Get us in your inbox

Search
Fish and chips from Malibu Seafood
Photograph: Stephanie BreijoEnjoy seaside fish and chips at Malibu Seafood

The 20 best Malibu restaurants and bars

From beachside spots along PCH to hideaways in the canyons, these are the best Malibu restaurants and bars

Written by
Stephanie Breijo
Advertising

“Malibu tends to astonish and disappoint those who have never before seen it,” author Joan Didion said in The White Album, “and yet its very name remains, in the imagination of people all over the world, a kind of shorthand for the easy life.” The water may not be as turquoise as Newport Beach, nor the sand as pristine as Carmel by the Sea up north, but the built-up, carefree surfers’ mythos around Malibu continues to make the coastal city a playground for bikers, surfers, Jonah Hill and people who just want to go to the beach. 

As for restaurants, Malibu offers some of the freshest seafood—surprise, surprise—but there’s so much more than yellowtail jalapeno sushi at Nobu Malibu and fish ‘n’ chips. On the Pacific Coast Highway, you’ll find some of L.A.’s most iconic coastal dives and patios by the water, as well as fantastic pizza, Thai food, and Mexican takeout. Here’s our guide to eating through Malibu like a local. (We hope you brought your appetite, and maybe some sunscreen.)

RECOMMENDED: Find more in the best of Malibu

The best restaurants and bars in Malibu, ranked

  • Restaurants
  • Japanese
  • Malibu
  • price 4 of 4

Longtime locals will remember Nobu as being nestled in the corner of Malibu Country Mart, but while the world-class restaurant’s location has changed, its quality and creativity haven’t budged a bit. Still one of the city’s top restaurants—and one of the region’s best sushi restaurants—Nobu currently features prominently along PCH with a spectacular view of Surfrider Beach. Along the water is the perfect place to celebrate Nobu Matsuhisa’s inspired sushi and seafood-centric menu, whether it be crab cakes topped with an uni bernaise, the artful salmon kelp roll or the legendary black cod with miso. Reservations here are a must, as is a seat on that stellar oceanfront patio.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

Broad Street Oyster Co. is currently open for takeout and delivery only.

A little bit coastal and a whole lot of a party, Christopher Tompkins's seafood pop-up finally found a permanent home, and it's tucked into the back corner of Malibu Village where the windows of his modern seafood shack open out onto a creek. It's the perfect setting to grab a beer or some natural wine and our favorite lobster rolls in town (available warm and buttered or East Coast-style, chilled and with a thin sheen of mayo). Sustainably farmed and otherworldly-delicious oysters come freshly shucked and sourced from around the globe, while heartier specials hit the grill: buttery, herbed-up razor clams; blue crab cakes with panko breadcrumbs; a meaty burger with shio kombu. Good luck not ordering the whole menu every visit.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Greek
  • Malibu
  • price 3 of 4

Ask any local where to find the best Greek food in Malibu, and the answer will always be Taverna Tony. Find a bright and rustic setting indoors and a trellised patio outdoors, setting the scene for platters of Mediterranean fare. Order whole grilled fish, a spread of house-made dips (the taramasolata is a must), rotisserie meats and bountiful pastas that magically disappear from your plate. Can’t decide? We can’t blame you. Opt for the Greek feast, which includes 15 items, so you can really get a full taste of the menu.

  • Restaurants
  • Thai
  • Topanga
  • price 2 of 4
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by The Little Spoon (@the.little.spoon) on

Currently open for takeout only.

This tiny blue blip along PCH looks like a surf shack, and while you’re bound to meet one or two sunkissed stragglers coming in from nearby Topanga Beach, what you’ll really find here is one of the best-kept Thai-food secrets in L.A. A Malibu staple for roughly 30 years, Cholada serves a vibrant, spicy, wide variety of curries, salads, pan-fried noodles and, given the location, seafood. We love the fresh, fried calamari with its accompanying peanut-topped sweet dipping sauce, but you’d be hard-pressed to go wrong by adding succulent, enormous shrimp to any curry. The food enough is a drawl, but the congenial service from Cholada’s husband-and-wife team only makes it all sweeter.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • American
  • Santa Monica Mountains

You can live out your Wild West fantasies in Cornell's rustic, saloon-inspired wooden restaurant where meats get roasted over an open flame and the whiskey flows like water. Daily specials such as venison or wild boar are enough to make us feel like we’re taming the mountains of Agoura Hills, while a full weekend brunch menu and modern dishes—like the upscale grilled cheese sandwich smeared with a blue-cheese aioli—remind us we’re in the 21st century. 

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

Cruise down PCH until you see the billboard of a large, leisure-inclined lobster sporting a Hawaiian shirt and a drink in its claw—that’s when you know you’ve hit Malibu’s fried-fish motherload. This tiny seafood shack and market has been serving some of the area’s freshest fish, clams, crab and squid since 1972. The deep-fried fish and chips is the classic order here, but the grilled tuna, crab salad or steamed clams also hit the spot. Whatever your order, grab it from the window and take a seat on the expansive patio and enjoy the ocean view. Then, grab a raw fillet or a whole fish, some soft-shell crabs or shellfish from the market on your way out. (Your future self will thank you.)

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Santa Monica Mountains
  • price 4 of 4

This one’s a little far from the beaten path: You’re technically in Calabasas by the time you snake your way through the mountains and onto the grounds of this luxurious former celebrity retreat. But the glamour that captivated Hollywood stars—and Malibu’s nature-loving ethos—can be felt throughout every inch of this rustic restaurant and lodge. Whiskey bottles and leatherbound books line the shelves, antlers dot the dining room, and the speciality of the house is game: Elk, emu and venison are favorites, though the specials can include even more exotic fare. Brunch is a local favorite, as is the spacious patio, which seats you under lush, low-hanging tree branches to really make you feel at one with nature.

  • Restaurants
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Malibu Farm (@malibufarm) on

Malibu Farm is open for dine-in; Malibu Farm Cafe will reopen soon.

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). There's even a patio 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.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Malibu
  • price 1 of 4

We almost feel guilty including this spot, because it’s been a well-guarded secret amongst locals for decades. But it’s our civic duty to clue you in on some of the best Salvadoran and Mexican food just off PCH, and it’s the perfect place to grab a casual and hearty meal—for any meal. For around 30 years, Lily’s has been a hidden Latin-food gem serving what are probably the best burritos in Malibu. Call ahead, because this spot can get crowded, and don’t skip the breakfast.

  • Restaurants
  • Sandwich shops
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

If you’re headed to the beach or up to the mountains for a scenic picnic—or you're simply looking for a quick bite—this Malibu mainstay is a classic and well-rounded option for fueling up. The tiny, rustic and beloved deli and gourmet market keeps plenty of premade sandwiches, salads and hot items in the case, but can also whip up custom stacks thanks to a slew of add-ons and bread options. In addition to the sandwiches, salads and daily specials, there’s also a long pastry case packed with fresh cookies, cupcakes, croissants, pies and cakes, and around the shop, you’ll find shelves of gourmet chips and sodas and bins of candy—whatever you need for a perfect picnic, Malibu Kitchen's got.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Hawaiian
  • Malibu
  • price 2 of 4

It’s not as though surf-capital Malibu wasn’t already full of mahalo vibes—it’s just that none of its restaurants give a nod to Hawaii quite like Duke’s. Built right on the water and sporting a surf motif (all a nod to father-of-surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku), this restaurant is breezy, fun and feels borderline tropical, with items like coconut shrimp with lilikoi chili; macadamia-crusted fish of the day; sashimi; banana-leaf–steamed seafood; and the best fish tacos in Malibu. Stop by the bar on Tuesdays for $3 tacos with a view of the waves crashing and just try to tell us you’re not having fun.

  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Malibu
  • price 3 of 4

While by no means as haute or innovative as some of the newer Italian restaurants spread throughout L.A., this stalwart nails simplicity: Tra di Noi is the local go-to for handmade pasta, decadent rissoto (always opt for the truffle), and anitpasti like beef carpaccio and stuffed zucchini blossoms. This Malibu Country Mart spot offers an extensive Italian wine list, and also features a prime patio—all the better for celeb spotting and people watching.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Malibu
  • price 1 of 4

Malibu’s surf-shack vibes meet the Mexican coast with the Cliff Diver, a casual, colorful cantina where tacos and margaritas rule. There are plenty of palm fronds and patterned wallpapers at this chic stop along PCH, attracting a stylish set that settles in for margs, frosé, some delectable kale nachos, tacos and ceviches.

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Ventura County
  • price 2 of 4

Neptune’s Net is currently only open for takeout via the new drive-through system.

If you don’t see a line of motorcycles parked out front, you’re not getting the full Neptune’s Net experience. Fortunately, this Malibu landmark, biker bar and fried-seafood destination is fun and delicious no matter who’s there—be it tourist, A- or B-lister, or an entire hoard of bikers. If you're visiting during non-coronavirus times, make sure to secure a seat at those large wooden picnic tables on that oceanview patio, where you can take in platters of fried seafood, standard American bar fare—burgers, chili fries, hot dogs, the usual—plus tacos and nachos with a view. (Go for the seafood combo plates to get the most out of your visit.)

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Malibu
  • price 1 of 4

Organic ingredients and hyper-seasonal flavors are the name of the game at this ice cream parlor, which also serves as a coffee bar with pastries, salads and sandwiches, too. And while the quiches and croissants and lattes are a draw in and of themselves, the real reason to visit Le Cafe is the small-batch ice cream, available in cups or cones or milkshakes or macaron sandwiches and in flavors such as lemon, ginger and mint; caramelized almond and salted butter; anise; blueberry with banana; and all the classics—with a number of vegan options, too.

  • Restaurants
  • Californian

Want a killer patio? Geoffrey’s lets you enjoy a meal right at the edge of the Pacific for a view that can’t be beat. The unenclosed dining room makes even “indoor” views of the sea possible from every angle, and tall hedges to the side only add to this high-profile spot’s exclusive vibe. Straightforward seafood and steaks are king here, though you’ll find a few deviations from the American steaks and chops by way of lobster egg rolls and miso-braised tofu. Reserve a spot on the patio at sundown, for best results.

Advertising
  • Restaurants
  • Italian
  • Malibu
View this post on Instagram

A post shared by @spruzzomalibu on

Currently only open for takeout and delivery.

Spruzzo sits right by Zuma, making it the go-to spot for to-go pizza on the beach for decades. If you’re avoiding the possibility of sand in your food—sure, fine, that’s probably the responsible thing to do—then the dining room will still give you a glimpse of the ocean while you enjoy those wood-fired pies or generous pasta portions. See also: There’s a firepit, if you’re taking in the view from the patio.

  • Restaurants
  • Ice cream parlors
  • Malibu
  • price 1 of 4

Malibu Yogurt’s been serving froyo before it was, well, cool. This sweets staple serves 16 flavors of fat-free yogurt, plus regular ice cream, making pared-down sundae classics, scoops and swirls for more than 30 years. Mix and match your bases and toppings, get them in a shake or piled high in scoops on a waffle cone. When you want to satisfy your sweet tooth like a longtime local, this is where you go.

Looking for more to do in ’Bu?

  • Things to do

While some associate Malibu with mansions perching on the cliffs and surfers bobbing on the breaks, we tie the city to L.A.'s most stunning natural wonders. Forget the tarnished glitz of Hollywood and the posh landmarks of Beverly Hills; these things to do in Malibu make us question why we don't spend every single weekend in the waterfront city. From some of the best beaches around to hiking trails with waterfalls—and a little bit of wine tasting to wind down—we've rounded up our favorite things to do in Malibu.

Recommended
    You may also like
      Advertising