SURFSIDE SUPPERS ALONG THE CALI COAST
Curated by Trina Hendry
A cruise up (or down) the California coast along Highway 1 is one of most breathtaking drives you'll ever encounter, and should be on everyone's bucket list, in our opinion. We prefer to do the drive south so that you are hugging the beach the entire time. Along the way, there are some incredible seaside restaurants that are guaranteed to leave you as happy as clam. So, when you're ready to fuel up for the long winding road ahead, here's where we recommend you go, from San Francisco to San Diego. Bon appetit!
SUTRO'S AT CLIFF HOUSE
1090 Point Lobos, San Francisco, CA
Sutro’s is a stylish yet casual restaurant with two-storey windows and stunning panoramic ocean views that showcase the famous Seal Rocks, the Sutro Bath ruins, entry to the Golden Gate and the most beautiful west-coast sunsets. Guests dine on a seasonal menu of fresh seafood prepared with local ingredients. Signature dishes include Thai-style Bouillabaisse, Bacon-crusted Scottish Salmon, and Pan-roasted Alaskan Hailbut.
SAM'S CHOWDER HOUSE
4210 N. Cabrillo Hwy., Half Moon Bay, CA
Nestled on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Half Moon Bay, Sam’s Chowder House offers stunning sunsets, true oceanfront al fresco dining, and a casual and authentic seafood experience reminiscent of an East Coast-style seafood house. Voted “Best Seafood in the Bay Area” by the 2017 San Francisco Bay Area A-List, and named “Top Three Outdoor Dining Spots in the Bay Area” by San Francisco Magazine, Sam’s serves lobster, crab, fish and chips, fried calamari, fresh oysters and clams and its famous Lobster Roll, recently named one of the five "Best Sandwiches in America" by NBC-TV’s The TODAY Show. Yum!
48510 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA
Perched on the edge of the continent, Nepenthe Restaurant, is a little slice of paradise that has served as a haven for poets, artists, travelers and vagabonds for nearly 70 years! Guests old and new take in the majestic views that only Big Sur can serve up, while enjoying Lolly's Roast Chicken Dinner, a tradition that dates back as far as anyone can remember, or the famous Ambrosia Burger, a six-ounce patty topped with a mixture of mayo, tomato sauce and mild chili salsa...the ambrosia of all ambrosias, we dare say!
SANTA BARBARA SHELLFISH COMPANY
230 Stearns Wharf., Santa Barbara, CA
Located on Santa Barbara's historic 1873 Stearns Pier, the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company's quaint shack, which originally housed a buying station for locally harvested shellfish is a local favorite - unpretentious with the freshest seafood in town. Dine al fresco on the deck, where you can watch the sun set over the mountains or plop yourself down at the counter where you can watch the chefs prepare the day's specials, like Dungeness crab or spiny lobster. Popular items include the Steamed Local Crab, the Crab Sandwich, and the Fried Calamari, Oysters, Shrimps and Scallops. Finger-licking good!
BOATHOUSE AT HENDRY'S BEACH
2981 Cliff Drive, Santa Barbara, CA
Full disclosure: We picked this place because of its name, which just happens to be the same as our editor! All kidding aside, the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach has the most spectacular ocean views and the best seaside happy hour in Santa Barbara. Lobster Mac & Cheese, Steamed Clams and Mussels, Street Tacos, umm, yes please!
42505 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
When we moved to Los Angeles in the winter of 2015, Neptune's Net was one of the first places we ventured to at the recommendation of a friend who suggested we drive up the coast to have lunch followed by an afternoon of sunbathing at El Matador State Beach. A California landmark, it's eclectic crowd of bikers, tourists and locals gather to take in the stunning ocean views while enjoying some of the freshest seafood you'll find along the coast.
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, CA
Ah, Malibu Farm! For farm-to-table cuisine and the best views in Malibu, this is where you go. Located on the Malibu Pier, Malibu Farm consists of two restaurants - the full-service restaurant at the start of the pier and the counter-service cafe at the end of the pier. While both a delightful, we prefer the more causal vibe of the cafe. Crab Cakes, Cauliflower Pizza, and Iced Almond Milk Lattes coming right up!
1602 Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica, CA
The original The Lobster opened in 1923, but it was a dishwasher named Mateo Castillo who worked his way up to owner in 1950 that established The Lobster as the “seafood shack” made forever popular by LA residents and tourists alike. Having stood the test of time, The Lobster continues to serve one of Santa Monica's finest seafood dinners. And, it's adjacent to the neon sign that welcomes you to the Santa Monica Pier, lending itself to colorful people watching, gorgeous sunsets and panoramic ocean views.
23 Windward Avenue, Venice, CA
Surfside Venice is the place to kick back, enjoy a few cocktails and escape the loveable madness that is Venice Beach. Situated in the iconic building that formerly housed Danny's Deli, a local meeting place for the Venice Beach community, Surfside steps things up a notch by using local produce and sustainable seafood, and by running an eco-friendly business, which is so appropo given its location steps from the ocean. Fave dishes include the Fish & Chips, Korean Fries, and their selection of flatbreads.
100 Terranea Way, Rancho Palos Verdes, CA
If hanging out at a resort and watching the whales frolic in the sea below is your thing, Nelson's is your slice of heaven. Located in the casual chic, and oh so lovely, Terranea Resort, the comfort-food-centric, eco-friendly eatery sits on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, where between November and April you are sure to spot grey whales as they migrate up (or down) the coast. Grab a pint of microbrew to wash down the delectable Bait & Switch seafood platter you will enjoy, watch the sunset, and don't forget to ring the bell when you spot a whale or dolphin!
HARBOR FISH CAFE
3179 Carlsbad Avenue, Carlsbad, CA
Perfectly placed beside the Pacific Ocean and with plenty of outdoor seating, Harbor Fish Café serves up great seafood, a relaxed SoCal atmosphere, friendly service and amazing beach views. The daily catch includes Lightly Battered Fried Fish and Chips, Spicy Fish Tacos, Fried Clams, as well as grilled fish dishes, a catch-of-the-day, and a crowd-pleasing Clam Chowder.
1403 Scott Street, San Diego, CA
Mitch's Seafood, established in 2008 by three families with a long history of fishing in the Point Loma area of San Diego, specializes in fresh seafood from the waters off San Diego. Located on the waterfront with a view of the working fishing fleet, Mitch's offers an array of fishy delights, including a vast selection of Baja-style Seafood Cocktails, a raw bar, grilled market fish, tostadas, fryer baskets, a Fisherman's Stew and a Shrimp Boil.