Cholada Thai Cuisine
18763 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
While it may not look like much more than a roadside shack to the untrained eye, locals know that inside is where you’ll find the best Thai food this side of the 405. The interior is decidedly no frills—same goes for the backyard area—but that doesn’t take away from the fact that the lengthy menu of curries, noodles, and soups (the Tom Kah—coconut milk-broth, lemongrass, and mushrooms—is out of this world) is authentic and executed to delicious results. Get the pineapple-fried rice and a few orders of “golden bags” for the table (funny name, seriously good) and wash it all down with some Thai coffee (some of the best in all of LA).
Malibu Burger Co.
23359 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Producer and Musician Cisco Adler is behind this very Malibu appropriate burger joint.
327 Latigo Canyon Rd., Malibu
Wedged between the Santa Monica Mountains and Malibu wine country, Malibu Cafe and its sprawling grounds (one hundred and thirty acres, to be exact) and outdoor games (corn hole, pool, and shuffleboard) make it a great place to bring littles. Much of the action centers around the courtyard, which is set up with a bar, lawn games, and picnic tables. Cafe reservations are recommended, especially on weekends, when without one, the wait can be several hours for a table. A BBQ-heavy menu includes pulled pork, brisket, and Southern fried chicken, but there are a handful of veggie options, like, say, a Brussels sprout salad with Cara Cara oranges and avocado, for those looking for something lighter. There’s a small kids menu with grilled cheese, a burger, and pasta. On the way out, stroll through the little boutique, Shop Calagmigos, which is stocked with beach-y separates like YSTR dresses, tassel bracelets, and Apolis reusable totes.
23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Malibu Farm is our go-to restaurant for impressing out-of-towners, thanks to its sweeping views of the ocean in both directions (and even of Catalina Island on a clear day). You can watch surfers and stand-up paddle boarders on iconic Surfrider Beach, plus their white sangria is perfectly refreshing on a hot day. Enjoying a zucchini pizza on their porch while you watch the sun set is pretty much as California as it gets.
25653 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Every item on the modest menu at this beloved local spot is a sure thing, whether it’s the chowder (both Manhattan or New England are available), steamed mussels, tuna burger, or fish-and-chips (the fish is gently battered, never heavy). You place your order at the counter then carry your tray up to the semi-open-air patio to take in the views of the Pacific right across the PCH. Best part: BYOB. The teeny fish market is always well stocked with the best local catch with extra attention paid to freshness, which makes sense since the owner was a commercial fisherman for years. For working off a big meal, the entrance to the Corral Canyon hiking path—quick, relatively easy, and really beautiful—is right at the adjoining parking lot, just keep in mind that the rangers are not shy about writing tickets if you park and don’t pay the fee.
3835 Cross Creek Rd., Malibu
This outpost in the Malibu Country Mart is a little more recent than the OG Beverly Hills location, so the interior style has an all-white aesthetic with a spacious outdoor seating area, vaulted ceilings, and tons of heat lamps. What's exactly the same is their elegantly served Chinese food—our tip is to skip the prix fixe menu and order favorites for the table, family style.
42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
This roadside spot has remained a Malibu classic since the 1950’s, offering the best grilled seafood and beer-battered fish-and-chips, chowder, and all the expected sides (cole slaw, fries, onion rings) in a setting that’s more biker bar than restaurant: If you don't recognize the sign from its many film cameos, just look for the line of gleaming motorcycles out front. It’s downright blasphemous not to stop in for a quick meal on your way up the PCH—leathers not required.
22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
There are now 32 outposts of Nobu—and they draw a devoted tourist-y crowd—but the Malibu location, positioned on a bluff overlooking the ocean, is worth braving the crowds. The backdrop offers the kind of sweeping views that people are happy to have for something big and festive like a rehearsal dinner, plus the food is reliably good.
23750 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu
The chefs here cook with ingredients from local farms (One Gun Ranch, for one), resulting in a menu that covers all the bases (expertly prepped proteins, veggie-driven plates, and more). The space is open with natural light flooding in from every direction—trees covered in string lights rise directly out of the floor in the middle of the indoor dining area, and there's a lush outdoor patio surrounded by vines and greenery. Make sure to order a pizza.
28128 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
Tucked into a particularly idyllic nook off the PCH, Paradise Cove lives up to its name. While it bills itself as a café—and it’s definitely worth making the drive for a lunch of live Maine lobster or their famous fish tacos—it’s really more of a beach club. Everything from beach beds to umbrellas to full-on beach terraces is available for rent, meaning you can post up for the day. Expect a fun, lively vibe—perfect for kids. (Note that the beach can get packed during the summer months.)
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