Carmel visitors often want to visit "Clint Eastwood's restaurant" in Carmel. It's a fun idea, and Eastwood's Mission Ranch is one of my favorite places for a sunny Sunday brunch. It's a no-fail place to take friends and out-of-town visitors, too.
Mission Ranch is a hotel with a restaurant, a former dairy farm saved from becoming a housing development when Clint Eastwood purchased it. It's an act that's as applause-worthy as any of the actor/director's greatest films and performances, preserving a bucolic view of the Carmel Bay and Point Lobos.
Clint Eastwood's Restaurant at Mission Ranch
Even if no one famous owned it, I would like the restaurant at Mission Ranch. Inside, it's comfortable, The food is traditional, but well-prepared, especially the prime rib, but Mission ranch's strongest suit is its outdoor patio. Sunday brunch on a sunny day is incomparable. You'll find a piano bar nightly and a live jazz ensemble on Sundays.
Behind the restaurant, a brick-paved patio that faces a picture-perfect pasture full of grazing sheep. The sheep themselves have been known to gather a round of applause as they hurry to get into their pen at sundown.
Beyond the meadow, you can see waves crashing on the rocks at Point Lobos.
The atmosphere creates a perfect storm of relaxation. In fact, I sometimes have trouble getting my friends to go home from Mission Ranch after brunch or a late afternoon cocktail.
Just to be sure you have the right expectations, you're not likely to find Eastwood at his restaurant. In nearly twenty years of visits, I haven't seen him once. But you can still collect bragging rights for eating at his restaurant. You can even take a selfie or two and post them on social media. Then turn off that mobile device and enjoy the place in real time.
Visitors give the Mission Ranch restaurant good ratings. Here's a sample of what they have to say You can read more reviews on Yelp,
- "Impressive dessert/sweets table," "Beautiful view from the patio, and oh man. The desserts."
- "A must return tranquil location."
- "Brunch was SO YUMMY!!!!"
- "I can't say the taste of the food is extraordinary. Still give it 5 stars."
The Hotel at Mission Ranch
If you're like my friends and can't bear to tear yourself away from Mission Ranch, you can also stay overnight. The hotel is an excellent base for exploring Point Lobos, taking the 17-Mile Drive, seeing the Big Sur coast and the towns of Monterey, Pacific Grove, and Carmel.
Some of their rooms are part of the old dairy farm, and others were built when the hotel opened. You can read reviews of Mission Ranch and compare prices at Tripadvisor.
You can also get more information about the hotel at the Mission Ranch website.
Eastwood's Other Carmel Restaurant
Don't let out-of-date information lead you astray. Here's the straight story: Clint Eastwood and his partners once owned the Hog's Breath Inn at San Carlos and Fifth Avenue in downtown Carmel, but they sold it many years ago.
Why is Clint Eastwood so Partial to Carmel?
Eastwood probably likes Carmel for the same reasons the rest of us do: crashing waves and sea otters playing in the surf, incomparable ocean views hidden around every corner and a relaxed ambiance to calm the most frenetic of souls.
Eastwood is a native Californian who discovered the Carmel area during the Korean War when he was stationed a few miles north at Fort Ord. After leaving the military, his friends Martin Milner of Route 66 and David Janssen of The Fugitive persuaded him to try acting. The rest is movie-making history. Eastwood spent his early movie-making years in Los Angeles, but he eventually returned to the Carmel area, where he still lives.
Eastwood demonstrates his love for the Carmel area in his professional life. He named his production company, Malpaso Productions for a creek just south of town. He even directed his first movie here in 1971: Play Misty for Me, the story of a late-night jazz DJ who is terrorized by an obsessive ex-lover. The film was set in Carmel and Monterey and features many local sights, including nearby Point Lobos and downtown Carmel.
As if all this weren't enough, in 1986 Eastwood wanted to build a small building in downtown Carmel. The town’s bureaucratic government stymied his efforts, and he decided to do something about it. He ran for mayor, winning with 72% of the vote. During his two-year tenure, he successfully made it easier to build or remodel, got a tourist parking lot built, rescued the historic Mission Ranch from developers and opened a children's annex to the city library.