Food with a View
Laid-back dining on the Pacific Coast in Malibu
AH, MALIBU. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Los Angeles but its relaxed beach-chic vibe makes you feel like you’re in another world the minute you arrive. In fact, The ’Bu, as locals affectionately call it, might as well be its own island. As you drive west along California’s Pacific Coast Highway from Santa Monica, Malibu is marked by 43 kilometres of beautiful beaches and multimillion-dollar homes situated impossibly close to the ocean. For all its beauty, it can be a culture shock for first-time visitors. It’s rustic and extremely casual, which surprises many. Unlike Beverly Hills, it’s not glamorous and glitzy; nor does it have the hipster vibe of LA’s Silver Lake or Los Feliz. While Malibu commands some of the highest house prices in the United States, locals don’t really flaunt their wealth. Once they leave the long driveways of their gated coastal retreats with unusually high walls, you can spot them in ripped jeans or tracksuit pants. Dressing down is akin to a religion here.
With a population just shy of 13,000, Malibu is like a small town with quaint, sometimes ramshackle mom-and-pop stores on one side of the highway. On the other side are sexy, world-renowned restaurants such as Nobu. Long-time residents have mixed feelings about commercial developments in their town. Sure, they love not having to travel to Beverly Hills or Brentwood for a special meal but they’re also desperate for Malibu not to lose its breezy, almost hippie aesthetic. But the times they are a-changin’, albeit slowly, in this place that epitomises the Southern Californian dream.
22706 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu noburestaurants.com Make no mistake, getting a table on the deck here is the hottest ticket in town. As you come up Nobu’s stone-paved driveway, you may think you’ve accidentally driven into a luxury car dealership, with Bentleys, Ferraris and Aston Martins lined up outside. Paparazzi perch along the low brick wall, eyeing the valet area like hungry seagulls, waiting to see who exits the vehicles. Expect to queue, no matter what time of day you arrive.
Situated on Carbon Beach, otherwise known as Billionaire’s Beach, Nobu has views from almost every vantage and the food is well above par. Must-try dishes include the black cod with miso and the yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño. Or just go omakase (let the chefs decide) while you relax with a Sunset Spritzer and take in that view – either of the glistening Pacific Ocean or the crowd, both of which are fabulous.
22878 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu malibubeachinn.com With executive chef Cody Dickey at the helm and an outlook that takes in Malibu Pier, CBC (formerly Carbon Beach Club) at Malibu Beach Inn is an idyllic spot for lunch or dinner. Start with the grilled octopus served with capers, olive oil and lemon zest or the Instagram-worthy ahi tuna tartare. As you settle in for the evening and the beach below is flooded with light, enjoy the luscious
Paddock-to-pier dining at Malibu Farm Cafe (opposite)
Nobu’s Peruvianinspired white fish tiradito (left) and perfectly positioned deck with the most coveted tables in town