Why This Traditional Spot Is One Of The Area’s Top Dining Destinations
Great meals, much like wine tastings, are about more than the flavor of the food or beverages.
They are about the flavor of the experience.
And as any local or long-time visitor to Monterey, CA knows, Tarpy’s Roadhouse restaurant excels in both areas.
Tarpy’s is as much a part of the landscape of Monterey Bay as the otters. It’s a traditional stop among visiting drivers and team owners in town for the races at Laguna Seca just a few miles up the road, and for golfers who are playing any one of the many courses in the Monterey Bay area.
And for locals, it’s a local treasure.
That’s because while Tarpy’s may be a fine dining destination it’s also one that doesn’t let eating good food get in the way of having a good time.
Its stone building is like being in a wine cellar, which in itself is pretty neat, it has a zesty bar scene, particularly for its Happy Hour (M-F, 3-6 p.m.; $3 wines, beers & appetizers) and while it’s classy it’s also comfortable and casual.
This can sometimes cause the front dining area by the bar to become somewhat noisy, but it also gives the place a bit of spunk. It’s always more fun to be in a place where others around you are having fun!
And that fits here because Tarpy’s is tucked into an otherwise hidden quick turn off busy Highway 68. With manicured grounds and a pond making the parking area seem like a small park, an arched entrance and stone walls, arriving at Tarpy’s is like arriving in another world where traffic and time have suddenly stopped.
Being there is just plan cool!
Tarpy’s Roadhouse Food Review
The food at Tarpy’s, as you can imagine, is outstanding.
It didn’t take long for PubClub.com to identify our favorite item. It’s an appetizer called Polenta Gnocchi, a sit-back-in-the-chair, “oh-MY-these-are-good” truffled mushroom hash – made with famous Monterey County mushrooms, of course – surrounding little balls of gnocchi that will have you ordering this each and every time you go to Tarpys.
What are way saying; you may go to Tarpy’s just for this dish.
It’s one of the few plates that does not contain bacon; Executive Chef Todd Fisher seems to have a thing for adding it to his creations, including large thick-cut slices with the Cast Iron-Seared Sea Scallops – so tender you just let them dissolve in your mouth – that make this both a light, yet hearty dish.
That’s hard to pull off, but that bacon – more like Australian bacon than American – makes it happen.
More traditional American bacon is wrapped around the Brussels “Frickles” which is the first thing you’ll see on the menu and with tomato-basil jam & sourdough dust, it’s a perfect start your meal.
There are bacon bits in a white cheddar mac ‘n cheese side order but it’s the creaminess of this conversation-stopping dish that will have you rolling your eyes in the back of your head after the first bite.
Other starter recommendations are the Blistered Salmon Belly Bun, the Creole Shrimp & “Life Changing” Grits and, interestingly enough, the interesting Coal Roasted Beets.
These are all from the “Bites” and “Small Plates” section of the menu. And there’s another item that’s prefect for groups, the cold meat plate. It’s very European. And very good.
With these and other items, your group could easily have a full and satifying meal eating tapas style.
Then again, maybe you will feel like having the Snake River Farms Kobe Burger, Chili Crusted Chicken Breasts, Maple Leaf Farms Half Duck, Herb Crusted Sterling Salmon or the Classic Tarpy’s Meatloaf.
Or a steak, ribeye, baby back ribs or braised lamb shank. Unlike out on the golf course, when you’re trying to choose between a driver and 3-wood, you can’t go wrong with any choice at Tarpy’s.
Vegetarians, or those just wanting some real local flavor, should try the Roasted Artichoke Frisassee, a full bowl featuring white beans, carrots, brussels and mushrooms mixed in with artichokes taken from the huge artichoke fields located just north of Tarpy’s.
To drink – and what’s a great dinner without drinks!? – you’re probably thinking wine. Tarpy’s has a huge wine list – it’s cellar has several hundred bottles – so you’ll be spending part of your dinner time browsing through the seemingly endless selections on the iPad you’re given when you are seated.
Then again, you may stop yourself at the cocktails section and opt instead for, say, the Hades Heart (rum with pomegranate and mint) the K-Tonic (vodka with ginger beer and jalapenos) or the Desert Rose (a tequila-based refreshing drink).
Tarpy’s Roadhouse Desserts
And if you have room, there are shared desserts such as the Peanut Butter & Chocolate Mousse Cake and Chocolate-Expresso Bread Pudding that will have you tapping your already full and satisfied belly to try and make room for just One. More. Bite!
Tarpy’s is open for not just dinner, but lunch and has a Sunday brunch, all with patio dining as an option.
Prices are mid-ranged, especially considering the quality of the food. With a few drinks, an appetizer or two and a main entree, a bill for two is in the $100 range.
The service is spot-on with the staff knowing every single detail about the menu and the drinks, and the iPad menu is a nice and modern touch.
When all this is on the table, it adds up to traditional and very satisfying Monterey experience.
Address: 2999 Salinas Highway, Monterey, CA
Phone: (831) 647-1444 (Reservations recommended)
Prices: Bites $4-5, Small Plates $7-16, Salads $11-16, Ribs & Steaks, $19-39, Large Plates $21-31, Special Cocktails $11.
Hours: Lunch from 11:30 a.m.; Dinner from 4 p.m., Sunday Brunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.
Happy Hour: M-F, 3-6 p.m. $3 wines, beers & select appetizers
Wine Down Wednesdays: 5-7 p.m., Local vinters & winemakers bring in special selections each Wednesday for a tasting. Tarpy’s offer half off glasses and bottles of those wines and holds a drawing for prizes, including dinner for two.