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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.
Written Mar 9, 2004
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
Updated Apr 9, 2007
Address: Gorda Springs
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.
Updated Sep 15, 2009
Address: 223 Reindollar, Marina, CA
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.
Updated Sep 15, 2009
Address: 519 Seabright Avenue, Santa Cruz, CA
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.
Written Sep 15, 2009
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.
Written Nov 7, 2008
Address: Highway One, Big Sur, CA 93920
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!
Updated Oct 11, 2011
Address: Rocky Point, Hwy1
Phone: 831 624 4091
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
Written Apr 6, 2005
Address: Highway One Big Sur.."ask anybody"
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.
Written Oct 11, 2006
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.
Updated Nov 24, 2006
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