Big Sur River Inn
Big Sur River Inn

Big Sur River Inn

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.bigsurriverinn.com/
  • Phone: 8316672700
  • Hours of Operation:

    Breakfast: Daily 8:00am-11:00am
    Lunch: Daily 11:30am-4:30pm
    Dinner: Daily 5:00pm-9:00pm
  • Payment Options: AMEX,Diners Club,Discover,JCB,MasterCard,Visa
  • Cuisine: American, Californian, Barbecue
  • Dress Code: Casual Dress
  • Accepts Walk-Ins: Yes
  • Additional Details: Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Entertainment, Fireplace, Full Bar, Non-Smoking Area, Non-Smoking Restaurant, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Personal wines welcome (corkage fee applies), Takeout, View, Wheelchair Access, Wine
  • Entertainment: Sunday afternoons at the Big Sur River Inn are a long standing tradition in Big Sur… Live music on the Riverside Deck featuring the best in all kinds of jazz, with some of our favorite folk, zydeco and world music mixed in.

Getting there

  • Public Transit: During the summer months, MST Transit offers bus service to Big Sur. The bus stops right at the Big Sur River Inn! For schedules and more information, visit www.mst.org
  • Parking: Private Lot
  • Parking Details: Free parking is available right in front of the restaurant, and in additional locations on both sides of Highway One.
A word from Big Sur River Inn
Renew your spirit at the Big Sur River Inn"s full service restaurant and bar. Enjoy a fabulous breakfast, lunch or dinner in the historic dining room, or outside on the deck, the lawn, or along the banks of the Big Sur River. Have a seat on one of the many chairs in the river and let the smooth current cool your feet as you enjoy the best Big Sur lunch around. On summer Sunday afternoons, check out the Big Sur Backyard BBQ - our own ribs, brisket, chicken and burgers served on the lawn next to the river! What sets us apart from other Big Sur restaurants is our 100-year-old tradition of locally grown fine food, friendly, efficient service and warm hospitality. And yes, we still serve the original homesteader's version of "Hot Apple Pie!" Nestled amid towering Redwoods along the scenic Big Sur River, the historic River Inn is the essence of the Big Sur experience.
Continued
Foodspotting photos
See all photos
Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMost Booked
Big Sur River Inn reviews from OpenTable diners
15 reviews since May 23, 2014
Overall Rating3.2
  • Food3.2
    Service3.1
  • Ambiance3.9
    Noise LevelModerate
55% of reviewers would recommend this restaurant to a friend.
great for outdoor dining (11)scenic view (10)kid-friendly (7)good for groups (5)special occasion (5)neighborhood gem (4)great for lunch (4)great for brunch (3)fit for foodies (2)hot spot (2)notable wine list (1)late-night find (1)romantic (1)Show More
  • Sunday Afternoon Oasis
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 6/29/2014
    Excellent and interestingly presented food, attentive service and unique setting by the river and a forest. There are families and dogs galore among the picnickers on the grass and in the river (on chairs!). The dining room serves indoors (fine after dark) and on two enormous decks. A DIFFERENT BAND PLAYS ( ALWAYS GOOD) SUNDAYS 1-5 PM ONLY. This is a busy restaurant in nice weather so reservations are a must for a deck table. There are inexpensive options including BBQ for picnics on the lawn.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, scenic view, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Horrible experience.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2014
    Dined on 6/21/2014
    There is not enough room for me to detail all of the reasons that I wouldn't go back. But every problem has to do with the service from the surly and disdainful waitstaff. This is a place that gets plenty of tourists who don't understand the exchange rate and will never come back and obviously don't care for return business from locals. I did make a reservation on Open Table asking for an outside table with a view of the river, we got an inside table with a view of the deck full of drunk bikers. We were told that if we wanted to enjoy outside seating we had to get our food to go. Horrible service, and I'm usually pretty easy to please.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelCannot Recall
  • Great food!
    Rach
    Dined on 6/20/2014
    The ribs were amazing, the best I've ever had. It was cozy and not too expensive!
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Perfect Father's Day Celebration
    1peninsuladiner
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Ever since the 70's, my family has enjoyed Sunday brunches in the warm sun on "the porch" at Big Sur River Inn. And Father's Day this year was no exception. My daughter thought it would be the perfect place to take her dad, and she was right. The ambiance and beauty of the place is still as it was 30 years ago. Maybe we didn't get to listen to Jake Stock and the Abalone Stompers, but the Dick Whittington Group provided very pleasant jazz music.....a very relaxing and casual feeling. Now that I am back in the Peninsula for good, I know I will be a regular visitor/diner.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, kid-friendly, fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, scenic view, notable wine list
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Not Impressed
    bikenxs
    Dined on 6/15/2014
    Portions were very small, we had to ask for the sauce that was advertised on menu after order was served. Wife's side salad came in a tiny 1 1/2" condiment cup
    Special Features:
    scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Food was wonderful
    Klake
    Dined on 6/7/2014
    The only negative about this restaurant was that we couldn't order food until 11:30 AM but we were able to make a reservation for 11. The waitress took our order early and was very friendly. The food was amazing! Already recommended it to my coworker
    Special Features:
    kid-friendly, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, great for lunch, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Terrible Service
    Tiff412
    Dined on 5/30/2014
    Rude staff and expensive bad food. Don't expect a seat with a view during dinner because those seats are "closed" even though the restaurant is empty. Don't waste your money. Go up the road to the many other great restaurants!
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • OpenTable Diner Since 2005VIP
    Dined on 5/25/2014
    had a great Sunday lunch at Big Sur River Inn sitting outside and listening to the Sunday music....Along Came Betty....all was good! The service was great and we enjoyed the Caesar salad and Chicken Quesadillas!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Ratings-Only Reviews
    Based on 7 ratings-only reviews submitted since May 23, 2014
    • Overall Rating3
    • Food2.9
    • Ambiance3.7
    • Service2.6
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The following 35 reviews are from the Big Sur River Inn reviews archive.
  • Nice restaurant in nature.
    tzep202
    Dined on 5/19/2014
    Surprised to find a nice restaurant seemingly in the middle of nowhere. We shared the grilled jumbo prawns for appetizer. They were cooked just right and delicious. I had the pork ribs. Parts of it were a bit burnt and dry but overall, the orange flavored BBQ sauce was quite tasty. Didn't think the fries or coleslaw were noteworthy but you get a lot for one serving. My husband had the lamb shank and he enjoyed it. He wasn't thrilled with the mashed potatoes as there was an odd cheesy smell to them that he didn't care for. Dessert was an ice cream sandwich with thin almond cookies which was so good. We shared a 1/2 portion and it was just right. Overall the service was attentive.
    Special Features:
    romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Love Big Sur!
    Opentablereview
    Dined on 5/10/2014
    This is my favorite restaurant! The chicken wings were very hot and had a little too much sauce. I wish I would have asked for dressing on the side when I ordered the tuna salad.
    Special Features:
    great for brunch, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, special occasion, great for lunch, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • What a great surprise!
    rosie3
    Dined on 4/25/2014
    Made reservations for a group two nights prior to the Big Sur Marathon. We didn't know what to expect being out in Big Sur, but were pleasantly surprised. Rustic, but clean and has a good atmosphere. Have a drink by the fireplace. Ample space for groups. The food was incredible- the hanger steak was amazing, as well as I took a bite of my friend's brisket. Really a good meal, good atmosphere, and free WiFi!
    Special Features:
    Good for Groups
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Lovely back deck, unpretentious
    Gabrielle
    Dined on 4/17/2014
    Dinner by the Big Sur River: lovely! The salmon a bit was overcooked and over-seasoned, the dessert brownie made up for it. Friendly service.
    Special Features:
    Great for Outdoor Dining, Romantic, Scenic View
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Has been better
    CarolCVIP
    Dined on 3/18/2014
    On this day, we were disappointed. This is a go-to place for us, has been for years and years. We used to love it. A beautiful March day but the lower patio near the river was not open to us. We'd brought visitors and had wanted to enjoy the ambience near the river. Nope. Closed. WTHeck? Instead, the upper level (blah) and indoors were open. We were very disappointed. Despite a small number of people, service was slow and unprofessional. It almost seemed as though they were using busboys as servers. Just not professional. Friends are coming in a few weeks and we'll be dining down the road instead, sorry to say.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Food good; Service no so much
    Melfelk
    Dined on 3/16/2014
    I've been here several times and had good experiences. This time, however, was different. We were seated near the bar outside (there were lots of other open tables). Our server rarely checked in on us and there was a group at the bar (at 5pm) that was so loud, had our server ever came to our table, we were going to asked to be moved. It really wouldn't have mattered where we were sitting, because the noise level from the bar was so loud, you could hear it everywhere. They were talking loudly, obnoxiously, and about rather inappropriate topics. If it was later at night, I could understand it a little more. But it was a 5pm dinner reservation. Unfortunately, between the poor service and the noise level, it was a terrible experience.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, scenic view, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Highway One stop
    OpenTable Diner Since 2007VIP
    Dined on 12/26/2013
    Food is decent and service friendly. Worth to stop for lunch or dinner on your drive along Highway 1
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Overrated; disaapointing
    geegulicious
    Dined on 12/15/2013
    We were quite looking forward to the lunch having read a few good reviews on the restaurant. Unfortuantely, we were disappointed with the food and the service. The location is fantastic; next to the River and has great views etc. The good; the Apple Pie that was so widely touted, etc was extremely disappointing. Apple pie was average at best, and the salad and burger were really notice to shout about. Unfortunately we didnt experience any friendly staff either - service was matter of fact.
    Special Features:
    scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Thanksgiving
    Megan
    Dined on 11/28/2013
    the place was slammed. Understandably. It was Thanksgiving and there aren't many places to go in that area. We did have a reservation but we showed up about 30 mins early and they sat us right away. Unfortunately, after they sat us no one even looked in our direction for over 45 minutes. No water, no bread. NOTHING. I dont usually write reviews and my fiancee and I aren't complainers so we didn't say anything to the staff but I got this email asking about the experience so I'm just being honest. When the drinks did come an hour later, my red wine (a merlot) was ICE cold. I had to send it back. The food was great, the atmosphere was great, but the service was horrible.
    Special Features:
    romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Thanksgiving
    Christine
    Dined on 11/28/2013
    Very good Thanksgiving dinner! This is a beautiful restaurant in a great location, we would go there again.
    Special Features:
    romantic, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • not so good
    vyk2005
    Dined on 11/28/2013
    I was surprised at how mediocre the food was, especially the prime rib. It was bland & tasteless, this did not feel like a special dinner although the outside & the river are as always, lovely.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Thanksgiving at the Inn
    FormerChicagoFoodieVIP
    Dined on 11/28/2013
    Went for a beautiful hike in Big Sur and had a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner along the Big Sur River at the Inn - very friendly staff and the food was good. It was nice to have Thanksgiving dinner without the cleanup and mess! Scenic views from our table of the river and trees.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, romantic, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • Comfortable delicious dining
    Doug
    Dined on 10/20/2013
    Very comfortable setting with rustic feel. Staff was appropriately attentive. Food (especially burger) was great. Would definitely recommend as a casual dining experience!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, neighborhood gem
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Lovely Lunch
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 9/24/2013
    We were a group of nine. Our table was ready for us upon arrival, water and drinks were brought right away. Menu offered a lot of great choices. After ordering, our food was brought in a reasonable amount of time. Presentation was lovely and everyone enjoyed their food. Service was excellent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, scenic view, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Thought it would be better!
    Pashita
    Dined on 7/25/2013
    Four of us dined without too many expectations. Food was not very good. My husband asked about ribs and was told they were "hit and miss" and that the brisket was delish. He ordered a beef brisket entree and I ordered a brisket slider and they were edible. But that was basically it. Daughter ordered shrimp/scampi pasta and it was ok. Prices were way too high as was "Big Sur River Inn".
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
  • So-so food
    OpenTable Diner Since 2010
    Dined on 7/4/2013
    Made our first trip to Big Sur and didn't really know what to expect so we made a reservation (1 of 3 on Open Table at time of writing). Everything is Big Sur is a little expensive for what it is (all hotels, restaurants, etc). Big Sur caters to a range of budgets from car camping to expensive resorts such as Post Ranch Inn/Ventana Inn. Our impression is that the River Inn is where the rowdy families stay - big groups looking for more going on than the usual quiet, sleepy Big Sur experience. It's energetic here. Menu is burgers, surf/turf, pasta. You can have drinks while sitting in the river on Adirondack chairs. Good for what it is. But definitely not a foodie place. Try Big Sur Bakery for dinner for good dining.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Went for Breakfast
    GregVIP
    Dined on 6/25/2013
    Food was good and the prices are more reasonable than other places in the area.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Big dining at the Big Sur
    MariBhec
    Dined on 6/23/2013
    Beautiful place to eat and stay. Price of food was not cheap was very much worth it for the taste. Will definitiely come back here again.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, kid-friendly, romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Great food and still better view!
    OpenTable Diner Since 2011
    Dined on 6/22/2013
    Big Sur and the forest are incredible sights. Dip your feet into the river no matter what if abilities allow (and in that case, while you still can!) The rack of ribs was fantastic. Bring your checkbook! Bon appétit!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, romantic, scenic view, neighborhood gem, hot spot, great for lunch, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • a shank of lamb as big as your head
    trmajunky
    Dined on 6/9/2013
    This food was delightful! The lamb was as large as my head and just melted in your mouth. We had excellent service. Afterwards you walk to the river and sit in a wooden chair. Overall, amazingly romantic! My only complaint was our reservation was at 9 and they had just closed the kitchen! They only reopened it because we had a reservation!
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, romantic, neighborhood gem, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelQuiet
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Scenery was great, a pity
    girly
    Dined on 6/1/2013
    Scenery was great, a pity that the food was far from greatness. Bad food.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good meal, wonderful location
    GeorgesVIP
    Dined on 5/28/2013
    Beautiful view snd nice menu. Memorable experience
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
    I would recommend this to a friend.
  • Breathtaking setting
    OpenTable Diner Since 2006VIP
    Dined on 5/25/2013
    Modern Californian food with an Asian influence served in a room with floor-to-ceiling plate glass windows looking over the cliffs of Big Sur. I've never had a more dramatic view to accompany dinner. Food was very good, though the daily menu was a bit heavier on seafood and entrails than I would have liked. Service was subdued and competent.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, romantic, scenic view, special occasion
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • The food was so-so. I would
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008VIP
    Dined on 12/27/2012
    The food was so-so. I would call it "average bar food". Given the tucked away forest setting, I was hoping for something a little more special for the price.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Good solid American fare -
    MarkHVIP
    Dined on 12/25/2012
    Good solid American fare - nothing fancy or pretentious. Good steaks. The ribs were ok but not the BBQ we are used to in the south. We would definately return.
    Special Features:
    good for groups, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Awesome setting!
    Igoforthefood
    Dined on 11/23/2012
    I was dissapointed in our meals, both steaks and the prawns were overdone. The seasoning was fine, the plates pretty, but the preparation was lacking. The staff as frindly and accomodating. It was my birthday so, well, I was more dissapointed than usual. Lucky for us there was live music at The Maidens Pulblix House that lightened the mood. I'm willing to give it another go next time I'm in Big Sur because my food experience was so far from expections it may have just been an exception. Perhaps because our visit was the Friday following Thanksgiving.
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, kid-friendly, notable wine list, romantic, scenic view
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • This was a little gem of a
    OpenTable Diner Since 2008
    Dined on 10/12/2012
    This was a little gem of a find. Excellent in all ways...
    Special Features:
    vibrant bar scene, good for groups, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, notable wine list, romantic, special occasion, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Love Big Sur Not This Restaurant
    OpenTable Diner Since 2002
    Dined on 10/7/2012
    The location is beautiful - Big Sur! The food is mediocre. The menu is made up of basic american fare - onion rings, chicken wings, steaks, burgers and basic seafood dishes. I had the miso glazed salmon with wasabi mashed potatoes and vegetable of the day. The "glaze" was a layer of miso paste applied heavy handedly and the wasabi mashed potatoes were surprisingly bland. The vegetables were broccoli and carrots which were the best part of the meal - not overcooked and with a nice bite. We should not have ventured further but we did try the apple pie for dessert. Thin slices of Apple were overpowered with cinnamon and sat heavily on a dense flavorless crust which was soggy on the bottom and dry and brittle around the edges.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Service was really slow, yet
    ExperiencedFoodie
    Dined on 10/7/2012
    Service was really slow, yet pleasant. They just seemed to operate in first gear and were not in much of a hurry. Lots of customers looking around for servers, etc... Food was okay, only lukewarm, and nothing special at all. Honestly, I don't know what would make me stop here again.
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • Big Sur River Inn is one of
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 8/19/2012
    Big Sur River Inn is one of our very favorite places. Sunday afternoon there is live jazz on the patio....you can bring a blanket and relax on the lawn or there are chairs in the river that flows....kids can play in the shallow river. This place is magical. It is truly a hidden gem----you would never guess about its beauty if you are just driving by the front of the establishment.
    Special Features:
    fit for foodies, good for groups, great for brunch, great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, romantic, special occasion, scenic view, great for lunch, hot spot
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate
  • This is a very scenic spot.
    OpenTable Diner Since 2009
    Dined on 8/5/2012
    This is a very scenic spot. The restaurant is on the river. They have live music on Sunday afternoons. The grounds are very relaxing.
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, kid-friendly, neighborhood gem, scenic view, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelEnergetic
  • Beautiful area. The music
    OpenTable Diner Since 2012
    Dined on 8/5/2012
    Beautiful area. The music on Sunday outside was wonderful!
    Special Features:
    great for outdoor dining, notable wine list, scenic view, great for lunch
    • Food
    • Ambiance
    • Service
    • Noise LevelModerate