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Old Town Monterey

Stokes Restaurant, Monterey, Calif., image
Photo caption
At Stokes Restaurant in Monterey, Brandon Miller turns out rustic food with local ingredients.

Cannery Row draws crowds with its Steinbeck history, fancy aquarium, and California coastline views. But just a short half-mile walk south on the paved Monterey Bay Coastal Trail, downtown Old Monterey goes undiscovered. Centered on Alvarado Street, the area seamlessly blends old and new. Catch a comedy act at Monterey Live, a 100-seat, club-style theater, and tour the Stevenson House, the boardinghouse where author Robert Louis Stevenson lived in 1879, a couple of years before he wrote Treasure Island. Here are more highlights. (Area code is 831.)

  • Cooper Museum Store is staffed by Monterey State Historic Park volunteers and offers maps to the neighborhood’s historic sites including 25 adobes built in the early 1800s. The shop also sells books on California history and Victorian toys such as wooden whirligigs and tin boxes of tiddledywinks. 525 Polk St., 649-7118.
  • A block away in an adobe that dates back to 1833, the Stokes Restaurant & Bar features a menu that pays tribute to local farms and fisheries. Try the Monterey Bay sardines. 500 Hartnell St., 373-1110,
  • For more casual dining, grab a booth at Turtle Bay Taqueria, which puts a Caribbean spin on Mexican food. The salmon wrap is particularly tasty, with grilled fish, black beans, and green-pepper slaw rolled into a tortilla. 431 Tyler St., 333-1500.
  • Outer Edge Studio, a funky gallery selling and displaying original art, doubles as a hair salon where you can get a clip from stylist Diana Hayes (by appointment). 146 Bonifacio Place, 655-2788,
  • Need a coffee break? Stop in Café Noir for a dark roast. The movie-themed decor includes a set of comfy seats from the adjacent Osio Cinemas, which shows art-house flicks. 365 Calle Principal, 649-6647.
  • You can also catch a movie at the beautifully restored 1926 Golden State Theatre. The 1,000-seat film palace, designed to look like a Moorish castle, screens classics such as The Sheik starring Rudolph Valentino and silent film Steamboat Bill, Jr. 417 Alvarado St., Monterey, 372-4555,
  • Cap off your visit at Lallapalooza, an upscale dinner house with a drink menu offering 21 "martinis," from the Lemon Drop to the Double Chocolate. 474 Alvarado St., 645-9036,

Photography by Catherine Karnow

This article was first published in May 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.