Malibu’s diverse array of eateries reveal their most popular dishes.
By Caroline Thomas/Special to The Malibu Times
From Allegria to Neptune’s Net, Malibu has it all when it comes to dining out–Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Mexican, Italian, Greek and French, to name a few. Malibuites love to eat out and tourists may come for the view but they, too, stay for the food.
Barbara Thomas, who has lived in Malibu for 30 years, says, “Don’t ever get too attached to a local restaurant or store because you’ll turn around and it will be gone.” Her favorite restaurant was Alice’s, which sat on the Malibu Pier that is currently under renovation.
Happily, the current crop of “new classics” are holding strong. The likes of Granita and Nobu have turned Malibu into a serious gourmet contender, and picturesque destinations like Geoffrey’s and BeauRivage are continuing to thrive.
So what’s good and what’s new, and what are the serious foodies ordering these days? Here’s a look at what’s cookin’ at Malibu’s dining hot spots:
Allegria Italian Trattoria–Pollo Erborato: A whole, boneless marinated and grilled chicken served with a balsamic reduction. Finish with Italian ricotta cheesecake with lemon zest and a fresh strawberry sauce.
BeauRivage–Pheasant Perigourdine. Breast of pheasant with fresh black truffle foie gras in Madeira wine sauce. Mediterranean with flare.
China Den–Spicy Green Beans with Chicken in a Mandarin-style sauce served as hot as you like it.
Corral Beach Cantina–Mole Poblano Chicken Enchilada’s. Dark and spicy with a hint of chocolate. A Mexican classic.
Duke’s Malibu–If it’s Tuesday, it’s $1.95 Tacos–choice of four different styles. The favorite on any night is the Parmesan Herb Crusted Opah (an Hawaiian moonfish) served with a lemon caper buerre blanc sauce. You can order it in The Barefoot Bar for half price during happy hour.
Geoffrey’s Malibu–The popular hors d’oeuvre de jour: Blue Crab Cakes. Entre: Tempura Ahi Tuna deep-fried rare with calrose rice, pumpkin seeds and beet oil. The view only adds to the menu.
Granita–Veal Short Ribs, served on a bed of spinach with potato puree. Some regulars special order the spicy horseradish puree for an added kick.
Guido’s Malibu–An unusual bruschetta served on thin pizza dough. Baked Chilean Sea Bass on a bed of garlic spinach with a lemon-caper sauce.
The Grey Whale–The lamb chops special always sells out: Lamb chops with a sundried cherry port reduction, roasted potatoes and seasonal vegetables. The irresistible finishing touch: chocolate crme brulee.
Howdy’s Taqueria–A new item at a Country Mart quickie hot spot: Hawaiian Chicken Salad with mango, tangerine, avocado and a ginger-sesame dressing
The Malibu Inn & Restaurant– “The Spy Who Shagged Me” (don’t be embarrassed ordering because all their main courses are named after popular movies): A salmon dinner with a lobster-butter sauce. Bar/dancing can follow.
Marmalade Caf–Filet mignon chili for take-out by the quart on a wintry night, and tuna tartare, a healthy dish served on a bed of seaweed.
Neptune’s Net–Steamed-to-order local lobster. (Yes, it really is caught in Malibu waters.) Another Net staple: Fish and chips. It’s not just for bikers.
Nobu–Yellowtail Jalapeno: Six slices of yellowtail sashimi with garlic, jalapeno and cilantro in a yuzu-citrus soy sauce. Also popular is the Toro Special: Seared bluefin Toro tuna topped with crispy shitake mushrooms and sugar snap peas drizzled with mirin soy sauce. New heights for sushi.
Paradise Cove Beach Caf–Hot or cold sampling is the way to go here. The Iced Seafood Sampler has seven treats from the sea, and the Hot Preview Sampler has two shrimp dishes, ribs, chicken and calamari.
PierView Caf & Cantina–Clam Chowder, Sesame Salmon, and for a finale: tiramisu cheesecake. Eat on the deck at sunset, if weather permits.
Reel Inn–Tuna dinners and fish tacos made from swordfish and ahi tuna. Tuesday’s taco fest offers two tacos for $3.50.
Saddle Peak Lodge–The chef’s signature dish is roasted elk tenderloin, with bacon wrapped salsify (a turnip-like root), Jerusalem artichoke and a creamy wild mushroom sauce. Meat eaters, don’t forget this unique retreat.
The Sage Room–Beef Bourguignon: Co-owner J.C. says, “The hearty stew is a recipe from my grandmother who is from Burgundy.” The light-style Caesar salad is also a favorite. Mix with wine tasting on Monday nights.
Spruzzo’s–Warm and saucy Chicken Marsala, served with mushrooms, potatoes and seasonal veggies.
Taverna Tony–Baby roast lamb. Tony says, “You don’t need a knife to cut it.” Also, the bountiful Greek Feast with 15 homemade Greek specialties.
Thai Dishes–Tom Ka chicken, the rich coconut milk soup with lemon grass, mushrooms and galanga (a rosy smelling root). Next comes the Pad Thai noodles then karaoke follows.
Tra Di Noi–Branzino: A whole striped bass baked with a fresh herb stuffing and filleted at the table. Another classic is the Risotto Sublime, with wild mushrooms and essence of truffle.
Tutto Bene Ristorante Italiano–Linguini Frutti de Mare. Six “fruits” of the sea including langostino, and their first special for holiday cheer: two for one with coupon, Monday-Wednesday for one more week.
Zooma Sushi–Spider Roll, made with soft shell crab and wrapped with white soy paper or the usual green sea weed–spicy or regular strength and what could be more local and healthy than the California Salad with bean sprouts, avocado, cucumber and romaine lettuce. Visit Toshi at the sushi bar, if you can find a spot.