California’s Best Ocean-View Restaurants
With 840 miles of coastline, much of it breathtakingly scenic, California naturally has a large number of ocean view restaurants. These range from simple snack-shacks right on the beach to exquisite culinary destinations. Here are five of the very best, the restaurants that combine gorgeous views with unforgettable food.
Since winning Food & Wine’s Best New Chef Award in 1998, Trey Foshee has called San Diego home, and has garnered plaudits for the strong regional quality of his creations. He has a strong relationship with one single family farm whose produce he judges to be superior, and he says that his menu revolves around what that farm is able to produce. Being close to the water and close to Mexico, George’s at the Cove specializes in dishes that reflect these two sources of ingredients. One of George’s signature dishes is “fish tacos,” which is a casual name given to an extraordinary highwire feat of creativity. These feature the freshest fish, together with mango salsa and jalapeno creme fraiche.The wide open view of La Jolla Cove and the cliffs to the north can be enjoyed from the outdoor terrace or the indoor restaurant with floor-to-ceiling windows. If you’re outdoors, you can hear the seals bark and sometimes even hear a whale call!
The mingling of modern French cuisine with the California sensibility yields a casual elegance with the flavors of the sea. The restaurant is set out on an oceanfront bluff of Laguna Beach, with sweeping views and lush natural landscaping. The craftsman-type building is made to give the impression of an oceanfront cottage, with the dial turned all the way up to deluxe. Chef Craig Strong focuses on locally sourced fruits and vegetables, as well as fish. He encourages diners to place their choices in his hands, as he will select a tasting menu constructed from many small dishes, just for them.
Part of what Geoffrey’s offers is the cache of being in the heart of celebrity culture, at one of Malibu’s most luxurious watering-holes. Its rich history began in 1948, and it was a favorite of many stars throughout the decades, including Marilyn Monroe and Frank Sinatra. The valet parking and overall gorgeous presentation of the food is enhanced by the outdoor patio seating, although every seat in the entire restaurant has a panoramic ocean view. Menu options at Geoffrey’s reflect its tradition, presenting more classic choices and fewer experimental chef’s creations. The menu offers such tried and true classics as “Surf n’ Turf” and “Caesar Salad,” but fans of this destination restaurant testify that each classic dish is handled with graceful confidence.
The Navio, looking out over a golf course onto the wide ocean, is famed for its world-class brunch. It does also offer dining options, but its brunch (about $250 for two people) is famous throughout California. Champagne and a trio of different caviars, lobster and unlimited oysters and sushi, roast lamb and bananas foster: the list goes on. Some reviewers have commented that they ate for three hours! Navio is less oriented toward the ocean views than some restaurants, but the Half Moon Bay Ritz Carlton is itself perched out on such an unbelievable point that taking a stroll there or staying overnight will provide you with a truly incredible oceanside experience.
The Point Reyes area is a truly remarkable part of California, and Nick’s Cove Inn and Restaurant is a destination that is removed from all the urban hustle. The abundant farm produce in the Tomales Bay neighborhood and fresh seafood are combined into daily menus that change with the season. The glass-walled deck allows every table to have a view of the bay, while providing warmth and protection from California fogs. Their specialty is crab mac and cheese, and their website tells the hour of sunset so that you can make a reservation for exactly the right moment.
These five restaurants offer you a culinary tour of coastal California, tasting the best that the state has to offer and feasting your eyes as well as your taste buds.