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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.

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