Some things are a fact of life in Los Angeles. Intense familiarity with traffic jams (and which roads to take to avoid them), knowing more about crystals and astrology than you ever thought you would, and most of all, a constant stream of visitors. You might only have been here three months, but you’ve probably already heard from your third cousin, a high school friend you don’t speak to anymore, and your best friend’s brother, all wondering if you’re in town and want to hang out. Which is fine, except that now you have to think of something not-terrible to do with these people you barely know. The solution, in almost every situation, is to take them to Malibu Farm.
This casual spot on Malibu pier is an outlier among Malibu restaurants. It’s not the celebrity-infested, glamorous, and expensive place your out-of-town visitor is probably imagining. And while there are a lot of tourists here, Malibu Farm is no tourist trap - it’s entirely charming in a way those enormous generic spots up and down the coast are not.
Malibu Farm actually involves two different spaces. There’s a restaurant at the start of the pier with table service, a longer menu, and most importantly, alcohol, and a counter-service cafe at the end. Both are casual, appropriately beachy, and feel like the vacation house you’ll never be able to afford, and the secret to both is knowing how to do them right. At the restaurant, you get a table outside, the jalapeño cocktail, maybe the cauliflower “pizza” (if your visitors are into cauliflower as a replacement for carbs), and definitely the Malibu blue nachos. At the cafe, go for the crowd-pleasers - the fried egg sandwich, the burger, a nice piece of salmon for your aunt who’s eating healthy today. Nothing you eat is going to blow you away (except perhaps those nachos), but that’s not the point.
The point is, you’re showing your visitors that a Southern California life is the best life, as long as you time your visit to not involve awful PCH traffic on the way home. You’re sitting outside, at the end of the pier, watching paddleboarders fall off their boards, with someone you last had a conversation with in 2009. Which really isn’t the worst way to spend an afternoon.
Fried Egg Sandwich
A super simple choice if you’re feeling in the mood for breakfast. Bacon, a drippy egg, havarti cheese, and aioli. Because this is Malibu, it’s light enough that you could kid yourself you’re being healthy. (You’re not.)
Swedish Mini Pancakes
The owner of Malibu Farm is Swedish, so there’s a little bit of a Scandinavian influence to the food. Who knows what makes these stacks of tiny pancakes Swedish, but we’re all about them.
Grassfed Beef Burger
It’s a burger. Not up there with the best burgers around, but certainly better than many of them. It’s slightly spicy thanks to the pepperoncini aioli, isn’t in any way greasy, but will still fill you up. Note: it comes with mashed potato that has broccoli mixed through it, which is a way better version of sneaking vegetables into your diet than the grated zucchini Mom used to put in bolognese sauce.
Much like the burger, these are good, if not great crab cakes. They’re a good thing to share for a starter if everyone is kinda hungry.
Malibu Blue Nachos
By far and away, the best thing to eat at Malibu Farm. These are near perfect nachos, served over blue corn tortilla chips, in a hot iron skillet, with...nacho stuff. You know, cheese, sour cream, salsa, and whatever else goes on nachos. Order them. Maybe order two.
A perfectly adequate piece of salmon with a tasty, tangy mustard sauce on top. There’s always someone in the group who “just wants something healthy” and this is the way to do it.
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Don’t be fooled by the word pizza - this is mashed up cauliflower in the shape of a pizza, with tomatoes, mozzarella, and pesto on top. It’s one of the things people rave about here, but we’re not really into it. Probably because we’ve actually eaten a carb in the past three years.