Salinas is not super fancy, but if you had wanted elegant dining, you would have gone on to Pacific Grove or Monterey. Favorite Chinese: Dynasty Court around the corner from Safeway off N. Main kitty corner from the mall. They have a special secret enormous menu available by request. On the South Side, try the Eagle, unassuming in appearance, but cheap and delicious. Mexican: too many to name. Many are great. Don't miss the catering trucks parked on Market St. (Head East from the Market Street exit on 101 in the evening). Follow your nose to the best one. Gino's on Highway 68 heading to Monterey is a pretty Italian restaurant. Monterey Bay Brew Pub on the First block of Main St. (Not to be confused with North Main, or South Main) down from the new Maya movie theater. Try the vegetable sandwich at lunch time. Don't miss breakfast at First Awakenings on the corner of the first block of Main St. and Gabilán. There is a daily (except Sunday and Monday) lunch by reservation in John Steinbeck's boyhood home, 2 blocks from the National Steinbeck Center. Call for a reservation (831) 424-2735 The Steinbeck house is fantastic if you want an alternative to chain restaurants! This is history, literature, great food, and an ' I 've actually been somewhere' experience for the traveler. There's a good Thai restaurant on the 2nd block of Main Street, but be careful, Thai-hot is hotter than Mexican-hot. Order cautiously.