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The Branding Iron, Merced, CA

The Branding Iron

4.3
4.3
23 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 6 times today

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 23 people are saying

Overall ratings and reviews

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

4.3
4.3 based on recent ratings
  • 4.3Food
  • 4.2Service
  • 4.1Ambience
  • 4Value

NoiseModerate

Loved For

  • Fresno / San Joaquin Valley

    Neighborhood Gem

  • Fresno / San Joaquin Valley

    Notable Wine List

  • Fresno / San Joaquin Valley

    Special Occasion

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  1. JM

    JamesM

    San Francisco

    3 reviews

    5.0

    3 reviews

    Dined 6 days ago

    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.
  2. TL

    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.
  3. GW

    GregW

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on September 11, 2022

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

    OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    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.
  5. OT

    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.
  6. OT

    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.
  7. M

    Michelle

    San Francisco

    3 reviews

    5.0

    3 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.
  8. OT

    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.
  9. T

    Tamar

    Fayetteville

    6 reviews

    3.0

    6 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.
  10. OT

    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
  11. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    Palm Springs

    1 review

    3.0

    1 review

    Dined on May 9, 2022

    overall3food4service5ambience4
    Mothers Day
  12. OT

    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.
  13. B

    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.
  14. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on March 24, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    Great!! Food was amazing! Service was amazing!!!
  15. JT

    JustineT

    Tahoe

    4 reviews

    4.0

    4 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
  16. BR

    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.
  17. OT

    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.
  18. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    1 review

    1.0

    1 review

    Dined on February 26, 2022

    overall1food1service1ambience1
    Seriously. It was shocking how bad the service was. 30 minutes to get the first drinks served it was an hour to get the last person their drink. I went into the bar to see if it was really busy. Nope! Two people in there. We had to get our own water jug to fill our water glasses because nobody ever came by to see if we needed more water. We had to ask for bread, they brought 6 pieces for a table of 7. The food, if the dish wasn’t terrible it was just mediocre. And the price increase is way above what it should be for what you are getting. I hope the restaurant survives, because we need it in Merced and I can’t imagine not having the BI here. But they will need to get things figured out and quick.
  19. JG

    JoanG

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    1.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on February 25, 2022

    overall1food1service1ambience3
    Took our family to dinner, Branding Iron has a new owner. Sadly the food is not the same at all. Over priced, no taste and cold where it should be hot. Would not reccomend The Branding Iron to anyone.
  20. LF

    LocalFoodie

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on February 12, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience4
    Not much has changed with the new owners which I appreciated. We were seated in a room in the back even though the main dining hall was pretty much empty, but I am sure there was a reason for that. The wait staff was amazing as they always are and the food was yummy.
  21. ES

    ElizabethS

    1 review

    5.0

    1 review

    Dined on February 11, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience5
    I love the history of the Branding Iron. The food was made perfectly and I definitely will be returning.
  22. OT

    OpenTable Diner

    San Joaquin

    2 reviews

    1.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on January 30, 2022

    overall1food1service1ambience1
    I booked a group of 7 for my birthday. I had relatives come from out of town and was SO excited to share the Branding Iron with them. However, once I got to the restaurant the hostess informed me that they do not take OpenTable reservations. (Then why am I able to make a reservation on OpenTable?!) They turned us away and I had to scramble to find somewhere else. Totally ruined my birthday!
  23. BB

    BrendaB

    San Francisco

    2 reviews

    5.0

    2 reviews

    Dined on January 23, 2022

    overall5food5service5ambience3
    Loved the service and we’re so happy to have new owners. The previous owners were never friendly or welcoming. We stopped eating at BI because the owner was downright rude at times. Now there seems to be an atmosphere of true hospitality.

FAQs

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

The Branding Iron is rated 4.3 stars by 23 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 6 times today
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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