48510 Highway 1, Big Sur
A drive down Highway 1 isn’t officially complete without a stop at Nepenthe, the legendary Big Sur establishment that serves up the famous Ambrosia Burger and breathtaking views of the coastline from its eccentric digs and expansive patio. It’s one of Monterey County’s last remaining vestiges of its past vie boheme, where even today artists and belly dancers mix with European tourists and find inspiration in the Pacific’s crashing blue below. The already impressive package got a dramatic upgrade with the addition of Greg Lizza as chef a year and a half back. (Keep an eye out for his buttermilk fried chicken special.) The patio up front has stadium seating covered in pillows, a large outdoor fireplace, and is the perfect place to people-watch with a glass of wine in hand and an appetizer like the Castroville artichoke or the California artisanal cheeses. The back deck itself is great for a lunchtime getaway, especially on a sunny day when a kaleidoscopic array of umbrellas protects from UV rays coming out of the heavens.