Travelers who find themselves on the charming Central California coast are well advised to stop in to Corkscrew Café (corkscrewcafe.com), an almost unbelievably cute eatery tucked into the rolling hills outside Carmel. With its early Monterey mission meets-Provençal farmhouse décor and vibrant gardens, this gem from the same folks behind Carmel's well-liked Casanova restaurant is almost worth a trip in and of itself.
Settle into a table on the popular terrace when the weather is nice, or dine in one of the spot's appealingly well-lit dining rooms, where colorful walls and cool tile floors act as antidotes to the sometimes scorching heat outside. When it comes to food, the spot's a haven for diners who appreciate low-frills fare made with only the freshest ingredients (there's an on-site garden, natch). Don't miss the signature pâté of duck and pistachio, the daily-changing selection of burgers and sandwiches made exclusively from hormone-free meats and the superbly simple desserts made in-house. Wash it all down with a rich red from Georis Winery - located next door and owned by the same family - then linger to check out the café's impressive collection of antique corkscrews.
55 West Carmel Valley Rd., Carmel Valley, CA 93921 * (831) 659-8888 * Open for lunch Mon-Sat & dinner Fri & Sat