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Aug 25, 2009 11:17 AM

Restaurants near local beaches

We're always in search of family-friendly, high quality restaurants near our favorite beaches where we can end a great day at the beach with a satisfying dinner for the family. We don't care about the view, but the place should have an informal atmosphere where our post-beach attire with salty and sandy bodies would be acceptable. However, the kitchen should be all-business and provide high quality and competent food. Our family's favorite beaches in So CA are Crystal Cove, Laguna, Zuma, and Santa Monica. We've been going to the Reel Inn after Zuma and Santa Monica and Honda-Ya in Tustin after Laguna and Crystal Cove but would like to have more options.

Thanks for sharing your favorites.

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  1. Malibu Seafood south of Zuma on PCH

    6 Replies
    1. re: JPomer

      I've driven by Malibu Seafood, and it looks like a take-out stand without seating? Would they have tables and seats? What do you recommend there?

      1. re: apfb

        The seating is on the north side of the building, across from the driveway. FYI - it's BYOB, if you want alcohol. They're closed on Mondays, and parking is usually pretty tight. You can use the parkland lot to the south, but make sure you put your $5 or whatever they've jacked it up to now, b/c they're very quick about ticketing. Their fried fish and chips are generally really good, with large pieces of whitefish. Can be a little pricey though, since they are a fish market as well.

        What beach in Santa Monica do you frequent? Perhaps I could recommend one there if I know what part of SM you go to.

        1. re: Phurstluv

          We don't go to one specific area in SM. We cruise along PCH to find parking and then haul our stuff onto the nearest beach.

          We'd love to find a tasty dinner place, not necessarily on PCH or on the beach. We care much more about the food than the view.

          1. re: apfb

            Okay, got it. I'll have to think for a bit. There's actually not all that much that's exceptional, believe it or not.

            In upper SM, by that I mean above off of the CA incline, there's I Cugini, on corner of Ocean & Broadway, that's very good Italian seafood, and they welcome children and will not bat an eye to your beach attire. Also Il Fornaio, but you've probably already tried that. If you walk any further inland you'll hit the 3rd st. promenade & it's tourist central and usually pricey for what you get. Barney's Beanery is decent and has decent b'fast entrees and will suit anyone's tastes. Good beer selection too.

            Skip the Lobster, too touristy & pricey. Skip Patrick's Roadhouse, definitely not a dinner place, they may not even be open for dinner. You can certainly go to Marix Tex Mex on Entrada, basically behind Patrick's in your beachwear & it's solid tex-mex and the kids will like the koi pond inside. Mine do.

            1. re: Phurstluv

              Wow. Thanks for all the info.

              How's I Cugini? It's part of the same chain as King's Fish House, sold by the King family to the Tiny Naylor chain.

              1. re: apfb

                Had no idea it was part of a chain! My husband used to work in the building, two floors above, so we've eaten there many times. It is very good, with fresh seafood, and a really nice bar. Service is fine, too. And they are accomodating with kids, with their menu, IIRC. It's been a little while since we've been, but we've always had a decent meal there. I believe my husband loved their lasagne and bolognese or ragu sauce.

    2. Uncle Bill's in Manhattan Beach has great pancakes and waffles plus an ocean view.

      6 Replies
      1. re: wienermobile

        I'd rather wait in line at The Original Pancake House in Redondo Beach--Uncle Bill's just wasn't up to snuff and really expensive to boot!

        1. re: mstinawu

          Hmm, if a national chain like The Original Pancake House beats a local place like Uncle Bill's, then Uncle Bill's has really declined in quality?

          1. re: apfb

            If you are going to be in Santa Monica south of the pier, I like Lula's (2722 Main Street). Terrific margaritas; great queso fundido with chorizo.

            1. re: Friend of Bill

              I liked them too, but they are rather ordinary, run of the mill, as in, not really chow hound worthy, in the sense that I would rec them to others on these boards. But we've had good meals there.

            2. re: apfb

              National chain or not, you can't deny perfect, fluffy pancakes!

              1. re: mstinawu

                They have GREAT corned beef hash, if you want your eggs poached you have to ask; otherewise they are fried. There whip cream is the BEST ever, and their onlettes are so big and puffy, sk for their salsa it's pretty good!

        2. In Zuma, Spruzzo's might work. Pizza, salads, burgers, sandwiches, pasta, and other entrees (fish, chicken, beef). Nice outdoor patio with view. definitely family friendly. Full bar if that matters.

          1. Back on the Beach in/on the beach in Santa Monica is back up and going after a long total remodel. They are open until 8 PM Tuesday through Sunday (according to their website so maybe call their sister restaurant "Back on Broadway" also in Santa Monica to get the most up to date information regarding hours/days). While their website is still not complete it gives you some information.


            3 Replies
            1. re: Servorg

              Good to know, you are always on top of it, aren't you, my friend?!! ;))

              They were decent for family friendly food, a few years back, when my boys were still really little.

              1. re: Servorg

                How's the food quality post-remodel?

                1. re: Servorg

                  Has anyone tried Back on the Beach in Santa Monica? We walked by while visiting the Annenberg Community Beach House, and the place was very busy even at 2 PM on a weekday.

                2. I like Malibu Seafood over Reel Inn. Also, you may want to try the Village Pantry/Oak Room in Pacific Palisades.

                  7 Replies
                  1. re: whatsfordinner

                    re: village pantry - I live there, and I wouldn't recommend it to many, way, Way, WAY overpriced for what you get.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      We're neighbors!
                      I think VP fits the parameters of competent food and casual. The OP didn't mention price.

                      1. re: whatsfordinner

                        Cool! We should get together for a Chowdown!

                        I agree, it fits the parameters of competent food and casual. A little bit of a trek uphill from the beach, but they'd probably drive. But their prices are just a bit too much! And their cold case salads are meh, at best. Heck, I can make a better pasta, potato or cole slaw salad with my eyes closed!! And my husband had the Cobb, which he gets everywhere, and thought it was one of the worst he's had. Just not put together very well and a bit tasteless. I try to stick with basics, and tried the Mayor's burger in the Oak Room one night. It was okay, nothing great, but quite small, you should get more for that price, IMO.

                        1. re: whatsfordinner

                          Price for quality is very important to this hound. I will be sure to mention this factor in future posts. It would be extremely annoying to be served overpriced food, even if it's competently done. My biggest pet peeve when eating out is to pay 3x-4x for food that I can make just as well (sometimes better).

                          1. re: apfb

                            Well, you've just described the Village Pantry and most Palisades places for that matter, to a tee!!

                            1. re: Phurstluv

                              Hey Phurstluv,
                              Have you tried the taco truck that always seems to be parked on Temescal? Galvans maybe? I've passed it a million times and always make a mental note to try it the next time I pass by. Unfortunately, I seem to lose my mental notes and I'm now embarrassed to say I've never tried it.

                              I'm not sure how late they stay but it might be a nice ending to a day at the beach since they park next to the park.

                              1. re: whatsfordinner

                                Don't be embarassed, I have never tried them either!! I'm always slightly suspicious of them, don't know why, but they remind me of those late, late nights leaving the bars in Boston, then smelling the sausage vendors, and choking one down, only to have friends tease me and tell me they're made with rats!!!

                                Anyway, those trucks do seem to feed a lot of workers everyday, so I'm sure they're fine. One, don't know what he calls his truck, even comes up in my neighborhood, to feed the gardeners their breaks and lunches and he always gives my kids free candy bars or french fries! Maybe one day, I will try his tacos!!