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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.

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  1. 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.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wienermobile

      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....

      1. re: wienermobile

        thanks, wiener, it looks like either NN or Malibu Seafood is exactly what I am looking for! Will check out the others as well..., tho i am not quite up for rattlesnake sausages, i'm afraid!

        1. re: georginamntn

          The rattlesnake & rabbit sausage is really very buttery, mild and not gamey at all, My teens love their sausages. They usually offer over a dozen different sausages at a time. Give it a try.

          1. re: wienermobile

            The fries can be very good too. The beer mostly Belgian or German - good ones - and a few well selected US brews (less Pabst).

      2. "...is Duke's horrible?"

        We went not so long ago http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867897 and it was definitely not "horrible" for us.

        1. 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.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Dirtywextraolives

            Thanks, dirty. Nobu is beyond us at present, but more importantly, I think it would be lost on our boys. I realize Mexican is different in L.A., and, I dare say, much better. Will check out menus. Thanks so much!

          2. A big huge +++++ for Neptune's Net. Your guys will love it.

            2 Replies
            1. re: laliz

              It sounds actually really right for us. We will check it out!

              1. re: laliz

                although neptune's net is a really pleasant place to sit and have a beer on a sunny day and people watch, the food is straight outta meh-ville at best.

              2. 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.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Ogawak

                  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.

                  1. re: Ogawak

                    Settebello looks perfect! thanks so much!

                    1. re: georginamntn

                      If you make it to Settebello, wear your UCLA Bruin gear. The owner is a former Trojan football star (j/k)

                  2. Taverna Tony is not talked about much, but this is my favorite in Malibu along with Nobu and Malibu Seafood. It serves Greek, Mediterranean and the grilled octopus is devine.
                    23410 Civic Ctr Way
                    Malibu, CA 90263
                    (310) 317-9667

                    Moonshadows is super-great to catch the sunset on many a-gorgeous day, but the food is mediocre and inconsistent (it has been off the chart before, but no sunset better.

                    Geoffreys Malibu has an OutStanding View and good food, brunch is a happy place for me.
                    27400 Pacific Coast Highway
                    27400 Pacific Coast Hwy Malibu, California 90265
                    (310) 457-1519

                    Duke's is not horrible, just touristy seemingly without authenticity, with this said, the Huge turnover in food makes their menu quite fresh.

                    Welcome to SoCal.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: CharlesKochel

                      +1 for Taverna Tony. No view, but very pleasant patio and great food.

                      In Pasadena near Cal Tech, Cafe 140 South on Lake is always reliably good - their hamburger is really very good (they char the burger over an oakwood fire), and their grilled artichoke is fantastic. I've also heard good things about Abricott but I haven't been.

                      1. re: CharlesKochel

                        I was going to suggest Taverna Tony's...especially if it is a nice warm evening....but it has no ocean view and is, as a result, less touristy, with more Malibu locals.

                        1. re: CharlesKochel

                          Geoffreys looks amazing on the website, but it annoys me that there are no prices on the menu. Really hate that....

                        2. At this time of year, I'd make sure to have an early dinner in Malibu...I think the sun sets around 630? Personally, I don't like eating on the ocean after dark - the giant black void of the sea freaks me out a little.

                          Having said that, I'd eat at Malibu Seafood around 5 pm.

                          1. If the fam likes Thai food, I think Cholada is a great lunch or dinner spot on the PCH. Not fancy by any means but really good food.


                            1. Nobu just moved to the beach so you can now have a view there. I also love Taverna Tony - even if you are not a fan of Greek food. Their patio is especially nice and quieter than the restaurant. Cholada has good Thai and it's a fun place. The Reel Inn is decent and fun - long communal tables. The seafood is good for L A but not as good as seafood on the east coast. Geoffrey's is more serious but the food is good and it's very pretty. Your boys may enjoy sushi on Sawtelle in West L A. It is a street of mostly Asian restaurants.Sushi Stop has all sushi at 2.50 so you can order many varieties and still have a small bill. Uncle Bill's in Manhattan Beach (not far from the Marina) is great for breakfast.