As you’re probably well aware at this point, I’m currently living in the San Francisco Bay Area and chronicling my life as a vegan (among other things). Admittedly, California and the Bay Area especially is probably one of the best places in the world for vegans. Even still, it’s always a special treat to escape from your every day environment and see what other places have to offer! This passed weekend, my Mom and I decided to take a quick trip to Pacific Grove and Monterey, CA where I stumbled upon some beautiful vegan meals, beverages and gorgeous views.
Before I begin to gush about all that Pacific Grove and Monterey have to offer, I’d like to give you a little bit of background information about weekend getaways with my mom and I (the self proclaimed real life, authentic version of the Gilmore Girls). Since day one, my mom and I have always been chillers. Hanging out and relaxing, living on island time is our absolute jam and we do all that we can to indulge ourselves in some good old fashioned lazy vacation days at every opportunity we can find. For us, the perfect getaway involves lots of long walks, comfort food, wine, and shopping. The Pacific Grove, Monterey, Carmel area has always been exactly our speed for weekend getaways because of it’s quaint, mellow nature and dog friendly communities as well as it’s close proximity to the Bay Area.
Since I was a little girl, my mom and I have stayed in a picturesque, rustic group of cottages in Pacific Grove called Andril Fireplace Cottages. We love it there because of it’s laid back, vintage feel and it’s dog-loving environment. We also love it there because of it’s walkable yet not-too-close distance from the downtown areas of Pacific Grove and Monterey, if I had to guess I would say that it’s about one mile from downtown Pacific Grove and two miles from downtown Monterey (where the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium is located). Our go-to vacation day activity is covering ourselves head-to-toe in athlesiure wear and setting out on foot to find brunch, shopping, and wine tasting if we’re lucky.
As promised, the best brunch was found this passed weekend in Pacific Grove at a restaurant called Toasties Café on Lighthouse Ave. A die-hard lover of potatoes, you can probably imagine my excitement when I spotted “potato dish” on the menu of an otherwise somewhat traditional, non-vegan brunch menu. A restaurant meal of breakfast style potatoes, vegetables, avocado, and various hot sauces? I honestly don’t think I could name four things I would choose over those for any meal. To make the experience even more wonderful, we were able to sit outside on a sunny patio with our beagle, Diego while we enjoyed mimosas, coffee and our breakfast.
I could seriously go on and on… and on and on and on about how delicious this breakfast was. Maybe it was the mimosas, but this simple dish was exactly the brunch that I always dream of, and as someone who used to enjoy breakfast scrambles it’s the perfect vegan substitute for that simple savory breakfast option.
After our wonderful breakfast experience, we continued to walk around downtown Pacific Grove and all the way through to Monterey. On our walk, I found an awesome store called The Mind Shop Metaphysical Books and Gifts where I was lucky enough to find some low priced quartz, rose quartz, amazonite, selenite, and amethyst. Although I don’t know a lot, or anything really, about crystals, I have been wanting to educate myself on their healing powers and how to use them so I was excited that I could pick some up for less than $10.00! I also got a bumper sticker for my computer that says “There’s No Place Like Om”.
Just down the road, and located in the tourist area of Monterey, we came across another highlight of our trip: the Carmel Ridge wine tasting room overlooking the Monterey Bay! We had the most pleasant experience looking out at the water and tasting some awesome wines (somewhat reasonably priced, too!) and we were even able to veganize their meat and cheese platter, turning it into an assortment of delicious crackers, dried fruit, and nuts! Lucky for me, my mom is completely on board with my choice to be vegan and she even tries to eat vegan as much as possible herself, which makes traveling and eating together super convenient for me.
We loved the Carmel Ridge tasting room so much that we ended up going back the next day! After our long walk home that second night, we were more than ready to indulge in some margaritas and Mexican food. It is a common misconception that vegans would have an extremely difficult time finding fare at Mexican resteraunts. Fortunately for me, the reality is quite contrary! Vegetable Fajitas are a staple on pretty much every single Mexican menu, so they tend to be my go-to when ordering Mexican.
This weekend, however, I was able to mix things up a bit on the Mexican food front with El Torito’s delicious spinach enchiladas! Aside from the fact that they sprinkled some cheese onto my dish (which was very minimal and easy to remove), I was obsessed with everything about this dish. It was as amazing to look at as it was to taste. The margaritas and guacamole were splendid as well, we had the most wonderful time watching the Warrior’s game and enjoying our dinner. All and all, both my mom and I were left with a good taste in our mouth – literally and figuratively!
Along with these four places that we found and loved were countless other adorable spots in Pacific Grove and Monterey. There are tons of vegan eats that I didn’t have time to try, and dozens of charming shops and experiences that we made a note to check out on our next trip. At the end of the day, the Monterey Bay Area is an amazingly beautiful, unique and relaxing part of California and we will definitely continue to cherish our stays there! Walking, eating, drinking, and shopping our way through a new place is by far our favorite way to get to know a new location and after this weekend I have a few other recommendations up my sleeve. Feel more than free to reach out to me if you’re curious. For now, keep on keeping it simple and keeping it whole 🙂