Malibu’s bougie reputation is well-earned. Greetings, Lamborghini outside of Nobu. But the the Pacific Coast Highway has also long catered to the road-trippers and surfers who transverse this iconic stretch of pavement, and Malibu’s beach bum heart remains amongst the seafood shacks that dot its coastline. Here is your guide to the classic cheap eat spots on Malibu’s PCH.
Arguably the #1 stop for any PCH traveler, this 60-year-old roadside seafood diner is a California classic and a true throwback to the 1950’s Americana you probably romanticize. Despite the hoards of travel-book tourists now waiting in line, you can still count on Neptune’s providing absolutely prime people watching and a fantastic cup of clam chowder before heading back home to reality.
The only true “seafood shack” on this list, Malibu Seafood is owned and operated by actual commercial fishermen and that equates to probably the freshest seafood served on the coast. Quick and easy and often passed-over by tourists, Malibu Seafood is the perfect stop on the way home from a long day of beach volleyball at Zuma.
Another PCH classic, Reel Inn is only a few minutes drive from the Santa Monica downtown hellscape. Though Reel Inn has only been around since 1986, it’s become a go-to. The food is fresh and well-priced and their “cajun style” is something you need in your body.
Love it or hate it, there’s no denying the very special allure that Paradise Cove possesses. Yes, you’re gonna have to pay for parking and yes, you should never come here on the weekends, but where else can you eat your lunch on a privately owned beach with your feet ACTUALLY in the sand? Sure the food is mediocre, but you come to Paradise Cove for everything else.
Duke’s has been a long-time staple in the Malibu fine dining scene, but their attached Barefoot Bar is where the fun is at. With its own separate menu, daily drink specials ($3 beer on Tuesdays) and a classic outdoor deck overlooking the turquoise waters of the Pacific, Barefoot is the perfect city escape for any day of the week.