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Tuesday, September 20, 2022

The 20 Best Beachside Restaurants In Southern California

September 20, 2022

One of the most special parts of dining in Southern California is having prime access to coastal restaurants. From beachside seafood shacks to fine-dining establishments, the coast of SoCal is full of amazing restaurants that offer breathtaking views and fresh seafood. Whether you're looking for an upscale spot in the iconic beach town of Malibu or a more casual joint near the harbor in San Diego, there are plenty of incredible options to explore.

While most beachside restaurants specialize in seafood, some have gone the steakhouse route, while others keep things fresh and light with a focus on vegetarian cuisine. Even if you're just looking for a craft cocktail with a stunning setting, many of these restaurants have cozy bars that invite you to take a seat and sip in style. No matter what you're craving, SoCal has you covered with great views and even better bites. That said, from San Diego to Ventura, we've rounded up the best beachside restaurants in Southern California.

Geoffrey's Malibu

What was once a stylish hotel for some of the biggest stars of the 1950s has since been turned into one of Malibu's most iconic and delicious restaurants. Geoffrey's Malibu has been serving up delicious seafood, unique appetizers, and bright, well-balanced cocktails since 1983. The layout of the stunning restaurant is designed in such a way that every table in the entire establishment has a panoramic view of the Pacific Ocean, guaranteeing guests an incredible view to go with their meal.

The true highlight of Geoffrey's is the wide array of fresh seafood options across the menu. From the extremely popular ahi tuna tartare appetizer topped with tobiko caviar to the unbelievable pan-seared Chilean sea bass, the fresh seafood and masterful technique exhibited in every dish is an impressive feat. The menu also features preparations of filet mignon, duck two ways, and even a miso braised tofu, offering innovative proteins of every variety.

The Marine Room

Located in the charming seaside neighborhood of La Jolla, The Marine Room is bringing high-end seafood and other seasonal dishes to San Diego. The Marine Room opened its doors in 1941 and has become renowned for its close proximity to the shoreline, carefully curated decor, and seating plan that ensures every single restaurant guest enjoys an ocean view.

The Marine Room is open for standard dinner service Wednesday through Sunday evenings. The dinner menu features some of the establishment's most famous dishes including the Marine lobster tail and togarashi sesame-crusted ahi tuna. There is also a Chef's Specials menu that offers more expensive dishes like the famous dry-aged prime Creekstone tomahawk ribeye. The Marine Room takes advantage of its awe-inspiring location, offering special High Tide Dinners on evenings where the waves are close enough to crash into the windows of the dining room. These pre-fixed meals are an excellent way to enjoy the full Marine Room experience, featuring a four-course meal and an optional wine pairing.

Nobu Malibu

Nobu Malibu has taken over not only the coastal dining scene in Los Angeles but has made a name for itself in pop culture around the world. This beachside Japanese restaurant created and owned by iron chef Nobu Matsuhisa has become a favorite of some of Los Angeles's most influential celebrities, and reservations are made well in advance due to the unwavering popularity of this chic Malibu spot. With a swanky, dimly lit interior and an outdoor patio perfect for watching the sunset over the Pacific Ocean, the electric energy and trendy L.A. vibes of Nobu Malibu are unmatched.

The menu at Nobu Malibu is broken up into sections by temperature and preparation. Many of the plates are designed for sharing, allowing guests to enjoy samplings of many of the refined dishes Nobu has to offer. Whether you are craving a classic nigiri or sashimi dish or looking to try some of chef Matsuhia's incredible original dishes, the high-quality fish and stunning presentation remain consistent across the entire menu.

The Deck on Laguna Beach

Specializing in fresh seafood and creative house cocktails, The Deck on Laguna Beach is one of only a few restaurants in southern Orange County offering seaside dining. The Deck on Laguna Beach is a low-fuss, high-quality establishment that is open daily for lunch, dinner, and drinks. The no reservation policy allows for spontaneous visits to the gorgeous patio for a last-minute drink with friends or dinner after a long day enjoying the beautiful Laguna sun.

The Deck on Laguna Beach has a full bar and an impressive list of fairly priced signature cocktails. While the menu highlights local seafood in a variety of preparations, it is also diverse and family-friendly, offering a range of items from different cuisines for different pallets to enjoy. Check out one of the standout dishes like the Laguna Cioppino, a beautiful preparation of mussels, clams, shrimp, and scallops, along with the catch-of-the-day fish in a delicate saffron tomato broth served with a perfectly toasted crostini on top.

Malibu Farm

Another Instagrammable favorite, Malibu Farm offers fresh, sustainable, delicious dining with the Pacific Ocean below your feet. Since it is located on the breathtaking Malibu Pier, dining at Malibu Farm is a one-of-a-kind experience at any time of day. Founder and chef, Helen Henderson, takes pride in her community-based small business model, using only local, sustainable, and farm-fresh ingredients. From produce to protein, she sources as much as possible from her own farm home, which is also located in Malibu. All of the menu items are original, unique, simple, and fresh, providing a no-nonsense, healthy, and impressively delicious range of dishes.

The menu at Malibu Farm exemplifies the best of California cuisine. From salads to steaks and tacos to lobster mac n cheese, there is something filling, tasty, and stunningly presented for any and all dietary needs. Be sure to check out the extensive house cocktail list during your visit and enjoy one of the fresh creations with an unmatched coastal view.

The Cannery Newport Beach

Located on the stunning Rhine Canal in Newport Beach, The Cannery has been serving up quality California coastal dishes in Orange County since 2002. The Cannery offers fully realized lunch and dinner menus daily, as well as a weekend brunch menu, and a happy hour cocktail and sushi specialty menu. Each menu highlights its exceptional understanding of delicate yet bold and vibrant seafood. Whether it be a high-quality, beautifully presented sushi-style dish from the happy hour menu or a rich lobster pasta, each dish highlights this establishment's mastery of craft.

The Cannery also boasts an impressive and carefully curated cocktail menu, along with an impressive spirit and wine selection. Under the leadership of beverage director, Trevor Jenson, the dynamic, elevated craft cocktails truly round out the Cannery experience. Between the high-quality cooking, signature cocktails to match, and the sweeping canal view, The Cannery is an absolute must-try in Orange County.

Pacific Coast Grill

Pacific Coast Grill in Cardiff, California offers one of the best spots for a sunset dinner in the area. This two-story restaurant is very spacious and modern, and there are several menus available for every kind of diet. The standard dinner menu showcases savory seafood dishes like crispy cornmeal calamari, Dungeness crab cakes, innovative sushi rolls, and entrees like pan-seared sea bass. There is also a vegetarian menu that features items such as veggie sushi rolls, refreshing salads, and macadamia-crusted tofu.

The gluten-free menu is available both at lunch and dinner, ensuring that anyone with a gluten allergy or intolerance is taken care of. When it comes to cocktails, Pacific Coast Grill is best known for its world-class margaritas made with fresh-squeezed lemon and lime juice. If you're more in the mood for vino, the wine list features some amazing bottles as well as varieties by the glass. Though it serves high-end seafood, Pacific Coast Grill remains pretty casual and laid back.

Raya

Located within the luxurious Ritz Carlton in Laguna Niguel, Raya offers guests a fine dining experience with remarkable ocean views. The cliffside dining room is lined with impressively sized double pane windows, creating a delicately framed view of the incredible coastline for every table. Raya serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, allowing guests to enjoy stunning natural light during the day, or breathtaking sunset views in the evening.

Raya's purposeful menu highlights all the best elements of Latin American coastal cooking, creating a beautiful medley of Latin American culture with locally sourced California produce, organic meats, and sustainable seafood. The menu offers signature dishes such as the braised lamb shank served with cilantro lime rice, ranchero sauce, queso fresco, and pickled vegetables as well as seasonal dishes featuring the best local ingredients. The seasonal selections vary, but a standout dish they call "Mariscos a Lo Macho," is a vibrant combination of sea bass, prawns, clams, yuca, tomato, onion, and pickled jalapeños that is a must-try during the summer season.

Splashes

Located at the upscale Surf and Sand Resort, Splashes places patrons right along the shore during their dining experience. Being able to listen to the sounds of the tide while sitting on the patio creates a special ambiance. That said, those that dine inside the dining room still have a nice view and peaceful setting. Whether you are dining for brunch during the day or are able to catch dinner at sunset, Splashes offers an unforgettable setting.

The menu features Mediterranean cuisine with a California twist, resulting in flavorful and fresh dishes that are just as amazing as the ambiance. The plating is also beautiful, ensuring that every component of your meal works harmoniously to create an unforgettable experience. Some menu highlights at dinner include the crisp Brussels sprouts, table-side lobster bisque, and roasted pheasant. If you're looking to grab a quick cocktail while still soaking up the setting, you can grab a seat at the Splashes Bar rather than reserving a table.

180 Blu

Considering it's located at The Ritz Carlton, guests can expect an elegant and luxe experience while grabbing drinks at 180 Blu. The panoramic views are endless, and if you can, 180 Blu is best visited at sunset. The classic terrace has ample seating along with cozy fire pits, making 180 Blu perfect for light bites and cocktails. The menu is limited but features some of the fan favorites from its neighboring restaurant, Raya.

That said, if you're looking for a tapas-style meal or a cool setting for drinks and apps before dinner, 180 Blu is the place to go. 180 Blu also hosts live music every Friday and Saturday in the afternoon, setting the scene for a fun and lively start to the evening. That said, seating is on a first-come-first-serve basis, so it is best to plan ahead and get there early to ensure that you can snag a spot.

George's at the Cove

The open-air terrace at George's at the Cove is home to unbeatable views of La Jolla. There are tons of tables available on the terrace, but George's at the Cove is still known to get pretty packed throughout the week. Those that visit during the day will be able to take advantage of the white umbrellas that provide shade, but visiting at sunset is sure to result in the most stunning setting. While the wine list is pretty solid, the ocean terrace is the perfect place to enjoy a fruity cocktail like the spicy pina margarita.

When it comes to food, there are plenty of vegetarian, seafood, and pasta options for every diet. The mussels are a wonderful appetizer that features a unique and creamy twist thanks to the use of crème fraîche in the broth. For an entree, some solid choices include the local-caught yellowtail and the roasted Jidori chicken with forbidden rice and chow chow.

Santa Barbara Shellfish Company

Are you looking for a high-quality, no-nonsense, locally-owned restaurant? Check out the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, the shack-style restaurant located on the coastal town's charming Stern's Wharf pier. Santa Barbara Shellfish Company began in 1979 as a buying station for delicious local lobster and abalone. It has since become an authentic, fully local establishment serving up the freshest crustaceans, shrimp, and other daily catches.

Santa Barbara Shellfish company is a local, family-friendly favorite that takes as much pride in its warm hospitality as its delicious fish. Despite serving some of the highest quality and freshest fish in Southern California, the prices at Santa Barbara Shellfish Company are designed to keep locals coming back for more. Be sure to check out the fresh pound of Alaskan King Crab Legs served with the house-made coleslaw and onion rings. This dish is a high-flavor favorite that shows why Santa Barbara Shellfish Company has become a local landmark spot.

Aloha Steakhouse

Offering a complete fine dining experience with its signature coastal view, Aloha Steakhouse is Ventura's only beachfront restaurant. With a warm, inviting island aesthetic and an ocean view from every seat in the house, it is no surprise that Aloha Steakhouse has been voted Best Steakhouse and Best Happy Hour since 2003. The menus feature contemporary lunch and dinner California favorites with its signature island flair, and, of course, its famed hand-cut steaks. The Kenny's Side Table Filet Mignon is an absolute standout, allowing guests to enjoy a table-side flambé of the steak with peppers, onions, peppercorn sauce, and Grand Marnier.

Aloha Steakhouse also boasts a full bar with an outdoor patio, offering the perfect setting to enjoy a fresh bite to eat and one of the happy hour hand-crafted cocktails for only $7. The happy hour is served from 3 pm to 6 pm Monday through Friday, making it the ideal location for a beachside beverage after a long day of work.

Driftwood Kitchen

Located right on the waterfront in Laguna Beach, Driftwood Kitchen is an inviting yet casual eatery that offers an immersive ocean-to-table dining experience. From hand-shucked oysters to refreshing craft cocktails, Driftwood Kitchen places a focus on seafood while embracing the seasons. The menu is changed monthly, featuring a diverse array of appetizers, entrees, and sides. When it comes to cooked seafood, some menu highlights include the grilled Spanish octopus, pan-seared Ora king salmon, and Mediterranean branzino.

Driftwood Kitchen's dinner menu also showcases raw favorites like the yellowfin tuna tartare tacos, Big Eye Hawaiian tuna ceviche, and the beloved DK seafood tower. This beachside restaurant also serves up a daily breakfast menu that extends into lunch. While the majority of the daytime menu features classic American fare, there are some stand-out seafood options like the Scottish smoked salmon bagel and the Laguna Beach omelet with Dungeness crab. Patrons can also order the DK Benedict with crab meat.

Malibu Seafood

Malibu Seafood is situated right along the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) in Malibu. This iconic seafood shack is the perfect place to stop for lunch after or before hitting the beach. That said, if you visit during the weekend, prepare yourself for some pretty intense lines. Though the menu does feature some fresh options, Malibu Seafood is most famous for its fried goods. From shrimp to scallops, patrons can order this crispy and golden fried seafood either as a meal or a la carte.

If you visit on a chilly day, the clam chowder is a bright and creamy dish that is sure to warm you up. When it comes to steamed seafood, customers can choose between clams, mussels, shrimp, Dungeness crab, and lobster. Another local favorite is the deep-fried fish taquito, which still manages to possess a beloved freshness despite being fried. Since Malibu Seafood doubles as a market, guests can also take locally-sourced seafood to-go for dinner at home.

Water Grill Santa Monica

Located on Ocean Avenue in Downtown Santa Monica, Water Grill offers quality seafood in a rustic yet sleek setting. The interior features nautical decor and sleek booths that have an ocean view, but there is also a spacious patio out front where you can enjoy the cool Pacific breeze. Several seafood dishes on the menu change frequently, featuring seasonal favorites like wild California spiny lobster and Maryland soft-shell crabs. That said, patrons can count on fresh shellfish like oysters, scallops, and littleneck clams to always be available.

After starting with a customized seafood tower, guests can choose between cooked shellfish by the pound or charcoal-grilled whole fish. Other entrees include fish and chips, shrimp scampi, Alaskan halibut, and more. If you're craving steak over seafood, Water Grill also serves everything from filet mignon to the New York strip. Plus, the zesty key lime pie pairs perfectly with the ocean views and cool breeze.

The Penthouse

As the name suggests, The Penthouse is located on the top floor of the sleek and modern Huntley Hotel. This hotel is located off of 2nd Street in Santa Monica, placing guests just behind Ocean Avenue. Upon arrival, patrons can ride up a glass elevator that boasts breathtaking views of the Pacific and the surrounding city. Once you enter the restaurant, the views continue. If you can, snag a spot near the window for prime viewing at sunset.

Like most restaurants that offer a view, the menu at The Penthouse is pretty high-end, making it a great spot for a fancy dinner or special occasion. The raw bar allows guests to start off the meal with something light and fresh before moving on to heartier dishes like the hand-made short rib cavatelli or the truffle cacio e pepe. The Penthouse also offers a solid happy hour during the week where you can enjoy $14 bites, $12 cocktails, and $10 wine by the glass.

The Strand House

Located in the heart of Manhattan Beach, The Strand House is a local favorite that serves up delightful bites in a chic yet beachy setting. The Strand House is literally steps away from the sand, making it super easy to hit the beach after your meal. Whether you are visiting for lunch, dinner, or brunch, this beachside restaurant ensures tasty results thanks to quality ingredients that stand out among the crowd.

The philosophy at The Strand House is that everything should taste as fresh as possible, from the produce to the seafood. From the yellowtail crudo to the house-made charcuterie board, the appetizers are diverse and different. That said, the buttermilk Parker House rolls are a fluffy and irresistible starter. The dinner menu also showcases refreshing and light salads, wood-fired pizzas, and chilled seafood that pairs perfectly with the pier view. Those looking to go all out can order the 40oz prime Tomahawk steak for two for $185.

mar'sel

Mar'sel is an upscale restaurant located at the Terranea Resort in Rancho Palos Verdes. The restaurant overlooks the Pacific Ocean, offering prime outdoor seating with panoramic views. Whether you're looking for a special dinner spot or a fancy brunch outing, mar'sel is a consistent and creative concept that places a unique twist on coastal California cuisine. Given the true opulence of the space and surrounding resort, mar'sel offers a luxe dining experience that leaves a lasting impression.

The gourmet menu is seasonal for both brunch and dinner. Guests can enjoy elegant starters like caviar and oysters on the half shell. Warm appetizers include seared scallops, Pacific spot prawns, and grilled octopus. Entrée options branch out from seafood with options like the Australian lamb chops and veal chop with sautéed spinach. There is even a bucatini cacio e pepe that is made with a sharp and tangy pecorino Romano cheese. If you save room for dessert, the chocolate pot de crème is a decadent way to end any meal.

The Lobster

Located at the base of the world-famous Santa Monica Pier at the western end of Route 66, The Lobster has been serving high-quality seafood in a gorgeous dining room since 1923. With sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and its iconic exterior next to the pier, dining at The Lobster provides a true California experience from beginning to end. The Lobster specializes in Maine and California Spiny Lobsters, as well as a wide variety of locally inspired and seasonally created dishes.

Celebrity Chef Govind Armstrong has created a lunch and dinner menu featuring not only the fresh seafood and famed lobster dishes, but also the produce sourced from Santa Monica Farmer's Markets to ensure the highest quality ingredients are used in each and every dish. From chilled oysters with mignonette, house hot sauce, and cocktail to their most famous grilled Maine lobster with fresh herbs, lemon, and drawn garlic butter, The Lobster is the perfect spot for the highest quality seafood and iconic Santa Monica views.

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