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Best of Monterey County. Also, restaurants to bike to before you die…

In this post you’ll find:
  • Some of the extra bike-friendly winners of the Monterey County Weekly’s 23rd Annual Best of Monterey County–those who are in the HER Helmet Thursdays project.  (2011 winners listed below; for 2012 winners, announced 3/15/12,   click here.)
  • The project’s restaurants who were saluted in the Monterey County Herald’s “Top 100 bites–Local dishes to try before you die.”
Want more extra bike-friendly places to bike to?

There are HER Helmet Thursdays spots in Big Sur, Carmel, Carmel Valley, Castroville, Del Rey Oaks, Gonzales, Greenfield, Marina, Monterey, Moss Landing, Pacific Grove, Salinas, San Ardo, Sand City, Seaside, and Soledad, so think countywide! 

Download a PDF of the Quick Reference/Pocket Guide on the listings/FAQs page, or download 2/20/12 edition right here:

HER Helmet Thursdays – Quick Ref-Pocket Guide – as of 20 Feb 2012

Some favorite local dishes saluted by the Monterey County Herald

The 27 restaurants listed directly below are the HER Helmet Thursdays spots honored in Mike Hale and Raul N’s Monterey County Herald “Top 100 bites:  Local dishes to try before you die.” HHT spots are listed below in the order in which they appear in “‘Top 100 bites.”

Mike and Raul each chose 50 spots, and they sometimes chose the same restaurants, even though different dishes.  In the list below, all restaurants are listed once.  As you can see, more than a quarter of their “Top 100 bites” are extra bike-friendly HER Helmet Thursdays spots!

  1. Rio Grill
  2. Rosa’s La Villa Restaurante
  3. Hula’s
  4. Cantinetta Luca
  5. Will’s Fargo
  6. Wickets Bistro
  7. LouLou’s
  8. Passionfish
  9. Sandbar and Grill
  10. Mundaka
  11. Abalonetti
  12. Marisco’s Puerto Nuevo
  13. Carmel Belle
  14. Haute Enchilada
  15. Wild Plum Cafe
  16. Esteban
  17. Rosa’s La Villa Restaurante
  18. Le St. Tropez
  19. Parker-Lusseau
  20. Cafe Rustica
  21. Turtle Bay
  22. Happy Girl Kitchen
  23. Point Pinos Grill
  24. Trailside Cafe
  25. From Scratch
  26. Taqueria del Mar–try before you die their artichoke tacos!
The Monterey County Weekly’s Best of Monterey County readers poll 2012 winners will be announced in March. 
Here’s who won in the 2011 readers’ poll…

Best of Monterey County 2011

Irene and Jeff Dibble of Sonoma County love the up-close-and-personal nature of biking, because they can more easily discover more of the best of Monterey County.
Wait a minute–Dad is unloading his bike. And we still have to decide which winning HER Helmet Thursdays spot we are going to today.
Aleksander and Agnieszka Simpson of Carmel Valley

HER Helmet Thursdays is for locals and visitors!Have you heard? H-E-R spots give discounts on Thursdays to males and females who bike!  H-E-RHotels/lodging, E-Educational/Entertainment, and R-Restaurants/other food and beverage–including wineriesLearn about the project’s goals, or listen to Intro to HER Helmet Thursdays from Central Coast Public Radio KUSP.

Or just go straight to the listings for all participants!

Read on for names of the latest award winners.

2011 Award-winning HER Helmet Thursdays spots

2011 Monterey County Weekly Best of Monterey County

These are all local ecology-economy leaders who said, “Yes, we’ll help make a more bike-friendly Monterey County.” Please bike on over and congratulate them!

In the project’s  first year,  14 Best of Monterey County awards went to HER Helmet Thursdays participants.  In 2011, as listed below, awards went to 33 HHT spots.

See the March 17-23, 2011 issue–online or in print–for all the details.  Readers’ Picks awards were determined by the votes of 2,000 readers who completed the Weekly‘s annual survey. Another six awards were Editors’ Picks.   All are listed here in the same order they appear in the Weekly.

2011 Readers’ Picks

1.       Britannia Arms – Best Place for Karaoke

2.       Jose’s Lounge Underground – Best Club for Rock

3.       Big Sur River Inn restaurant – Best Bloody Mary

4.       Schooners Bistro on the Bay – Best Drink with a View

5.       Passionfish – Best Selection of Wines by the Glass

6.       Lallapalooza – Best Singles Bar

7.       East Village Coffee Lounge – Best Coffeehouse

8.       Lalla Grill – Best Hangout after the Movie

9.       Passionfish – Best Restaurant in Monterey County

10.   Passionfish – Best Restaurant in Pacific Grove

11.   Cantinetta Luca – Best Restaurant in Carmel

12.   Café Rustica – Best Restaurant in Carmel Valley

13.   Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse – Best Restaurant in Marina

14.   Gino’s Fine Italian – Best Restaurant in Salinas

15.   Sweet Elena’s Bakery – Best Restaurant in Sand City

16.   Fishwife – Best Restaurant in Seaside

17.   First Awakenings, Pacific Grove and First Awakenings,  Salinas– Best Breakfast

18.   Peppers Mexicali Café – Best Mexican

19.   Petra Café – Best Middle Eastern

20.   Mundaka – Best Appetizers/Small Plates

21.   Forge in the Forest – Best Outdoor Dining

22.   Henry’s BBQ – Best Barbecue

23.   r.g. Burgers, Carmel and r.g. Burgers, Monterey – Best Burgers

24.   Michael’s Grill & Taqueria, Salinas – Best Take-Out Food

25.   Bagel Bakery, Carmel – Best Bagel

26.   Parker-Lusseau on Munras, Monterey and Parker-Lusseau on Hartnell, Monterey – Best Desserts

27.   Aquablue Skin & Body Spa – Best Place for Skin Care

2011 Editors’ Picks:

  1. Lopez Taqueria/Lopez Brothers Casa Bodega – Best Place to Pair Pinot with Al Pastor
  2. East Village Coffee Lounge‘s Skydecker’s Acoustic/Electric Concert Series – Best New Live Music Movement
  3. Cantinetta Luca’s Thomas Perez – Best Snob-Free Wine Pedigree
  4. Sakura Japanese Restaurant and Sushi Bar – Best Niche Nigiri
  5. Plaza Linda – Best Budding Scene in a Bucolic Locale
  6. El Mariachi – Best Place to Get Tossed on Cannery Row
The Weekly’s readers also recognized two favorites among Monterey County cyclists:

Best Place to Bike/Mountain Bike:   Fort Ord (see links at MORCA site)

Best Bike Shop:   Joselyns BicyclesUpdate:  Sadly, Joselyns last day of business is Jan 15, 2012; closing its doors.

Help build a more bike-friendly Monterey County

Check out the other 150 participants in this project, too!

Who are they? Click here.

Want to see one of your favorite places in HER Helmet Thursdays?  Invite them, or suggest them by adding a comment to this post.

Have a business or organization and want to sign up?  Click here.

More tips for tourists and residents bicycling Monterey County.

* * * * *

Looking for sustainable seafood?  Bike to Seafood Watch participating spots!


This post was published on 4 February 2012. One or more changes last made to this post on 24 October 2013.

  1. John William Coffman says:

    Since I suffered injuries on my motorcycle 1-12-12 on my way to work, I have decided to change exclusively to bicycle riding. I will try to get my wife involved. I may get back to work in 4-6 months. Thank you for giving bicycle information to our residents.

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