Forty minutes south of Carmel is a quaint, modern cafe-style restaurant by the name of the Big Sur Roadhouse, a picturesque destination for a tasty meal in a relaxed and casual setting.
Customers choose an option from a menu placed outside the restaurant’s front door and then place orders at the counter directly inside, where they pay simultaneously for the food and service. Everything else is self-serve, with water and neatly wrapped utensils available at the discretion of customers.
The self-serve counter also offers a variety of condiments, as well as complimentary glass jars of jam, which help enhance meals and flavor, but also make great gifts for all occasions. Serving a self-proclaimed “seasonal, locally sourced Californian cuisine,” the Big Sur Roadhouse has a sparse but diverse menu, preparing dishes from deviled eggs to chicken-fried steak with fries and gravy.
Hidden by trees, the restaurant provides the perfect location for locals willing to take a scenic drive or for travelers looking for a meal stop along Highway 1.
Our first visit to the restaurant featured a split-and-share approach, as we ordered both the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($14) and Roasted Garlic and Hummus Plate ($12) in an effort to test the ambitious diversity of the menu.
Right from the start, customers are able to see the charming character of Big Sur Roadhouse, indicated by the old truck which sits quaintly rusted in front of the gate. Seating consists of various options, with several indoor tables, including lounging sofas and traditional chairs, as well as a dog-friendly front patio, where customers enjoy sunlight and a Pacific Coast breeze.
We opted for the outdoor patio, choosing plush sofas situated near a tiled fire pit to serve as our table. The service was just a tad slow, as to be expected for a lazy Monday afternoon, but the food was certainly worth the wait.
The sweetness of the fresh tomatoes in the salad was blended exquisitely with the salty delicacy of olives and the subtle, nutty flavor of mozzarella, with a tangy vinaigrette dressing drizzled lightly over the assortment of ingredients, making for a blast of flavor and a refreshing pop of color.
The hummus platter consisted of the perfect ratio of fresh hummus to warm sliced pita, accompanied by a small cup of assorted olives, excellent compliments to the otherwise mild flavors, though the star of the dish was a head of roasted garlic, served with a miniature fork to provide easy access to the toasted cloves, seasoned simply but effectively by a traditional herb mix and olive oil.
The Big Sur Roadhouse has effectively accomplished a rustic, inviting environment coupled with well-prepared, well-presented food, giving customers a gourmet meal served in the comforts of the home.
We officially present the Big Sur Roadhouse with the Gumloff seal of approval.
-Anna Gumberg and Melissa Pavloff
Big Sur Roadhouse
8:00 AM – 2:30 PM — Monday-Sunday