Best of the Best 2012: Dining: Restaurant 1833

For a time, Restaurant 1833 (831.643.1833, www.restaurant1833.com) seemed unlikely to become a standard-bearer for today’s casual yet savvy approach to fine dining. Its debut was beset by long delays, and two chefs came and went before it finally opened last summer in the Stokes Adobe, a historic landmark amid the curio shops of California’s Monterey Peninsula. But when it did, it had a stunning interior design and chef Levi Mezick (a veteran of Per Se and Daniel) in the kitchen. It soon came into its own as a true destination restaurant—a temple not to hoity-toity gastronomy but to the deep pleasures of eating and drinking with good friends, and the more the merrier. Whole lobes of foie gras are roasted in a wood oven and served family style. Truffled chickens and massive bone-in rib-eye steaks are roasted whole and carved for the table to share. The bar barrel-ages its signature cocktails. Ted Glennon, already gaining accolades as one of the nation’s top sommeliers, delves deep into the nearby Santa Lucia Highlands, and rounds out the wine list with European selections from private cellars.

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