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Jul 6, 2009 10:24 AM

Suggestions for nice dinner in Big Sur/Carmel?

My husband and I (young professionals going on a ~2nd honeymoon) will be staying in Big Sur for 3 days in August.

I'd like to take my husband to a nice dinner in Carmel as we plan to spend an afternoon there. Any suggestions? We love seafood, Asian, Mediterranean, Italian... I've looked online quite a bit and am having trouble finding "the perfect spot".

Also, the dining in Big Sur area seems to be limited...any help picking from the 15 or so restaurants that appear to be there?


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  1. Nepenthe in Big Sur has very good food and the location is spectacular. Had a nice traditional French meal at Anton and Michel. Very romantic and beautiful dining room. I also like Graising's. I have had good meals at Tutto Mondo.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Fladabosco

      I had lunch at Graising's a few months ago, with my wife and sister-in-law. We all really enjoyed our meals.

      I went to Anton and Michel with my wife a few years ago and had a very disappointing dinner. In addition to that, when the bill arrived, I put down two credit cards and asked the waiter to split the bill (as I was travelling on business). He picked up the cards and said quite loud, "Very interesting! One personal and one business card!". I thought that was rather gauche.

      1. re: souschef

        Anton and Michel was at one time wonderful. No more! Best restaurants in the area are Fandango in Pacific Grove, Citronelle at the Carmel Valley Ranch, and the restaurant at Bernardus Winery (the name eludes me).

    2. Loved the Big Sur Bakery and ended up there about twice a day during our trip: solid (and reasonably priced for the area) dinner options, amazing multi-grain bread (great to buy in the morning and bring with you for a picnic), and very good chocolate cake and breakfast pastries too.

      Ventana is a good, more upscale option. Had some delicious scallops there. We opted to dine outside and had the whole area to ourselves. It's only a partial ocean view, but all in all a spectacularly beautiful spot.

      1. laurenpk, if I'm understanding this correctly, your plans are to have dinner in Carmel and then drive back to Big Sur? I would not suggest this for two reasons; the drive is so beautiful, it's a shame to do it after dark and more importantly, it is two lane and twisty in case dinner may include cocktails and/or wine. If I'm not reading you correctly, post back as I have some dinner ideas for Carmel.

        Dining in Big Sur, aside from what the other posters have mentioned, there is the Post Ranch Inn. I have no personal experience there, but others say it is marvelous, view and food-wise. I know it is $$$$ if that's an item. They have a site you can check out. We always go to Nepenthe, just never miss it!!

        1. Big Sur is nice BUT take a little drive to the first hotel in Carmel "The Highlands Inn" for Dinner. This has THE best views, wine and food nearest Big Sur. I have been there many times since our honeymoon. This is still one of the most romantic places in the world. True it was on my honeymoon. But as foodie for the last 40 years, and eat at most of the top 100. This place is worth a visit, meal & a stay.

          1. Adding to what others have said, I would think twice about dining in Carmel and then driving back to Big Sur. The road is windy, and if you have a nice dinner with drinks and wine in Carmel, you definitely shouldn't be driving back. That said, without question one of the very best restaurants in the area is Citronelle at the Carmel Valley Ranch. This is an outpost of Michel Richard's Citronelle in of President Obama's favorites. It's a wonderful spot, and hands down one of the very best in the area.

            Right in Big Sur, the Post Ranch Inn restaurant Sierra Mar is very nice, romantic and with spectacular views. Ventana across the road is also very good, but I'm not sure if they have reopened their restaurant after their devastating fire last year.

            Nepenthe is fine for lunch, but certainly not a place for a special dinner.