Not so long ago we decided to take a road trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco via the legendary California State Routh 1! This coast-hugging drive will without any doubt leave you speechless and turn you into a storyteller. We drove for 10 hours to reach San Francisco and on our way, we made a couple of interesting stops that I will post in the upcoming weeks. One of our stops was Monterrey Bay. This working – class seaside town, which is located on central California’s Pacific coast, presently surprised us.
If you have heard before about Monterrey Bay it must have been about its outstanding Aquarium, where visitors can view an impressive array of sea life, including stingray, jellyfish, sea otter, seals, sea lion, dolphin, and blue fin and yellow fin tuna exhibits. But Monterey is more than just its aquarium; the city is a historical relic, full of expertly restored factory buildings and compounds from California’s ‘’industrial boom’’ era as well as plenty of restaurants, shops and stunning ocean views with unparalleled marine life.
We arrived late, and after checking in we decided to drive 10 min from our Hotel to the Fisherman’s Wharf where we expected to find a good place to eat. The Wharf is filled with restaurants mostly focusing on seafood as well as standard souvenir shops. However, this is the place to go if you're interested in whale-watching tours or a kayaking excursion on the bay. The abundance of choice when it comes to dining and lack of familiarity with the city played a big role in our pick that night. I’m not going to say that we are cheap but the restaurant we ended up going into had a great selection of happy hour drinks, a fireplace + a stunning port view. Domenico’s on The Wharf is an Italian style restaurant that specializes in fresh seafood, has a separate dining and lounge area and can easily seat 115 guests. We had a wonderful table next to the window and the staff was super attentive. A dish that attracted me the most that night was ‘Prawns Scampi Castroville’ which is basically a pan-seared prawn, artichokes, fresh garlic, basil, white wine, and capellini. Although it sounded good I just couldn’t stomach even eating half of my dish. It tasted more like a soup with ingredients in it than a pasta and on top of that, the cardinal sin was the unreasoning of pretty much every single ingredient. At this point, I must applaud the brilliant service who jumped right in and exchanged the dish at no cost. I decided to place my fate (and hunger) in the hands of our waiter who suggested the Daily Special of the day - Mixed Seafood Grill! This entrée included Swordfish, Salmon, and Prawns on the grill served with Lemon Caper Butter Sauce, Mashed potatoes, and sautéed vegetables. I was delighted and this time there was nothing left on my plate. My hubby, on the other hand, went for ‘Cioppino’. A marvelous dish that consists of Fresh fish, Dungeness crab, prawns, scallops, mussels, calamari and clams in a tomato and shellfish broth with basil and grilled bread. Not to break from Italian dining tradition, we also ordered a dessert trio which consists of chocolate mousse, cannoli, and tiramisu. After dinner, we wanted to stay longer and enjoy the cocktails but the long drive got the better of us so we ended up going to bed early.
Next day we walk up feeling ready to continue exploring this amusing coastal town and we just had to check out the next tourist ‘’must see’’ destination – The Cannery Row. Cannery Row is the waterfront street in the New Monterey section of Monterey, California. It is the site of several now-defunct sardine canning factories. The last cannery closed in 1973. Although the street awakens the reminiscence of the long gone Industrial era, most of the factories are now turned into boutiques, small bistros, and souvenir shops. As it was early morning and I needed a coffee fix, we decided to have our breakfast at ‘Austino's Patisserie’. Unfortunately, the food here is very bland and unimpressive with a price tag that doesn't match the quality or the quantity.
Although our romance with food at Monterey was short lived, the city itself charmed us. Besides the Cannery Row, The Fisherman’s Wharf and The Aquarium you must also visit Carmel-by-the-Sea. This exclusive hub of art galleries, boutiques, hotels, shops, fine restaurants and whimsically styled homes evokes a storybook ambiance that can be appreciated by romantics of all ages. It’s no wonder why Travel + Leisure has named it as one of the "World's Best Cities for Romance." Fun Fact: Neon signs, billboards, and hot dog stands are prohibited in the quaint village of Carmel-by-the-Sea, and a permit is required to wear high-heeled shoes.
Before (and after ) Monterey we made two stops at some popular tourist attraction which I will talk about in my upcoming posts! Stay tuned!
We stayed at the Pelican Inn. You can book it here: