Al fresco dining at The Reel Inn in Malibu

Nothing will close down The Reel Inn located near the corner of Topanga Canyon and PCH. Since 1986, the restaurant has survived fires, earthquakes and now the coronavirus. Even though indoor dining is closed, The Reel Inn follows strict cleaning and safety protocols to keep its large outdoor patio dining areas open.


A friendly staff member is stationed at the entrance door to welcome guests, and make sure they are wearing their masks, before being allowed one group at a time to step up to the order window. A glass display case is filled with colorful cuts of fresh fish like monkfish, halibut, swordfish, trout, seabass, salmon, mahi-mahi, ahi tuna, catfish, tilapia, crab cakes, shrimp, calamari steak, lobster and crab.


After placing our order, we received our beverages and walked outside to one of the three inviting al fresco dining areas. Tables are socially distanced with round tables and chairs on a gravel garden patio. Other dining areas offer picnic tables and benches and plenty of umbrellas to keep guests comfortable.


We found a picnic table with padded bench seats in the shade, and noticed it was appropriately distanced from the other 25 diners. When our order was ready, our name was announced over a speaker. We followed the safety directional arrows to pick our entrées at the seafood market counter. The chefs plated a beautifully grilled swordfish with homestyle potatoes and crunchy purple and white cabbage cole slaw. Another plate had a thick piece of grilled salmon with steamed vegetables and cabbage slaw, and the last had fish and chips with fries and cabbage slaw.


It’s not gourmet with fancy sauces, but fresh, and consistently good seafood with delicious sides. Other side choices include mashed potatoes, Cajun rice, steamed vegetables or, for $3 extra, a green salad.

For those who prefer their seafood fried, they have fried fish, shrimp, and oysters. The menu also offers an array of non-seafood items including grilled chicken, chicken tenders, barbecue chicken and lemon chicken entree. Besides fish and shrimp tacos, they also make chicken, and veggie tacos and quesadillas.

Until 3:30 p.m., guests can order huevos rancheros, Cajun snapper and eggs, omelets, tuna melts, crab cake and portobello mushroom sandwiches, as well as the other items on the menu.

They also offer a kids’ menu that includes fish and chips, shrimp and chips, grilled cheese with fries, and butter pasta for $7.95 each.


For dessert, they make a good coconut cake. Beer and wine are available to enjoy with your fare.

When the heat of the summer starts scorching your mood, get in the car and drive to Malibu to cool off. The Reel Inn is one of the best values for an entree with two sides starting at $14.95.

The Reel Inn is open daily for outdoor dining, take-out and the seafood market from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. $$ 18661 Pacific Coast Highway, (310)456-8221.

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