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Secret uncrowded beaches aren?t the only reason to linger in Malibu--there?s a friendly new gastropub, Duck Dive, that?s giving the area?s traditional seaside standbys stiff competition.

We pulled in after a day of seaside frolicking, nervous that our beach caftan cover-up might not be swank enough for dining out. We needn?t have worried--our greeter trilled a welcome, and the bartender affably poured a PBR over ice as hunky locals chatted us up. 

On the patio, zinc pendant lights (part of the handsome Reath Design decor) illuminated our menu. We started with Brussels & Belly ($6.50), a delicious hot mess of pork belly-infused croutons and crispy brussels sprouts covered by bacon-shallot vinaigrette. Next we had grilled salmon ($26) infused with blood-orange buerre blanc and balanced on a nest of broccoflower, kale and bell pepper. 

Our friend?s lentil burger ($11) was a bit bland, but no matter. We shared house-made strawberry-balsamic ice cream ($6) and watched a spirited game of tabletop shuffleboard played on a vintage table. Next to the surf and the sand, this experience was our most fulfilling time ever in the ?Bu. 

Duck Dive, 29169 Heathercliff Rd., Malibu; 310-589-2200 or duckdivegastropub.com

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