Nepenthe Restaurant


My wife and I were taking a one week Thanksgiving vacation in 2010 with far flung family members at a large rented house near the ocean in Santa Cruz, CA. We arrived a day ahead of the rest and thought a day trip to Big Sur and Monterey was a great idea. The weather took a turn for the worse along the way and it started bucketing down. We decided to stop in at Nepenthe for coffees and have a look around. The huge main dining room was very impressive with it’s high wooden beam ceiling.

A friendly guy behind the counter took our order for a couple of hot lattes. They looked very elegant in their tall glasses when he handed them to us. Our lattes tasted really good but the rain falling had killed any chance of witnessing the incredible ocean view. Oh well maybe next time ! A couple of years later and my wife and I were enjoying a one week vacation at a rented house in Cambria with an ocean view.

We decided to make the drive to Nepenthe for lunch. And this time the weather was perfect so we got to appreciate the breathtaking scenery. We ordered 2 Cappuccinos and a Grilled Chicken Breast Sandwich to share at the service counter. We chose to sit outside at a long community table at the rear of the restaurant. A cheeky Blue Jay and a pretty Steller’s Jay were frolicking on the fence right in front of us. What fun !

It was very relaxing sitting at the table enjoying our lovely lunch so close to nature and the beautiful ocean down below. We walked downstairs and had a good browse through the gift shop. There were lots of interesting items and gift ideas but nothing in particular grabbed our attention so we jumped in our car and headed back to Santa Cruz. Hopefully we will stop by here again one day during our next vacation in Cambria.

So in early October, 2020 we popped in here on our way to Pacific Grove for a vacation. The recent wildfires had left a foul stench in the air and the Nepenthe Restaurant was very quiet. I had a short chat with a barman behind the service counter and then we walked downstairs to have a peek in the Phoenix Shop With the covid restrictions still in place I’m sure a big wildfire nearby was the last thing the owners needed. It’s still a great spot on the map and we will be back one day !

Restaurant Details


48510 Hwy 1 Big Sur, CA 93920


(831) 667 2345

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About the Author

Picture of Michael Burke

Michael Burke

I'm an expat Aussie ( now a naturalized American citizen ) who moved to Southern California in 2006 with my American born wife Sherri. I like to write reviews about the most memorable restaurants, coffee shops, cafes, brew pubs and anything new that we find in our travels. I particularly look for excellent food & beverage consistency, good value for money plus friendly service.

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