Waterfront dining for parents visiting from the Midwest
My parents are coming to visit in the coming weeks and my girlfriend and I are looking for some places to take them for brunch and dinner. She and I recently relocated from San Francisco and have not had the time to try very many places in and around the southbay area. We are looking for places that would have outdoor seating or bright dining areas with ocean views in or around the south bay or as far north as Malibu. We noticed Moonshadows on this site and are looking for feedback on it in addition to any other specific recomendations people may have. Places do not have to be fancy but good food is a must. Thanks.
Further north (though not all the way to Malibu) One Pico at Shutters on the Beach is a great place for brunch. You can sit outside directly on the beach and the food is good. My parents love it. I've never tried it for dinner, but I imagine it's pretty good though not the most stellar food in L.A. I find that good view and great food are usually mutually exclusive, unfortunately, though One Pico is very solid.
If you're into saving some dough, I think a great idea (which I've done myself a couple of times) is to swing by Busy Bee Market in San Pedro, pick up some of their great sandwiches, take a quick drive out to Palos Verdes Drive South, park your car at one of the turnouts at either the Trump golf course or at Abalone Cove, and dine on the picnic tables which are available there. The view is stunning.
If you'd like a cup of coffee afterwards, continue down PV Drive South until it changes into PV Drive West and meets Hawthorne Blvd. Here, there's a Starbucks with a patio that provides an awesome view of the sunset.
In regards to Shutters, I agree--great food, but the topography isn't as interesting as the curves and shores of PV.
Busy Bee Market
2413 S Walker Ave
San Pedro, CA 90731
Southbay has a lot of options for casual dining with a view of the Ocean. For an inexpensive brunch, my picks would be the patio at Martha's or Good Stuff in Hermosa Beach. Martha's isn't quite beachfront, it's on 22nd St, but the ocean is still viewable from the patio. Good Stuff is right on the Strand (beach-front walkway), near the pier. Both have good California-style sandwiches and such (lots of avocado, sprouts, etc.) Both are also extremely casual, so they may not be parent-worthy, depending on how fussy your parents are.
I know some hounds will faint at this suggestion, but the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey actually has a really nice view of the Marina from its patio. I've taken out-of-towners there when we needed to eat pretty close to the airport, and they've really liked the atmosphere. The food may not be chow-worthy, but it's certainly good enough. I actually really like their big salads.
For a more upscale option, Jerne at the Ritz Carlton in Marina del Rey has excellent food. Brunch and dinner are pretty expensive, but lunch is more reasonably priced.
On any given Saturday or Sunday brunch at Moonshadows, you'll see more Bentleys, Jaguars, and expensive cars I cannot even recognize all in one place in Malibu at the same time. View is spectacular (make sure you sit near the windows or balcony), as the water is right below you. Food is delicious, appetizers (I'd suggest the beet salad), red meats and of course, seafood (salmon, shrimp, etc.). Don't miss out on desserts (champagne sorbet is a favorite of mine).
Further down the PCH is Geoffrey's - finer dining, ask to sit all the way to the right, near the ocean (actually, you'll go in and keep on walking, so technically at the rear). SpectACular views. Very good food. Love the foie gras, beet salad, salmon, bass, moroccan shrimp. Great desserts, too - have had all, but decidely believe the tiramisu is my fave.