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  • Big Sur River Inn

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Big Sur River Inn
Big Sur River Inn
  • Address:
    46840 Highway 1
    Highway One at Pheneger Creek
    Big Sur, CA 93920
    Neighborhood:
    Big Sur
  • Cuisine:
    Californian
    Price: $30 and under

Big Sur River Inn Details

  • Dining Style: Casual Dining
  • Website: http://www.BIGSURRIVERINN.COM
  • Phone: (831) 667-2700
  • 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: Californian, American, 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
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Awards voted by OpenTable diners
  • Diners' Choice WinnerMost Booked
Diner Reviews
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/29/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/21/2014
  • "The ribs were amazing, the best I've ever had. It was cozy and not too expensive!"
    Dined on 6/20/2014
  • "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."
    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"
    Dined on 6/15/2014
  • "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"
    Dined on 6/7/2014
  • "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!"
    Dined on 5/30/2014
  • "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!"
    Dined on 5/25/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 5/19/2014
  • "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. "
    Dined on 5/10/2014
  • "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!"
    Dined on 4/25/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 4/17/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 3/18/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 3/16/2014
  • "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."
    Dined on 12/15/2013
  • "Food is decent and service friendly. Worth to stop for lunch or dinner on your drive along Highway 1"
    Dined on 12/26/2013
  • "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."
    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."
    Dined on 11/28/2013
  • "Very good Thanksgiving dinner! This is a beautiful restaurant in a great location, we would go there again."
    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."
    Dined on 11/28/2013
  • "Very comfortable setting with rustic feel. Staff was appropriately attentive. Food (especially burger) was great. Would definitely recommend as a casual dining experience!"
    Dined on 10/20/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 9/24/2013
  • "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"."
    Dined on 7/25/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 7/4/2013
  • "Food was good and the prices are more reasonable than other places in the area."
    Dined on 6/25/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 6/23/2013
  • "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!"
    Dined on 6/22/2013
  • "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!"
    Dined on 6/9/2013
  • "Scenery was great, a pity that the food was far from greatness. Bad food."
    Dined on 6/1/2013
  • "Beautiful view snd nice menu. Memorable experience"
    Dined on 5/28/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 5/25/2013
  • "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."
    Dined on 12/27/2012
  • "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."
    Dined on 12/25/2012
  • "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."
    Dined on 11/23/2012
  • "This was a little gem of a find. Excellent in all ways..."
    Dined on 10/12/2012
  • "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."
    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."
    Dined on 10/7/2012
  • "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."
    Dined on 8/19/2012
  • "I went here for a romantic date on a Sunday. They had live music and fantastic food. We had the fried artichokes, the portobello sandwich, brisket sandwich, and the brownie sundae with dessert. Our waiter was on point in filling the wine glasses, the food came out quickly and was hot, and we can't wait to go back again for a sunny, romantic afternoon."
    Dined on 7/22/2012
  • "Beautiful area. The music on Sunday outside was wonderful!"
    Dined on 8/5/2012