The Pacific Coast Highway is an oceanside staple of American road trip legend. Along this stretch, you can hit some of California’s best-known destinations including Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and Monterey. For travelers who are planning to traverse this famous route, we put together an easy guide on where you can eat along the PCH.
Driving northwest from Los Angeles, where The Ambrose makes an ideal SoCal home base, you’ll find an array of restaurants on the Pacific Coast Highway, particularly in celeb-studded Malibu.
The Reel Inn is right on the border of Santa Monica and Malibu, and it’s literally right on the Pacific Coast Highway. A classic fish shack with fishing nets and tank tops adorning the walls, it’s an excellent spot for a sandwich with local catches like tuna and shrimp inside. You can also find a nice assortment of fried shellfish here.
Reel Inn Malibu. 22935 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA
Get down-home American comfort food at this favorite LA restaurant located in Malibu. You can stop here for a number of easy, affordable dishes to take on the road with you. We are quite fond of the breakfast burritos, and burgers. The American-Mexican menu is quintessential LA fast eats.
Country Kitchen. 21239 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA
This PCH seafood restaurant in Malibu is known for its simple, no-frills space and some of the best selections of fish in the area. There are so many winners here, including mesquite grilled specialties like trout, and red snapper. There are also pastas, salads, and tacos stuffed with different types of fish.
Fish Grill. 22935 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA
Duke’s is an oceanside restaurant in Malibu located right on the Pacific Coast Highway. Get your vacation vibes here with umbrella-decorated cocktails, and a nice menu of Hawaiian dishes. The menu has a lot to offer including the delectable poke tacos, and the seafood hot pot.
Duke’s Malibu. 21150 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA
V’s Restaurant and Bar is a sleek and upscale restaurant that serves New American dishes and a variety of specialty pizzas. The vibe is super modern, and shared dishes like the portobello fries, truffle mac and cheese, and wild mushroom flatbreads are quite popular.
V’s Restaurant + Bar. 22821 Pacific Coast Hwy. Malibu, CA
NEAR SANTA BARBARA
The American Riviera is one of California’s quintessential coastal regions, with lush mountains cascading into the sea. Stay along the famous Santa Barbara beachfront at Hotel Milo, and enjoy some of the region’s best cuisine, just off the Pacific Coast Highway.
Moving north to Santa Barbara, the number of amazing restaurants near the PCH continues to grow. The Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach is a classy seafood restaurant that serves brunch and offers panoramic ocean views from its outdoor patio. Come here for shellfish, beers, fried seafood, and an amazing bloody mary.
Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach. 2981 Cliff Dr. Santa Barbara, CA
While it is north of Los Angeles by a couple hours, Santa Barbara is still Southern California, and it’s absolutely home to an excellent Mexican food scene. La Super-Rica Taqueria is one of the favorites near the highway, and you can look forward to its fish tacos and tamales.
La Super-Rica Taqueria. 622 N Milpas St. Santa Barbara, CA
Located on a marina near Hotel Milo in Santa Barbara, Brophy Bros. is one of the most popular seafood restaurants in Santa Barbara. Everything here is fresh and caught locally, and the bloody marys and brunch menu rivals that of the aforementioned Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach.
Brophy Bros. 119 Harbor Way. Santa Barbara, CA
Add the Santa Barbara Shellfish Company to the list of exceptional seafood spots near the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Barbara. This is another spot for seasonal, fresh-caught local seafood, ocean views, outdoor seating. It’s also located in a wonderful setting on Santa Barbara’s famous Stearns Wharf.
Santa Barbara Shellfish Company. 230 Stearns Wharf. Santa Barbara, CA
Located right next to our own Hotel Milo, Sambo’s Restaurant is a local favorite and one of the best diners you can find in Santa Barbara. Come here for breakfast at any time of day, and be sure to try one of the many varieties of fresh-made pancakes here. The chicken-fried steak is also a favorite among regulars.
Sambo’s Restaurant. 216 W Cabrillo Blvd. Santa Barbara, CA
Monterey, just northwest of the jaw-dropping curves of Big Sur, is an ideal stopover on your California Road Trip. Here are a few of our favorite places to eat near Sanctuary Beach Resort.
This beach-chic restaurant inside Sanctuary Beach Resort draws guests, locals and passersby to its ocean-facing dining room for wood-grilled seafood and regional produce. Chef David Barton’s locally-inspired cuisine varies on the season, and includes a rotating menu of West Coast oysters.
Salt Wood Kitchen and Oysterette. 3295 Dunes Dr, Marina, CA
Heading further up the coast and the PCH, Monterey is home to even more seafood restaurants and other nice spots. The C Restaurant + Bar has a magnificent wall of windows as the focal point of its contemporary design. The seafood-focused menu is both forward-thinking and of a high quality.
The C Restaurant + Bar. 750 Cannery Row. Monterey, CA
Chart House is an upscale collection of steakhouse-seafood restaurants, and the Monterey location provides an elegant atmosphere and magnificent coastal views. Come here for a big, expensive steak, lobster, and some wine sourced from the world-renowned Central Coast region of California.
Chart House. 444 Cannery Row. Monterey, CA
This popular and bustling spot has an older beach aesthetic with dark wood walls, and chairs and views of the water. Its well known for its house-made clam chowder, as well as a large menu filled with other seafood favorites sourced from the neighboring Monterey Bay.
Old Fisherman’s Grotto. 39 Fisherman’s Wharf. Monterey, CA
Located on Del Monte Avenue, near the Pacific Coast Highway, Monterey’s fish house is located in a rustic house, where the staff serves homey seafood entrees and sweet desserts. The calamari parmesan, calamari steak, cioppino, and BBQ baby octopus are all can’t-fail dishes from the sea here.
Monterey’s Fish House. 2114 Del Monte Ave. Monterey, CA
Dos Victorias Mexican Food is a simple and exceptional Mexican eatery near the PCH in Monterey. Come here for easy-to-take staples like tacos, burritos, and enchiladas. If you had a late night in Monterey, rest assured that Dos Victorias can take care of you with all-day breakfast burritos.
Dos Victorias Mexican Food. 299 Cannery Row. Monterey, CA