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“Probably The Best Place To Dine In Merced”

The Branding Iron Restaurant
Ranked #2 of 160 Restaurants in Merced
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $9 - $30
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Bar scene, Special occasions, Local cuisine, Business meetings, Families with children, Large groups, Romantic
Dining options: Dinner, Late Night, Lunch, Reservations
Description: Our neon sign has been designated an Historical Landmark.
Modesto
Level 6 Contributor
536 reviews
351 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 260 helpful votes
“Probably The Best Place To Dine In Merced”
Reviewed July 4, 2014

This restaurant is like an oasis on a hot day. It is cool and comfortable inside. In the winter, the luxurious wood paneling makes the restaurant warm and cozy.

If you eat here (rather than lounge in the classic bar), order the 10 ounce filet mignon steak for $28.95. This may be the best item on the menu. Some items are excellent, and some items are not quite as good. In past visits, we were not as happy with the less expensive cuts of meat. This is a steak house, so ordering a steak or prime rib is a good idea. Ordering the better cuts will result in greater satisfaction. Some steaks offered are incredibly large.

The gazpacho (soup) is served cold, ideal on a hot day. It is served thick, mildly spiced. It is a signature of the restaurant, found no better elsewhere, also sold to go by the pint. The bowl is huge, so order the smaller size unless you have a huge appetite or want to take some home. The cost for the cup is $3.95 and the bowl is $5.95. The gazpacho comes with tortilla chips, ideal for dipping.

The salad is also huge. Best to order the small for $3.95 rather than the large for $5.95. The house dressing is a vinaigrette. We found the dressing taste a bit too strong, so thousand island or ranch may be better. For $2 extra, a generous helping of Bay Shrimp will be added to the salad.

The filet mignon came with a large baked potato, served with sour cream, butter, bacon, chives, and parmesan cheese. The server spoons out as much as the diner desires and will bring more upon request. The meal also came with a small bit of delicious raspberry sorbet, which refreshes the pallet. A delicious mild sauce is also served in which to dip the meat and enhance the flavor.

My companion and I asked for an extra plate to share the filet mignon, which had no gristle and very little fat. We had it served medium and it was cooked to perfection, very tender.

We could not order dessert because the portions were so large that we had no room left.

The employees were very professional, attentive, welcoming and friendly. The atmosphere is informal in a formal setting. The décor is beautiful, classic western, with plaques representing all the local cattle brands on the walls, classic photographs and artifacts in the western theme. The seating is leather décor, plush and comfortable. Ask for a booth in the back and get the best romantic setting.

The service isn't really slow. Dining is leisurely, with no pressure to hurry, so let your server know if you are in a hurry. The meal can be served quite rapidly if someone needs to move on soon. In the plush atmosphere, one may decide to take it slow, like we did. Not rushing, we were out the door in under one hour.

Although the restaurant opened in 1952, the establishment is well maintained and clean. We have been patronizing this restaurant for over 20 years and it is just as nice as it was on our first visit, probably even better.

The only negative in the dining experience were some pesky flies which a swatter could have disposed of in a couple of minutes. This is the first visit in which we had a problem with flies, which are pesky only in certain months.

The restrooms were clean and well stocked. They looked modern and recently upgraded. Ample Free Parking is available immediately out front.

The bar opens earlier than the 5PM dinner time and is a good place to relax before dining. There is free cheese and crackers in the waiting area for the restaurant. The restaurant is open for lunch, too, closing around 2PM until dinner. The restaurant closed on the 4th of July, so if you plan to visit on a holiday, make sure it will be open.

If you are driving through town and don't know the area, take business 99 exit from either side of town. The restaurant is on 16th St (business 99) at M Street. The detour off of the freeway is less than 5 minutes and well worth it if you want a good meal in a nice environment.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Modestotrekkerl
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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331 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • Chinese (Traditional) first
  • Dutch first
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Russian first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Oceanside, California
Level 3 Contributor
19 reviews
12 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Just OK”
Reviewed June 30, 2014

We weren't very impressed with this restaurant. Service was very slow and there was a screaming baby in the dining room which the parents were completely ignoring - i know thats not the restaurants fault but it was very annoying and put a damper on our meal. This seemed to be the only steak house in town so maybe thats why they were mediocre because they had no competition. I ordered the prime rib which was supposed to be their most popular dish but i found it overcooked and tough with very little flavor, even though i ordered rare! My husband ordered the signature steak with the coffee marinate and again it was just ok and did not blow us away for the price. We also ordered a glass of wine and a beer but were never offered a refill. For the price we paid, we felt "cheated" and left unsatisfied. I am really hoping we experienced an "off" night but doubt we will be back.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank brownclan13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Merced, California
Level 1 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Two great places to eat in Merced.”
Reviewed June 30, 2014 via mobile

I went to the branding iron for dinner one evening, my co-workers and I wanted a good juicy steak..we walked in and it was very nice. Cloth napkins & wine glasses all ready for you. We were in shorts & T-shirts and I told the waitress I felt like we were under dressed..she said we were fine & seated us. The Waiter was great & the food was delicious. The prices were fairly reasonable too.

  • Visited June 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank lilahrae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level 3 Contributor
10 reviews
3 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“Good Steak, Great Service”
Reviewed June 30, 2014

This was a good place for a steak although I've had better prime rib this was a good one. I had the standard fare of salad and house dressing - quite good, then the prime rib cooked just as i like although the seasoning was a little under for me. Again, good solid meal for the business traveler and the wait staff was great and very informative.

  • Visited February 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank jstrong23
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Oslo, Norway
Level 6 Contributor
238 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 140 helpful votes
“A great american experience! ”
Reviewed June 26, 2014 via mobile

Our meal at the Branding Iron was generous, filling and served by very friendly and charming staff. The food in itself was average, but the dining room and the atmosphere something many travellers consider very american. Many locals seem to eat there, and there is nothing fake or theatrelike a out the place. The stars are therefore for the service and atmosphere that together makes this a very nice place to have a meal. 

Helpful?
Thank Clara H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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