Malibu's 10 Best Restaurants: Ocean Views and Gourmet Eats

Malibu is one of Southern California's most upscale beach communities; as one of the places where the rich and famous meet to eat, it boasts some of Los Angeles' best restaurants. The best of the best are here, from the elegant Nobu Malibu and Mastro's Ocean Club Malibu to classic fish shacks like the Reel Inn, where locals gather for fresh fish served in an ultra-casual spot. And longtime favorites including Paradise Cove Beach Cafe, where families have flocked for generations, are also included in this definitive list of the 10 Best Restaurants in Malibu. 

Malibu's culinary scene often focuses on local ingredients sourced from farms in the Malibu area. "Organic," "farm to table" and "locally sourced" are all common terms you'll see on menus at most of Malibu's best restaurants. Some of the best dining spots in Malibu are the ones that are perched right on the ocean, either cliffside above the beach or right down in the sand. The best oceanfront restaurants in Malibu have open-air terraces – those are always the first tables to get nabbed. However, that's not to say that the lovely indoor dining areas don't provide an excellent atmosphere as well; most restaurants have large windows that face the ocean so indoor diners can still enjoy views of the vast water beyond the Malibu shores.


Taverna Tony
Photo courtesy of Taverna Tony's

Taverna Tony's, located in the Malibu Country Mart, will make you feel as if you've just been whisked onto the shores of Greece's famed Santorini or Mykonos islands. Whitewashed walls and a festive patio set just the right mood for a meal of dolmades, spanakopita, moussaka, char-grilled lamb and best baklava for miles around. Diners often find a band playing traditional bouzouki music in the background while belly dancers perform in the aisles. It's a homey little slice of Greece right in the heart of Malibu, complete with family recipes and homemade bread. Be sure to sample some Greek wine with your meal, for Tony's has an extensive list of some of that country's best vintages.

Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
Photo courtesy of Paradise Cove Beach Cafe

Paradise Cove Beach Cafe is literally right on the beach in the northernmost reaches of the Malibu community, almost to Point Dume. The inside of the cafe that has been on this spot for generations has funky booths with a beach-inspired vibe and large windows overlooking the Paradise Cove Beach. You also have the option of choosing lounge chairs right on the beach, giving you a chance to enjoy their famous Fruit Boba Rum Drinks and take in the Malibu sunshine with your feet in the soft sand. The menu has plenty of choices, with a focus on seafood options and BBQ specialties, both of which have sampler options ideal for sharing.

Saddle Peak Lodge
Photo courtesy of Saddle Peak Lodge

Located in the wild hills above Malibu, the award-winning Saddle Peak Lodge has been a favorite of in-the-know Angelenos for years. The rustic, hunt club-like interior features exposed logs, stonework, animal trophies, and fishing gear, along with white linens and elegant table settings that perfectly accentuate the cuisine. Under new ownership since 2016, the seasonally shifting menu continues to center on fish and game (as it has all along) but also includes steak, lamb, seafood and pork, with many being offered grilled over mesquite. Sunday brunch is a good alternative if you can't make it for dinner; be sure to try the Wild Game Sausage Trio if you visit then. Weather permitting, dine on the patio, as the views are spectacular.

Reel Inn
Photo courtesy of The Reel Inn

The Reel Inn is a Malibu institution, serving seriously fresh fish for decades (since 1986, actually) from its shack-like spot on Pacific Coast Highway. In fact, it doubles as a fish market for locals who prefer to grill their own scallops, shrimp, Ahi tuna or any of the numerous other shellfish and seafood on offer here. But most people prefer to let The Reel Inn do the cooking, choosing from the changeable chalkboard menus that always include fried fish dishes, fish tacos, fish quesadillas and seafood pasta. Be sure to find a spot on the patio to settle in for your down-home fish dinner, for it is a convivial place; and be sure to grab a pitcher of beer, glass of wine or cocktail inside before you begin, for even though The Reel Inn looks like a shack, it's got all the amenities you need for a delicious, casual meal.

Mastro's Ocean Club Malibu
Photo courtesy of Mastro's Ocean Club Malibu

Mastro's Ocean Club Malibu is one of the city's most elegant dining destinations, bringing all the elements of the famed Mastro's Steakhouse experience to an oceanfront restaurant with breathtaking views. Open only for dinner during the week and for brunch and dinner on weekends, this top-notch eatery is renowned for both its seafood and steaks. There's a complete sushi menu as well, with favorites including the Maguro Lime Roll and the zingy Tuna Jalapeno Sashimi. Naturally, one of the favorites on the Mastro's menu is the "Surf and Turf" that guests build themselves; we're particularly partial to the Petit Filet Mignon paired with Alaskan King Crab Legs.

Cafe Habana Malibu
Photo courtesy of Cafe Habana Malibu

Cafe Habana Malibu is the latest outpost of the famed New York City Cuban restaurants and this addition to the Malibu scene is a real winner. The chefs here use organic vegetables and fruits, USDA certified organic beef, vegetarian raised pork, free-range chicken and 100 percent sustainable seafood. It's no wonder that Cafe Habana has become the place to dine for eco-conscious Californians, since all of the products they use are free of hormones, antibiotics and GMO's Plus, their tacos are incredible, their fat pork chop is divine and there's nothing as tasty as their famous signature appetizer, the Grilled Corn Mexican Style, served with cotija cheese, cayenne pepper and lime.

Tra di Noi
Photo courtesy of Gina Douglas Tarnacki

Tra di Noi, the traditional Italian restaurant located in the Malibu Country Mart shopping center, has been drawing locals and visitors since 1991. Tra di Noi means "between us," a name chosen by co-owners Antonio Alessi and Tarcisio Mosconi to evoke a homey, casual atmosphere where patrons can enjoy dining and conversation with friends and family. It has obviously been a good choice, as the famed eatery continues to lure movie stars (many of whom are locals), tourists and anyone who loves a great Italian meal. The menu has an array of Italian cuisine "inspired by the countryside," from plump homemade gnocchi and spaghetti to pizzas, risottos, meats and fish. Try the Zuppa di Pesce (Cioppino) for a fragrant, heady taste of the Mediterranean.

Duke's Malibu is the quintessential Southern California restaurant, a huge place perched right on the edge of the Pacific Ocean. Named after Duke Kahanamoku, the famed swimmer and surfer and the Hawaiian Olympic gold medalist who introduced surfing to the world in the 1920s, Duke's Malibu offers upscale American comfort food with Hawaiian island twists and gorgeous views of the water. And on Sundays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Duke's presents an incredible brunch buffet. Like coconut French toast? You'll find those here. Prefer tuna poke or Hawaiian-style ceviche? That's on the menu, too. Go for baked fresh fish, a bagel and lox or a thick slice of tri-tip beef, then cap off the meal with macadamia-nut cookies, coconut macaroons or fudge brownies. After this incredible buffet, you'll probably want to hit the water yourself, to work off some of those delicious calories.

Moonshadows Blue Lounge

Malibu's famed Moonshadows restaurant is built along the side of a cliff and features wide views of the ocean from its airy sun deck and relaxing indoor dining room. The menu serves up an array of gourmet American cuisine with Italian and Asian infusions and a special focus on seafood. The Blue Lounge is the place to be both day and night, with a patio decked out with cabanas and loungers by day and blue mood lighting by night. You'll often find DJs spinning tunes there and famous Hollywood faces among the crowd that forms to sip inventive specialty cocktails or fine wines as they drink in the view and the cool vibe.

Nobu Malibu
Photo courtesy of Nobu Malibu photo by Henry Hargreaves

Los Angeles is where it all began for Nobu Matsuhisa, the acknowledged king of Japanese cuisine, who now has high-end eateries all over the world. His first restaurant, Matsuhisa, is a tiny place on La Cienega Boulevard; Nobu Los Angeles is further north up that same street; and the prettiest of them all, Nobu Malibu, is perched right on the sand on Pacific Coast Highway in the heart of that posh beach community. Malibu gets our vote for the best of three solely on location, for the gorgeous ocean views and sleek restaurant design somehow make Nobu's signature dishes like Black Cod Miso and Yellowtail with Jalapeno seem even more delicious when eaten there (and they are seriously fantastic no matter where you taste them).


Meet Jenny Peters

Jenny Peters – aka Jet Set Jen – is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist, editor and party columnist specializing in travel, entertainment, film, food, wine, fashion and the other good...  More About Jenny