We visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium on Thursday, 7/10. We arrived at the aquarium around noon and went immediately to the restaurant to get our name on the list for a table. We thought the 45 minute wait (you can put your name on the list and return later) was worth the access to a full bar and a window table with a fabulous view of the bay. Plus, the restaurant provides binoculars at each table with a laminated card with descriptions of various local wildlife.
Our waiter recommended the artichoke sampler, crab cakes, fresh oysters, fried fish and some fish dish that I can't recall. Since we'd just had crab cakes the previous day at Sam's in Tiburon, we went with the artichoke sampler and the fried fish.
The artichoke sampler held three ridiculously small portions of artichokes prepared three ways. However, it was actually quite tasty (especially the fried artichoke) and the fried fish and french fries were also very good.
With the complimentary bread basket, one appetizer and one entree was the perfect amount of food for the two of us, especially since we wanted to attend the 1:30pm otter feeding.
We enjoyed the aquarium so much that we purchased an annual membership when we realized there was no way we'd be able to see and do all the things we wanted to do in a single day. Plus, even though it was a Thursday afternoon, it felt like we were at Disneyland during a holiday weekend (and unfortunately, I speak from experience, lol!), with all the kids, mothers with strollers, large groups of children from various camps, etc.
Since we knew we would be returning, we opted to take a sunset sail around the bay with naturalists from the aquarium. We saw two dolphins, lots of otters, harbor seals, and some jelly fish during our 1.5 hour sail. Afterwards, we had a lovely dinner at Passionfish in nearby Pacific Grove.