The 8 Best Restaurants in Malibu

Pacific Coast, Malibu, California
Pacific Coast, Malibu, California | © Jon Bilous / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of J. Fergus
26 June 2019

As you snake your way out of Los Angeles and up the famous Pacific Coast Highway, you encounter as many restaurants as scenic vistas. Popular eateries such as Nobu and Lily’s thrive in Malibu’s maritime atmosphere. From the roaring shores of the ocean to the rolling hills of wine country, here are the best places to enjoy a meal in Malibu.

Lily’s Malibu

Restaurant, Mexican, Salvadorian
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On a slightly inland bend of the PCH, you’ll find the best breakfast burrito in Malibu. A perfect stop on a road trip to or from Los Angeles, Lily’s Malibu serves breakfast and lunch until 6pm. Lily’s is one of the most affordable restaurants in the area and offers an array of delicious Latin dishes, but the breakfast burrito is hard to beat.

Malibu Farm Pier Cafe, Malibu

Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
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A firm favorite among Malibu’s wellness warriors, Malibu Farm serves up farm-to-table food and ocean views. Technically, there are two dining locations – the restaurant and the café – at the beginning and end of Malibu Pier, respectively. The café provides a pared-down daytime menu with counter service and lacks a full bar, but provides a clearer view of the water. The restaurant’s menu manages to be simultaneously healthy and decadent as evidenced by their cauliflower-crust pizza. Plus, the plates and decor are pleasingly Instagram-worthy. Both menus have vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options, but vegans should stick to dinner at the restaurant if they want more than salad.

Ollie’s Duck & Dive

Gastropub, Fusion, American, $$$
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Next to Lily’s in a small shopping plaza, Ollie’s Duck & Dive takes on the nighttime crowd. The menu runs deeper than your average gastropub with enough options to satisfy everyone’s needs. The Duck Dip (a confit duck and caramelized onion creation with a duck jus for dunking) is the sandwich you never knew you needed in your life, but if you’re just swinging by for a drink, the duck fries will suffice as a quick bite. Fridays and Saturdays get special treatment with later hours (they close at their discretion) and live music from local bands, but weekday happy hours from 3pm to 6pm remain the liveliest times to visit.

Nobu Malibu

Bar, Boutique Hotel Restaurant, Sushi, Fusion, $$$
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A recognizable name anywhere, the beachfront Nobu Malibu often steals away clientele from the West Hollywood location. It’s easy for your eyes to be bigger than your wallet with their pricey Japanese-Cali fusion menu. Enjoy meticulously crafted hand rolls and wagyu beef, opt for a classic steak, or even try a sashimi taco. The crowd is a mix of the very wealthy dining casually and the upper middle-class celebrating special occasions. Whether you spot a celebrity or simply take in a sunset, there will definitely be a view to enjoy.

Bui Sushi

Restaurant, Sushi, $$$
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Can’t get a reservation at Nobu? Get your sushi fix at Bui Sushi. You might not be able to get a wagyu taco, but your bill will be more palatable. Bui Sushi is another mall find with friendly service and great sushi. Its miso soup on a cold day will warm you up, or try one of the sake cocktails. Be sure to check out the nearby lagoon before you leave.

Geoffrey’s, Malibu

Restaurant, American, $$$
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Another upscale option, Geoffrey’s Malibu overlooks the hidden Escondido Beach which is the real draw. The seafood-filled menu features an all-star paella as well as gluten-free and vegan options. Eggs benedict lovers should check out its weekend brunch; it offer three delicious variations. Despite the expensive dishes, the restaurant is fairly casual so you don’t have to worry about your fancy clothes at the beach. There are secret stairs at Geoffrey’s that lead to the ocean, but Malibu generally has a wet sand-only rule for non-residents. Dry sand is considered someone’s backyard.

Casa Escobar Malibu

Restaurant, Mexican, $$$
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Head to Casa Escobar for a more comprehensive Mexican menu than Lily’s and more than 70 years of history. Are the owners related to the notorious Pablo Escobar? No. Is their molcajete dish criminal? Absolutely. You’ve got chicken, beef, shrimp and sausage in a spicy sauce you’ll want to take home with you. Go for the molcajete, but stay for the margaritas.

The Malibu Cafe

Cafe, Restaurant, American, $$$
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If seaside dining isn’t for you, head inland to Malibu Cafe which is situated on Calamigos Ranch. The menu is filled with more refined rancher options, but only the Cafe Burger features the house specialty: Calamigos barbecue sauce. In addition to their cocktails and beer, you can also try a few wines from local companies. The café is Instagram-, kid- and group-friendly thanks to the plentiful oversized lawn games and photo props littered across the grounds. You can even take a paddleboat out onto the lake – just don’t drop your wine glass.