Nepenthe and Cafe Kevah, Big Sur California View Dining


A phoenix sculpted from wood greets customers to Nepenthe restaurant’s outdoor Cafe Kevah on Big Sur Coast. Sculptor Edmund Kara created Phoenix Bird from a tree he found at the bottom of the Mule Canyon Creek, and sculpted the bird in one piece, adding legs of bronze. Symbols abound along this treasured California coast filled with mystery, lore, and individuals seeking a higher plain of existence.

Nepenthe, one of the best view restaurants in California, sits on the Pacific Ocean side of Highway 1, approx. 29 miles south of Carmel. The complex includes Nepenthe restaurant, casual Cafe Kevah, and a gift store. Parking is limited and nearly impossible during the summer months, and even the restaurant recommends you plan your visits during the off-season (October – February).

The food is typically priced for such a remote place (soft drink beverages are charged per glass- no refills) but keep in mind that people go for the mulit-million dollar views. When we visited and found parking, we looked in the gift store and took a few photos but didn’t have time to wait 45 minutes for seating. All in all, it was an amazing place.

Nepenthe originates from Greek literature and Greek mythology and refers to a medicine for sorrow, literally an anti-depressant. While it isn’t absolutely clear what nepenthe contained, some believe opium was its primary ingredient. The word nepenthe first appears in the fourth book of Homer’s Odyssey as “that which chases away sorrow.”

The business founders, Lolly and Bill Fasset, built the restaurant and business after moving to Big Sur in 1947 and named it Nepenthe with the interpretation that it’s an island escape from sorrow. A student of famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright helped design the facility, and Bill Fassett’s mother, a one-time suffragette, numerologist, and astrologer to the stars, provided inspiration for Cafe Kevah and gift shop. The children continue to run the business today (

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