A Weekend Getaway in Monterey!

Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa
400 Cannery Row
Monterey, CA, 93940

Despite the age of the building, this place truly values customer service. The first night, I made a passing comment about the extinguished lobby fireplace (“Aww…”), and a bell staff member overheard me and offered, “I can turn it back on for you if you’d like!” The second night, I ended up bringing a book downstairs to read next to the warm fireplace as a live performer serenaded us with hits from Stevie Wonder to John Mayer. Afterwards, I was craving some calamari (not listed on any of the resort menus) and room service offered to special order it for me late at night! Not the mention, the ocean view from this resort is drop-dead gorgeous. Easily 5 stars.

Chart House Restaurant
444 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA

Considering how late we arrived in Monterey and left for dinner (10pm), I fully intended to eat only appetizers. Instead, we ended up ordering oysters on the half shell, steamed mussels (in a garlic & white wine base), the soup sampler with clam chowder, lobster bisque, and gazpacho… and an entree each (plus a bottle of a local riesling from Jekel Vineyards). Talk about weight gain. My yellowfin ahi tuna was seared in a ginger soy sauce and drizzled with a wasabi cream. The risotto that came with it wasn’t that good but the tuna itself was to-die-for… and the lava cake was, well, an explosion of goodness.

The Fish Hopper
700 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA

Samples do work. We passed by this place, they handed us samples of the clam chowder, so we walked in… and I got the clam chowder in a bread bowl (which was like, a garlic bread bowl filled to the brim). The fish and chips weren’t as good (and most menu items were a bit over-priced, especially for lunch), but if you just want to sit down someplace cozy with an awesome view of the bay, go to Fish Hopper.

Monterey Bay Aquarium
886 Cannery Row, Monterey, CA

I have fond memories of coming to this place with my family, but I was slightly disappointed that the outer bay was closed for renovation. (All this means is that I’ll be back again, though!) My favorite animal was the Weedy Sea Dragon, which looked like a fantasy creature too spectacular for our world. Major props, God. You are seriously creative. My second favorite animal? Definitely the sea otter. Just look at this lil’ dude chillin’ like a villain!

Taste of Monterey
700 Cannery Row, 2nd Fl, Monterey, CA

This is what I love about California. You can be next to the ocean (with great seafood) and the Salinas Valley (with great vineyards and therefore wine) — at the same time. We stopped by Taste of Monterey for some wine tasting and ended up leaving with six local bottles of all types. For a $10 tasting, you get two $5 off coupons (1 coupon per bottle only); for the $20 tasting, you get four coupons — as if the tasting were free if you used all the coupons.

P.S. the Sofia Riesling has such pretty packaging! I hope to try their rose one day.

Crystal Fish
514 Lighthouse Ave, Monterey, CA

Rolls pictured below: Monterey roll (softshell crab inside, tuna and crab on top), Green Goblin roll (tuna, albacore, salmon on the inside, tobiko on top), and the Green Salmon roll (asparagus, cucumber, avocado, shiso inside, salmon, jalapeno, and lemon slices on top!). Combination dinners were a pretty good deal if you get assorted sushi or sashimi as one of your choices. Beef teriyaki was actually quality ribeye steak (and they’ll cook them the way you want ’em — even rare) and the shortribs were decent. Tempura bananas with icecream: highly recommended if you save room!

Last night, we ordered a cheese and fruit platter from the hotel to go with the Gewurztraminer we had bought earlier…

…and this afternoon, we drove back in the rain, back to reality and work.