Alvarado Street is Monterey's "corazon". I learned that Monterey was California's first capital. Just as there are many things here that I wished we had seen, such as the Monterey Museum of Art, there are other things that we bumped into during our inumerable walks.
Monterey has also acquired an international flavor brought about by the likes of Mexican, Asian, and Arab immigrants. You can hear foreign languages being spoken in the streets, and Latino music is ubiquitous in certain areas. The blond hair, blue eyed stereotypic Californian is being eclipsed by more exotic looking beings. One evening we visited Bay Books at 316 Alvarado Street (831)375-1855 which was touted in one of the local newspapers. Its offerings were not extraordinary, and its coffee shop was probably more popular than its books. The marriage of bookstore to café here is prominent, as it promotes conversation and idea exchanges. Bay Books has good magazine section with a foreign journals and magazines like Marie Claire Maison and a couple of others.
If the java does not tickle your fancy here, just go up the street a few steps to Starbucks where you can order what you want.
Alvarado has other high points to it, such as restaurants like Cibo(loud and live music), Rosine's, Lallapalooza & Tutto Buono. Whichever one you decide to patronize, you can be sure that much of the produce used is grown locally; I saw more artichoke farms, radicchio, asparagus, garlic, zucchini and all sorts of lettuce. We also made a quick inquiry stop at the Monterey Hotel on Alvarado which looked very quaint. It's located at 406 Alvarado Street and the rates appeared to be very reasonable.
As this is the old downtown area, there are buildings that date back to the time when Monterey still belonged to Mexico; you will find several plaques along that street explaining historical facts. The newer area is along Lighthouse Avenue.