Mountains or ocean? At Nepenthe restaurant and bar, you don’t have to choose which gorgeous setting you’d like—you’re served complimentary views of both as you drink and dine.
If you’re traveling down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) or in Big Sur, don’t miss dining at one of Southern California’s best restaurants, and Big Sur’s most iconic restaurant, Nepenthe.
Unplug at Big Sur’s Most Instagrammable Restaurant
Nepenthe opened in 1949 as one of the first restaurants and bars on California’s rugged coastline, and as soon as you arrive, you’ll see why it’s remained so popular for seven decades.
Every breathtaking view from the open-air, three-story building and rooftop patio is Instagram-worthy. The views of the southern coastline of Big Sur, where the mountains dissolve into the sea are simply picture-perfect, with lush colors and textures. But you’ll have to post your photos once you leave: Wi-Fi isn’t available and cell service is limited, making Nepenthe a place to truly unwind and unplug with good food and good conversation.
Breathtaking Views on California’s Rugged Coastline
Being one of the best restaurants in Big Sur also means being the busiest, so be prepared for a leisurely wait if you dine here on a summer day. (If you are dining in a group of five or more guests, you can make a reservation.)
A one-hour wait is pretty standard, but you can enjoy a cocktail and appetizer on the bleacher-style seating’s colored cushions or at the bar while you wait—and soak in the views wherever you are. Pop into Café Kevah for a light snack and coffee, and, of course, more amazing ocean views surrounded by lush greenery.
Spend some time browsing in the eclectic Phoenix Shop where you’ll find artful, handmade pieces from décor to jewelry by artisans like Coach’s latest collaborator Kaffe Fassett. A ping pong table and giant chessboard also make for a fun way to pass the time—if you can break your gaze away from the gorgeous view.
Impeccable Service & Hospitality
Once you are seated, service is efficient and friendly, and you’ll enjoy an unpretentious dining experience with more luxurious views.
Nepenthe has been a family-run restaurant to this day, and you’ll feel like a part of the family with the sort of hospitality and care the staff provides.
The vibe is casual, so come as you are and relax. However, Nepenthe is also a perfect special occasion restaurant and if you want to celebrate something special, you’ll feel right at home here. If you just fancy a drink and a nice view, you can do that here too.
Gluten Free, Vegetarian & Vegan Options
Nepenthe started as a steakhouse and stays true to its roots with premium, naturally-raised beef on its menu. The most popular dish that diners seek out is the Ambrosia burger, which is available on both the lunch and dinner menus.
That said, Nepenthe is an extremely veggie-friendly restaurant with vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free dishes available. The veggie burger is flavorful and just as crowd-pleasing as the Ambrosia burger. This is one of the most unique dining experiences in California but it’s exceptional value for the view, ambiance, and delectable food.
Sample California’s Renowned Wines
Since you’re near wine country, ordering a bottle or two from Nepenthe’s carefully curated wine list is essential. There are wines from top California vineyards as well as organic, artisanal, and small family wineries. You’ll be able to drink a glass of your favorite Californian Pinot Noir or just as easily try something unique and unforgettable. If wine isn’t your thing, there’s also an excellent cocktail and liquor selection.
So pull up a chair, indulge in some California cuisine, relax in a comfortable atmosphere, and enjoy a picturesque day or a romantic sunset.
Pfeiffer State Beach is an amazing place to visit and the inspiration for John Muir's photography. You can read more about Pfeiffer State Beach here.
Where to Stay in Big Sur
Book a stay at Post Ranch Inn here and receive great benefits through our partnerships with Montecito Village Travel and Virtuoso; *upgrade on arrival, daily full breakfast for two, $100 hotel credit, early *check-in/late check-out and complimentary wifi.
*subject to availability