|View from Nepenthe|
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Two View Restaurants in Big Sur
CA Route 1 through Big Sur is one of the world's most scenic drives. From Carmel to San Simeon is 90 miles, but you will need at least 2.5 hours to do the drive. You'll want to stop along the way to enjoy the ocean views, take a hike, browse in a gallery, or perhaps have lunch.
Two restaurants along the route have beautiful ocean views: Nepenthe and Sierra Mar at the Post Ranch Inn. Deciding where to stop depends on your priorities: view, food, and/or price.
While both restaurants have drop-dead views of the Pacific, Nepenthe does have the better view. Sierra Mar is situated so you can see endless ocean but not much coastline. From the deck at Nepenthe, you can see the dramatic meeting of coast and ocean.
Just remember that, if you want to enjoy the view while you are dining at either restaurant, you'll need to stick with lunch except from late spring through summer. After the sun sets, the only sights might be a few lights from fishing boats.
For food, Sierra Mar is far better than Nepenthe. Dining is more sophisticated at the smaller Sierra Mar. The food is more creative and the restaurant can take more care into its preparation since it is serving fewer people. On our recent trip to Sierra Mar, we had very good crab cakes, a fresh salad, and carpaccio. When we were at Nepenthe, we stuck with the very good and very large burgers. Nepenthe has sandwiches and salads at lunch while Sierra Mar also offers entrees. Both restaurants have a good selection of wines to accompany your meal.
At both restaurants, you pay for the view. The burger costs $14.50 at Nepenthe and $22.50 at Sierra Mar. Sandwiches at Sierra Mar range between $16 and $22 and entrees cost around $25. Nepenthe's sandwiches and salads range between $14.50 and $23.00.
During the height of tourist season, Nepenthe sees crowds of people. The restaurant only takes reservations for groups of five or more. Sierra Mar, being much smaller, encourages reservations.
Which to go to? That's your decision. Can't decide? Spend a night in Big Sur and eat at both restaurants. Lodging at the Post Ranch Inn ranges between $595 and $2,285 per night. Fortunately, there are more affordable options, but most don't have the views.