So it’s that time of year again- everyone’s favorite, and everyone has a story- PCS Time! For those of you in the civilian world, PCS = Permanent Change of Station (or Pretty Crappy Situation, Probably Can Suck, Please Come Save Me) when the military decides to move us to our next adventure. Inevitably, there will be stress either before the packers come, while they come, when you’re traveling, when you are arrive at the next duty station and while your next set of movers come to unload. All of that is a disaster when it comes to the basic care of yourself and your family, and specifically when it comes to eating!
When we arrived to The Navy Lodge in Monterey, my family was so tired of driving, waiting for food, buying fast food and even eating it, that we were on the hunt for quick and semi-homemade meals that wouldn’t kill our DLA budget or keep us bloated until the next duty station (and actually Monterey has like hardly any fast-food options if you can believe it)! Even though the hotel rooms come with cookware and a small range and microwave, the desire to cook is not exactly strong at this stage of the PCS. With multiple tiny humans, it makes me even less inclined to get creative in the kitchen after being seated in a car with all of them for days on end!
The first thing we did was go to Whole Foods! Whole Foods is about 5 minutes from NPS, and has a huge variety of already made foods! Sushi, salad bar, hot bar buffet, deli counter, roast chickens, burrito counter to order (cheaper than Chipotle!), sandwiches, burgers & fries to order, bakery- you get the idea! It is a little more expensive to go this route, but cheaper than going out for a big family meal, and way healthier (plus leftovers)! I think we got their rotisserie chickens every other day during the almost 2 weeks of temp lodging. We would use the chicken for salads, sandwiches, whatever. They also have a big cold case of ready to grab meals including a huge bucket of fried chicken that is SO good, especially paired with their mashed potatoes! And as a bonus, they even have breakfast bar full of eggs, bacon, sandwiches, breakfast burritos, oatmeal. It starts when they open at 7am and runs until about 10am.
The second thing we did on our first full day in Monterey was hit up the closest Costco. Costco (if you’re not a member, I would strongly consider it, even if you have a small family) has all sorts of fresh vegetables, fruits, roasted chickens, fresh bagged salads, quick served meals that are made in house there. Don’t be scared of Costco- their prices on produce can’t be beat, and a small package of berries is going to cost you several dollars less than what you’d pay at a regular store or even the Commissary. Our favorite lodge eats from Costco are fresh berries (raspberries, blueberries, blackberries), cherries, bagged salads that include the dressing, roasted chicken, hard boiled eggs, fresh squeezed juice, cheese sticks, lunch meat, greek yogurt, popcorn, and jerky. These things help us feel like we are actually feeding our kids something aside from junk food!
If you really don’t want to grocery shop at all or your kids are on the hot mess express, then there are thankfully plenty of other options for dining!
Monterey Family Friendly Dining Out/Take Out Options in Del Monte Shopping Center:
- PF Changs Del Monte Happy Hour runs during the week 3-6pm plus a military discount, and you can even buy their gift cards at Costco, for 80$ you can get 100$ gift card). They have a great kid’s menu, allergy options, and our kids are big fans of the soup and all the fun appetizers!
- Islands Del Monte: Extremely family friendly and in my opinion geared towards kids, they have a great kid’s menu and also offer a military discount. Go early, because there can be a wait!
- California Pizza Kitchen Del Monte: Famous for their pizzas and salads. They also offer a generous military discount and their food is so easy to order for pick-up!
Take Out or Delivery
Chopstix Vietnamese Food! Dine in, take out or delivery! Delicious Pho Vietnamese!
Pizza My Heart This Pizza is so delicious! They have the best pizza in Monterey in my opinion. It’s not NY or Chicago, it’s definitely CA Style Pizza, but so good! They use local ingredients on their pizzas, have all sorts of fun pizzas and their breadsticks are a favorite. The dipping sauces are free (we love the Ranch), and Tuesday night is Kid Night from 4pm-9pm. We usually call our order in for pick up since it’s always packed! They do deliver to the Lodge for a small fee. Mention you’re military for a free soda. Order online beforehand and take advantage of their ONLINE PROMOS when you order for pick up (2 pizzas for 49$, etc.)!
Monterey Donuts on Fremont street! Hands down THE best donuts ever! And their HUGE donut cakes are the best 11$ you’ll spend!
Michael’s Taqueria Pacific Grove or Marina! Seriously the best Texas style FRESH Mexican food! They make all their own chips and tortillas and everything is super fresh and not greasy! We love it and so do the kids. Plus it’s half the cost of what it takes to feed my family at Chipotle! From their chips and salsa, to their burritos, fajitas, salads and even burgers, there is something for everyone at Michael’s!
Compagno’s Market and Deli is a must in Monterey! Located near DLI, this old east coast style sandwich shop will NOT disappoint. The owner is an incredible supporter of the mil community and he loves to spoil us with delicious, one of a kind sandwiches and sides! This should be one of your first stops for take out in Monterey!!
Boardwalk Subs Their subs, fries and dipping sauces are amazing! Plus they deliver, have a military discount and kids menu!
Doorbell Dining This was new to me! We have never lived in a place that offered delivery like this, you just type in the zip code (93940) and all your favorite restaurants like Rosine’s and Ike’s (the best sandwiches ever) can be delivered!
Pelican Pizza is another great delivery option for Pizza. Though it’s not as good as PMH, my kids love their cheese pizza! Plus they usually have coupons if you ask.
Trident Room in the basement of Hotel Del Monte (Hermann Hall at NPS). A variety American foods, and kid friendly in this historic bar at NPS.
What are you favorite places to eat at while in the Navy Lodge?