One of Southern Cali’s most special splurges is treating yourself to a meal at a beachside restaurant. Relaxing in the soft salt air with a glass of rosé...and if you’re really lucky, being close enough to the water’s edge to feel the ocean mist on your face. We’ve collected the shoreline spots you need to experience, from spendy celebratory destinations to date-night sundowners.
All the Best Beach Restaurants in Los Angeles
Bragging Rights At Nobu Malibu
The 800-pound gorilla of prestige beach dining, this waterfront spot is the brightest star in legendary chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s international constellation of restaurants. The spare waterfront architecture is Japanese minimalism at its finest, but the food outshines even that: albacore tuna tiradito served with Meyer lemon and crispy onions, gorgeously presented fresh fat sushi, and after all these years, the signature miso-marinated black cod.
22706 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; 310-317-9140 or noburestaurants.com/malibu/home/
Date Night At The Strand House
In a sweet location with 180-degree views of Manhattan Beach, this restaurant prides itself on fresh and local sourcing as well as cheffy execution (like in the “hand-torn pasta rags with lamb sausage and roasted fennel”). To show you put some thought into your dinner date, call ahead and reserve a second-story window seat timed for the sunset—and ask for a special bottle from the wine cellar to be set aside for you.
117 Manhattan Beach Blvd., Manhattan Beach; 310-545-7470 or thestrandhousemb.com
The Foodie Experience At Mon Li
Now for something completely different: Starting in fall 2018, lauded barman Matthew Biancaniello debuts a thrice-weekly 12-seat omakase restaurant inside the Calamigos Beach Club. Here’s the rub: Each course will pair food and cocktails in creative ways, including in the same glass (because this is the guy who popularized the uni cocktail, aka sea urchin roe mixed with tequila, lemon, nori and cumin). That’s right, drinking dinner is the new liquid diet!
26025 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; 818-540-2441 or calamigosbeachclubrestaurant.com
Instagram-ready At Catch At The Hotel Casa Del Mar
What’s loveliest: The panorama of the Pacific and the Santa Monica Pier? The perfect beach-house decor, from the azure-striped hint of window shade down to the glazed blue tile floor? No, the prize for the most attractive has to go to the food, including a glistening shellfish crudo bar and plates of steaming black squid-ink pasta sped to your table.
1910 Ocean Way., Santa Monica; 310-581-7714 or hotelcasadelmar.com
Laid-back Chic At The Sunset
At a quiet corner of an exclusive edge-of-Malibu community along Zuma Beach, this little white wooden house-cum-restaurant is a popular wedding venue. If you’re not lucky enough to score one of those invites, go for sundowner drinks any night of the week, maybe with a crab cake for sustenance. It’s heaven.
6800 Westward Beach Rd., Malibu; 310-589-1007 or thesunsetrestaurant.com
An Escape From The Tourists At The Albright
This seafood shack right on the Santa Monica Pier has evolved since its opening in 1977: A few years ago the founders’ kids re-branded it as a cool modern space serving live lobsters, crabs and prawns as well as more modest options like the salmon club sandwich. Commandeer one of the picnic tables inside, away from the teeming tourists on their way to the amusement rides, and relax with a chilled mug of IPA.
258 Santa Monica Pier; 310-394-9683 or thealbright.com
Family Casual At Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
Whether you’ve got a family or just a hankering to feel like part of one, this combination eatery right on the sand with clusters of Adirondack chairs and outdoor daybeds is super sweet. The menu is a collection of classic fresh seafood (no surprise there), but you’ll appreciate the cocktails and wine. Pro tip: If you plan to sit outside, go at low tide when there’s more beachfront to enjoy.
28128 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu; 310-457-2503 or paradisecovemalibu.com
Sweet Escape At 1 Pico At Shutters On The Beach
With a new hotshot globetrotting chef, this fine-dining restaurant at Santa Monica’s most storied beach hotel is reinventing itself. Market-driven fare includes standouts like tuna tartare with avocado and ponzu sauce, and house-made tagliatelle with porcini mushrooms. Add in the extensive wine list and desserts like the caramel sundae with popcorn and you’d come here for dinner even if it wasn’t located bang on the sand.
1 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-587-1717 or shuttersonthebeach.com