Headed for Monterey Bay this fall? Carmel-by-the-Sea is lovely at any time of year, but autumn lets you enjoy the town’s charms — dining, boutique browsing, wine tasting and more — without the touristy bustle of summer. And there’s always something new to discover. Here’s just a sampling to explore.
EAT & SIP: Yeast of Eden
The Alvarado brewing company opened the latter in 2019 as Yeast of Eden, a stylish spot with an airy indoor dining room and expansive patio in Carmel Plaza and a beer list that reflected the brewery’s experimental Yeast of Eden brews, all made with wild yeasts. Over the course of the long lockdown last year, the bistro adopted its maker’s moniker and gave the new Alvarado Street Brewery and Bistro menu a more seasonal focus.
The new lineup includes veggie-forward small plates ($14-$18) and omnivore-pleasing mains ($18-$28), such as grilled avocado with Moroccan couscous, Monterey Beer-battered cod, Moroccan spiced fried chicken and burgers, both classic and Beyond. The drinks list includes those Yeast of Eden beers, as well as Alvarado’s hazy IPAs, lagers, local wines and cocktails.
Details: The Alvarado bistro is open daily from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (until 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays) at Carmel Plaza, Suite 112, Ocean Avenue and Mission Street in Carmel-by-the-Sea; https://asb.beer.
EAT: When in Rome …
Rise + Roam, a bakery and Roman-style artisanal pizzeria — and the latest offshoot from the Folktale Winery family — opened in Carmel Plaza just a few weeks before the world shut down. Chefs Todd Fisher, Aaron Rayor and Petra Jung served up pastries, breads and long, rectangular, Roman-style pizzas by the meter, half meter or quarter meter, topped with fennel sausage, for example, broccoli di cicco, artichokes and fontina. Delivered to your table on a long wooden paddle, the results were phenomenal.
After months of takeout, the indoor dining room — an airy, light-filled space with high ceilings and a wall of windows — has re-opened, and those pizzas have taken a West Coast turn with individually-portioned rounds of naturally fermented, pillowy sourdough supporting toppings such as fig, prosciutto and crescenza cheese, or heirloom artichoke with garlic cream, ricotta, spinach and basil. (And that fennel sausage is still on the menu, too. $10 for an individual pizza.)
Details: Open daily from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Mission Street and Seventh Avenue in Carmel-by-the-Sea; https://riseandroambakery.com.
SIP: Kori bubbles
There are 20 wineries to explore in this cozy downtown — and a Carmel Wine Walk by-the-Sea to help you do it. The wine walk’s tasting passport ($100) gives you 10 flights of wine from your choice of 13 tasting rooms, from Blair Estate, a pinot noir-centric delight, to Caraccioli Cellars. (You can tour the tasting rooms virtually at https://winewalkcarmel.com, as well as in real life.)
Be sure to explore some of the wineries not on the list, too. Kori Wines, for example, is a collaboration between Kori Violini, her stepfather, Santa Lucia Highlands grape and citrus grower Kirk Williams, and winemaker Sabrine Rodems. Violini opened a tasting room in 2019 in one of Carmel’s charming hidden gardens, the Court of the Fountains.
Industrial-chic barstools line the wine bar inside the small tasting room, where you can sip rosé, bubbles and other Kori wines. Rustic reclaimed wood paneling and turquoise paint add to the vibe, and a message board delivers a dose of whimsy. On the weekend we were there, it advised guests to “Drink wine. It isn’t good to keep things bottled up.”
Details: Kori Wines is open from 1 to 6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday and Thursday, and at noon Friday-Sunday in the Court of the Fountains on Mission Street between Ocean and Seventh Avenues; www.koriwines.com.
PLAY: Eat, sip and cycle
There’s no denying the allure of Carmel’s soft, sandy beaches, especially when there’s wine and a picnic basket involved. But if you’re looking for something more energetic than beach lazing that still involves sips and bites, a Carmel Bikes, Bites & Bevs tour ($169) might be just the thing.
The Mad Dogs & Englishmen Bike Shop provides the e-bikes and helmets for a guided cycling tour that takes you from Carmel-by-the-Sea to Point Lobos State Park, passing the Tor House, Butterfly House and Carmel River State Beach along the way. Back in town, a food tour guide scoops you up for an afternoon walking tour with four tasting stops. Cheers!
Details: Find details and make reservations for the Carmel Food Tour’s Carmel Bikes, Bites & Bevs tour at www.carmelfoodtour.com. Prefer to do your own thing? Mad Dogs & Englishmen rents e-bikes by the day ($85) or the hour ($25). If you’re looking for Instagram fodder, go for the bright red, vintage model ($125/day or $45/hour) with an adorable sidecar ($50) for kids or dogs. Find the bike shop at the corner of Ocean Avenue and Mission Street. Reserve your bike at https://maddogsenglishmen.com.