Wednesday, March 17, 2010

A Tropical Weekend

This past weekend was Papa Bear and I's engagement anniversary. Yesterday was Papa Bear's birthday. To celebrate, Papa Bear booked an ocean-view room for us at the Best Western Monterey Beach Resort...a hotel RIGHT ON THE BEACH! We have stayed at this hotel 3 times now, and we really like it. It's not a fancy schmancy place, but it's simple and suits our needs perfectly. The rooms are comfortable, and the price is fairly reasonable during the off-season. Looking out of our window and seeing the ocean is amazing! Walking down the steps from our room to the beach is fantastic! We even took the boys there last May, so that we could all have fun and play on the beach. The hotel has a gorgeous lobby with windows that stretch across the ocean side of the hotel, making it the perfect place to sit and sip wine and watch the sun set. They also have a full-service restaurant, and a swimming pool. It's almost easy to believe you're in a tropical paradise here.

While we were overnighting in Monterey, we visited our MOST favorite place to eat in all of the Monterey Bay Area...Hula's Tiki Room. Hula's is kind of a hidden treasure. It's not on Cannery Row, where most tourists spend their time. Instead, it's right on Lighthouse Avenue, nestled in between a pharmacy and a bookstore. The ambience of Hula's almost makes you feel like you're sitting in a little grass shack in Hawaii. The waitstaff at Hula's is always very friendly and they take great care of you.

There's a couple of different ways to approach Hula's. The first time we went, we went for dinner, and ordered off of the dinner menu. I had Duke's Luau Pork Plate, which was simply divine. Papa Bear had one of their specials, which was a Scallop dish. We also ordered an appetizer: Samurai Sticks -- grilled Mongolian beef skewers, with lime-curry dipping sauce. YUM!!! I highly recommend that you try these if you stop in at Hula's. They are SO delicious! Also, be sure to order the sweet potato die for!!!

The second time we went to Hula's, we took the boys and we were there at lunch time, which has a different menu. This time, I had the Crispy Coconut Shrimp Rolls and Salad. I can't say enough about these little tasty friends! You can order these Shrimp Rolls as an appetizer (or PuPu) at dinner, without the salad. They are incredibly delicious, with a pineapple horseradish dipping sauce.

This third visit to Hula's, Papa Bear and I decided to simply order off of the PuPu (appetizer) menu. We had the Samurai Sticks (A+), Sweet Potato Fries (A+), Crispy Coconut Shrimp Rolls (A+), Seared Ahi Wontons (C+ in my book...just not my taste I guess, but at least I tried them), Surfrider Sticks (B+), and Abalone Style Calamari (A+). We definitely got full, even off of the apps!

For lunch the next day, we headed over to Bahama Billy's Island Steakhouse in Carmel, at the Barnyard shopping center. We had a $25 Gift Certificate from that we had only paid $2 for, so we knew we wanted to visit Bahama Billy's for sure. They have an outdoor patio, which is a great place for a little lunch. We had for our appetizers, the Crab Mango Bisque (B+), and the Coconut Prawns (A+). For lunch, Papa Bear had the Bahama Mama Fish Tacos (He says they were about a b+ or A-), and I had the Fish 'n' Chips (A-). Pretty tasty little lunch, after which we visited Pieces of Heaven...our FAVORITE little chocolate shop in all the world, and the Carmel Valley Roasting Company...a coffee shop where Papa Bear bought a pound of Carmel Foglifter Coffee to bring home.

So, if you're looking to get away to a tropical vacation, that's not quite as costly as Hawaii, I highly recommend our little Monterey Bay mini-vacation spots. All in all, Monterey is one of our favorite little getaways, especially if Papa Bear and I get a chance to get away by ourselves. But, if you're taking the kids, it's a great place too. Be sure to check out all of the wonderful family friendly things you can do in Monterey, including a visit to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and the Dennis the Menace Park!

Have a great day!

Mama Bear

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