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Nepenthe's AmbrosiaBurger & Big Sur Community Bypass Trail

Melanie Wong | Dec 24, 201711:59 PM

Before Highway 1 reopened on October 13, William and I hiked from Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park along the Community Bypass Trail to have lunch in "Big Sur Island" at Nepenthe ( ).

The people behind us took one look at this crossing over the shallow creek and turned around.

The trail has a 500 foot gain in elevation, translating to many steps and stairs.

The news accounts of the trail's opening varied in describing it as a half-mile to more than a mile long.

From the parking lot to the spot where the trail reached Hwy 1 turned out to be twice as long as we had anticipated. We were so happy to see this teensy sign welcoming us to the southside.

At Big Sur Deli we staggered in to buy cold drinks to chug down, and then caught the shuttle to Nepenthe.

The brochure we received from the shuttle had the real information.

Arriving at Nepenthe before 1pm, we could have had a seat inside immediately. But the hostess said the wait for an outdoor table would be about half an hour. Even though we were starved, it was an easy decision since we were in no hurry to leave.

Waiting for these prime view seats was well worth it, especially since the wait during normal weekends can be two hours or more.

Excellent skinny fries here. Though an off-menu half-basket size is available, we figured we had earned the full basket, $9.75, by hiking in. And we polished it off.

Both ravenous, we each ordered our own AmbrosiaBurger, $17.50, instead of splitting one between us.

The hamburger steaks were cooked medium-rare as ordered. Of the sides, I preferred the garbanzo-kidney bean salad to the crunchy coleslaw.

Not ready to start the hike home, we ordered dessert too. Triple berry pie with buttery streusel topping was made with fresh fruit and barely sweet. The bottom crust was heavy and soggy, but easy enough to avoid. I'd order this again.

Chatting with Aengus Wagner, wine and service director, the average tab had gone up during the road closure as clients who arrive on foot linger longer. And desserts became so popular they increased the selection and quantity of housemade desserts available each day.

The food was better than I recall from my last visit ( As prices elsewhere have escalated, the Nepenthe price premium for enjoying the ocean view has disappeared. I'm glad we took the opportunity to visit while tourist traffic was down.

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