Best Restaurants in Big Sur

One of the most celebrated chefs in the area, the most accomplished restaurateur and hotelier in the region, and one of the most spectacular restaurant locales on the South Coast are all converging in one place. Rocky Point Restaurant, which will be a project by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Justin Cogley and operator David Fink, is not yet open, but will soon enough make Big Sur’s remote, small and mighty food scene that much mightier. In the meantime, there are all sorts of flavors and settings to savor. They appear here, within our Big Sur Restaurant winners for 2022 — labeled by their most singular qualities — selected by our editors.

Feature image: Sierra Mar by Kodiak Greenwood

Best Value

A group of six people wearing masks sit at a picnic table in an outdoor setting with wooden signage that reads "Big Sur Taphouse." The background features a wooden fence, greenery, and stone walls, creating a rustic atmosphere—an ideal spot featured in the ultimate guide to Big Sur.
Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Taphouse

Big Sur Taphouse

47520 CA-1, Big Sur
831.667.2197

The Taphouse is unofficially the South Coast’s #1 locals hangout, thanks to affordable fare, indoor-outdoor seating and a raft of daily discount specials like Mardi Gras Monday, Taco Tuesday, Burger Wednesday, Fishy Fryday and Weekend Brunch. A great craft draft beer program with lots of local finds and neighboring deli/general store help sweeten the deal. bigsurtaphouse.com

Largest Legend

A table with three drinks and a meal. There is an orange drink, a yellow drink, and a white drink, all with ice and lime slices. The meal includes a sandwich made with dark bread and a fresh salad with greens, tomatoes, and cucumber. A scenic mountain view is in the background.
Photo: Courtesy of Nepenthe

Nepenthe

48510 CA-1, Big Sur
831.667.2345

The grand views from the various patios might be better than the hype. The same can be said about the South Coast Margarita and Ambrosia Burger. The staff team members are as friendly as they are professional, and know their way around the indulgent menu — including the namesake Nepenthe steak and pan-seared diver scallops — and deep wine list too. The Café Kevah Book Store, meanwhile, can soak up an hour’s worth of exploration if you can ever peel yourself away from the view. nepenthe.com

*Readers’ choice winner 2023

Best Barbecue

A close-up of a tray of food from one of the best restaurants in Big Sur, featuring a sandwich bun, pulled pork with baked beans, slices of beef, pickles, pickled red onions, a wedge of lime, and a small bowl of macaroni and cheese. A knife rests on the tray next to the food.
Photo: Courtesy of Big Sur Smokehouse

Big Sur Smokehouse

48123 CA-1, Big Sur
831.677.2419

One of the more recent additions to Big Sur is also its smokiest. The smokehouse serves classic barbecue in an iconic little red homestead adjacent to Highway 1 that dates back to the 1800s, at the foot of the entrance to Ventana Big Sur. Barbecue platters come with two sides, house-made pickles and Hawaiian sweet rolls, featuring a choice of smoked brisket, smoked chicken, pulled pork, hot links or abalone mushrooms. Sides like burnt-end baked beans, braised collard greens, chili coleslaw, baked mac and cheese and potato salad round out the experience, with hand pies for dessert. bigsursmokehouse.com

Nicest Patio

An outdoor dining area with four wooden tables and cushioned chairs overlooks a scenic coastal view with lush greenery, rugged cliffs, and a vast ocean under a clear blue sky with wispy clouds. As one of the best restaurants in Big Sur, each table has glasses of orange juice and breakfast dishes.
Photo: Courtesy of Ventana Big Sur

The Sur House at Ventana

48123 CA-1, Big Sur
831.667.4242

Sur House sits so high in the sky the clouds often lay below the expansive mountain-top decks, looking like a cushy comforter that runs all the way to the horizon. The food and drink somehow match the setting, with goodies like grilled swordfish with smoked bacon, Santa Barbara prawns with rosemary, and garganelli pasta with wild mushrooms. Visiting here makes it clear why Big Sur Food & Wine hosts many of its main events right on this spacious patio. ventanabigsur.com

Dreamiest Perch

A glass-walled restaurant stands on the edge of a cliff at sunset, offering the best restaurant view on the Monterey Peninsula. The warm interior lights glow, creating a cozy ambiance. Diners inside enjoy their meals, while the expansive, darkening sky and sea create a serene backdrop.
Photo: Courtesy of Kodiak Greenwood

Sierra Mar at Post Ranch Inn

47900 CA-1, Big Sur
831.677.2800

This might be my favorite restaurant in California, full stop. Such is the alchemy of cliff-hanging setting, top-flight contemporary food and exemplary wine list. The prix fixe menu isn’t capable of disappointing, with much of the greens coming from the on-property gardens that are worth a wander after eating. postranchinn.com

Most Classic

Three people are sitting on wooden chairs placed in the middle of a shallow river surrounded by lush trees, reminiscent of scenes from Big Sur hotels. The chairs face forward with small tables in front. The person on the left appears to be eating or drinking, while others are conversing and enjoying the scenic view.
Photo: Courtesy of Karen D'Souza

Big Sur River Inn

46800 CA-1, Big Sur
831.677.2700

This place qualifies as The Best Destination to Soak Your Toes in Big Sur River While Sipping a Glass of Local Pinot, but also works as the Best Lawn for the Kids to Play On While Mommy and Daddy Eat Baked Baby Brie and Best Grab-and-Go Option for its General Store burrito bar. Rustic, timeless and family-owned, with barbecues and live music in the backyard come summer. bigsurriverinn.com

Top Sushi Spot

Wild Coast Sushi Bar

71895 CA-1, Big Sur
805.927.2390

It’s a bit of a trek to reach the yurt-laden paradise that is Treebones Resort, but well worth the effort. The views stretch toward infinity, the organic gardens impress with their lushness, and the vibe is as welcoming as it gets. The sushi is superb too, which makes it a special destination for locals and visitors alike. It’s gotten so popular that they’ve gone entirely to two omakase menu seatings a night, so planning ahead is wise. treebonesresort.com

Homiest Hideout

A cozy, dimly lit cabin interior with wooden furniture, featuring two people sitting at a table by a window. The room is decorated with various pottery items and vintage lamps; a brick fireplace is in the background. The walls have large windows and wooden beams, giving it the feel of the ultimate guide to Big Sur escape.
Photo: Courtesy of Deetjen's Big Sur Inn

Deetjen's Big Sur Inn

662 Lighthouse Ave, Pacific Grove
831.643.1060

Visiting Deetjen’s can feel like walking into the pages of a historic romantic storybook. Flowering wisteria hangs from eves. Redwoods soar over 1930s era cabins. Canyon waterfalls drop into a nearby creek. And yet as charming as the backdrop is, the breakfast might be more memorable, with homespun Benedicts, massive pancakes and special recipe coffee, all served in a dining room that feels like a cozy time capsule. deetjens.com

More Local Favorites on the Monterey Peninsula

Who’s writing these?

Meet our always-hungry team of foodies who compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite eat@localgetaways.com.

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