In celebration of our one year wedding anniversary (only a month late) Shiraz and I spent last weekend in beautiful Carmel. Since we have both explored Monterey a lot over the years (which is where we got married) we opted for someplace nearby but relatively new to us. Carmel fit the bill perfectly. We drove down after work on Friday (which thanks to traffic took us three+ hours), checked into our hotel, grabbed a delicious sushi dinner, and then called it a night. Saturday we were up early(ish) for a delicious continental breakfast before we headed out for the day. After breakfast we headed to the 17-Mile Drive for some scenic views, followed by a short visit to Pacific Grove. For lunch we returned to Carmel, had some amazing food, and then walked around the main downtown exploring all the little shops. Late afternoon saw us back at the hotel for a few hours of relaxation before one of the most delicious Italian dinners I have had on the West Coast. After dinner we returned the hotel and called it a night. Sunday morning we indulged in the continental breakfast once again before packing up our bags and making the two hour trek home. It may have been a short getaway but it was absolutely lovely and relaxing and just what we needed.
After looking at a number of options in the area, including AirBnB, we opted for an adorable boutique hotel that was was walking distance to Downtown called Cypress Inn. While it was on the pricey side (most everything in Carmel is), the attention to detail blew us away and made us feel more comfortable with the cost. Upon check-in they provided us each with a token that could be redeemed for a complimentary glass of Prosecco. The room, although small, was beautiful and well maintained. In addition to the standard toiletries and comfy robes, they also provided a basket filled with fruit and packs of honey roasted nuts, as well as a full glass bottle of Sherry, all of which was complimentary. Their continental breakfast was expansive and delicious and featured fresh fruit, freshly made scrambled eggs and roasted potatoes (and sausage if that’s your kind of thing), a variety of freshly baked goods including homemade popovers, and of course delicious coffee and juices. It was eat to your heart’s content. While we didn’t take advantage, the hotel (and entire town of Carmel) is VERY dog friendly (one of the things we were most looking forward to was getting to sleep in without having to worry about the dogs). The hotel is famously co-owned by legendary actress and animal activist Doris Day. A number of the guests there had their pup(s) with them which made the atmosphere all the more enjoyable.
Carmel is apparently known for having amazing food (or so Shiraz told me, and obviously everything he says MUST be true). Outside of the continental breakfast we had three meals in Carmel proper and all of them were delicious. Yelp, as always, was our co-pilot in finding highly rated and delicious food.
SUSHI HEAVEN – Friday night we enjoyed dinner at a small-ish sushi restaurant called Sushi Heaven. We weren’t super hungry after the long drive from the city so we kept it simple with some miso soup and two rolls to share (yes, I ate sushi while pregnant, no, I don’t regret it). The fish was so fresh that it melted in your mouth. I seriously wish I had been more hungry so I could eat more. Prices were extremely reasonable, especially for the quality of the ingredients (and also because we are used to SF prices).
DAMETRA CAFE – For lunch on Saturday we decided to check out the most highly rated(according to Yelp) restaurant in the entire city. With over 2100 reviews and a solid 4.5 stars, Dametra Cafe did not disappoint, despite having to wait nearly 30 minutes. We shared a fried calamari appetizer, which had some of the biggest and freshest calamari I have ever eaten (I even made a joke about them going out and catching it that day). I enjoyed a simple but delicious four cheese ravioli, while Shiraz had the most amazing looking lamb shank I have ever seen (if you can call lamb delicious, which I admit, I can not). While we didn’t order dessert they did give us a couple small pieces of baklava, on the house. The service was top notch, the food was tasty, and the atmosphere was lively.
LITTLE NAPOLI – For our last meal out in Carmel we decided to go with a proper Italian dinner, as Shiraz kept telling me that Carmel is known for its amazing Italian food. After perusing the menus of a variety of places we decided upon Little Napoli. Given that it was a Saturday night we made reservations which turned out to a really smart thing (when we arrived for our reservations they were turning away all walk-ins and had been for at least an hour or so). Since our extremely filling lunch was eaten a bit later in the day we set our reservations for 9pm. By the time we got there we were pretty hungry (which is necessary when eating heavy Italian food). Before we even got there we both had at least a half dozen things we wanted to order off the menu. We decided upon their “Famous” Garlic Bread and Risotto Lollipops as appetizers. For entrees we ordered their Truffled Gnocchi and Spicy Cioppino Rosso (basically seafood pasta stew). For dessert we shared the Black & White Cannoli. It was, quite possibly, the best Italian meal I have had on the West Coast. Seriously, I am still thinking about this amazing meal days later.
We kept our activities low key and enjoyed the sights and beauty of the 17-Mile Drive, stopping for the necessary pictures along the way. We then grabbed coffee/tea in the cute little town of Pacific Grove before heading back to Carmel (unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the Monarch Butterflies). In Carmel we wandered around the beautiful town admiring all the art galleries and popping into a few shops. If you ever have the opportunity to go to Carmel, I HIGHLY recommend it!
Gorgeous view along the 17-Mile Drive.