You love sunrises, sunsets or just in general enjoy walking along the ocean and breathing in the salty air? Well, what a better way to start or end a day in a nice restaurant along the seashore!
From Europe we are used to numerous restaurants or cafés crowding next to one another along the beautiful Mediterranean shoreline inviting us in for a delicious lunch or dinner. Here in Southern California I was sometimes surprised to find not at all the ubiquity of restaurants that one would expect with these endless miles of supreme coastline. Along Venice Beach for example one finds the quick snack type of restaurant with plastic chairs rather than a restaurant that offers quality cuisine in a nicer setting. There is even a German pub along the Venice Beach boardwalk, which I only entered because of the pretzels, they advertised. I would not willingly go in for a meal since the restaurant doesn’t look that inviting unfortunately. Although the pretzels were quite tasty I must admit.
A restaurant which I have in very good memory and one that has a spectacular view is “Gladstones” in Malibu! On some days you can see the dolphins swimming along the coast while you are sipping your cocktail and slurping your Oysters! Wonderfully relaxing experience!
Another option to enjoy good food while taking in the beach views and seeing the sunset in a cozy ambience is the Cheesecake Factory in Marina del Rey on “Marina Mother’s Beach“. Yes, it’s a chain restaurant, but at least one with an extensive menu of good choices and that in a beautiful setting at night. Torches illuminate the outside all the way to the boardwalk. One doesn’t get open ocean views like at Gladstones but a cozy Marina view.
Shoreline Village in Long Beach makes for a fun outing. Lot’s of things to check out around before stopping in for a Happy Hour at the Yard House or Parkers’ Lighthouse. Enjoy a beautiful sunset over a good dinner with views of the Queen Mary across the harbor!
Speaking of the “Queen Mary“, a visit to the historic ocean-liner-now-hotel is absolutely worth it. Take the tour and you’ll learn a lot about the historic times of great Atlantic ocean liners à la Titanic. Even though the sunsets are stunning aboard the Queen Mary, I wouldn’t recommend to stay there for dinner. A restaurant nearby, Fuego (haven’t been there myself yet, but want to check it out), might be a romantic alternative to dine with an ocean view after having toured the Queen Mary.
Another Long Beach restaurant we like is Claire’s at the Long Beach Art Museum. One doesn’t sit right next to the water while dining but since it is on top of a cliff and a bit set back you can take in great views of the ocean while enjoying an artistic crowd around you. Open for lunch, brunch and Thursday Happy Hour until 8pm. Check the days!
Traveling south our next stop brings us to Newport Beach where The Beachcomber in Crystal Cove invites to ocean front dining par excellence. The restaurant in the midst of Crystal Cove Historic District sits literally right on the beach! So, while waiting to be seated you are encouraged to take a little stroll along the beach. Coming by The Beachcomber always feels like a little vacation!
Following the coastline south we are getting to Laguna Beach where several restaurants have at least partial ocean view but none of them sits practically right on the beach like The Beachcomber. There is Ocean View Bar & Grill located in the historic hotel “Laguna” with a grand terrace above the shores offering unobstructed views of the ocean while enjoying breakfast, lunch and dinner. A fun restaurant we love in Laguna Beach is the Big Fish Tavern. It’s not at the beach but one street away; but since it is on a hill you can enjoy great ocean views while dining on their terrace. And the food is delicious!
In the end, we admit there are quite some fun places to enjoy great food while admiring the shoreline in Southern California. It’s just a matter of finding them. And there are so many more we still need to discover. In fact we haven’t even started to explore all the culinary jewels along the coastline going south all the way to San Diego, with San Diego itself offering plenty of ocean dining options. Therefore, if you know of a restaurant along the coast that you absolutely love, please let us know, so we can include it in our list at the end!
And should you not find the perfect restaurant that suits you after all…, there is always one easy option available : Pack a basket with your favorite foods and have a picnic right at the beach. You’ll get spectacular views for free!
Other restaurants Along the beach in SoCAl:
Coast in Santa Monica within the Shutters Hotel is apparently a good if expensive choice to have an exclusive dinner or brunch at the beach.
Coronado Sheerwater Restaurant at the Del Coronado in San Diego
Photographs: ©CaliforniaGermans (Venice Beach, Marina del Rey, Queen Mary, Laguna Beach)