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Bluewater Grill
Photograph: Michael JulianoBluewater Grill

The 11 Best Catalina Island Restaurants and Bars

Find the perfect Catalina Island restaurant or bar for your next visit, from pizza to waffles and lobster to avocado toast.

Written by
Kate Wertheimer
,
Sara Fay
,
Time Out editors
&
Kai Oliver-Kurtin
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Looking for the best Catalina restaurant or bar? From oceanside dive bars to fresh, affordable seafood, the town has lots to offer. Yes, a lot of Avalon’s eateries look like tourist traps, but some offer up solid fare with a fun, laid-back ambiance whether you’re looking for fine wine or waffles. There’s a surprising amount of diversity on the island, as well. You can get a vegan, gluten-free lunch down one street and sushi down anotherthat is, if fried fish or gooey pizza seem a little too heavy.

Between bar-hopping and mealtimes, there's plenty to do on this small island, which is accessible by ferry or helicopter. But if you happen to be there while it's raining, you won't have many options besides holing up in bars and restaurants filled with island tchotchkes and waiting it out with some carbs. You'll pay a premium at most restaurants here since it costs more to transport food to the island, but after a few boozy drinks, you won't mind as much. 

Whether you want brunch, picnic fare for the beach or a romantic dinner overlooking the ocean, read on to see our top picks for where to eat and drink on Catalina Island.

Best Catalina Island restaurants and bars

  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Catalina Island
  • price 3 of 4

One of Avalon’s newer restaurants, Bluewater Grill is the kind of classed-up seafood joint you’d find on a pier in a great beach town. Though this one isn’t on Avalon’s pier, it does sit above the water. The fish is fresh, the menu has a full range of classic seafood plates and twists on originals, and the cocktail, beer and wine offerings are sophisticated. In summer, reserve a table on the patio, or in winter, cozy up at the bar with a beer and clam chowder.

  • Restaurants
  • Fusion
  • Catalina Island
  • price 1 of 4

This cute little cafe boasts alfresco dining and a healthy, alternative menu to most of the island’s offerings. (We know Angelenos get a little anxious if there’s no quinoa salad for miles.) Here you’ll find vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, as well as a particularly tasty assortment of avocado toast. Dine on the patio or grab a sandwich to go for a hike or trip to the beach.

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Marlin Club
  • Bars
  • Dive bars
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

The Marlin Club is Avalon’s signature dive bar, complete with a jukebox, pool table and darts, bartenders who are equal parts surly and friendly, and lots of crap on the walls and ceiling. It’s where locals tie one on and return visitors come to see who’s in town and looking to party. As the oldest bar in Avalon, the place has a ton of character and is a must-see during your visiteven if you’re not into boozing.

Avalon Grille
  • Restaurants
  • Contemporary American
  • Catalina Island

This is the place to go for upscale dining in Avalon. The service is impeccable (quite possibly better than the food itself), and the ambiance is laid-back yet refined (consider this the one meal to wear pants instead of shorts). The food is solid and most portions are big, so think about splitting a few dishes if you’re dining with friends (or looking to bring down the price). The patio is lovely at sunset, though the bar is another option, especially if you’re interested in hearing some island lore from the bartender. Just don't miss the famous Wrigley Martini here.

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  • Restaurants
  • Diners
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

Got a hankering for waffles? The food at Jack’s is hearty (they’re known for burgers, fries and pies, as well as a delicious country breakfast) and the atmosphere is cozy and nostalgic. The food isn’t just tasty, it’s high quality, too—Jack’s uses Niman Ranch beef and pork and Jidori chicken. The spot is most crowded at breakfast (and we recommend putting up with the wait), but you can stop in anytime for some Kona coffee or an ice cream treat made with Hawaii’s famous Lappert’s ice cream.

  • Attractions
  • Beaches
  • Catalina Island
  • price 3 of 4

It’s hard to argue with a heaping plate of nachos and a frosty Buffalo Milk cocktail right on top of the beach. The food is admittedly fine, and so too are the prices (surprising, given the primo location). Take a seat anywhere on the patio and soak in the vacay vibes over a leisurely lunch.

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  • Restaurants
  • Catalina Island
  • price 1 of 4

The first thing you might notice about Lloyd’s Confectionary is the giant taffy-pulling machine in the window. Everything in the cases is homemade, from the candy apples to the fudge, and Lloyd’s has been using the same saltwater taffy recipe since 1934. It’s okay if you go a little nuts in Lloyd’s—you’re on vacation. Be that kid in the candy shop.

  • Bars
  • Lounges
  • Catalina Island
  • price 1 of 4

This little dive is colorful, quirky and best known for its signature drink, the Wiki Wacker. If you notice inebriated folks stumbling down the waterfront in big, funny straw hats, chances are they’ve had their “wikis wacked,” which essentially means they’ve paid a little too much for a stiff drink. The Wiki Wacker is made with light rum, brandy, pineapple/orange juice and grenadine, and comes with a big, funny hat. The spot also offers live music on occasion, as well as decent bar food—Wednesday is Cheeseburger in Paradise Night, heyo!

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  • Restaurants
  • Delis
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

After a sun-soaked summer beach day (or a cool winter one) in Catalina, hot pizza starts to sound pretty good. Island locals head to the Original Antonio’s Pizzeria & Deli for a slice or two on a red-checkered tablecloth. Play oldies on the ’50s jukebox and check the menu for Neapolitan pies, spaghetti and subs.

  • Restaurants
  • Mexican
  • Catalina Island
  • price 1 of 4

To find the Sandtrap head towards the hills, and if you see a golf course, you’re definitely close by. It’s a locals or visitors-in-the-know spot—an Avalon fixture for several decades with cheap drinks and food. Make sure you stop by for the happy hour specials on beer and tacos. There’s plenty of seating and a welcome atmosphere on the patio, plus a view of the golf course. It’s an off-the-beaten tourist path, so if you’re not crazy about waiting for a table at a restaurant on Crescent Avenue and you wouldn’t mind (or would prefer) talking to some friendly locals, the Sandtrap is where you should go.

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  • Restaurants
  • Seafood
  • Catalina Island
  • price 2 of 4

A solid place for seafood, The Lobster Trap is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. Happy hour from 2 to 5 p.m. daily means $4 beers and $5 well drinks, but you’re not really there to drink. Like clam chowder? You can smell the Trap’s from down the street. Other specialties of the house include monkey balls (tempura fried, ahi-stuffed mushrooms), Mexican shrimp cocktail and local lobster with shrimp stuffing. It’s not the best seafood on the planet, but the aquatic ambiance nails it and you certainly won’t leave hungry.

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