The Running Iron is a Carmel Valley icon, for tourists and locals alike. A few decades ago, this spot was a cowboy bar called the Stirrup Cup with a reputation for rowdiness. These days, with a dinning room added on, it’s a family-style restaurant and local favorite, with Saloon still in place for folks who just want to relax and enjoy a drink.
Come visit this wonderful piece of Carmel Valley history. Enjoy a great meal, friendly waitresses, reasonable prices and outsized portions amidst the old West style décor.
You can’t help being attracted to this place - from the sunny outdoor patio to the cozy family-style seating indoors you’ll have plenty to take in - hanging from the rafters is every sort of cowboy, farm and ranch tool imaginable, from boots and bib overalls to saddles, tack, tools and Americana. The atmosphere is inviting, the food is delicious, and the fare includes something for everyone.
The menu is heavy on steaks, ribs and chicken, with seafood, pasta and salads for a lighter meal. There’s a whole host of luscious burgers and sandwiches, plus some tried and true Mexican favorites. Leave room for dessert - especially the Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce. As much as you’ll enjoy just being here, it’s the food that’ll bring you back again.
Saturday, Sundays and Holidays the Running Iron serves up brunch - a perfect way to enjoy the true spirit and pace of a Carmel Valley weekend in the sunshine. See you at the Running Iron!
What is a Running Iron?
There were two styles of branding irons commonly used in the early West. One was the familiar stamp type with the brand letters or symbols on the end of a long handle similar to this:
The other kind of branding iron made use of a free hand technique which allowed for greater versatility of design. It was called a Running Iron and looked like this:
Brands made by the freehand technique of the Running Iron were easier to alter or change than the stamped ones, and for this reason, most states legally abolished the use of Running Irons. After that, according to legend, any cowboy, homesteader or farmer found with a running iron in their possession was labeled a “rustler” and hung from the nearest tree.
We chose the name Running Iron to symbolize the change from a bar to a family restaurant in 1980.