Out Of The Archives:
Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn


Everyone that I had met in Big Sur said that I must go to Deetjen’s for breakfast before I leave the area. My personal problem was that the restaurant closed at about the time I was just beginning to think about food for the day – that is to say, noon. But I decided on the that last day of my camping trip, I would make an effort to clean up camp early and get to Deetjen’s by 11 AM.

I pulled into one of the last parking spots off the road in front of the cafe and grabbed my copy of Henry Miller’s Stand Still Like The HummingBird, a collection of short stories that I had purchased a few days before at The Library. I walked into the cafe and sat at a table by the window. It was a warming spot, a light spot. It was a spot that I would expect to have in a cafe in Big Sur. I ordered a pot of Earl Grey (seen above in photo) as the waitress handed me the menu. I had heard that the cafe was best known for their Eggs Benedict, but that wasn’t what I was feeling like having this morning. I read the menu intensely and settled on French Toast Stuffed with Blackberry-Grand Marnier Cream Cheese.

The tea arrived and I put in my order. I was only kind of worried about overstuffing myself, but decided on having the taste experience rather than the fretting that there might be too much food.

Instead of reading Miller, I read a bit about the history of the Big Sur Inn:

The Inn was founded by Helmuth Deetjen who emigrate from Norway in the early 1930s with his wife Helen and settled on several acres of land in Castro Canyon. Until Highway 1 was completed in 1937, the Deetjen’s welcomed overnight guests who had traveled the old coastal wagon road. As the years went by, Helmuth Deetjen added rooms to the property, all built in the style of his native Norway, using locally milled woods and the skills of his friends. When Mr. Deetjen died in 1972, he left the Inn to be forever enjoyed by the guests seeking the peaceful surroundings of the Big Sur experience. The Inn has since become a registered national historic site and is operated as a nonprofit by the Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn Preservation Foundation.

My French Toast arrived just as I finished reading. The French Toast was not only stuffed with the flavored cream cheese filling, it was also topped with whipped cream, a sliced banana and it also came with maple syrup. I dug in and I finished every bite. As I ate I did my usual eating alone thing – listening in on the conversations of others – and took in the local conversations regarding the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday and talk about who was traveling where.

When the food was gone, I sat for awhile and basked in the sunlight and enjoyed my tea before taking a walk around the grounds to see the rooms. The cabins are rustic, thin walled, and the beds looked so comfy. I could just imagine, sleeping here on a foggy night, with a fire in the woodstove, curled up with a book. There is even a little reading room, stacked with books for the guests of the inn.

What a place to get away from it all! Which is, in a way, kind of ironic because Deetjen’s seems to be the happy crossroads for most of the locals who call the Big Sur Coast home.

Deetjen’s Big Sur Inn Cafe

48865 Highway 1 (Next Hairpin curve after the Henry Miller Library going south)

Big Sur, California 93920

T: 831.667.2377

Breakfast: Weekdays 8 AM – Noon; Weekends til Noon-thirty. Reservations are required for a party of six or more. Prices range from: $5 – 10.75 (not including sides or coffees/teas)

Dinner: Begins at 6 PM. Entree pricing ranges from $15 – 30

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