Just south of Carmel, along the route to Big Sur, a sharp turn off the road will bring you to Rocky Point Restaurant. You can dine inside, along ceiling to floor windows, protected from the elements. Or you can do what we did, and eat outside with the salt breezes on your skin, the sea smells in your nose, and the sea otters dancing in the water below you.
Favorite Dish: We had the Bixby Sandwiches, named after the famous Bixby Bridge; crab and avocado on sliced sour dough. Very Northern California! The accompanying cole slaw was made with a light balsamic vinegrette and raisins and was excellent.
We planned to stop for breakfast at the Ripplewood Cafe which is 27miles south of Carmel, on the highway 1. But we arrived very early and the restaurant was closed. Everything was closed in the neighborhood.
So we continued our trip, thinking to find easily an other restaurant open.
We stopped around 9AM at the end of the Big Sur in this restaurant which is devoted for lunch and dinner to seafood.
We had a great American breakfast for 24$ for 2.
I bought to the adjacent shop a T shirt with the portrait of Arnold (Schwartzy for French People) and this word : Governator.
Favorite Dish: Pancakes, ashbrown, French toasts, etc As usual
English Ales Brewery was a slight disappointment but I did have high expectations. While I had found a few gems while traveling around the Southwestern US, I knew that I was now approaching the mecca of American brewing and would have to be a bit more choosey as to where to stop.
Having spent considerable time in the UK, I am a huge fan of cask beer so anywhere serving it is a draw for me. From its website, this looked like quite the authentic English Pub and despite its somewhat awkward location, we decided to give it a try. Set in an industrial area a bit off the coast, it was nonetheless easy enough to find and it was an English pub, just not quite the type I generally look for in the UK. No wood beams or cosy furniture, it was furnished with little style or obvious expenditure. It lacked the character though somehow had much of the feel of a real pub with people at the bar ready for a conversation when you went up to place an order. If you are a real beer fan, well worth seeking out but otherwise, perhaps a bit off the beaten path.
Though they had quite a few of their beers on tap, I was saddened to find only one of them in cask form. For those not exposed to them, cask beers are those still fermenting in the very keg they are served from. This makes for a more perishable product but also one much softer in mouth feel and less gassy. It is the traditional beer of England and many US brewers welcome the challenge to brew them.
Favorite Dish: Much to my wife's delight, the one on offer was a porter, one of her favorite styles. We both ordered a pint of Black Prince Porter (5% alcohol) and smiled broadly when it was delivered in a proper Imperial pint glass (20 oz.), black as coal, with a rocky lasting tan head. Soft and malty, with hints of licorice, this was a true session beer you could drink heaps of. Unfortunately, we were on the road so we got some food instead.
I opted for a combination plate of Fish, Bangers, and Chips since they didn't have a lot of typical English Pub grub. We were both looking forward to Shepard's Pie but none was to be had. The Fish & Chips were quite nice, not greasy though not overly tasty either considering our proximity to the ocean. The banger (English sausage) was good and think I'd rather have had a plate of them with chips. It was around $10 so neither cheap nor expensive. My wife enjoyed the chicken tenders even though it's not something she typically orders.
Since she was driving from that point on, I also tried the Trippel B (4.2%), their best bitter which was thinner on flavor and obviously a bit too carbonated after drinking the cask porter. Still, it was a nicely balanced beer with a semi-dry finish that if served in cask form would have been dead on for the style. The Pale Ale (6%) was on the sweetish side and would have to say not a true English Pale Ale. The Dragonslayer IPA (5.2%) was light bodied with a floral hop in the easy drinking palate that managed to be soft even on normal tap. It would be dangerous if served cask. I believe pints were in the $6 range but they are 20 ounce glasses so not a bad deal for California. Our bill with tip came to $46 for the two meals and five beers.
Sometimes memories are better than reality or maybe over the course of time, you just change and what once was so special is merely ordinary when you go back. That's how it was with not only Seabright Brewery but Santa Cruz in general. On my virgin trip around the western US, Santa Cruz seemed like a place I would want to live. A bit of a hippy town, right on the California coast, close to Big Sur and San Francisco, it seemed about perfect. To be honest, I am not sure how much of the town I had actually seen as I had spent most of the one night I had there at the Seabright Brewery. In the interim, I had met quite a few travelers from Sata Cruz and they always seemed very cool. I was looking forward to showing it to my wife who had not been but we were disappointed to find a bit of a hokey seaside resort town with amusement rides and a boardwalk. It was a lot like the town I had grown up in at the Jersey shore!
Well, there was always Seabright to fall back on, right? We got there at happy hour, much as I had many moons before and it was packed. It was hard to find parking and sitting at the bar was out of the question. We lucked out with a seat out on the deck and it was a beautiful evening. It was a loud, boisterous crowd and we enjoyed people watching as much as the actual brewery but the menu had a couple interesting choices even if the beers were not as intriguing as I had remembered them.
Favorite Dish: Doreen had the Portobello Mushroom Sandwich which came with crumbled Gorgonzola ($8.50) which she seemed in no hurry to share though I did manage to get a bite. I opted for the Calamari Steak Sandwich ($9.50) which was very lightly coated in Japanese bread crumbs and fried to perfection.
Doreen had a pint of their Oatmeal Stout ($4 happy hour price) which at 6% was nearly black and creamy with some hints of chocolate malt and espresso notes. I opted for the Sacrilicious Ale (6.8%), a deep amber brew with copious amounts of both malts and hops for a balanced, dangerously easy-drinking beer. I could not resist trying also The Blur (7.4%), their highly hopped interpretation of an IPA. While it was sinfully full of the bitter flower, there were ample malts for balance, accounting for the somewhat obscene alcohol content. This was more in line with a Double IPA, a style pretty much invented in these parts and one not for the faint of heart.
You will be surprised at how undeveloped the central California coast is. While you will not starve, you can go quite a ways without seeing a restaurant. Couple this with countless beautiful spots with incredible views to make stops, and you have the makings of a great area to picnic.
Favorite Dish: Being on an extended trip, we always had our big cooler with us. Cheese and salami are two of our favorites and we're always on the look-out for great quality locally baked bread. Some veggies and fruit round out a nice picnic lunch or snack. You not only save money on eating out, you can control portion size and enjoy the vistas you came to see in the first place.
Café Kevah is located on Highway One in the Big Sur region of the Californian coast, just south of Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. Look for the signs to Nepenthe restaurant, and you will find its cheaper sister, Café Kevah.
The open-air café sits on the edge of a cliff offering stunning views of the coast line and the Pacific Ocean. The café is a good option for a light meal, but if you are after something more substantial head upstairs to Nepenthe.
Favorite Dish: At Café Kevah you need to choose your table and then go up to the counter to order. Your food will be brought out to you when ready. We had the Black Forest Ham Panini and the Reuben Panini, both served with a side-salad. The food was fine and filled the gap, but we were really there for the views.
For sea views the Rocky Point Restaurant, situated about 10 miles south of Carmel, is pretty difficult to beat. The restaurant with its patio literally overhang the cliffs and if lucky you can lunch with the sea otters playing in the cove down below.
As you would expect the menu is predominantly based around seafood but also offers some Mexican bits and bobs, along with steaks and burgers. Service is professional, if a little starchy (unusual for this part of California) and it ain't the cheapest restaurant in the area - ACH! - but someone has to pay for the views ;-)
Doubleplusgood though is that in addition to the sea views the restaurant gardens are attractively maintained which makes this all-in-all well worth dropping off for lunch - hence the hummingbird pic.
Favorite Dish: Ocean salad was a substantial portion of jumbo prawns, Dungeness crab and rock shrimps served with the house speciality marbled rye bread at $23. With a few beers a light lunch for two came to a tad under $60. Expensive but the humming bird pic made it worth it!
nepenthe is 56 years old and sports the best view in America outside of Alaska. The people there welcome you like you are a long lost cousin. the bartender, Paul, i think is one of the reasons ya keep coming back. they go out of their way to accomodate you. REAL, genuine service , not fakey stuff.
Favorite Dish: The steaks are superb, the fish is awesome and the appetizers are fun and one of the best wine lists in california
The River Inn, in central Big Sur, on Highway 101, has a totally unique feature. You can actually pull out chairs and sit in the middle of a flowing creek in the back of the Inn. This is totally refreshing and original. Dip your toes in the cold, flowing mountain water, suck back a cold one, and realize there aren't many places like this around.
The Big Sur River Inn is the first real place to stop south of Carmel Highlands on Highway 1 after about 20 miles and maybe 30-45 minutes of driving time. This inn has a very popular and highly recommended restaurant, hotel rooms, public rest rooms, a gas station, plenty of parking and an art shop. Probably its most unique and famous feature are the wooden chairs in the Big Sur River where you can sit on a warm day with your feet in the water.
The Inn was first opened in 1934 as the Apple Pie Inn, just after this stretch of the Pacific Coast Highway was being built.
Room rates range from $135 to $235 plus 10.5% sales tax. Meals here are also terribly expensive with prices at $12.25 for a cheeseburger, $13 for a BLT, $18 for pasta with out meat, $10 for omelets, and rib eye for $28.
We were looking for something fast and easy so we can continue to drive up route 1 and came across River Inn. There is a restaurant but we checked out the general store and it turns out there is a grill in the back serving sandwiches and hot meals. There are some tables out front with umbrellas for shade.
Real easy, just a few chili dogs and chips. Nothing special but did the trick.
No favorites... but you don't have to worry. There are quite a number of lovely eateries around the Big Sur area. Just choose the restaurant/ cafe/ joint that catches your fancy and ENTER!
We, however, stopped by Cafe Kevah for a quick bite.... If you adore al fresco dining, this is the place for you since you'd be seated outdoors... and whilst chomping on your salad, go ahead and gasp at the spectacular beauty of the Pacific Ocean right before your very eyes. ;-) Enjoy your meal!
P.S. We chose this cafe because we've seen so many advertisements about this place... and my verdict? Absolutely true!!! At least I'll give top marks for the ambience.... Very Nice!
Located at the far southern reaches of Big Sur, some 85 miles south of Monterey and Carmel, is the Ragged Point Inn. This former roadside stand has grown over the past 50 years to become one of the nicer stops along the coastal route through Big Sur. Today this stop has a 30-room hotel with stunning ocean views, a sit down restaurant, an outdoor snack bar, and a hiking trail that drops 300 feet to a private beach. The property was previously part of William Randolph Hearst's massive San Simeon estate.
On our way to the Hearst Mansion, we stopped at Ragged Point for a quick lunch. We used their clean public restrooms and strolled out along the beautiful cliffs, before grabbing a sandwich at the snack bar and a beer at the convenience store. We each had a grilled ham and cheese, which were $6 and not a bad value considering all of the tasty ham piled on top of the perfectly grilled bread. We took our sandwiches to go and enjoyed them on the beach watching the elephant seals frolic.
The food at this place would have to be stellar to make up for the prices they charge and unfortunately, it is NOT. This place is VERY expensive, especially considering the food that you get for the price.
We were told to try this place over Nepenthe. What a BAD piece of advice. YES, the scenery is incredible but you can go for drinks or maybe appetizers and appreciate it just as well. We left the place after lunch unimpressed (and myself with a slight stomach ache).
Ate there just once and would NOT go back. After talking to 5 other locals in the area about our lunch experience, they also said they felt the place is a let down: food is pricey and not a very good value. You are simply paying for the view. Rocky Point also seemed to be filled with a rather aged crowd. It must be a local favorite for the retired folks in the area who are used to what they serve and know what to expect for the cost.
Favorite Dish: Favorite? None.
We spent just over $55 for lunch:
1 "Bixby" Crab Sandwich ($18)
1 Lunch Fish special ($20)
1 Side of coleslaw $6 (for a half cup of shredded cabbage with honey & vinegar!)
Their Bixby sandwich was supposed to be one of their signature items. It was served on grocery store style bread (rye) with a bunch of lettuce and a TON of MAYO! There was so much mayo in their crab salad it was disgusting. The crab would have tasted much better with at least half as much. (I ended up squishing it into the bread to remove the stuff.) You could hardly taste the crab with all the stuff they had on it. At least the fries were good. However, this dish was NOT worth $18.
The lunch special was rock cod. It was OK but it was pan cooked breaded and was rather greasy. Even the veggies had oil all over them.
All this said, the staff, also older, was nice enough. The only thing this place has going on is the view.
The Lucia Lodge also has a restaurant and deli mart for those just interested in a bite on the road. Outdoor dining is available on the desk and the view is fantastic.
We stopped for lunch on the drive south on Highway 1, but definitely want to go back and stay overnight.
Favorite Dish: grilled fish sandwich
This hotel is incredible, beside the location, rooms and restaurant the people who work there are so...more
Enjoy dramatic scapes, invigorating hikes, wine service, and a "clothing optional" pool. This is a...more
Highway 1, Big Sur, California, 93920, United States
Good for: Business