A Foodie’s Guide to Malibu Restaurants

Summer is less than a month away and like a lot of Angelenos lately I’ve been mapping out beach days in my mind. My map, of course, usually begins and ends with where to eat in Malibu. The 30 miles of coastline northwest of LA is home to a few classic seafood shacks, celebrity haunts, and local favorites. And while Malibu Seafood and The Farm are both excellent, there are many more Malibu restaurants you need to try. Here’s a handy guide on where to dine in Malibu.

Carbon Beach Club
22878 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 460-7509, malibubeachinn.com/dining
Certainly one of the best oceanfront views of any of the Malibu restaurants on this list, Carbon Beach Club also has food (and cocktails!) to match. Perfect for date nights and special occasions, this restaurant at The Malibu Beach Inn offers Mediterranean-inspired fare that captures the essence of Southern California fine dining. The seafood bowl is filled to the brim with prawns, mussels, and white fish in a deeply flavored broth. And the raw Kumamoto oysters are a must for lunch or dinner. If you’re there for brunch, the blood orange mimosa is delicious. You’ll want two, so be sure to get the fried egg sandwich or the chicken and waffles.

Cholada Thai Cuisine
18763 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 317-0025, no website!
A local favorite, Cholada has been in business in Malibu for many years. And though it may look like a run down beachside shack from the exterior that’s part of the appeal. The traditional thai curries, noodles, and salads are authentic and delicious. The Tom Kah—coconut milk-broth, lemongrass, and mushrooms—is out of this world. Pineapple-fried rice is refreshing, especially on a hot day. The thai coffee is  a great pick-me-up morning or evening. Plus, Cholada sells fresh whole coconuts and is seriously vegan friendly.

The Country Kitchen
21239 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 456-8708, no website!
If you’re trying to get to the beach as quickly as possible, The Country Kitchen is a fast grab and go stalwart right on PCH. Affordable, simple, and delicious. They’re known for their burgers and subs but I recommend their fresh and tasty breakfast burritos, perfect for protein before and after busy beach days.

Duke’s Malibu
21150 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-317-0777, dukesmalibu.com
Yes, it’s a chain, but for good reason. Duke’s is always packed and the environment is festive, friendly, and fun. The restaurant is dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing and Hawaii’s ambassador of Aloha, guests come to Duke’s for  the Hawaiian-inspired cuisine and the umbrella drinks. The Barefoot Bar offers happy hour specials every day. I recommend sharing tapas-style the Lilikoi Ceviche – 
red onion, cilantro, tomato, avocado, fresno chili, tortilla chips – the Crab Cake – lump crab, old bay seasoning, preserved lemon, yuzu aioli – the Blackened Sashimi – spicy seared tuna, edamame & cucumber salad, yuzu ponzu – and the Crab & Macnut Wontons. Sure, Duke’s has excellent entrees as well, but you’ll want to save room for those tiki-style drinks!

Geoffrey’s Malibu
17300 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 454-3474, geoffreysmalibu.com
Another Malibu institution, Geoffrey’s has been a go-to hot spot for locals and celebrities alike since 1948. The coast’s casual breezes and oceanfront views are spectacular. It’s perfect for special occasions. Great for brunch and best for sunset dinners, get the
Spicy Fried Oysters, Steamed Maine Lobster, and the Filet Mignon for meat lovers.

28925 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-457-0711, gravinamalibu.com
While there’s no ocean view, Gravina is a local favorite for its warm and cozy intimate ambience and authentic Italian food. It’s family-owned and you’re more than likely to meet to and be seated by the owner. So say hello! Order a plate of carpaccio, a white pizza, fresh pasta or maybe some risotto, and, of course, a bottle of vino. Gravina has one of the best wine lists on this list.

Lily’s Café and Pastries
29211 Heathercliff Rd., (310) 457-3745, lilysmalibu.com
Another no frills, affordable Malibu institution perfect for a pick me up or a bite on the go. Order at the counter and your food will arrive quickly. And, yes, have a beer while you wait. People come here for the burritos, which are some of the best in Los Angeles. Grilled mahi mahi fish tacos and the fish tostada also come highly recommended.

The Malibu Cafe
327 Latigo Canyon Rd., (818) 540-2400, themalibucafe.com
The Malibu Cafe is a self-described “nouveau barbecue” spot and offers a chic outdoor dining space for New American cuisine. With signature dishes created generations ago, paired with modern cooking techniques and flavors, The Malibu Cafe offers an inventive culinary experience, plus a seriously entertaining outdoor space including a life-size chess set, ping-pong table, pool table, and an outdoor bar. Oh, and the ferris wheel. Avocado toast is a must-have, and other staples include the cobb salad, chicken sandwich, and fries. Classic Mimosas, and Manhattans will keep you company long into the evening.

Malibu Farm Pier Cafe
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-456-1112, malibu-farm.com
Malibu Farm, or The Farm as some locals have started calling it, is relatively new, and has become a go-to Malibu restaurant for impressing out-of-towners or treating a loved one for special occasions. At the end of the long pier, the Farm offers sweeping ocean views in both directions and you can enjoy watching surfers on the Surfrider Beach next door. Order the white sangria for the table, and order something, really anything, from the organic, farm-to-table menu. It’s all delicious. I’m a fan of the burrata fruit salad, cauliflower crust “pizza,” fresh cherry tomato pasta, and the vegan coconut. Dinner is pricey, but brunch (if you can snag a table) is totally worth it.

Malibu Kitchen
3900 Cross Creek Rd.; 310-456-7845, no website!
Located in the Malibu Country Mart, if you’re plan for the day is shopping and not beaching, The Malibu Kitchen is the place for you. Get the smoked salmon sandwich at the deli. It’s great for sharing (They’re big!). The Kitchen also has great to go options for locals in need of a quick dinner for the family.

Malibu Seafood
25653 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-456-3430, malibuseafood.com
Malibu Seafood is a beloved spot for both locals and beach day trippers. The line may snake out the door, especially on weekends during the summer, but the wait is definitely worth it. The chowder is a favorite, both Manhattan-style and New England. Plus, steamed mussels, tuna burger, are wonderful. But, of course, it’s usually the fish and chips that are on everyone’s plate. The fish is gently battered and never too heavy (although, of course, that heaviness is sometimes part of the fish and chips appeal). The fish market seems to always be stocked with the best local catch of the day. There’s always parking, surprisingly, but be sure to pay the fee in the little fee collection box. Malibu park rangers are not shy about writing tickets.

Malibu Wines
31740 Mulholland Hwy., (818) 865-0605, malibuwines.com
Okay, so there be no food service, but their wines and the setting are too amazing to overlook. Go early in the day and picnic. You can purchase wines by the glass or bottle and spend an entire day here in the green and lush hillside setting. 

Ollie’s Duck & Dive
29169 Heathercliff Rd #102, (310) 589-2200, olliesduckanddive.com
The best duck fat fries in town. Or anywhere for that matter. And maybe the best (and cheapest at $5 bucks) Bloody Mary anywhere too. Yes, it’s a gastropub so it’s not exactly fine dining but it is comfort food at its finest. Other standouts are the Drunken Mac & Cheese and Pork Belly, the chicken tacos, and the bison burger. Locals love Ollie’s especially surfers after a long day hitting the waves.

23750 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 317-1444, ollomalibu.com
Ollo uses all local ingredients from local farms. The farm-to-table bistr has a comfortable, modern dining room with light flooding in from every direction, a lush outdoor patio surrounded by vines and greenery, and amazing seasonal cocktails. The cuisine is Mediterranean and Italian influenced and Ollo’s menu is large. It may be difficult for you to decide on a dish. I love the veggie-driven dishes with the option to add meat such as the Glass Noodle Bowl with Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Purple Kale, Fresno Chilies, Wontons, Sesame and Ginger Soy Sauce. The Malibu Chopped Bowl for $16 is made with Turkey, Avocado, Romaine, Tomato, Mixed Vegetables, Blue Cheese, and White Balsamic Dressing and is a necessity for the table. Pizzas at Ollo are a speciality and since you’re at the beach make it the Hawaiian – Hills Farm Roasted Ham, Pancetta, Pineapple, Mozzarella, and Fresno Chilies. And don’t worry, there’s ahi tuna poke with Cucumbers, Onions, Fresno Chilis, Cilantro, Nori, Avocado Mousse, and Sesame Soy Chili Sauce.

Neptune’s Net
42505 Pacific Coast Hwy., 310-457-3095, neptunesnet.com
You know the sign even if you haven’t been. Neptune’s Net is a Malibu classic and has been serving incredible beer battered fish and chips and clam chowder since the 1950s. Since it’s on the top edge of Malibu right before Ventura you may skip it in favor of our other lovely seafood shacks The Reel Inn and Malibu Seafood. But if you’re traveling up the coast to go to Santa Barbara or Big Sur or Monterey it’s a definite must-stop. Get the Neptune Sampler, which comes with fried fish, shrimp, clam strips, calamari, crab cakes and french fries. Or, if you’re looking for something a little less heavy, hit up the fresh seafood side for oysters, steamed crab, shrimp, lobster or a ceviche.

Nobu Malibu
22706 E. Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-317-9140, noburestaurants.com/malibu
Mr. Chow
3835 Cross Creek Rd. #18a, (310) 456-7600, mrchow.com
What more can be said of these two legendary restaurants? Yes, the food and service are spectacular. Two of the great Malibu restaurants.

Pacific Coast Greens
22601 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 456-0353, pcgreens.com
Pacific Coast Greens or PC Greens as we call it (Because we’re all so busy) is an excellent option for a sandwich or deli takeout to bring to the beach. The counter offers all-day breakfast burritos, rotisserie chicken, turkey meatballs, mashed patatoes, quinoa tabouleah, shaved Brussels sprouts, plus vegan and vegetarian fare. What I’m saying is that basically PC Greens could basically supply your Thanksgiving dinner on the beach.

Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
28128 Pacific Coast Hwy.; 310-457-2503, paradisecovemalibu.com
Many restaurants advertise themselves as being beachfront, but Paradise Cove is the only restaurant that is literally on the beach. So while the food is anything but pretentious for Malibu, no list of Malibu restaurants would be complete without this dive-y yet family friendly watering hole and restaurant. In short, Paradise Cove is just plain fun.

The Reel Inn
18661 Pacific Coast Hwy., (310) 456-8221, reelinnmalibu.com
Right before Topanga Canyon, this is Malibu’s other fish market cafe; it’s been in continuous operation since 1947. I prefer it sometimes to Malibu Seafood because the ambience is more charming and old school. It looks like a beachside shack and the patio tables offer a great open air alternative to the more McDonalds-style feeling of Malibu Seafood’s tables. Plus, pitchers of beer or sangria are always welcome after or before a sunny beach day. And the line is always much shorter! That heaviness I described as missing from Malibu Seafood’s fish and chips? You’ll definitely find that here. The freshest catches are listed on the ever-changing chalkboard menu.

The Sunset Restaurant
6800 Westward Beach Rd., 310-589-1007, thesunsetrestaurant.com
Near Zuma Beach and Point Dume, this is a favorite for many who trek a bit higher up PCH to enjoy the less crowded beaches in the summer. So it feels like a hidden gem. The panoramic views are incredible, but the wait can be long. So be sure to put your name in early and enjoy the beach for a while. You’ll love their happy hour menu which includes staples done wonderfully like fresh fish tacos, clam chowder, beef sliders, calamari fritti, ahi tuna tartar, plus avocado fries, mac and cheese, and Korean style ribs. But the Seafood Bar is really where your heart will lie. The Small Seafood Platter for $49.75 comes with 4 oysters, 4 clams, 4 shrimp, ahi tuna tartare, andhamachi crudo. Also at $49.95 the 1 1/2 pound Fresh Main Lobster is to die for.

Taverna Tony
23410 Civic Center Way; 310-317-9667, tavernatony.com
Taverna Tony is one of the hottest restaurants in town and for good reason. It’s one our finest restaurants and possibly the finest Greek restaurants in the city. The menu has all the traditional Greek specialties, plus fresh seafood. I love the bass, grilled and served whole, plus amazing vegetarian dishes with an ample amount of fresh herb. The tangy tzatziki with fresh pita bread (or veggie sticks!) will make you want to return often. Grilled swordfish steak dressed in lemon and herbs is a serious standout. Perhaps the most popular dish is the grilled giant prawns served with lemon, olive oil and parsley alongside the Taverna Tony’s signature combination of rice, assorted veggies and lemon-paprika potatoes. It’s an excellent see-and-be-seen hotspot near the beach in a gorgeous setting – the outdoor patio is enclosed by lush purple bougainvillea. On weekends there are live music and belly dancers.

Wishing you many Malibu beach days and many Malibu restaurants this summer!

And, as always, if you or someone you know is looking for a home in Los Angeles give me a call at at (323) 697-3040 or email me at jacqueline.tager@sothebyshomes.com. We can make it happen.

Jacqueline Tager | CalBre#: 1476997
jacqueline.tager@sothebyshomes | (323) 697-3040
Sotheby’s International Realty – Los Feliz Brokerage
1801 N Hillhurst Avenue Los Angeles, CA 90027

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4 Responses to “A Foodie’s Guide to Malibu Restaurants”

  1. Mike La Voie says:

    Thanks, Jacqueline. Good luck this Summer.

  2. This article rocks! Thank you.

  3. Ayam Tarung says:

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful article. Many thanks for supplying these details.

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