Great Sunday anniversary brunch or dinner in Big Sur
We will be in Big Sur for our wedding anniversary, nice place, but good food is even more important. Advice?
My husband and I have been going to Big Sur for our anniversary for the past couple years. We always have dinner at Cielo (at Ventana Inn & Spa) and at Sierra Mar (at Post Ranch Inn). Both are very good, but Sierra Mar is our favorite, particularly the prix fixe dinner (make sure you try something with Foie Gras).
For an architecturally stunning building, great food and an even more spectacular view I would recommend Nepenthe in Big Sur. We had diner there at sunset on the deck high over the Pacific. It was stunning.
I agree that Nepenthe is a "can't miss" destination, however, I found the food, the service, and the atmosphere to be far better at Sierra Mar and Cielo. Nepenthe is quite a bit more casual, and while the view is amazing, it tends to draw large crowds which compromise the service and the atmosphere, unless you're going for something a bit more casual. I would stop in there for lunch, or even breakfast/coffee at Cafe Kevah just below Nepenthe. You may be lucky to spot a condor soaring above...we did the last couple times we were there.
Sierra Mar can definitely hold its own in terms of having an amazing view, as well as amazing architecture, and offers a more romantic and refined atmosphere. It is not an inexpensive restaurant however. Cielo also has amazing views and atmosphere, including a cozy fireplace seating area near the bar, but unfortunately the dining room of the restaurant does not take advantage of the great view. My husband and I will typically start or end our evening with a glass of wine or cocktail and take it out onto the beautiful patio to enjoy the view (I believe they serve lunch on the patio, but they were not serving dinner out there when we were there).
I've tried all these places and would recommend instead that you have a drink at either Cielo or Sierra Mar (for the gorgeous views), and then dinner at Deetjen's, three miles down the road. The place is wonderfully romantic in a funky/cozy kind of way, the food is outstanding, and the value is great. All in all, it's my husband's and my favorite (dinner) restaurant in the Big Sur area.