In Greek, nepenthe means "isle of no care." Built 64 years ago by a Big Sur family sawing wood and making adobe bricks by hand, Cafe Nepenthe is now an internationally recognized way-point for travelers, poets, musicians, actors and wanderers.
Writer Henry Miller typed in the house above the cafe and Rita Hayworth and Orson Welles, passing through, bought the cabin on the hill for $167. That cabin became the foundation for Cafe Nepenthe.
There's a solitude here from staring a long distance or resting in the sun watching a bluebird watching you.
And Chef Willie Nelson makes an amazing Ambrosia Burger with a special sauce, among other delicious treats.
A 1,510 word review from NMGastronome. It's a great read.
In our week-long stay at Big Sur, we experienced several excellent meals and one transformative experience. That was at Nepenthe, a restaurant which truly is an isle of no care. It’s the idyll I’ll think about whenever the cares of the day become tough to deal with. Some, like me, feel more spiritually awakened at Nepenthe in a manner many report feeling at Sedona, Santa Fe or Taos. It’s been that way almost from the beginning.
The history of Nepenthe is much more than the story of a restaurant. It is the story of a family, a culture and a very special place and time. In 1947, Bill and Lolly Fassett relocated with their five children to Big Sur where they purchased a log home perched on a hillside overlooking the coast. The home had been owned by Orson Welles and Rita Hayworth. The Fassetts envisioned an open-air pavilion with good food, wine dancing and a sense of community for Big Sur residents. It took two years to realize their vision. Aided by Rowan Maiden, a disciple of Frank Lloyd Wright, they built their complex using native materials: redwoods hewn from area canyons and hand-made adobe bricks.
Before long Nepenthe became the epicenter of life at Big Sur, the hub of creative culture and the respite the Fassetts had envisioned. It was a home away from home for writers such as Henry Miller and actors such as Steve McQueen and Kim Novak. The variety of unique personalities and artists inhabiting Big Sur at its halcyon period for creative expression and Bohemian culture–people living on the fringes of mainstream and uninhibited by societal conventions–is probably best expressed in Miller’sBig Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch, his love letter to his adopted home. The people of Miller’s tome were the people of Nepenthe. Read full review.