Malibu may be best known for being home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country, spectacular sunsets, world-class surfing (as well as lots of other water sports), heavenly hikes, and all those massive mansions to ogle from the sand. But there’s something else that should be topping your list of reasons to visit this stunning seaside haven: its world-class food scene. From fine-dining destinations to international fare to farm-to-table hot spots, Malibu’s culinary options go way beyond seafood shacks (though we’ve got that, too). Here are five restaurants to consider during your next Pacific Coast getaway.
You’ll find out why Malibu Beach Inn’s signature restaurant proudly holds the unofficial title of the most romantic restaurant in Malibu as soon as you set foot onto its waterfront dining terrace that’s suspended over the ocean. Guests will happily find that the culinary offerings match the views … which are just as grand from the dazzling dining room done up with teak floors, white oak, and tranquil blue-grey tones. The kitchen relies heavily on both fresh, sustainable seafood and local, seasonal produce from the area’s top farmer’s markets. The result is a blend of both sophisticated and comforting dishes like steak frites, tuna tartare, whole grilled branzino, an ever-changing farmer’s salad, and an extensive raw bar offering. Pair it all with a bottle from the venue’s award-winning wine list or a creative craft cocktail.
Americans have Nobu Matsuhisa to thank for transforming the country’s sushi scene nearly 30 years ago. Many of the restaurants in the Nobu portfolio are housed in special spaces but the Malibu oceanfront location might just be the most striking of all. After years tucked inside a corner of the Malibu Country Mart shopping complex, the restaurant moved to this stunning seaside location right on the beach a decade ago and has been drawing in diners from around the world ever since. Like his other eateries, you’ll find signature dishes like miso black cod, yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno, and monkfish pate that you can nosh on from a lounge seating on the waterfront deck or a table inside. Amp up the experience with refreshing lychee and elderflower martini … and a side of people-watching.
There’s only one Neptune’s Net … and you can’t miss it. If you’re in Malibu, you must make a pilgrimage to this nearly 70-year-old institution that’s equal parts seafood shack, Harley-rider hangout, and dive bar that sits on the northernmost edge of town, across the PCH from the beach. Leave your salad ordering for another day and instead dig into some divinely deep-fried platters of shrimp, scallops, calamari, clams, crab cakes, and beer-battered fish all served with generous sides of fries (obvs), plus some legendary clam chowder. Washing it all down with an icy draft beer is pretty much mandatory.
This bright-and-airy eatery on the tip of the Malibu Pier is a go-to for any brunch bunch. Sit inside the whitewashed clapboard-style structure with oceanic blue trim or out on the overwater deck. Either way, your table can mix and match healthy fare – quinoa oatmeal, a tomato-spinach tofu scramble, and a vegan chop salad, for example – with more decadent dishes like a fried egg sandwich, breakfast burrito, and a big old burger on brioche. For a more upscale experience, hit sister venue Malibu Farm Restaurant at the base of the pier for dinner.
The New England-style seafood spot gained a cult following for its stuffed-to-the-max lobster rolls back when it was just a lowly pop-up. It soon found even greater success when it rolled the dice on a brick-and-mortar venue in Malibu despite opening just months before the pandemic. The little oyster shop that could has since expanded to multiple locations, but the Malibu original is still the fan favorite. In addition to the rolls (which you can get warm and buttery or chilled with mayo), go for some oysters on the half shell, the daily fresh fish crudo, or even a whole spiny lobster platter done with East Coast-esque Old Bay seasoning, crunchy corn on the cob and old-fashioned cole slaw.