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Nobu Malibu
Photograph: Jakob N. Layman Nobu Malibu

Here’s where to find the best waterfront restaurants in L.A.

Have a feast on the waterfront at these seafood shacks, sushi destinations, steakhouses and more

By Stephanie Breijo
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L.A. is home to scenic beauty in every corner of the county, but the coastline is undeniably some of the best. Fortunately, a few of our favorite restaurants offer a place to perch next to (and sometimes directly over) the shoreline, giving us dinner or lunch or brunch with a view. Whether you’re looking for high-end, world-class sushi, a casual seafood fry with a pitcher of beer, or simply a spot to sip a mai tai and take in some ocean air, here are L.A.’s best waterfront restaurants. (And if you’re looking for the ultimate in casual waterfront dining, consider stocking up on picnic food and taking it to the beach.)

The 9 best waterfront restaurants in L.A.

1. Nobu Malibu

Restaurants Japanese Malibu
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When you want sushi with a view, it’s impossible to beat Nobu Malibu. The iconic restaurant perches over Surfrider Beach with views of the sea, the sand and the nearby Malibu Pier, and while it offers scenery galore, that doesn’t mean it’s just a pretty face. Nobu Matsuhisa’s cooking is world-class, and it’s here that you’ll find sushi, Japanese classics and the chef’s signature fusion bites (yes, we do mean those tuna tacos). With a minimalist aesthetic, the focus is all on the food and the sights, sounds and smells of the ocean and all that salt air. Just be sure to ask for patio seating when you make a reservation (and you will be needing a reservation).

2. San Pedro Fish Market

Restaurants San Pedro
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Far less fancy but by far one of the most fun and interactive restaurants on our list, the San Pedro Fish Market is an institution that sits right along the channel. The vibe is casual, breezy and seafaring here, where you place your order at the long fish case—stocked with whole fish, filets, shellfish and beyond, often caught right off the coast—and the team will bring your order over to the grill where it’s all seared and buttered to perfection. There’s a fajita stand, too, plus crab tanks, as well as a fast-food area where you’ll find quick and mostly fried items like fish and chips. Grab a drink at one of the bars and bring your trays to the picnic tables right on the water.  

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3. Malibu Farm Cafe

Restaurants Malibu
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Waterfront? This spot’s water-on. The dual-concept restaurant bookends the famous Malibu Pier, serving up fresh California fare at both the full-service Malibu Farm restaurant (located at the entrance) and its more casual counterpart, Malibu Farm Cafe (all the way at the end), which boasts incredible views. There’s even a patio on the pier for making the most of the breezy setting, and healthful, produce-forward dishes such as cauliflower pizza as well as some serious grass-fed burgers at both. Enjoy organic veggies, farm-fresh eggs and more all while perching over the Pacific. Not bad, not bad at all.

4. Crusty Crab

Restaurants Seafood San Pedro
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Just a few steps from the legendary San Pedro Fish Market sits sibling spot Crusty Crab, a more compact, straightforward—and dare we say it, fun—branch of the SPFM family. Famed for its gargantuan, steaming-hot seafood trays and beloved for the casual seating right along the docks of the channel, Crusty Crab is a must—especially if you like live music or you’re dropping by a hot day and looking to relax with a michelada or a frozen margarita in hand. 

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5. Ballast Point Long Beach

Restaurants Gastropubs Long Beach
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As far as brewery-owned gastropubs go, Ballast Point runs some of the best and their Long Beach location is no exception. The 60-plus beers on draft should keep you busy, but they never distract from the sweeping views of Alamitos Bay. There’s indoor seating but the deck is the place to be—especially on cool nights when you can settle around a fire pit, or when Ballast Point’s offering alfresco activities like yoga, which comes complete with a pint of beer. As you make your way through that massive draft menu, opt for dishes like lobster rolls, garlicky truffle fries, burgers and some excellent fresh pretzels that involve dipping sauces made from the brewery’s own beer.

6. Duke’s Malibu

Restaurants Hawaiian Malibu
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The surfy, Hawaiian vibes are on full display in the Duke’s dining room and bar, but out on the patio it’s all about the view. The glassed-in space provides a crystal-clear glimpse of the ocean that’s so close the waves sometimes crash against the barrier as you eat (don’t worry, you and your slice of hula pie will stay dry). Built right along the water and sporting a breezy, chill and tropical motif—all a nod to father-of-surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku—this Malibu spot serves coconut shrimp with lilikoi chili; macadamia-crusted fish of the day; sashimi; banana-leaf–steamed seafood; some of the best fish tacos in the neighborhood; and plenty of tiki drinks. 

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7. SALT

Restaurants American Calabasas
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Sure, it’s a hotel restaurant, but SALT delivers tried-and-true seafood-centric plates and light all-day fare within the Marina del Rey Hotel, not to mention one of the most serene and private patios on the harbor. You can watch the boats bob up and down at their docks, and take a seat at a more conventional table or in a lounge area that sports fire pits—perfect for sundown. 

8. Moonshadows

Restaurants Seafood Malibu
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This old-school Malibu haunt offers two options right along the water: There’s the main outdoor patio, just at the shore’s edge, and then there’s the bar-style seating on a smaller patio just off the main dining room, which hangs right over the Pacific for a truly waterside experience. Keep your eyes peeled for dolphins as you laze surrounded by oysters on the half shell, the house lobster linguini, a classic shrimp cocktail, the catch of the day or a bit of surf and turf.

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9. Kincaid’s

Restaurants Steakhouse Redondo Beach
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Kincaid’s is your standard, reliable chophouse, but it’s got one thing that most of the South Bay’s other steak and seafood joints will never have: seating right on the pier. Redondo Beach’s Kincaid’s sits at the base of the pier, giving you views of the ocean and the rest of the curving boardwalk as you nosh on crab-and-artichoke dip, fresh oysters, steaks, the catch of the day and some Key lime pie.

Looking for more eats by the ocean?

Fish and chips from Malibu Seafood
Photograph: Stephanie Breijo

The 18 best Malibu restaurants and bars

Restaurants

Malibu’s spots offer some of the freshest seafood in the region—surprise, surprise—but there’s so much more than sushi and beachy digs. On the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll find some of the most iconic dives and patios along the coast, as well as fantastic gelato, Thai food and Greek fare.

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