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  5. Merced
The Branding Iron, Merced, CA

The Branding Iron

3.8
3.8
46 Reviews
$31 to $50
Steakhouse
The Branding Iron (BI), located in Merced, California, is known for high-quality fresh meat selections prepared by award-winning chefs with over 100 years of experience collectively. The restaurant honors the history of the ranching with its name, the iconic neon sign of a cowboy branding a calf, and its decor. The facility at the BI includes a main dining room, a bar with intimate dining area, and a private lounge. The BI is also set up to host banquets and large events. Our Signature dishes includes a Spanish soup, Bone-in Rib-eye and a 16-ounce rancher's cut of Prime rib.

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 1 time today

Order delivery or takeout

Dining areas

Additional information

  • Dining style
    Casual Elegant
  • Cuisines
    Steakhouse, Seafood, Steak
  • Hours of operation
    Tue–Sat 4:30 pm–8:30 pm
  • Phone number
    (209) 722-1822
  • Dress code
    Formal Attire
  • Neighborhood
    Merced
  • Cross street
    Between M St. & O St.
  • Parking details
    Private Lot
  • Additional
    Banquet, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cocktails, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Indoor Fireplace, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine

What 46 people are saying

Overall ratings and reviews

Reviews can only be made by diners who have eaten at this restaurant

3.8
3.8 based on all time ratings
  • 3.8Food
  • 4Service
  • 4Ambience
  • 3.6Value

NoiseModerate

46 Reviews
  1. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 6, 2023

    overall3food2service4ambience3
    The food was acceptable. The service was exceptional but the restaurant needs to be cleaned. There is mold on the windows. The place was very dark, I would a little scared to see the place with the lights on.

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  2. DBrad

    Hawaii

    2 reviews

    4.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on July 23, 2023

    overall4food4service4ambience3
    Food and service were excellent. However, I'm not sure it was worth the price. Dining room was very warm, whereas bar was nice and cool. It was an overall good experience.

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  3. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    1.0

    1 review

    Dined on June 18, 2023

    overall1food1service1ambience2
    The food was over cooked, we didn’t get the appetizers we ordered and we couldn’t use the gift certificates we had even though we showed the waiter before we ordered. They were very unorganized and slow. That will be the last time we go to The Branding Iron.

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  4. Pomologist

    San Francisco

    23 reviews

    vip
    5.0

    23 reviews

    Dined on June 10, 2023

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great, diverse menu. Our waitress MaryLynn was oustanding and the food was excellent. It's been a while since we ate here but we wil be back soon!

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  5. Phil

    Chicago

    25 reviews

    vip
    1.0

    25 reviews

    Dined on June 7, 2023

    overall1food1service1ambience3
    I grew up in Merced and learned how to dine in fine restaurants at The Branding Iron. With great expectations we anxiously arrived only to be met by an unsmiling hostess that seated us at a table that was too large for our party in the middle of several other noisy tables. Odd beginning. She seated us again yet it only went downhill from there. Drinks took forever (server said it was the fault of the bartender - passing the buck which only reflects poorly on the manager). The food was tasteless. Cold tough meat. No one finished; we just wanted to leave. As a travel professional I have traveled throughout the world eating in the finest restaurants. Yet it all started with The Branding Iron. My excitement turned to sadness. I shall never return. RIP Branding Iron.

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  6. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on May 14, 2023

    overall4food3service5ambience5
    My ribeye was not a good cut. Under cooked and chewy. Flavor was good.

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  7. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on April 16, 2023

    overall3food2service4ambience4
    Our server along with all the workers were kind and prompt. Unfortunately 2/7 of us had issues with our meals. We both ordered steaks, one person ordered medium-well and received medium-rare, I ordered medium and received a blue rare steak. Because we had tickets to a show we could not wait for the food to be fixed.

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  8. OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    3 reviews

    2.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on March 26, 2023

    overall2food3service2ambience4
    We stopped here on the way to Fresno - me, my spouse, and 3.5 year old. It was clear the wait staff were frazzled — apparently not everyone had shown up that day and things were slow. Our server was very apologetic so perhaps this is a one off… However my spouse witnessed what appeared to be the manager screaming at some of the staff. This was very concerning. All in all it took us about an hour and 15 minutes from the time we were seated to the time we ate our food. They did bring out the kids meal a few minutes before that, which was helpful. They ran out of potatoes, and by the time we ordered also out of broccoli, so my steak came with rice and zucchini which was a lot less appetizing. Steak was delicious however. No discount was offered and we didn’t ask, but I would say our experience was not worth the price. On a better day I would give it a try again and hope for better staffing levels and enough food stocked for a busy Saturday night. I felt bad for the people there to celebrate a special occasion.

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  9. Gary

    Tahoe

    2 reviews

    3.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on March 26, 2023

    overall3food5service2ambience5
    Two hours to eat. Way to long. Only saw two waiters working a full restaurant. Hope this was an off night. Will give it another try but if the same happens again will go someplace else.

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  10. DavidL

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    2.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on March 25, 2023

    overall2food3service4ambience2
    3 of us had the Ribeye steak. Ok, but not outstanding. 1 had prime rib he said it was a little tough. Potatoes and salad were extra cost, but no prices were given.We had the choice of one brand of Chardonnay and it was served room temperature. We asked for a cooler and was told they didn't have any since the move. One was delivered to us when we were on our last glass.

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  11. LisaG

    San Francisco

    5 reviews

    4.0

    5 reviews

    Dined on March 8, 2023

    overall4food5service4ambience5
    The bar was fun as always. The food was good, but took nearly an hour to arrive at our table.

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  12. LeesaE

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on February 25, 2023

    overall5food2service5ambience5
    I really looooooved the previous version of French dip sandwich and Au jus. It was my favorite. The current sandwich is good but the au jus isn’t.

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  13. OpenTable Diner

    Central Coast

    2 reviews

    vip
    1.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on February 4, 2023

    overall1food1service1ambience1
    This place was absolutely horrible, spent $375 on a crap dinner. Service was horrible, food had no flavor and was either not cooked or cold. Never again!

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  14. KennyF

    Yosemite

    1 review

    vip
    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on January 8, 2023

    overall5food5service4ambience5
    Good food and reasonable prices. Service was fine just felt a little rushed even though restaurant was almost empty but not a major issue. Will always go back for simple, tasty and consistent food.

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  15. Gary

    Tahoe

    2 reviews

    2.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on January 1, 2023

    overall2food3service1ambience5
    Communication was poor between kitchen & servers, ordered baked potatoes,given mashed, not given a choice when delivered, 20 min later table beside us received baked, we would have waited if given a choice. The meat was great. Because of the slow service thought dessert would be compted. Went to bar for drink, should have eaten there! Candace was amazing. Even though she was swamped, she was great. We realized it was a busy night but sad staff was not prepared.

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  16. OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on December 24, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    We were quickly seated. Our beverages were constantly refilled. Our meals took a little while but were worth the wait, as usual. I enjoyed the prime rib and my husband the filet mignon which were both cooked to our likings. It's our go to restaurant when we're in the mood for a night out and great steaks.

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  17. OpenTable Diner

    San Diego

    3 reviews

    1.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on December 11, 2022

    overall1food2service1ambience3
    Service was terrible. We were forgotten by server. Our appetizer came after our main course. We didn’t receive some food we order, but the did take it off the tab. It was an overall terrible experience and worst bec we were celebrating our birthday. Will never go there again. Sadly.

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  18. OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on December 11, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Had not been to the Branding iron in several years. My husband and I took two very special friends out for a nice dinner in the month of December. Did not know what to expect, as had not been there in such a long time certainly not since the new owners took over. It was a wonderful experience. The service was great, food fantastic and could not have been a nicer meal. We loved it, and will certainly be returning in the near future.

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  19. JosephS

    Central Coast

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on December 10, 2022

    overall3food2service5ambience5
    Never been there before. After 35 years I finally went. Got the 18oz steak. I was not happy at all. Almost half the steak was fat?wtf!. Pay top dollar for a good steak and get low grade? Just gave it back. I will never go back. Service was great, came quickly. So I left a tip. But not for my food.

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  20. Counterculture

    Seattle

    11 reviews

    vip
    1.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on December 3, 2022

    overall1food1service2ambience3
    The prime rib was extremely chewy. The baked potato cold. Perhaps this retro throwback is ready to be a throw out. Don’t waste your money and calories here.

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  21. scot

    Tahoe

    1 review

    2.0

    1 review

    Dined on November 12, 2022

    overall2food1service2ambience3
    Worst Prime Rib Dinner I've ever had !!! Where are you buying you beef?

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  22. LilyG08

    Los Angeles

    3 reviews

    5.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on October 2, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    I really liked this place. The food was good and the service was really good. The young men serving water and bread were very polite and served you more water as soon as it was empty. It was very quite with some nice music playing in the background. It was a nice change since most restaurants are always super loud. I will definitely go back.

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  23. Marie66

    San Joaquin

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on October 1, 2022

    overall3food1service5ambience2
    Ordered New York steak and it was terrible! The butter on top of my steak was cold…..Meat seemed to be poor quality and my bake potato was hard and not very hot.

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  24. JamesM

    San Francisco

    4 reviews

    5.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on September 18, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Excellent! The Branding Iron is always an outstanding place that is always an enjoyable experience. I've always found it a real treat since I first went there as a child (about 60 plus years ago) and return whenever I'm in Merced.

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  25. TinaL

    Las Vegas

    2 reviews

    2.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on September 11, 2022

    overall2food2service2ambience4
    We were regulars for 3 generations. Reserved a booth for my husband's birthday and hoped to enjoy our favorites with the new ownership. Unfortunately, that is not going to happen. We were seated and ignored for close to ten minutes. Asked the young lady that seated us for a server. finally, (omitting his name to be polite) he shows up and takes our order. Never received bread and took another ten minutes for our drink order to arrive. Salad comes, its warm and not at all as the previous preparation. Dressing is watered down and tasteless. Appetizer arrived next. Still no bread. Also one of our favs so really missed it. Asked again. Bread arrives. No drink refill offered. Needed that. Food shows up. Unattractive presentation and lacked the flavor of the previous years. Our vegetable was announced as Asparagus for the evening but we did not receive any. Asked for that when the water server came rushing by. He said he would go retrieve it. Never happened. The palate cleansing sorbet has also disappeared. All and all, we left very disappointed that one of our all time favorite restaurants where we have enjoyed so many family celebrations is no longer. We had to laugh about it this morning as every single expected experience was gone, what else could we do.

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  26. GregW

    San Francisco

    3 reviews

    5.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on September 11, 2022

    overall5food4service4ambience4
    Restaurant was clean and I like the interior. I will try it again.

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  27. OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on August 31, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The Branding Iron has always been our favorite place for celebrating special occasions. The food is delicious and the service is fantastic.

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  28. OpenTable Diner

    San Francisco

    1 review

    4.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 24, 2022

    overall4food4service4ambience4
    My Shrimp Scampi and baked potato were lukewarm. Everything else was great.

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  29. OpenTable Diner

    Las Vegas

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on August 7, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience3
    This place has definitely improved since the new owners have taken over. Initially it was not good at all. It looks like there has been a course correction and we highly recommend this for your dining experience. Some of the old timers are still working here so please stop by and support our local Restaurants.

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  30. Michelle

    San Francisco

    4 reviews

    5.0

    4 reviews

    Dined on August 6, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    The food and service was 5 star all around! Same great quality they’ve had for years. We had steak and clam chowder. Highly recommend.

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  31. OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 24, 2022

    overall3food5service4ambience3
    This was our second time going and it was again great. I want to start with we loved the food and Kimberly, our waitress again, was wonderful and so friendly. However there were so mistakes but the food was so good we didn’t feel the need to say anything. I ordered a gin and tonic but I don’t like just plain lime and/or cucumber so I asked for the bartenders to have fun and make something unique. What I got was an amazing like gin and tonic. Again it was really good, the best gin and tonic I’ve ever had, but it wasn’t what I asked for. Then as my veggie I said I was ok with the standard broccolini but got asparagus like my dad asked for, and again, it was amazing so I didn’t say anything. Then the most disappointing to me was, I ordered a creme brûlée for dessert and got cheesecake. A very good cheesecake but I was really looking forward to the creme brûlée but I’m not the kind of person to say anything. And on ambiance critic I’d give is that the lights should be dimmed a little bit to give a more luxurious feel to the experience.

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  32. Tamar

    Fayetteville

    8 reviews

    3.0

    8 reviews

    Dined on July 23, 2022

    overall3food2service1ambience4
    This was our third visit. First two ones were bad but reading the reviews and hearing some positives and negatives about this restaurant we gave the devil his due for the third time. That will be our last time eating there. Here are the list of our concerns: 1- there is no difference in their seasoning or cooking of ribeye and prime ribs. The well-done steak came as rare-medium for all three orders (at different times). Whether you ordered ribeye or prime rib, you get the same mushy meat. 2- service is terrible (at all three times)! Once you give the order nobody stops to fill the glasses or bring the desert menu or stop by to hear you. 3- A family with a 6 years old arrive and sat just behind us (after 8:30 PM why these children are still not fed and out at the restaurant, a parental issue but disturbing others without social grace). We had to have the dinner while hearing constant and monotone sound coming from a online game. The customers must be sat close to their own kind. If you have the issues listed above, do not go there. But these concerns are not yours then enjoy paying $180 for a dinner with some bad taste.

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  33. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on July 1, 2022

    overall5food4service4ambience4
    Excellent food 50% of the time service excellent 100% of the time reservation availability very good

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  34. OpenTable Diner

    Palm Springs

    3 reviews

    3.0

    3 reviews

    Dined on May 9, 2022

    overall3food4service5ambience4
    Mothers Day

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  35. OpenTable Diner

    Los Angeles

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on April 22, 2022

    overall3food3service3ambience4
    Disappointing. Gazpacho recipe changed for the worse, zero water refills.

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  36. Bobw

    Central Coast

    1 review

    2.0

    1 review

    Dined on April 9, 2022

    overall2food2service4ambience4
    We ordered prime rib which was said to be prime quality. When our order arrived and we started to eat we discovered it was not prime quality. The meat was dry, tough, tasteless and about 1/2 inch thick. We didn’t even finish eating it. For what we paid the meat was far from meeting the price. We were eager to try this restaurant after the change in ownership and will seriously if we will return.

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  37. OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on March 24, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great!! Food was amazing! Service was amazing!!!

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  38. JustineT

    Tahoe

    6 reviews

    4.0

    6 reviews

    Dined on March 23, 2022

    overall4food3service4ambience4
    Everyone walked away thinking it was “good” not great. A bit over priced for what you get but the Wait staff was nice. The food overall was decent but nothing astonishing. Probably won’t be my go to choice in the future

    1 person found this helpful

  39. BonnaR

    San Joaquin

    11 reviews

    4.0

    11 reviews

    Dined on March 18, 2022

    overall4food4service5ambience4
    Love the service by the duo of Marilyn and Christina. Was very disappointed in the sauce for the artichoke hearts. Artichoke hearts served on some wilted shredded carrots and something. Then two curled up pieces of radicchio. Really needs help. Garlic bread good, Steak was excellent. Brussels sprouts good but too large a serving. VERY disappointed they took baked potatoes off the menu. One of the main reasons I went there. Still would recommend. Urge new management to bring back baked potatoes.

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  40. OpenTable Diner

    Los Angeles

    2 reviews

    1.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on March 9, 2022

    overall1food1service5ambience4
    The wait service experience was great and I tipped my waiter accordingly (50% of my total bill). The food experience was terrible. The price of my entree was $64. I ordered the 8oz prime rib. The meat was satisfactory, but the rest of the meal was inedible. The Cesar salad contained romaine that had overt pink rib. Given all the issues with romaine in the last few years, being presented with lettuce that isn't fresh is less than ideal. The vegetable of the day was Brussels sprouts (the only vegetable option). They were served hard; borderline raw. The mashed potatoes were runny, gummy, overworked, and full of starch. The optional sides were limited to mashed potatoes, rice, or fries. This is the only prime rib restaurant I've been to in 20 years that doesn't offer a baked potato, scalloped, or specialty potato dish side with their prime rib. The other two tables that sat after me also attempted to order baked potatoes to their disappointment. I ordered a glass of wine shortly after I was seated, which was then later comped because the bar tender didn't pour it until the end of my meal, (30 minutes after I placed my drink order). I definitely expect to have wine poured table side when in a restaurant setting spending more than $30 on an entree. I decided to try this place due to the overwhelmingly positive Google reviews, but I must assume they've experienced personnel changes that have impacted the preparation and quality of their food. I did speak to a manager about my experience before departing, but the outcome wasn't promising enough for me to consider returning. Essentially I was made to feel like my experience wasn't valid. Finally, I refused a credit for my meal. It seems unfair to punish the dedicated wait staff for the misgivings of their management, kitchen, and bar staff. Needless to say I will not be returning here and recommend you think twice before eating here.

    2 people found this helpful

FAQs

The Branding Iron offers takeout which you can order by calling the restaurant at (209) 722-1822.

The Branding Iron is rated 3.8 stars by 46 OpenTable diners.

Yes, you can generally book this restaurant by choosing the date, time and party size on OpenTable.

Make a reservation

2 people

7:00 PM


Booked 1 time today

Order delivery or takeout

Google Map for The Branding Iron

640 W 16th St, Merced, CA 95340-4721

Dining areas

Additional information

  • Cross street
    Between M St. & O St.
  • Neighborhood
    Merced
  • Hours of operation
    Tue–Sat 4:30 pm–8:30 pm
  • Cuisines
    Steakhouse, Seafood, Steak
  • Dining style
    Casual Elegant
  • Dress code
    Formal Attire
  • Parking details
    Private Lot
  • Additional
    Banquet, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cocktails, Counter Seating, Full Bar, Happy Hour, Indoor Fireplace, Non-Smoking, Patio/Outdoor Dining, Private Room, Takeout, Wheelchair Access, Wine
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