Big Sur Area - Round Up
Cielo - how formal does one have to dress? We're camping close by but I'm thinking of having one nice dinner out with out beans and rice.
Nepenthe - do you need recommendations? is it a zoo? tourist zoo?
Where is the best spot to have a evening/dinner picnic?
Other updates or thoughts on the Big Sur area?
Just to claify for all:
Cielo restaurant at Ventana Inn
Sierra Mar restaurant at Post Ranch Inn
Both are good, but I'd choose Cielo for lunch, rather than dinner to take in the fab views from the terrace. Sierra Mar is great for lunch or sunset dinner. Definitely do Big Sur Bakery for dinner. It's about the only bakery I've ever been to that I like the food as well, if not better than the baked goods--its excellent and also a litle more casual. Deetjen's also has very good dinners and their candlelit, woodsy ambiance is very charming and romantic, yet casual.
Upscale casual resort dress would be fine for either Sierra Mar or Cielo for dinner -- you could dress up a little more if you choose to, but it's not necessary.
Nepenthe is basically hamburgers and fries. If you want a real good meal Cielo is the place. Several times at lunch I've been rewarded by seeing a California Condor sail by just outside the window. You may also want to consider the restaurant at the Ventana Inn. It's also good and easier to get a reservation at than Cielo. I like the Ventana much better than Nepenthe for lunch. I've never considered Nepenthe for dinner.
A little further north (about 10 miles) you might consider Rocky Point Restaurant near the Rocky Point Bridge. It has a very simple menu, steaks, chops, swordfish, and salmon all grilled, and served with the biggest baked potatoes I've ever seen. The views are very good and they light up the cliff at night.
Like most of California, it's casual and comfortable. I doubt Nepenthe takes any reservations but don't let that stop you. It is a zoo. Parking is really rough (but if you're camping in the area perhaps you could hike up there). It's full of tourists. And it's still a MUST! The food is good (no small feat if you consider the logistics of keeping supplied up there!) and features wonderful locale cheeses. The view from the upper patio is fantastic and there will be lots to see and enjoy while you wait for a table. The gift shop is great fun and you might find something wonderful as a reminder. I, personally, still have a keychain version of a Zolo toy that I picked up on a run between LA and Vancouver, BC. ; >
I don't know other Big Sur restaurants but if you want special food, you might want to drive down to Carmel. Actually, you should go to Carmel if you're that close anyway. The beach is memorable and the town is adorable.
Gas up on either end! Gas prices up there must be *horrendous*! They were 18 months ago before we hit the most extortionist-per-barrel-costs.
Wish I knew something about camping up there. I don't. Most importantly, have a great time. It's a magnificent spot on the planet.