotel lobby and Aubergine). In the lounge, you can order off the Aubergine menu or the lounge menu, so I actually prefer eating in here. The homemade madeleines, which I think are on the lounge dessert menu, are amazing.
  • La Bicyclette: We recently tried this place for the first time, stopping in during the window between lunch and dinner, when they offer a limited menu that consists of salads, soups and pizzas. You can also order dessert. Everything we ate was delicious. And I am a fan of the elderflower mimosa. (After reading that the SF Chronicle deemed La Bicyclette one of the best breakfasts in Carmel, we returned in the morning. I thought it was okay.)
  • The Tap Room: I don't go to steakhouses very often, but I rarely visit Carmel without going here. I am happy ordering just appetizers (chili, French onion soup, popcorn shrimp) and side dishes (mushroom risotto, potatoes au gratin, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes). Jon loves the grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut.

Less-than-stellar photo of La Bicyclette pizzas via my phone.