Over the years, I've learned that there are two things which create a recipe for a poor meal: a million dollar view, or the restaurant is the only game in town. In both cases, restaurant owners get lazy because, well, they can. Either they have a captive audience, or one that is there for reasons outside of food and service, so why put in the extra effort? The Rocky Point Restaurant on California's famed Highway 1 has both a captive audience and a milllion dollar view, yet still managed to serve up one of my most memorable meals to date.
|Seriously, who sees this sign with all that going on behind it?|
If you're distracted by the ocean, cliffs and mountains along Highway 1, there's a good chance that you could pass right by Rocky Point. The restaurant is tucked off the road in between Carmel and Big Sur, and is one of only a few options for food on this stretch of the highway. The narrow driveway leading down the hill to the restaurant is just as hair raising of an experience as the highway itself, so I wouldn't advise pulling in with too much speed...
|The narrow driveway into the restaurant.|
The restaurant itself is a little touristy, with no shortage of kitschy decorations throughout the dining room. Of course, we had no intention of dining inside, because the sun decided to make a rare appearance just in time for lunch.
|What, no old fashioned scuba helmet?|
We sat ourselves at a high-top table on the deck, and marveled at the surroundings. In the distance, tiny specs of cars could be seen snaking their way up Highway 1, across the Bixby Bridge, and around the cliff-side leading to Big Sur.
|Nevermind million dollar view...|
The setting was so surreal, no restaurant on the planet could match the greatness of the view with their food. So I decided to keep things simple and ordered the good old cheeseburger. Considering I've managed to find good things to say about a burger in a Mexican joint, I figured this was the best way to avoid disappointment.
|...it's easily worth a billion.|
I'm not the least bit ashamed to admit downing about 2,500 burgers in the last two decades of my life, so you might say I'm a bit of an expert. What came out of the kitchen at Rocky Point was a perfectly cooked, ultra-thick patty, that was literally like an eruption from Old Faithful when I took a bite. I came to Rocky Point expecting a memorable view and forgettable food; I would leave wondering how my list for the "Best Burger Ever" should be reshuffled.
|Not sure which part of this combination I liked better...|
Now that all of the serotonin in my brain was on the loose, a post-lunch hike on the point itself seemed like a great idea. Earlier we watched as people climbed and leaped their way across the rocks, only to then have no clue how to get back off of them. Even with cheeseburger-ecstasy running through my veins, the risk of sudden catastrophic death seemed too great to follow their lead, so we turned back before things got too hairy.
|Yes, I had them make me an iced coffee...|
Rocky Point turned out to be one of the best surprises of our California adventure. While I can't make a full assessment of the food based solely on a burger, if the rest of the menu is as good as what I ordered, then this might be the most underrated restaurant on the planet. Sure, it's a little touristy and a bit expensive - 2 burgers, 2 cokes, and tip = $40 - but how often do you get the opportunity to have lunch on the side of a cliff with this kind of view?
|No one will judge if you come back for dinner...|
In my opinion, this was the best bargain of the trip...
Enjoy Your Stay