NYC family of four - Malibu and elsewhere
Me and Pops and our two teenage boys are coming to L.A. next week 3-26-31. Staying in Marina del Rey. I went to UCLA a thousand years ago, so am vaguely familiar with locations. I was thinking our first night we would drive Sunset or Mullholland to PCH and have dinner in Malibu. Where? SoCal ambience, view, good food. Sea Lion is no longer; is Duke's horrible? Where is better? Moonshadows and Gladstone's - too touristy? The 16 year old and I will be touring Caltech - where for quick lunch before or after our tour in Pasadena? I think we will do Venice/Santa Monica one day, and it seems from the boards that Mercado is the place and the boys like Mexican. We will also likely hit the Getty downtown and Griffith Park/Observatory. Any suggestions truly appreciated.
Most of the places you've mentioned are just fair at best. The best food in Malibu is Nobu and is right on the ocean. You may like Neptune's Net http://neptunesnet.com (just a fish shack across from the beach with a great California feel), or Malibu Seafood.http://www.malibuseafood.com
The Getty Center has very good food in both it's Cafe and
Restaurant. You might also want to explore the great Wednesday Santa Monica Farmers Market on 2nd and Arizona Streets.
In the Marina Del Rey- Santa Monica-Venice area I recommend Gjelina, A-Frame, Mendocino Farms, Lemonade, Huckleberry, Bay Cities Italian Deli, Superba Snack Bar, Umami Burger & Wurstkuche (for their great one of a kind sausages including my favorite rattlesnake and rabbit).
Welcome to LA.
I think I'm alone on this, but I don't find Mendocino Farms that interesting. My sandwich there (a curried chicken?) was somewhat dry and not particularly flavorful. If you need some quick and that's respectable in taste, it fits the bill (and it's close) but otherwise....
I went to Paradise Cove once or twice *many* yrs ago (about 10 yrs ago, I think?). It's significantly further north but seems more isolated (in a good way) and less touristy.
Would Bay Cities be that interesting to some from NYC?
Agree w/ the other recs (aside from Superba and Wrustkuche, which I've not been to).
Duke's isn't horrible (the food is actually fine), but it's *very* touristy. Beautiful location, but I imagine the trek up from MDR might be painful on, say, a Friday.
Near(ish) to Griffith Park, I like Square One for brunch/lunch.
If you do a search for downtown (clarifying lunch/dinner, rough amount you want to spend, etc), you should get a LOT of results....
Agree with wienermobile that the best food in Malibu is at Nobu, which is Japanese, and pretty expensive, though a really gorgeous place on the sand. Most of the others you mention are quite touristy and fair to poor at best. Duke's may be a bit better than fair, but again it's quite touristy as it is right on the beach.
Don't know your budget, so will hold off on suggestions, but the list above is a decent one, with varying degrees of cost.
Also know that Mexican in NY is a bit of a different or I should say more Americanized animal, than the vast variety of Mexican we have in LA. Check out online menus before committing to a place that may not serve the type of Mexican you or your family is used to or expecting so as not to be disappointed.
Nobu's would be the best choice, but Geoffrey's is right on the water and not horrible. While you're out there, you might try Grom for gelato.
My favorite place in Pasadena near Caltech would be Settebello for some of the best Neapolitan pizza. Pie N Burger is also an option. Also Daisy Mint for pan-Asian.
Near the Griffith Park observatory is Thai Town, for Jitlada, Sapp Coffee Shop, Hoy Ka or Sanamluang.
Farther south along Western is Korea Town for great Korean BBQ at Park's.
Park's BBQ is wonderful. Some of the best cuts of meat in LA cooked at your table with Korean flavors. It is not that far from you the day you go to the Observatory.
Also Ricky's fish tacos (a stand that moves around the city, check his twitter for hours and location) for some of the best fish tacos you'll ever eat. Lunch only on weekends.