March 3, 2024

Best Brunch Places in Salinas

Dig into the heart of Salinas brunch scene - where the coffee is strong, the pancakes are fluffy, and every bite feels like a local secret.

Richard Gargan
Richard Gargan
Reviewed from:
Best Brunch Places in Salinas
Editor's Note: Brunch Expert is supported by our readers. We sometimes earn commissions when you click through to restaurants or affiliate links.

From sunny side up mornings to perfectly flipped pancakes, Salinas doesn’t just dish out brunch; it masterfully crafts a morning mosaic of tastes and aromas.

Villa Rivera Café

142 W Alisal St Ste. E-112, Salinas

(831) 256-7025

Reviewed by:

Jessica Sanchez

This little spot tucked away in a hidden corner is absolutely fantastic! The young lady who served me was friendly and incredibly helpful. I decided to try their chia latte, and let me tell you, it was absolutely delicious. They seem to offer a wide variety of lunch options, which is great for someone who likes variety. And the cookies, oh, they're just yummy yummy! But the real star of the show was the food - EXCELLENT!!! My sandwich was so full of flavor, and my drink was just awesome. I couldn't possibly leave without grabbing a pastry for the road. I'll definitely be making this my go-to spot for my early morning coffee runs. The customer service here is excellent, creating a friendly and welcoming environment. They have great food options for both breakfast and lunch. I've enjoyed their quality pastries and coffee, as well as their sandwiches and salad bar for lunch. Their menu is worth checking out. The food is high quality, super good, and the prices are very reasonable. Provecho! This small place that opened up at the back/middle of the courthouse plaza has quickly captured my heart. I tried the avocado toast and some tea during my visit. The avocado toast has a spicy kick to it that I personally enjoyed, but it's something they can adjust if spicy isn't your thing. The toast itself was perfectly done - crunchy around the edges and soft in the middle. The server, who happens to be one of the owners, was very friendly and welcoming. Although I didn't try any desserts this time, they looked absolutely delicious. I'll definitely need to make a return trip to confirm that! 🌻

The Steinbeck House Restaurant

132 Central Ave, Salinas

(831) 424-2735

Reviewed by:

Steph Saleem

Had an absolutely delightful visit to The Steinbeck House Restaurant for lunch. It’s a wonderful historic spot that serves up not just delicious and filling meals, but a generous helping of history too. The atmosphere is incredibly welcoming, something about the ambiance really lets you soak in the essence of the place. What came as a surprise was the fantastic gift shop located downstairs - it’s a treasure trove of memories waiting to be taken home. Remember, it’s open only on certain days, so plan accordingly. Parking is conveniently available at the back, which is a huge plus. The restaurant, an exquisite Victorian home that once belonged to John Steinbeck, offers excellent food that's both captivating to the eye and competitive in price. But what truly sets this place apart is the service. The wonderful individuals here serve out of pure love and dedication; their work is entirely voluntary. The tips they graciously receive go towards the maintenance of this magnificent mansion, preserved in honor of Steinbeck’s legacy. The volunteers, with their boundless warmth and hospitality, rich knowledge of Salinas, John Steinbeck, and the Monterey Bay area, truly make the dining experience unique and heartfelt. A special shout out to Carol, whose charm and warmth were particularly memorable. The gift shop downstairs, filled with items from local artists, was a delightful discovery, ensuring that everyone can take a piece of this historical journey home with them. The place exudes a kind of passion and generosity that’s rare, making any visitor immediately feel welcome and part of the Steinbeck story. Even my emotional support dog was warmly welcomed, highlighting the inclusive atmosphere of the house. Dining here allowed for a delicious exploration into Steinbeck’s world, enhanced by a special brownie recipe from his sister, offering a taste of the personal history that shaped the famous author. For anyone passionate about blending the joy of good food with a deep appreciation for cultural heritage, The Steinbeck House Restaurant is undoubtedly a must-visit. It’s more than just a meal; it’s a journey back in time, providing a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in the storied past of one of America’s great authors, all while enjoying the comfort and hospitality of this exceptional place. Highly recommend stopping by if you find yourself in Monterey or near Cannery Row.

First Awakenings

171 Main St, Salinas

(831) 784-1125

Reviewed by:

Jerry Green

I stumbled upon First Awakenings for brunch in Salinas and I'm really glad I did. Despite it being a busy spot, I was impressed by how quickly we were seated. Sure, it was a bit crowded near the entrance, but that's to be expected in a popular place like this. Admittedly, the prices seemed a tad high at first glance, with dishes ranging from $15 to $18. My choice was a simple but classic breakfast - two eggs, two slices of bacon, and two slices of cinnamon toast. While the food was generally good, the cinnamon toast left a bit to be desired in terms of flavor. It made me a bit envious of what I might have gotten for a few dollars more. Service here is notably quick, almost surprisingly so. It was only a few minutes before our meals were served, which left me skeptical about how four dishes could be prepared so swiftly. Yet, that efficiency might appeal to many. Would I come back? It's a maybe from me. If I were with family or friends who wanted to go, I'd be open to giving another dish a try. However, for a solo lunch, I might consider other options where I feel the value matches the price more closely. Nonetheless, I have to give high marks for the customer service at First Awakenings. From the moment you walk in, you're greeted warmly and seated promptly, creating a very welcoming atmosphere. The menu is vast and enticing, promising something for everyone. On a bustling Sunday brunch, the place did not disappoint. We were seated in a cozy booth and served generously portioned dishes promptly. The staff was not only efficient but also brought a sense of humor and attentiveness to the table, enhancing the overall dining experience. We tried a variety of items including the banana French toast special, orange juice, coffee, a banana wheat germ pancake, and scrambled eggs. Despite initial doubts, the portions were more than satisfactory. The banana wheat germ pancake was a highlight for its texture, though I'd recommend adding whipped cream and fruit for an extra kick. Appreciating the little things, like having a carafe of coffee placed right on our table, really added to the experience. The prices felt more reasonable given the portion sizes and the service quality. My views shifted significantly after dining here four consecutive days. Each visit allowed us to explore different items on the menu, from eggs Benedict variations to a variety of pancakes, each dish proving to be delightful. The servers remained consistently friendly, making each meal enjoyable. In retrospect, adding strawberries and whipped cream to the pancakes is a must-try tip. And while the wheat germ pancakes were my favorite for their texture, the blueberry pancakes stood out for their flavor, enhanced by the accompanying blueberry syrup. Overall, First Awakenings is a brunch spot I'd recommend without hesitation. The combination of hearty meals, friendly service, and a warm atmosphere makes it a place worth visiting again and again.

Ariana's Restaurant

912 Park Row, Salinas

(831) 422-7611

Reviewed by:

Marcos Delgado

Been here a few times and always leave satisfied. The food is consistently delicious, and the service never fails to impress. It's also worth noting how clean the restrooms are, which is always appreciated, especially under certain circumstances. On my latest visit, I decided to try the Country Eggs Benedict, and it was a fantastic choice – highly recommended for anyone stopping by. On my first visit, I indulged in the French Toast, Eggs, and Bacon, served with strawberries, cinnamon, and powdered sugar. The bacon was thick-sliced, exactly two strips, cooked to perfection. Including coffee, my meal was reasonably priced at $14. The restaurant was full of locals, indicating its popularity, and I managed to snag the last open table. Though it's a bustling spot around 9:30 AM, the attentive service from our server at table 10 made the experience seamless. As someone with diabetes, I appreciated the sausage omelet with cheese and tasty vegetables on a different occasion – the friendly staff always ensure a pleasant visit. Even during a busy late morning after a hike, the service was quick, with food arriving within 20 minutes. Although there was a minor disappointment with the coffee at first, the hospitable gesture from the hostess at checkout over the cinnamon coffee mix-up showed their dedication to customer satisfaction. Despite the diner's usual fare and a slight lack in the fruit topping for the French toast, it's the warmth and friendliness of the staff that make me eager to return.

The Village Restaurant

1490 Constitution Blvd A, Salinas

(831) 444-6724

Reviewed by:

Jordan Smith

My favorite place to have breakfast in town is The Village Restaurant! The food is absolutely delicious and the prices are so affordable. The owners and staff really go out of their way to be nice and attentive, making the dining experience even more enjoyable. It's also my Dad's go-to spot for breakfast; he just can't get enough of the Rodeo which is this amazing dish with blueberry pancakes, bacon, eggs, and fruit. As for me, I'm all about their BLT with extra bacon. The atmosphere at The Village is incredibly loving and welcoming, thanks to Gabby and her husband Jose. We've been loyal customers for over 20 years, and it's always our first choice when craving a hearty breakfast. This morning, Dad opted for his second favorite, the Biscuit and Gravy, which never disappoints. Not to mention, their Margaritas are great and I absolutely love their Shrimp Bruschettas. The place might look simple with tables instead of booths and a somewhat chilly vibe, but it's the kind, attentive service and the food quality that keep us coming back. Even a small mix-up with the drink order today, getting raspberry sweetened tea instead of unsweetened, couldn't dampen the spirits. The seafood Monterey combo with mahi mahi, salmon, and snapper, despite a slight hiccup with the freshness of the fish, usually is a delightful dish in its lemon basil sauce. And while the maple soy skirt steak might not have been the best cut this time, it's the overall warm and inviting atmosphere, combined with the years of good memories, that truly define our experiences at The Village. There have been moments of disappointment, like a less than satisfactory experience during a special Christmas Eve meal, but these are vastly outweighed by the numerous positive visits over the years. It's certainly a place with history for us, filled with many delightful breakfasts and lunches. Although not every dish has been perfect and there's room for improvement in consistency, the positives at The Village Restaurant far outweigh the negatives. It remains a beloved spot for my family and me, holding a special place in our hearts for all the joyful meals we've shared there.

Dudley's Oldtown

258 Main St, Salinas

(831) 758-5257

Reviewed by:

Michael Shockley

We absolutely adore heading over to Dudley’s in Oldtown for our Saturday brunch tradition. It's become something of a family ritual spanning generations—I still remember tagging along with my mom and grandma when I was just a teen. These days, it’s my husband and mother-in-law who join in, and the experience remains just as delightful. The standout for me has always been their pancakes; they're simply irresistible. But what really sets Dudley’s apart is their homemade salsa. It's so good that I never leave without asking for some to take home with me. Honestly, if you haven’t tried it, you’re missing out. Their menu is quite something, with the tuna melt being an absolute must-try. It’s the perfect blend of melted cheese and tuna, and while it might appear small, it’s packed with flavor. I also love the phoenix, which comes with bacon and avocado on larger slices of bread. When it comes to sides, you can choose from fries, salad, or soup. I usually go for the salad with ranch dressing—it’s a great complement to any dish. Aside from the food, what makes Dudley’s truly special is the atmosphere and the people. Owned by the Nhams, they’ve created a place that feels welcoming to everyone. The staff are just as friendly and personable, adding to the overall pleasant dining experience. What’s more, every dish is made with fresh ingredients and without any of that greasiness you sometimes find elsewhere, making it an ideal spot for both breakfast and lunch. Stopping by Dudley’s while traveling or making it a part of your local weekend routine, you’re sure to be greeted with fresh, delicious food and a warmth that’s becoming too rare these days. It’s a place that not only serves great meals but also builds wonderful memories.

El Zacatecano

655 E Alisal St, Salinas

(831) 796-0818

Reviewed by:

Tu Walker

Visited El Zacatecano for brunch while in Salinas and was thoroughly impressed by their delicious Mexican dishes. The carne asada caught my attention for being exceptionally tender and flavorful. Alongside, the cheese enchilada, beef flauta, beans, and rice made for a satisfying meal. What stood out besides the food was the friendly and patient staff, making the experience even better. This place truly offers authentic Mexican food, outstanding service, and good prices, all packed in a no-frills atmosphere that adds to its charm. Definitely a spot I'd return to when in town. It quickly became one of my favorite places to eat, especially the cheese enchiladas which were amazing. The salsa served had the perfect kick, enhancing the meal further. The friendly staff adds to the appeal of this casual, no-frills spot that serves dishes bursting with flavor, reminiscent of home-cooked meals. The flank steak and sides were another highlight, and the fast, friendly service made the experience even better. Not to forget, the coffee was good too.

Waffles Breakfast & Lunch Restaurant

1465 N Main St, Salinas

(831) 442-8880

Reviewed by:

Jerre Flores

First time going to this place and right from the start, the staff made me feel welcome with their friendly demeanor, creating a homey atmosphere that was really inviting. The food was simply fantastic. My favorite dish had to be the Special Omelette and the biscuits n' gravy – both were to die for. Definitely looking forward to returning when I'm in the area again! During my visit, I experienced a slight hiccup with my meal, but the staff was quick to resolve the issue, which really spoke to their dedication to customer satisfaction. Despite that minor inconvenience, my overall experience remained positive. The customer service was top-notch throughout the visit. The hostess greeted us with such warmth, and our waitress was attentive, catering to all our requests efficiently. Another highlight for me was finding grits on the menu – it had been a mission of mine to find a good spot for grits on the west coast, and this restaurant did not disappoint. It truly felt like finding a hidden gem. The variety on the breakfast menu looked promising, and while there were a few misses with some of the dishes, the effort put into each dish was apparent. The enchilada omelet and the egg and cattle steak burger had their ups and downs, but the toast was perfectly buttered, and portions of the meal like the steak burger showed potential with decent seasoning. Admittedly, I found the pricing to be on the higher side, particularly for items like the pancakes and waffle. Despite this, the overall experience was more than redeemed by the friendly service and the cozy vibe of the place. In essence, while there were a few areas that could see improvement, the welcoming atmosphere, delightful service, and the hits among the dishes I tried would definitely bring me back for another visit.

Culturas Hidalgo y Oaxaca Restaurant

473 E Market St, Salinas

(831) 975-4766

Reviewed by:

Peter Gaulke

Had an amazing brunch experience at Culturas Hidalgo y Oaxaca Restaurant. From the moment I stepped in, the vibe was welcoming, and the place felt like a family-friendly gem in Salinas. The "Estilo Hidalgo" menu options did not disappoint – every single dish was a hit. It's rare to find such a spot that truly stands out, but this restaurant does just that with its super amazing food and incredibly friendly wait staff. Service was quick, which is always a plus. While this isn't your typical Tex-Mex joint, the authenticity and flavors of the dishes are unmatched. The variety of tamales, especially the Oaxaqueña, were exceptional. It's evident that the kitchen prioritizes quality and authenticity above all else, making it a standout dining experience. The effort the staff puts into carry-out orders is also commendable – everything was packed meticulously, ensuring the food remained intact and as flavorful as if dining in. The menu left me curious and eager to explore more of what they have to offer, with the Pork Chile Verde and Shrimp Tacos being uniquely delicious. But it's not just about the food; the overall hospitality is top-notch. The staff's eagerness to make recommendations and ensure we had an enjoyable meal enhanced the experience. They struck the perfect balance of being helpful without being overbearing, making our group feel right at home. And let's not forget about the Mango agua fresca – a must-try. It was refreshing, not overly sweet, and the perfect accompaniment to our meal. This place is a fantastic find, a true "hole in the wall" that exceeds expectations with its delightful dishes and warm atmosphere. A return visit is definitely in the cards.

Black Bear Diner

1391 N Davis Rd, Salinas

(831) 449-1545

Reviewed by:

Johnny Mckinney

This chain is definitely a go-to for me, especially for brunch in Salinas. Signing up for the rewards program is a no-brainer, offering a free breakfast upon joining and another on my birthday. The dishes are consistently satisfying, and the portions generous. The unique decor and the variety of music from the jukebox add to the overall enjoyable experience. I do have a small wish for them to open a location in Big Bear, California, though! On my recent visit around 7 am, I was impressed by the outstanding service. My server, Olga, was exceptionally polite and attentive, always ready with a smile and a positive attitude to any questions that came up. The presentation of the food was appealing, and the taste lived up to the appearance. I tried something new: Eggs Benedict with chicken fried steak instead of the usual Canadian Bacon. This dish was a delightful surprise, packed with flavor in every bite. Despite the hollandaise sauce being slightly off visually, it tasted fantastic. The biscuits and gravy were a hit, with the biscuits being notably large. The Country Potatoes were well-cooked, though the vegetables in them could have used a bit more time to lose their raw edge. I also had the Spicy Sausage Omelet, which was an unexpected blend of flavors thanks to the onions, bell peppers, and homemade chili sauce. It turned out to be one of the best breakfasts I've had in quite a while. However, my latest visit didn't hit the mark as previous experiences. Service lacked the usual attentiveness, and there was a disappointing incident with an out-of-stock item I was looking forward to trying. Despite the hiccup in service and a mix-up with meal orders, the food quality remained high, although the presentation and portion size didn't justify the price for the asada tacos. Just one taco for $13.99 without sides was a letdown. Despite the recent missteps, my past experiences have generally been positive, and I'll likely return, hoping for the consistency I've come to expect. It's important for a restaurant to offer both excellent food and service to keep patrons coming back.


Sherwood Gardens Shopping Center, 917B N Main St, Salinas

(831) 757-3164

Reviewed by:

Jon Syeda

Heading over to Starbucks for brunch in Salinas always sets a positive tone for my day. Despite the exterior of the store not always looking its best, the service I receive once I'm at the drive-thru more than makes up for it. Ruth, in particular, has a way of making every drive-thru experience noteworthy. She offers fantastic recommendations and always serves up a good dose of positivity along with the drinks, which is exactly what's needed when managing a busy morning schedule with the kids. The entire team there is friendly and courteous, ensuring my coffee is piping hot, served quickly, and precisely how I prefer it. On occasions when I've gone for the mobile pick-up option, I’ve found their efficiency to be top-notch. Every order has been spot-on, which is quite the feat given how particular I am about my coffee. The Iced Blonde SF Vanilla latte with vanilla cold foam has become my go-to favorite, thanks to their spot-on suggestions. It's these little moments of attentiveness and the effort the staff puts into making sure every visit is a pleasant one that truly sets this Starbucks apart. It's not just about the coffee or the pastries; it's the overall experience that makes me keep coming back. Despite any external shortcomings, the quality of service and the product keeps me loyal to this location. It's a testament to how impactful a positive customer service experience can be.

Portobello's on Main

150 Main St #116, Salinas

(831) 770-6363

Reviewed by:

Bobby Rodriguez

Decided to check out Portobello's on Main for brunch in Salinas after hearing so much about it. Have to say, the place has really stepped up its game since the last time visited. What drew me in was the promise of live music, and it didn't disappoint. There's something about enjoying a meal with live music in the background that just elevates the whole experience. Now, about the food - let's dive in. Took a chance on the Money Burger, a recommendation from our server Ronnie. And wow, Ronnie did not steer wrong. It was absolutely fantastic, cooked to perfection and just bursting with flavors. The rest of the table ventured into the salmon sandwich and a Cuban, and from the looks of it, they were equally impressed. It's not every day you come across a place where every dish is a hit. And then there's the ambiance. The place has this wonderful vibe, a perfect blend of cozy and lively. Despite the music, it wasn't overpowering, which meant we could enjoy our conversation without having to shout. Plus, the full bar is a nice touch, offering a great selection for anyone looking to enjoy a drink with their meal. Admittedly, my experience with brunch here was a mixed bag - had a bit of a mishap with the order, particularly with the French toast. Wasn't quite what was expected but, it's a minor gripe in what was otherwise a delightful visit. Honestly, it's not enough to deter me from coming back or trying out other items on the menu. Besides, any place can have an off moment, and it's the overall experience that truly matters. Must also mention the impeccable service. Ronnie was simply fabulous, offering recommendations that hit the mark and ensuring our visit was nothing short of fantastic. It's servers like Ronnie that can really make a meal memorable. Finally, it's worth noting that parking can be a bit of a challenge, especially on a busy night. But a little bit of a walk didn't dampen the spirits. Between the tasty food, the charming atmosphere, and the friendly staff, Portobello's on Main certainly left a positive impression. Will definitely be back to explore more of what they have to offer.

Stonies Taphouse & Bistro

1366 S Main St, Salinas

(831) 202-0632

Reviewed by:

Juana Haggar

Stopped by for a quick bite and stumbled upon a gem! The menu had a fantastic mix between BBQ and Spanish selections, ranging from savory tacos to mouth-watering brisket. The server who attended to us was not only knowledgeable about the tap list and menu but also prompt and welcoming, making the experience even better. I decided on the 5 stack ribs and nachos for my meal. The ribs were perfectly smoky and fell right off the bone, while the nachos were generously topped with meat, cheese, and jalapeños, making each bite better than the last. With a selection of 24 beers on tap and an additional 44 in cans or bottles, making a choice on what to drink was a delightful dilemma. They also had an ample wine selection, catering to a wide range of preferences. The ambiance of the place was inviting; the building was clean, well-lit, and spacious, offering two sides to choose from for seating. Even the restrooms were clean and functional. I’m definitely planning a return visit the next time I'm in the area. It's a great spot for a relaxing and enjoyable dinner. The outdoor seating area is spacious, and the overall service, from the host to the waiter, was outstanding. Everyone was incredibly nice! The beer selection is impressive, and we particularly enjoyed the squeeze blood orange and IPA. The menu was extensive with a lot of great choices, all seeming healthy and tasty. During this visit, we decided to try the Stonie Fries, loaded with Carne Asada and a bunch of toppings; they were super tasty! I also had the Surf and Turf tacos - smoked tri-tip and shrimp with pico de gallo and a chipotle aioli, served in a handmade tortilla - so filling and delicious. The pulled pork quesadilla with BBQ sauce and mango salsa was a standout, and the rib sandwich, a half rack of ribs with crispy onion strings on a toasted French roll, was simply unforgettable. We ended with pulled pork sliders, opting for onion rings instead of fries, which was a perfect combo. I can't overlook the staff; everyone was exceedingly nice and friendly. Will definitely be back! My visit during a stand-up comedy night was a mix of highs and lows. The place was bustling, which was to be expected on a Friday night with an event. However, the additional charges like the $25 for the comedy show tickets and a surprising $20 table fee because an extra table was needed for us were a bit disappointing. It would have been appreciated if there had been transparency about these charges from the start. On a brighter note, the cheesecakes and the frozen margarita were highlights of the night, being delightfully presented and delicious. Overall, I’d rate my experience as mixed. While the food and drinks were enjoyable, the unexpected charges were a downside. Nonetheless, the positive aspects would definitely bring me back.

Elli's Great American Restaurant

1250 S Main St, Salinas

(831) 759-8455

Reviewed by:

Pilar Thornton

Visited Elli's Great American Restaurant for brunch in Salinas for the first time and, despite a few hiccups, the experience turned out to be delightful. Initially, there was a mix-up with half of my order, but the staff promptly fixed the issue, and the manager personally came over to apologize, which was a nice touch. Also, one dish was served cold, but it didn't deter from the adventure of trying their menu, which included pancakes, a roast beef French dip, chilaquiles, and a couple of other combo plates. The Prime Rib and Margarita were standout items- simply fantastic. Choosing this spot while in town for Rennsport 7 for dinner was a decision well made. On request for a cozy seating area due to the chill from the day's weather, the staff accommodated us with the perfect booth, making the dining experience even more comfortable. The food turned out to be phenomenal, and the service was both fast and friendly, which is always a plus in my book. The cleanliness of the restaurant also didn't go unnoticed. Having visited a few times before, it’s safe to say it never disappoints, especially for breakfast/brunch. This visit, the eggs with bacon, hash browns, and notably the cornbread as a side, were beyond expectations. The cornbread, with its moist texture, slight sweetness, and unique butter spread, was a delight. It’s these little details, like the high-quality bacon and the unique blend in their house-made spread, that make a meal memorable. The staff always exhibits a friendly and attentive demeanor, firmly establishing this restaurant in my rotation of go-to breakfast spots. Between the good service, great food, and the pleasant atmosphere, especially the dining area and outdoor patio, there’s a lot to appreciate here. The stuffed mushrooms with cucumber sauce and the flourless chocolate cookies came highly recommended and did not disappoint. The portion sizes are reasonable, and the array of drinks ensure I'll be coming back for more.

201 Main

201 Main St, Salinas

(831) 800-7573

Reviewed by:

Ahorre Cunningham

I absolutely love 201 Main for brunch in Salinas. The vibe of this place is spot-on with good music creating the perfect backdrop for a leisurely meal. My experience here has been mostly positive. On one occasion during happy hour, there was a bit of confusion over the price of a Moscow mule due to the happy hour menu. However, that small hiccup aside, the experience remained enjoyable. The staff, especially during happy hour, was understanding even when there was a slight misunderstanding about drink pricing. Though not perfect, the willingness to adjust and communicate is something I appreciated. It's not just about the drinks though; the food here is delicious, making each visit satisfying. Socially, 201 Main is a lively spot. I've had the pleasure of meeting some really interesting people here, making each visit unique. Celebrating a friend's birthday here was a blast, thanks to the great music and the vibrant crowd. However, it's worth mentioning that an evening ended on a less than perfect note due to a misunderstanding with security. Despite this, my love for the place hasn't waned. One of my favorite activities 201 Main hosts is the monthly paint and sip events. It's a fun way to unwind, either with friends, a partner, or even solo, surrounded by music and creativity. Plus, the service is always excellent, and the food never disappoints. There's something about the old building's charm combined with live bands that elevates the whole experience. For anyone looking for a place brimming with good vibes, great food, and an assortment of enjoyable activities, 201 Main is a must-visit spot in Salinas. Despite any minor issues, it remains a staple in my brunch and social outing rotation.


975 E Blanco Rd, Salinas

(831) 424-9743

Reviewed by:

Lorena King

Everything was great - from the food to our server. It was a bit slow when we were there, but our server was still very attentive and nice. Just traveling through, but it made for a great late dinner. Special shoutout to Mary for everything! We got seated in a booth as soon as we walked in. The food came out fast and hot. I had the bourbon chicken skillet, which was delicious. Also got a side of onion rings with ranch - definitely didn't disappoint. My boyfriend had the bacon avocado burger, and he dove in so fast that I didn't get a chance to snap a pic! We'll definitely be back. The service was friendly, the restaurant was clean, the food was hot and tasty. The hospitality was the best I've experienced in a long time. Overall, I was really pleased with the whole dining experience. Thanks a lot!

Eva's Cafe

246 Williams Rd, Salinas

(831) 998-8820

Reviewed by:

Elaine Hansen

My 12:30 lunch at Eva's Cafe turned out to be an exceptional experience, thanks in no small part to our server's infectious smile and attentive service. Despite the bustling atmosphere, she maintained a warm and professional demeanor, making our meal even more enjoyable. The sope and Jamaica/Hibiscus drink were standout choices from the menu, both of which I would heartily recommend. The cafe itself offers a welcoming atmosphere, and if possible, getting a seat at the bar enhances the experience even further. Certainly, this visit won't be my last to this hidden gem. The Molcajete was an absolute delight, featuring a hearty mix of carne asada, grilled chicken, chorizo, and shrimp, perfectly complemented by handmade tortillas, guacamole, rice, beans, nopales, queso fresco, and salsas. It's a generous dish that could easily satisfy 2-3 people. While the establishment may be modest in size, and the aromas from the kitchen pervasive, these aspects don't detract from the overall charm. For those opting for takeout, the wait and the aroma are non-issues. However, dine-in guests should be prepared for a wait ranging from 20-40 minutes - a minor inconvenience given the quality of the food. Parking can be a bit challenging, reflecting the cafe's popularity. The ambiance at Eva's Cafe is quite unique, akin to dining in a trolley where food is served, making every visit memorable. The presentation and freshness of the dishes are commendable, highlighting the use of fresh ingredients. Having worked in various roles within the restaurant industry, I've come to appreciate the importance of good customer service. Here, however, the outstanding cuisine is the star. The offer stands: choose any dish, and it's likely to be love at first bite. Eva's Cafe has firmly established itself as a top dining destination in Salinas, if not the very best. The Ranchero plate, another must-try, exemplifies the generous portion sizes and quality flavors that are trademarks of this establishment. Despite the sometimes lengthy wait, the end result is unquestionably worth it. It's a small venue, but what it lacks in size, it more than makes up for in culinary excellence. Looking forward to my next visit!


1075 N Davis Rd, Salinas

(831) 758-6882

Reviewed by:

Duray Paz

Walking into this IHOP for brunch was a delightful experience. It stood out as the nicest IHOP location I've ever visited, setting the tone for a memorable meal. The service caught my attention right away with its speed and warmth, making me feel welcome from the moment I stepped in. The menu was tempting, but I went for the chicken fajita omelet, and it didn't disappoint—truly amazing! And, as expected, the pancakes lived up to their reputation. Everything about the food exceeded my expectations: it was delicious, well-prepared, and served with a smile. The atmosphere was another highlight. Even on a busy Veterans Day, the place maintained a calm vibe, contributing to a very enjoyable dining experience. Although it was bustling, the wait for service was reasonable, around 5 minutes for drink orders, which is understandable on a holiday. Amy, the staff member who served us, deserves a special shout-out for her exceptional service. Despite the holiday rush, she, along with Lizabeth, ensured we were well taken care of. Their attentiveness made a good meal even better. The only minor hiccup was the ice tea, which wasn’t to my taste, and the cowboy scramble from the menu, which I probably wouldn't order again. However, the Halloween pancakes were a hit with my son, definitely making up for it. Overall, the kindness of the employees added a bonus star to my experience here. Even when busy, this IHOP managed to deliver great service and tasty food, making it a place I'll gladly return to for brunch.


1255 De la Torre St, Salinas

(831) 424-9551

Reviewed by:

Rudy Sanchez

Where do I start? Well, it had been a long stretch since the last visit, over nine years, after moving around a bit. But now, having made my way back twice in less than a month, there's a strong feeling that this will become a regular spot for lunch or early dinner visits. The service here plays a huge role in this newfound loyalty, especially from a couple of the staff members. One seems to be in charge, possibly the manager, and her approach to customer service is nothing short of motherly. She’s incredibly sweet, grounded, and engages with you as if you were part of her family. Then there’s the waitress who has been absolutely wonderful on both visits. Karen, her name brings a smile to my face. Far from the stereotype her name might suggest, she’s been nothing but a delight. Her warmth, humor, and empathy shine through, making each visit memorable. She’s definitely a key reason for my frequent returns. The food is pretty decent too, but it’s Karen's outstanding service and the hospitable atmosphere she creates that stand out. During my visits, even when they were swamped, she ensured my coffee was never empty, and the salmon dish I tried was notably the best I’d had at any Denny’s in Salinas. Not only is the service commendable, but I also have to mention the cleanliness of the place. Despite the hubbub, they manage to keep the restaurant, especially the restrooms, in pristine condition, always smelling fresh. While once an experience left a bit to be desired due to a small mishap with the coffee service, the overall quality, friendliness, and cleanliness make it a spot worth recommending. Hands down, this Denny’s has won over my brunch heart, and I’m looking forward to many more visits, hopefully with Karen’s delightful company and service.


2005 N Main St, Salinas

(831) 449-3523

Reviewed by:

Stephanie Brooking-Parker

My visits to Denny's for brunch in Salinas have become a cherished tradition over the last 25 years, and a significant part of that experience comes down to the incredible service I receive every time. My server, Stephanie, has been a constant presence through many of these visits, and it's not an overstatement to say that she's a big reason I keep coming back. No matter how busy the restaurant gets, she ensures my family and I are well taken care of, blending professionalism with a warmth that makes us feel genuinely welcome. Our conversations over the years have added a personal touch to each visit, making our dining experience about more than just the food. Speaking of which, the menu continues to impress. On my latest visit, the Salmon was exceptionally tender, perfectly complemented by the rich flavors of the bourbon skillet. We rounded off our meal with an apple crisp for dessert, which was simply divine. The restaurant itself always meets the mark on cleanliness, and the entire staff exudes friendliness, contributing to a pleasant and inviting atmosphere. I did notice a price increase, around 30%-40% from last year, which seems to be in line with wider trends, yet the quality and service continue to justify the cost. There are new items on the menu, which is always refreshing to see. Although there was a curious note in the menu that caught my attention, it didn't detract from the overall enjoyable experience. Everything from the attentive service we received from our server, Eduardo, who had a great smile and was always on hand to assist, to the delicious meal we enjoyed, lived up to the high standards I’ve come to expect from Denny's. Returning to this Denny's feels like coming home, where familiar faces greet you, and the food is always comforting. It's these consistent, positive experiences that keep me looking forward to my next visit.

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