- Nepenthe48510 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920recommended NepentheIt's not about the food here, which is pretty dull (although that roasted artichoke & dip is darn tasty). It's about the cocktails (or a glass of grown-in California wine) and the wide-open ocean ... read moreviews from the upstairs deck at this historic restaurant, once co-owned by Orson Welles. Come for sunset and grab a seat by the outdoor fire pits. The so-called Ambrosia burger is overhyped -- don't say you weren't warned!Recommended for:TrendstersSara Benson
Best setting and ocean views of any BIg Sur restaurant. Also, a unique history - Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth were once co-owners.recommended NepentheI can only say this once, and would under any other circumstance hesitate to do so, but this restaurant is situated in THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SETTING IN THE WORLD. Situated on a high escarpment over the ... read morePacific Ocean in the heart of Big Sur, Nepenthe is more of a dream than a dining experience. The food is good. I won't wax on about that because it's a little on the expensive side and frankly, I'm satisfied with the very filling $13 burger. And I'd be lying if I said I came here for the food. This is a place you come to simply be there - and happen to have a meal while your out at it. Are you looking for a good spot for a romantic occasion? I never talk about or even mention the word romance, but this place is romantic with a capital R. I've been here about a dozen times and always just with a platonic friend, but I'd characterize each of these visits as romantic. You can't escape it. The endless expanse of the mighty Pacific. The towering slopes of Big Sur, unfolding down the coast. Vivid Greens. Deep Blues - all framed in handcrafted wood architecture complimented with roaring open fire pits. The business is family run and you're not likely to ever forget your experience here. HINT: Arrive an hour or more before sunset and stay for one nature's greatest light shows.Arlo Hemphill
Big Sur has a few really good restaurants, but nothing beats Nepenthe in terms of ambiance, views and good food. Nepenthe may quite literally have the most amazing view of any restaurant in the world. The menu can be a bit pricey, but their burgers are reasonable and very good. It's even a great place just to just grab a beer and gaze out over the Pacific!
- Fernwood Tavern47200 California 1, Big Sur, CA, United Statesrecommended Fernwood TavernEarthy, hardwood mountain tavern straight out of Middle Earth, with loads of good craft beers and towering redwoods to boot!Arlo Hemphill
If for some reason both Nepenthe and Big Sur River Inn are closed or over-crowded, another good option is the Fernwood Tavern. Like the Big Sur River Inn, it has a back deck eating area that is right within a redwood forest. Beautiful setting, good pub food and great craft beers.
- Big Sur River Inn46840 California 1, Big Sur, CA, United Statesrecommended Big Sur River InnRemember the Robert Redford movie "A River Runs Through It"? Well, this is the gastropub version, only with way better food and no apparent signs of Brad Pitt. Even without the river, I'd give this ... read moreplace a 3-4 star rating, with it's log cabin charm, roaring stone fireplace and the best selection of microbrews on tap within an 80 mile radius. But there are two other factors that raise this spot over the top into 5 star+ status: 1. A house burger worth killing for. 2. A clear water river running right behind the back dining deck. The Inn has taken full advantage of this of by providing an assortment of wooden deck furniture to lounge about in on the hot, sunny days of the Big Sur summer. The Big Sur River is a truly wild river, important for migratory steelhead and other trout - and this is the one and only "commercialized" spot on its journey to the sea. But what a lovely spot it is. On summer weekends, come out for town barbecues, overflowing beer taps and live music along the river. Watch out for voracious Stellar Jay (seemingly ubiquitous here, but hard to spot elsewhere) and seriously consider everything on the appetizer menu - there are no holds barred in this kitchen!Arlo Hemphill
My other favorite haunt in Big Sur is the Big Sur River Inn. It lacks the great views you get at Nepenthe, but it more than makes up for it with the riverside ambiance within an old growth redwood forest. The restaurant itself has a mountain lodge to it, and the open air back deck often features live music. In warm months, stroll out into the river with a good craft brew and sit on the special wooden chairs they have lounging around in the river bed. It's an awesome place.