We love good, dark atmosphere. Haunted houses at Halloween. Gothic Cathedrals. Anything rich, mysterious and enchanting. We blame the beginning of Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean ride — floating through an eerie bayou at dusk — for setting the bar artificially high. But sometimes reality can trump theater. And Old Monterey’s collection of historical buildings succeeds in oozing rich, bewitching goodness.
Enjoyed more for it’s natural landscape and seaside charm, Monterey is less noted for its historical significance and related architecture. It’s downtown area is home to numerous beautiful Spanish estates from the 1800s. If you’ve seen the California missions, you know the deal: Spanish style adobes with courtyard gardens filled with shade trees and cacti that surround burbling fountains. But not many folks know about these somewhat hidden properties. You’re likely to be alone on a visit and the solitude enhances the already charged air that historical places often yield. Spooky cool!
Nestled within this area is Restaurant 1833. It captures that coveted yet elusive concept: a sense of place. Just as visitors to New England crave a good lobster roll after a day at the beach, you’ll crave Restaurant 1833 after touring Monterey’s historic core. Placed on LA’s Sunset Strip, it might be mistaken for another House of Blues. But set within it’s own context, it is nothing less than magical.
Housed in the atmospheric 19th century Stokes Adobe, the restaurant’s rich interior is dressed with period pieces, including some sourced from Hearst Castle. It’s lit by flickering candelabras and dazzling fireplaces. It’s the most charm you’ll find west of New Orleans’ French Quarter.
Adding to the romance, the two-story home is reputedly haunted by its notable former residents. Incestuous fraudster? Check. Socialite maven? Check. And thankfully now: delicious barrel-aged Negroni? Check. Restaurant 1833 easily has the best bar program within a 100-mile radius thanks to talented barman Michael Lay. Kick off your visit with one of the better cocktails on the list, a Commander-in-Chief. It’s a boozy riff on a Boulevardier sweetened with Cherry Herring.
In addition to the great ambience, what we love about Restaurant 1833 is how versatile it is to dine there. You can sit down to a proper meal in one of many distinct dining rooms or treat it like a gastropub by drinking and noshing in the lounge, library or outside patio ringed with fire pits. We obviously adore the decor, but the food is great too. The sumptuous ambience inspires feasts and the menu delivers with hearty dishes like Bacon Cheddar Biscuits, Crispy Pork Belly and a whole wood-fire roasted Truffle Chicken. After dinner, cap your meal with a visit from the ceremonious Art Deco absinthe cart which roams the dining rooms seeking out the brave.
Restaurant 1833 is one of our favorite restaurants in California. To the restaurant and Stokes Adobe — and accompanying ghosts — we proudly present our vaunted Solie Award. Cheers!
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Here’s the recipe for our favorite drink at Restaurant 1833. Michael, the bar manager, encourages you to serve it with appropriate fanfare.
Commander in Chief Cocktail
Created by Michael Lay
2 ounces Bulleit Rye
1/2 ounce Carpano Antica
1/2 ounce Campari
1/2 ounce Cherry Heering
2 dashes of Fee’s Orange Bitters
Flamed orange zest, to garnish
Stir the rye, Carpano Antica, Campari, Cherry Heering and bitters together. Rinse coup glass with smokey scotch. Garnish with a flamed strip of orange zest and serve.