Where is the best and biggest?
We go to Scomas in SF and Grotto where you get the large portions of crab.
Anything like this in Monterey?
Be aware that it is off-season for local Dungeness crab and any crab Louie you get will be from previously frozen crab....not the best. It's apt to be shredded body meat and nor the wonderful crab claws and legs that you get in a Louie from from a fresh crab. If by chance they may have flown in fresh crab from the Northwest that would be great, but it will be very expensive. I always ask the server if what they are offering is fresh crab. Eight times out of ten they will tell the truth. But if you are used to eating crab you can easily tell the difference.
I'd prefer to get crab when they're in season. You can go pretty much anywhere else in the country and get the same crab, sometimes prepared better and sometimes fresher, depending on where you are. Even the crab they have at the local fish market is from Alaska or BC this time of year. I've never understood why people come down here and want crab all the time, but that's what the tourist-oriented restaurants tend to offer. By wanting crab, you're essentially shopping for experience instead of food. That said, I'd probably just take someone to one of the places on the wharf if they wanted crab. You at least get a nice view and the service is usually decent. You could also go to Chart House. Probably a bit more expensive, but it's a nice place.
What’s fresh and local right now?
Sardines, squid and sanddabs are always local and almost always available, though you don't see sardines on the menu much. Rockfish is usually available. Salmon season is still open, but you have to ask, because restaurants often have BC salmon. It's also important to choose your restaurant wisely. The aquarium runs an international program called Seafood Watch, where they partner with restaurants to serve responsible and sustainable seafood: seafoodwatch.org/consumers/support-our-partn…
Passionfish, in my experience, has been particularly great at only serving only responsible options, so the menu changes all the time.
Check out the Sandbar and Grill on the municipal pier in Monterey. A nice combination of locals and tourists along with really nice seafood. You enter down a few stairs so your view is at water level...something different. Bring lots of quarters for the pier meters as they are monitored.
Ate at Fisherman’s Grotto. Usually eat there when here. Always good.
Will try someplace different tomorrow.
Local king salmon is excellent if you can find it. This year's season is very short but still open. There's a new restaurant in Pacific Grove, Wild Fish (I've yet to try it), that may have it. Passionfish as mentioned above is very good and sources sustainably though not necessarily locally.
The sardine fishery has been closed since 2015 https://www.sfgate.com/news/article/Echoes-o…