Big bites at Beachcomber Cafe

The area around the Malibu Pier has seen a great deal of change throughout the decades. Back in the 1960s and ’70s there was the tiki-themed Tonga Lei and the Polynesian paradise known as Don the Beachcomber. We had Windsail and PierView Cafe and who could forget Alice’s?

Alice’s was long a local favorite known for its comfy booths and endless ocean views. Today, you can still drink in that beautiful scenery at the Beachcomber Cafe. The three-year-old cafe and neighboring Ruby’s restaurant are being credited with bringing new life to the historic pier. With a classic 1940s vibe, a sleek outdoor seating area and whimsical bar, Beachcomber is a great place to unwind with one of their signature cocktails after a long day at the beach.

But Beachcomber aspires to be more than just a waterfront hang.

“A lot of restaurants rely on the view and the scenery more than the food,” says manager James Calo who also runs nearby Ruby’s. “We talk to people and want to get feedback. We want to be in tune with our guests.”

There’s also a new chef on board. David Iino, who earned his stripes at well-known establishments like McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, has created a revamped menu with an emphasis on seafood.

Lunch is on the casual side. Appetizers and starters might feature green goddess calamari or clams on the half shell, ahi tacos or Surfrider crab cakes. Salad lovers can tuck into combos like apple, pecan and Gorgonzola with organic baby greens and candied pecans or the Santa Lucia with grilled octopus, calamari and arugula.

After being stoked by a three-point break out at sea, wave riders might kick back with a grilled mahi mahi sandwich or a roasted turkey club.

They kick it up a notch come dinner time with cedar-planked salmon with jasmine rice, free range grilled chicken topped with pineapple Carpaccio and yuzu sauce or filet mignon. Calo’s personal favorite is the lobster and mango martini, which he says is one of the eatery’s most popular menu items. The dessert list is filled with kid pleasing favorites like grandma’s chocolate cake, gimme s’mores and donut hole bread pudding.

For birthdays, weddings and special occasions, the Beachcomber can accommodate private parties. The Surfrider Dining Room offers dramatic views of the coast and Surfrider Beach. There’s also the Tonga Lei room, a cozy tiki-themed corner for groups of 10.

But whether they’re just bopping in for a cup of New England clam chowder or a dinner of tangerine shrimp, this spot on the pier offers something that’s new, yet familiar.

“So many people tell me they used to come here when they were a kid,” Calo said. “It’s full of memories.”

Beachcomber Cafe is open for lunch and dinner. Reservations can be made by calling 310.457.9800.

The Malibu Times is the first newspaper in Malibu, serving the community since 1946.

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