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Iconic Neighborhood Restaurants: Malibu

For decades, Malibu has enticed Angelenos looking for a natural escape from the city with its ocean views and fresh air. The city of Malibu, which was incorporated only as recently as 1991, stretches down the coast for 21 miles (and not 27 miles as the city sign still proclaims). However, not many towns can say they have the Pacific Coast Highway as its thoroughfare. Malibu, which plays host to both public and private beaches, and natural wetlands, must be experienced.

Despite the million-dollar homes, fancy cars, and high-priced boutiques, you can still catch a glimpse of Malibu and a slice of Southern California culture back when it was a bit more rugged. As for the general dining consensus, one would be surprised to know that Malibu diners stick to the basics -- and the basics are seafood, and lots of it. The most popular joints are of the traditional fish market fare variety where one orders at the counter and receives grilled or fried seafood on a paper plate, dining among tourists and locals alike. And the folks here wouldn't have it any other way.

 

Neptune's Net: Opened in 1958, Neptune's Net is a classic Malibu establishment featured in films and television shows like The Fast In The Furious and Point Break. Visiting Neptune's makes you feel like you are stopping at a roadhouse while on an ocean-side adventure complete with a run-in with the bikers who break here. Be sure to stake out a seat before ordering, especially on weekends. Most popular items are fried fare: fish and chips, a mixed fried seafood plate, and clam chowder are all popular. There's a wide selection of beer and wine by the bottle. You can also order take-out items and nosh on the beach. 42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu; :(310) 457-3095.

 

Geoffrey's Malibu: More upscale than many of its casual dining neighbors, Geoffrey's is the perfect place for brunch with a special person or a romantic night out to watch the sunset. Established in 1948 and formerly known as Holiday House, this ocean-front restaurant has welcomed a fair share of icons -- Ol' Blue Eye' (Frank Sinatra) and Marilyn Monroe were regulars. It changed hands in 1983 to become Geoffrey's. Be prepared to "shell" out a bit more of your dough here, but you'll enjoy munching on the designer dishes, like the popular scallop with risotto. 27400 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu; (310) 457-1519.

 

Malibu Seafood: A bit more of a blue collar offering (if there is such a thing in Malibu) with prices to match, both locals and visitors love the fresh fish selection (yes, it is also a fish market) to take a plate to go and dine on the pier. The fresh fish plate -- freshly prepared seafood with sides -- is recommended. 25653 Pacific Coast Hwy; (310) 456-3430.

 

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Reel Inn: The restaurant and fish market's neon sign is a familiar sight to all those who drive past. As for its colorful history, well, even the owners rely on some creative story telling about what really went on at the Reel Inn, after multiple owners (including one owner's mysterious death), multiple restaurant name changes, and even a fire that engulfed part of the restaurant in 1978. Yet the Reel Inn lives on as a Malibu spot where you can order a fresh fish plate, salads, and fried seafood in a California roadhouse style space. 18661 Pacific Coast Hwy; (310) 456-8221.

 

Paradise Cove Restaurant:If you're looking for a beach experience that transports you to the Mexican Riviera (but with higher prices), consider visiting Paradise Cove Restaurant. This popular restaurant and beach offers extravagant tropical drinks (in a coconut, of course) and enormous seafood platters on ice along with more casual fare like burgers, fries, and pastas. Many diners make a day out of it by relaxing on the sand and playing in the surf. Be sure to eat at the restaurant if you visit Paradise Cove -- parking without validation can cost you a whopping $40. 28128 Pacific Coast Hwy; (310) 457-2503.

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