.A Day Trip to Salinas Offers a Variety of Stellar New Dining Options

From Alvarado Street Brewery’s latest spot to Cali Glizzy Hot Dogs, historic Main Street is hopping

Oldtown Salinas’ latest foodie addition will feature some of the best deep-dish pizza in the tri-county area, which is good to hear. 

To learn it will also include a concert venue, banquet hall and—be still, mini-umbrella lovers—a tiki bar gets toward crazy good. 

So it goes with Heirloom Pizza 2.0, coming to historic Main Street in late spring or early summer. 

Co-owner Michael Foley, who once worked at Felton Pantry and played in a Santa Cruz-based band, knows the plans for their 12,000 square feet sound ambitious but emerge from simple passions. 

“It has all our favorite things: tiki bar, live music, pizza,” he says. “It’s going to be a jewel of Salinas’ downtown revitalization.”

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Co-owner Kristen Wood adds that the drinks and foodstuffs will thrive on fresh produce and homemade dressings that make Heirloom Monterey a community go-to.

“We’re fully excited to bring all the fresh ingredients we currently use,” she says, “while expanding on what we already do.”

But the craziest thing about Heirloom is that it’s only the latest savory element coming amid the ongoing resurrection of Oldtown. 

Over a half dozen spots have settled into spaces within recent months, which inspired Good Times to take a field trip to the Salad Bowl of the World. Here appear a few to prioritize in alphabetical order: 

Alvarado on Main: The latest installment from the award-winning Alvarado Street Brewery team occupies a former bank with soaring ceilings. It opened in November and hosts a packed house every time I stop by. The cinematic ambiance draws visitors, the casual-contemporary fare (think lobster rolls and Valley flatbreads), craft cocktails, a raw bar and—yes—outstanding beer.

Altura Lounge & Bistro/Cali Glizzy Hot Dogs: Altura debuted full-service in an indoor-outdoor venue just off Main Street last week. The menu stars rustic Italian finds like Nonna’s lasagna, Little Sicily calzones, linguini and clams and oven-baked fennel-sausage sandwiches. Sister spot Cali Glizzy came a week or so before on the opposite side of Main with loaded hot dogs like the “So Salinas,” with nacho cheese, grilled onions, jalapeños and crushed Hot Cheetos on a Hawaiian roll. 

Brew-N-Krew Ale House: Salinas natives Marlene Garcia and Steven Corona launched their atypical Latinx-leaning beer spot—resplendent with pink feathered walls and a working brewery—last spring. House beers take on names like La Chika Freza, Lokura and Ponte Las Piñas, and the resulting vibe gets social fast.

Last Call Bar and Grill: This joint came online in summer with caloric abandon, throwing down six types of chicken strips, seven takes on wings, and loaded baked potatoes, Philly cheese steaks, flap steaks and smoked rib tips to boot. Full bar and a youthful vibe too. 

Mangia Eat and Drink on Main: The thoroughly family-run and homespun spot arrived amid Covid and immediately earned honors as one of the year’s best new restaurants. The formula—beyond dad in the kitchen, mom at the counter and kids everywhere else: from-scratch Italian items with attention to detail. The truffle-infused gnocchi in gorgonzola cream is a keeper.

In other words, throwing a head of lettuce around Oldtown is hard without hitting a new spot, a forthcoming debut or a storefront with potential. Among them is a massive mixed-use project at 300 Main, which could host four restaurants and/or retail spots on its bottom floor. 

One irony that brings up: Salinas is a place that’s both famous internationally and under-appreciated locally—which now merits an update.

4 COMMENTS

  1. Brew-N-Krew beer isn’t good in the sense that it follows a style, they do their own thing. If you go there expecting a style of beer it won’t happen. Tastes watered down. People go there for the ambiance.

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  2. Before or after a bite to eat in Oldtown Salinas stop by the Salinas Valley Art Gallery 218 Main Street. It is a hidden gem full of local artists for 47 years. They have twenty artists: painting artists, jewelry artists, potters, fiber artists, photographers and a mosaic artist.
    Sunday-Thursday: 11-3pm
    Friday: 11-6pm and First Friday 5-8pm
    Saturday: 10-6pm

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  3. Old town is our favorite place to be. I always say, “you could really be here all day and walk around trying new things, new cocktails!” Love every one of these new spots!

    The pizzas at Alvarado are to live for. The beers at Brew-N-Krew are one-of-a-kind and the ambience in these places are something you crave, so comfortable and vibrant!

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  4. Two other good newer places downtown are Amapola Kitchen & Wine Bar, and the Great British Baking Company.

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