The Portola Hotel & Spa in Monterey has achieved its status as the city’s top event property almost by default—with its location adjoining the popular Monterey Conference Center and abutting vibrant Alvarado Street.
Now the hotel is seriously earning that status following a lengthy and ambitious overhaul that has culminated in the recent opening of Jacks Monterey, a snazzy new dining spot that focuses on local, sustainably grown foods and fresh seafood.
While that might not be earth-shattering in itself, and more or less follows the major dining trend of the day, what I like most about Jacks is the group-friendly aspects of dining there. The sharing of food and drink is always a good conversation starter and the new restaurant clearly has groups in mind with a selection of menu items that can be shared, including cocktails.
Sharing plates feature the Chef’s Signature Bread with creamy artichoke and pecorino cheese baked in a cast-iron skillet; Jacks N’ Cheese Bake created with locally sourced Schoch Farms Monterey Jack cheese and persillade; Halibut Paupiette served with Asian vegetables, shitakes, steamed rice, black beans and garlic sauce; Pajaro Pastures Goat Moussaka with herb béchamel sauce; and the Harris Ranch New York Strip with potato gratin, prosciutto, watercress salad and pink peppercorn butter. Hungry yet?
In addition to the numerous regional wines on the menu, guests can enjoy brews made right on the premises at Peter B’s Brewpub, and there are also plenty of handcrafted cocktails to consider. But my favorite concept is the “Group Effort” experience curated by an onsite mixologist. Tuyet. Guests can order bespoke drinks served in a copper pineapple for two to share, or in a larger copper pineapple for four or more, accompanied by a serving ladle. One favorite features a mashup of Elyx Vodka, hibiscus bitters, mint-honey syrup and soda.
The Jacks launch is just one facet of the major makeover that has also introduced a new entry plaza, revamped the atrium lobby, added a new bar and revitalized the adjoining conference center.
The Portola Hotel & Spa also offers 379 guestrooms, outdoor pool with a Jacuzzi and cabanas, numerous special packages (including offers exclusively for families), bicycle rentals and on-site shops and galleries.