Search This Blog

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.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Zmak Some Sense Into You

Maybe you are like me. Not so bright.

It took my remedial self repeat visits to Marina—to the largest ginger purveyor in the world, The Ginger People, to the under-appreciated Italian hideout Frutti de Mar, to new addition Noodle Bar, to always good D'Anna Thai and city standby Dishes Bistro—to actively remember that Marina is an excellent destination for lunch and dinner.

A big contributor to that shift in understanding wasn't word that Tommy's has $1 breakfasts or insider knowledge that Kula Ranch claims some of the best sports-watching specials (and dog menus), though they do. It was the International Flavors of Marina annual event. The party's a bargain, and always leaves my belly stuffed with well-crafted snacks and my pockets stuffed with business cards.

I test drove Mayor Bruce Delgado's electric car at the last one. Soon after, Delgado charged up an effort to better announce those flavors with signs and promotions during the U.S. Open, which helped score a sizeable boom in restaurant business.

Now, Marina is doing its own Restaurant Week Jan. 22-28, something only possible in a town this size with enough quality restaurants and industry cohesion.

Ten restaurants are involved in the sophomore run. I asked longtime champion of Marina, event chair and Chamber of Commerce player Tina Zmak for her recommendations at the establishments involved, and she hit me with the following insights after consulting with similarly qualified Marina taste testers like her husband Steve and Susan and Jay Boettner.

Each of the restaurants or other food movers below is involved in Restaurant Week, in which guests earn passport stamps for each place visited, which are then translated into entries in a prize drawing for free dinners. Eat at seven spots, get seven chances to win a package of 10 dinners.

Here are Zmak's favorite ways to enjoy 10 top Marina spots:

Coffee Mia Brew Bar
Caprese gourmet panini (tomato, mozzarella and basil w/ pesto on green onion focaccia) and a cannoli for dessert

El Palmar
Two sopes with guacamole (a vegetarian special)

English Ales Brewery
Fish and chips with a Black Hound Stout

Everyone’s Harvest Marina Farmers Market
Anything fresh and organic!

Clam chowder in a bread bowl and Francisco's enchilada (with chicken)

Kula Ranch Island Steakhouse
Fire-roasted artichokes appetizer and certified Angus filet mignon

Marina Village Restaurant
Everyday breakfast special (two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausages and choice of pancakes, French toast or rice for only $5.75)

Michael’s Grill & Taqueria
House burrito (charbroiled shrimp, blackened chicken, rice, cheese)

The Otter’s Den
Wine Down Wednesday complimentary assortment of cheeses when you order a glass of wine

Wild Thyme Deli & Cafe
Greek salad served with hummus and pita chips