After my visit to the National Steinbeck Center, I took a quick walk through Oldtown Salinas. I kept on Main Street, which felt rather desolate with the exception of a steampunk character trying to rev up what looked to be a motorized tandem bike in front of Halltree Antique Mall. I did step inside the antique store for a minute, but the smell of old stuff was overpowering, so I continued my walk.
When they say "Oldtown," they mean it.
There were several old-timey boutique stores along both sides of the street, as well as little cafés and restaurants. I passed an interesting gallery and several eclectic clothing stores, including a bridal shop that seemed to be trapped in time. (Maybe the early 1990s?)
I passed the Fox Theater, which I learned was renovated a few years ago, explaining the relatively clean-looking marquis. I read that it is responsible for bringing the nightlife back to Oldtown.
The day's meetings and travels and walking made me tired and hungry, so I searched Yelp to find a restaurant in Oldtown. Being near Monterey, I was craving seafood, and I found some good reviews of Salinas Valley Fish House located on Main Street. Yay, it was close by!
I opened the door and was nearly knocked over by the fish smell. The place was empty, but then again so was the rest of the town. There were only three tables occupied, and the lights were out in the loft space above. There were plastic swordfish on the wall and fake flowers in little vases on the tables. I was scared. But before I could turn around, the host seated me, and I was committed.
The menu looked fine, and most of the reviews said that it was a very nice place, but the environment wasn't appetizing. I felt like I was in the middle of an episode of Gordon Ramsey's "Kitchen Nightmares." But I went for it anyway, and I ordered the Fish House Plate that came with clams, mussels, octopus, squid, prawn, swordfish, and snapper. Why not, right? And boy, was I surprised!
The seafood tasted amazing! It was all cooked in a very simple broth with celery, parsley, and garlic. It reminded me of the marinated mussels I had in Brussels. Everything was delicious. The swordfish was probably my favorite part of the dish.
I was impressed by my meal. The place itself was a bit shady (it could use a makeover), but I'm so glad that the food was good. I ended my evening in Salinas on a high note and with an incredibly full stomach.