As I carried my plate full of crispy-battered pieces of fish and a mound of steaming French fries made its way to my rustic outdoor table I eagerly sat down in anticipation of my first Malibu Seafood experience. Located just about one-and-a-half miles north on PCH Malibu Seafood is a regular stomping ground for many Waves.
This uniquely run restaurant doesn’t open until 11 a.m. Rumor attributes the late-morning opening to the fact that prior to this hour the owners are out on the open sea making their catch for the day to guarantee their customers the utmost freshness. The attached fish market opens an hour earlier for those who wish to pick up their sea critters and cook in the comforts of their own homes. This small store also includes cookbooks and seasonings to accompany the shellfish and fresh slabs of fish being sold.
Before about a year ago I was adamant about not eating seafood. It never appealed to me. Clams were chewy and gritty; shrimp had that gross digestive tract running its length; crab didn’t have enough flavor for its cost; fish tasted like licking the bottom of a ship. Recently though these taste buds of mine have taken a turn for the better and learned the beauty in exploring new cuisines. All the foods at which I had previously turned my nose have become mountains of food adventures calling for me and my travel-sized utensils (what? Don’t you carry a set with you everywhere you go?).
Malibu Seafood boasts a pretty impressive menu of items less than $10 and while I was tempted for go for the “squid steak sandwich” or the “fried oyster sandwich I was won over by the classic fish and chips. Since it only came in at $5.45, I decided to go crazy and get an 8-ounce cup of $3.85 clam chowder too, which they advertise as being freshly made each day. Forgive me, dear readers, but the tax put me over the $10 budget by 49 cents. Curse you, fiscal responsibility.
My friend and I situated ourselves in the upper patio area and enjoyed our magnificent view of the sapphire-colored Pacific Ocean as we waited for our number to be called. I have no complaints about meal. I topped the golden fried fish with malt vinegar and tartar sauce and embarked on a seafood sojourn of the soul.
Never again will I judge any food item before giving it a fair chance. French fries are a weakness of mine, and these thick-cut spuds didn’t fail to impress. Even though I only ordered one piece of fish, I was in desperate need of some elastic-waisted pants before I even hit the chowder. But I, of course, dug into it anyway, pushing myself over into a certified food coma.
After a full-fledged debate about whether crunchy or squishy fries are better (mushy wins, obviously) and a solid comparative conversation about the fish and chips in New Zealand, Ireland and America, I left Malibu Seafood feeling (forgive the cliché) happy as a clam.In retrospect, this semester’s food review undertaking has proved entirely fruitful (or at least full of cheap eats of mostly wholesome but sometimes questionable quality). We’ve scavenged and searched the hills of Malibu high and low for tasty treats on a dime, and we’ve learned a lot along the way.
Hands down, Waves can count on the most bang for their buck by hitting up Ralphs and getting creative with whatever food items happen to be on sale. There’s just no better value, even though the restaurant atmosphere gets sacrificed and you get a pile of dirty dishes instead of a bill.
Close behind Ralphs for value comes Jack in the Box, which also holds an important nostalgic spot for many a Pep student. The winner for tastiest sub-$10 meal goes to Woodlands Indian cuisine, with Malibu Seafood in close second.
The sad truth remains, however, that Malibu is just not the place to be for close-to-campus inexpensive food. But keep your eyes always open, frugal foodies, for there may be more hidden Malibu gems where you can eat food, not funds.