It was a brilliant Saturday morning as we drove through Monterey, California to Pacific Grove. Our bodies still on East Coast time, we were ready for lunch even though it was still breakfast time. Fortunately, Tillie Gort’s Cafe was ready to take our lunch order. This cozy cafe had a homespun and small town feel. Regulars that came in for lunch were greeted by name. But, us weary travelers were still welcomed with open arms – and raspberry iced tea.
The menu has a unique mix of Mexican specialties, coffee house classics, salads, pastas and sandwiches. While this restaurant does have items that cater to the omnivore, the main focus in on vegetarian items. Many of the items featured artichokes a local fresh favorite. We opted to dig into their specials – a polenta dish and the paella.
The sauce with the polenta was bright and fresh in flavor. It was as if the tomatoes were plucked straight off the vine then put into the marinara sauce right when I placed my order. The polenta was grilled lightly to perfection. The spinach was sauteed with the right amount of oil so it did not become soggy. If you’re ordering this for dinner, I’d check the portion as you might want to get a salad or another side. The amount given was perfect and light enough for lunch.
The vegetarian paella was absolute comfort food and tasted as if it had been simmered for hours. The combination of artichoke hearts, peas, red and green peppers, and tomatoes were surrounded by a creamy arborio rice. The dish was wiped clean of all traces of food by the time the meal was over.
Tillie Gort’s Cafe is located a short walk from the Monterey Aquarium and is worth a visit for a relaxed lunch.
Tillie Gort’s Cafe
111 Central Ave
Pacific Grove, California 93950