After our 11 hour drive from San Diego to Monterey Bay along the California Coast Highway 1, we finally arrived in Monterey Bay, CA. We checked-in at Days Inn Monterey-Fishermans Wharf Aquarium, freshened up and then went out in search of dinner.
The name of our hotel may say Fishermans Wharf Aquarium, but we were definitely NOT walking distance to Fishermans Wharf or the Aquarium. It is a 1.5 mile drive away (less than 10 minutes) through downtown Monterey.
The Old Fishermans Wharf is a wharf lined with souvenir shops, seafood restaurants and boat tours for fishing and whale watching. By the time we arrived, the street was starting to get quite crowded with tourists everywhere.
We decided to walk all the way through the Old Fishermans Wharf and to kind of get a sense of what is there.
At the very end is Big Fish Grill with an view deck that is open to public. It’s a small deck area that gives a view of the bay.
The viewing deck is not very big but wraps all the way around with a walkway. We had a nice view of the tour boats docked right there. They didn’t have anymore tours that went out that evening but they did have tour times for the following day posted out there.
And of course Yuntiha caught me taking a selfie.
Apart from the tour boats, there were lots of other boats. I think they’re all sail boats. At least I know there is one sailboat right there. I was also quite fascinated to see a floating boat house.
And if you’re into water sports, there were lots of kayakers and paddle boaters in the water as well.
There was a single fishing boat that was a little closer to us (maybe some of those other boats out there are fishing boats?). We spotted a few sea lions just chilling out in the bay. I asked my Dad to zoom in for a closer look.
There we will have much better views of sea life on our 2nd day in Monterey Bay when we go to the Monterey Bay aquarium.
There is free clam chowder to sample from practically every seafood restaurant on the Old Fishermans Wharf. And after sampling a few (and judging a few by how their restaurant looks) we decided on where we were going to have dinner.
Yuntiha and I actually went onto Yelp to see if there any specific places that had good reviews and to kind of know what we should eat. Most reviews were pretty mediocre. Old Fisherman’s Grotto was one that we remembered that had decent reviews.
But it got a little confusing, there is Old Fisherman’s Grotto and there is the Grotto Fish Market, etc. All of which look rather similar. Our clam chowder sample lead us to our dinner.
We ended up going to The Grotto Fish Market for 2 reasons: 1) Old Fishermans Grotto looked like a really fancy restaurant with lots of pasta etc. 2) The Grotto Fish Market sample cups are not disposable and we kind of had to go back to return the cups.
It is a small tiki themed restaurant inside, and when walked in we were seated at the bar. The menu was relatively simple with lots of seafood plates and salads and clam chowder but I was really having trouble deciding on what to eat. It was going to be hard to share with the 4 of us sitting at a bar.
Our server recommended the seafood platter which was really tempting, but I said no because we were sitting at the bar and I couldn’t imagine having a good time trying to share.
With that, we were moved to the next available table. And we ordered the seafood platter.
The window behind us had a great view of the water, but that’s fine. We were going to be way too busy eating to even notice the view.
Our seafood platter came with a bowl of clam chowder for each us! I think Mom and Yuntiha preferred a bread bowl.
And then to tempt us, our server brought out a bowl of napkins, wet towelettes, forks, and seafood utensil things.
The platter is fancy looking with dry ice and everything! Our $100 platter included: king crab, dungeonous crab, shrimp and lobster. And as recommended by our server, we paid an additional $25 for 1 pound of snow crab.
It was totally worth it to get the extra pound of snow crab because that was the best part of the whole platter.
This platter was also unexpectedly exactly how my Dad prefers how his seafood is prepared making him a very very happy campers.
I on the other hand wished I didn’t have to get my fingers dirty. So the compromise was for me to peel shrimp while everyone else took care of the shell fish and we traded.
There were 3 little containers on the platter as well. Butter, cocktail sauce, and dry ice. The dry ice looked cool when it was served, but I had to waste a bite of my shrimp when I accidentally dipped my shrimp in the dry ice.
My excuse was that I was sitting on the other side, with lots of crab legs blocking my view when I was trying to figure out what was on the platter. I asked what it was but didn’t wait for an answer when I dipped in. OOPS!
And with our stomachs full, I was ready to go souvenir shopping. What kinds of souvenirs do you usually buy when traveling? There are 3 things I like getting: post cards, key chains, and art.
I ended up buying quite a few post cards! But I got a little lazy and didn’t send my post cards from Monterey. I was little bummed I didn’t do that.
And as the evening got later, the Old Fishermans Wharf got busier. It was only about 6:30pm when we left. I heard people were walking shoulder to shoulder later that evening.
We headed back to our hotel to rest since we were going to have a long day at the Monterey Bay Aquarium the next day. That was the main reason we made our way all the way up to Monterey Bay.