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Let's eat.

From Big Sur's killer cliff-clinging eateries to Salinas' unparalleled produce, this blog aims to sniff out all things Monterey County can stomach, via picture and prose, curiosity and appetite, hand and mouth.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Love for Mundaka Lunch

Beautiful news by the sea: Mundaka (624-7400) is rockin' for lunch 11:30am-2:30pm Tuesday through Saturday...

Chef Brandon Miller was the master of the heirloom tower at Stokes, and the guru's still got it. His house-pulled mozzarella remains mighty, the tomatoes meaty-earthy excellent, and the combination of sea salt and a honey-like gastrique a godly accent to the assemblage. The mozarella salad is $12, but worth it.

Gaston Georis, co-owner of Casanova and uncle to Mundaka commander-in-chief Gabe Georis, made one his lunch.

The tapas—like this cous cous treat—are still there for the tasting on the bar for $2 a toothpick. Spanish native Nico also swooped some by our seats.

The padron peppers ($7) are back in all their seasonal, smoky, Maldon-salty glory. I could eat 18. Check that. I did eat 18.

Little silver slivers of the sea—boquerones, or white anchovies with olive oil, vinegar, garlic and parsley—present a sustainable treat ($7).

And it's not really tapas without the papas. Ordering up the simple satisfaction of the fried bravas ($5) with a little life from chili and aoili seems automatic for this hombre.

The cauliflower gratin earns my recommendation, meanwhile, for its blend of purple vegetable, horseradish and gruyere cheese.

I was heading toward the open face goat cheese sandwich with oven-roasted ratatouille ($9) that two Carmel Visitors Center lunchers were breathlessly oooing over at a nearby two-top—until Miller recommended the steak sandwich with cauliflower and shoestring fries on the side.

Nice call, chef—the foccacia style bread is a nice vehicle for the supertender filet and Spanish onion jam, and the fries are just right.

While we were eating, the night's fish special swam in. That's superb server Nico, who helped hatch the idea of the restaurant with Gabe and his brother Nico over drinks and grub in Spain, on the left.

And for the lunch that really means business, the wine list remains blanketed by great values like a Vinho Verde we plucked for 15 bucks.

In short, the best city for sit-down lunch on the Peninsula—the land of Dametra (622-7766), Basil (626-8226) and Bouchee (626-7880)—just got better.

Can I get an amen from the congregation.