Month: November 2009

More Favorite Places to Eat, Etc. in Monterey Bay

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 First Awakenings, in the American Tin Cannery in Pacific Grove has a charming outdoor patio (with fire pit).  Dishes include California Crepes, Sonoran Frittata, Heartland Frittata, pancakes, eggs Benedict, and more.

 Trail Side Café and Coffeehouse on Cannery Row, along the walking trail, is a charming little place where you can dine inside or on the outside heated patio.  Along with traditional breakfast fare (including Eggs Benedict, omelets, pancakes, etc.), they have breakfast burritos, Huevos Rancheros, French Beignets, and more.


 Hula’s Island Grill and Tiki Room in Monterey has a fun vibe, tropical setting, great food – BBQ ribs, fish tacos, burgers, sandwiches, wraps, bowls, salads, sweet potato fries, etc. – and specialty cocktails.

 Campagno’s Market & Deli in Monterey makes substantial sandwiches and delicious broccoli salad, which are great to take on a picnic at the beach. The sandwiches here are made to order and really are the best!  They’re also huge, so it’s a good idea to split one with someone or order a half.  Located at 2000 Prescott Ave., Monterey. 831-375-5987.

 17th Street Grill in Pacific Grove is casual and inexpensive.  You can eat outside near the big fire pit.  It’s known for its wraps and burgers, but I really like the Chinese chicken salad.  617 Lighthouse Ave., Pacific Grove.  831-373-5474.


 Fresh Cream in downtown Monterey (overlooking Heritage Harbor and Fisherman’s Wharf) romantic and elegant with a French touch and amazing food including filet mignon, lobster tail, sautéed sea bass and much more.  It’s a great pick if fancy schmancy is what you’re looking for.

 Cibo in downtown Monterey is an elegant Italian restaurant that has an extensive and authentic Italian menu – with lots of different appetizers, salads, pasta dishes, pizzas, and steak and seafood specialties.  It also features great live jazz, and is a fun place to come and have a glass of wine while hearing great music.

 Tarpy’s Roadhouse is located at 2999 Monterey Salinas Highway in Monterey.  It’s set in a 1917 roadhouse on five landscaped acres, and features Five Star American Country Cuisine.  Last time I was there, my husband and I had the Cajun Philly Steak Spring Rolls as an appetizer, and I ordered the Angus Filet (served in a balsamic-port wine reduction with asparagus) and my husband ordered the Smokey BBQ Baby Back Ribs (with corn on the cob).  The food and the atmosphere were excellent.


 The Chart House on Cannery Row has a Hot Chocolate Lava Cake that features chocolate liqueur, molten center, ice cream, warm chocolate sauce and Heath Bar Crunch.  This is also a great place to have dinner as the food’s really good, it’s right on the ocean, and has a romantic atmosphere.


 London Bridge Pub on Wharf No. 2 is a fun place to hang out and have a beer.  They also offer a large menu selection with fish and chips, bangers and mash, clam chowder, lots of salads, sandwiches, burgers, and more.


 A Taste of Monterey in Cannery Row overlooks and Monterey Bay and offers wines from over 70 regional wineries.  It’s a relaxing place to enjoy a tasting or a glass of wine while taking in the spectacular view.


Dining in Monterey

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Sardine Factory

When it comes to dining in Monterey, and nearby areas, you can’t go wrong.  There’s something for every taste.  One of my favorites is the world-famous Sardine Factory on (701 Wave St.), Cannery Row.  With a luxurious interior accented with historical remnants, this restaurant features an award-winning menu and wine cellar. 

The Sardine Factory opened in 1968 on a location that used to be a cafeteria for sardine cannery workers.  It has four very different dining rooms, all of which are decked out whimsically and elegantly.  The menu features steak and seafood, and has influences of continental, Asian, and Californian cuisines.  Some standouts are the seared Coriander Crusted Ahi Tuna, Cannery Row Cioppino, and a tasting plate with  all kinds of seafood delights.  The Lounge features live piano music and a happy hour from 5-7 p.m.


Another favorite is Schooners Bistro on the Bay, located in The Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa (400 Cannery Row).  It is a beautifully-designed and relaxing spot for cocktails, lunch or dinner.  Its interior was created to resemble an actual seafaring Schooner, with mahogany floors, mast and sails.  Its outdoor dining patio is an open air, on-the-ocean experience like none other.  This balcony offers the opportunity to dine just above the ocean while watching passing boats, kayakers, sea lions and dolphins and listening to the lightly crashing waves on the rocks below.

The menu features several choices of appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches and other specialties.  Among them are starters like nachos or steamed clams, a delicious dill-broiled sea bass BLT and the popular seafood salad featuring shrimp, crab, endive, mango, avocado, rare ahi and mango dipping sauce.  Also featured is the fresh fish of the day served prepared via a variety of choices – from macadamia crusted to blackened to roasted.  Also, I recommend the Mango Mojito — mentioned in this blog posting:

More Monterey dining suggestions to come.

Monterey – Water Wonderland

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(Continuing Monterey Series)

Monterey offers several ways to experience the ocean and sea life.  Among great vantage points are two parallel wharfs in the Monterey Harbor.  The well-known Old Fisherman’s Wharf is brimming with shops and restaurants.  It’s great for browsing, tasting clam chowder and for strolling in the salt air and taking in the views.  It is also where you can catch whale watching boat excursions.  The nearby Municipal Wharf II features wholesale fish companies, commercial abalone farm, and a few restaurants.  Sea lions are abundant there for obvious reasons. 



If you like being even closer to the water, you can rent kayaks from various companies and locations – including Pacific Grove’s Lover’s Point in Cannery Row or at the Harbor.

 Another great place to view whales from shore is Point Lobos State Reserve (off Highway 1, three miles south of Carmel).  It’s also great for hiking and just taking in the scenery.


Fisherman’s Wharf

Whale Watching

Kayak Rentals


Monterey – Getting Out – Walking Trails

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There is plenty of sightseeing to do in every area of the Monterey Peninsula.   You can either walk or rent bikes (or a family-sized surrey) and hit the Monterey Regional Recreation Trail, a five-mile pathway that runs through Cannery Row and Pacific Grove.  From the ocean-front trail, you’re likely to see sea otters, seals, sea lions, pelicans and more in the not-so-distant bay.  I used to walk this beautiful path every day with my dog Kensi.  On a few occasions, we were encountered by some cranky geese that honked viciously at us when we walked by.  We continued on, amused and unscathed.

There are several additional walking paths to take in even more scenery — vibrant purple flowers, Cypress trees and plants along a backdrop of crystal blue sky.  Also in the vicinity is Lover’s Point in Pacific Grove, a grassy park that overlooks the bay, and is a great vantage point for spotting otters and other sea life.

Monterey Series – Cannery Row History and Monterey Bay Aquarium

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Monterey, Etc. 037 Monterey, Etc. 038

Popular for being the setting for John Steinbeck’s 1945 novel of the same name, Cannery Row has a rich history as the Sardine Capital of the World.  The street was originally called Ocean View Avenue, but was officially renamed Cannery Row in 1958 in honor of Steinbeck, who was a local of the area, and his classic novel.  You can still see remnants of the old sardine canning days among many of the buildings, which now house shops, restaurants, galleries, and businesses.

Among the numerous attributes of Cannery Row is the world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is home to all kinds of sea life – from jellies to penguins to sharks.  Some of my favorites are the Outer Bay exhibit where you can look through the 54-by-15-foot window into one million gallons of sea water and marvel at soupfin and hammerhead sharks, enormous tuna, a giant sea turtle, and the peculiar sun fish. 

Sometimes they even have a great white shark in the mix (like right now).  I also love the Sea Otter exhibit where you can watch the cute little critters frolic about with one another and ham it up for the audience.  In other exhibits, you can see a giant octopus, and a living kelp forest with leopard sharks, wolf eels and more (visit

Magical Monterey Bay

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More Monterey Pics 050

Monterey is one of my favorite places.  I was fortunate enough to have lived there for a brief time, and got to know a lot about the area (during that time, I was hired by a local PR firm to write an in-depth promotional piece about Cannery Row, which allowed me to research, explore and get to know the area even better).  There’s too much about Monterey (and nearby Monterey Bay cities – like Pacific Grove and Carmel) to cover in one post, so I’ll break it up into several posts over time and share a glimpse of some of the things I love, like, and know about the area.

Monterey Overview

Here’s a brief overview.  Monterey is known for its beauty and rich history.  It has breathtaking coastal views, sea otters splashing around in the bay, a world-famous aquarium (often, like right now, with a great white shark, on display), and cool historic buildings, like lighthouses, Victorians, and rustic canneries.

It’s located along California’s central coast, about 300 miles north of Los Angeles and 100 miles south of San Francisco.  The city of Monterey, along with neighboring towns Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach, and Carmel, collectively make up the Monterey Peninsula.  While all share the same general location, crisp clean climate, and stunning ocean vistas, each location has its own unique appeal as well.  One of the most distinct areas is Cannery Row, which is about one mile long and runs along the waterfront of Monterey and Pacific Grove.

Also in the city of Monterey is a downtown area with more shops and eateries, museums, historical sites, a park, a lake, a beach, lots of sight-seeing, and numerous activities.  Across the street are two wharfs, including Old Fisherman’s Wharf with lots of tourist attractions – gift shops, seafood restaurants, and whale watching excursions.  The other wharf is a commercial fishing wharf with wholesale fish companies and a few additional restaurants.  

More to come.

Italian Appetizer: Mini Italian Sandwiches

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Mini Sandwiches2

These little sandwiches are a simple yet delicious and cute appetizer or snack.  Use the same recipe for Herbed Focaccia Bites (posted 10-13-09), and add your favorite sandwich fillings (such as salami and mozzarella).  Top with olives and secure with toothpicks.