The Sunset (Restaurant) — on Zuma beach in Malibu

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by Deborah Shadovitz

Each time I drive into Malibu I feel as if I’ve entered another world. The drive up the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) is magical thanks to it’s calming blue water as traffic (finally) melts away. Taking the Las Virgenes Road exit off the 101 and travelling the twists and turns through Malibu Canyon provides another relaxing trip full of textures and vistas.

Soaking up the majesty and serenity of the Pacific from a window-wrapped room. Taking in calm, undeveloped beach. Seeing sunny days, sunsets, the ocean’s vast darkness. Enjoying fabulous food and excellent service. Feeling comfortable in a casual atmosphere. These are some of life’s finer pleasures. Lucky for us, they’re right within reach — at The Sunset Restaurant, right at the sands of Zuma beach.

The Sunset is an unassuming beachy-looking two-story building off PCH.
It’s the only building around, off the beaten path.
When you walk in, you don’t think “elegant” or “fancy.” You think “comfort.” Yet there’s an easy elegance and you sense something special. Your fellow diners may be dressed to the nines, or they may be just off the beach in casual attire.

The food at The Sunset is the same. It isn’t set out to be elegant or fancy; it’s simply exquisite. And the pricing isn’t can-you-afford-me costly. In fact, every entrée on the regular menu is under $20. (The regular menu is online.) And while they have a full compliment of wines, through some savvy shopping by General Manager Ray Byrne, they offer a Quartino of Wine (⅓ bottle) for just $5, enabling you to discover a new wine each time you dine.

Now about that food…
For an opener, their Arugula salad is a mix of tastes to tantalize. Thinly sliced sweet pink lady apples, and a taste of Humboldt fog cheese join pickled red onion and apple cider vinaigrette on locally grown organic arugula while roasted beets top the treat ($12).

As a seafood appetizer there’s raw oysters (6/$15), shrimp (6/$16), king crab (½lb/$18). Another option is a platter that easily serves four and includes all that, plus mussels and lobster salad ($68)

Soup and Sandwich takes on a whole new meaning at The Sunset. For the winter, the soup is a Butternut Squash so light and creamy it feels like velvety mousse. The “sandwich” is an open spread of Duck Confit — perfectly blended duck, caramelized onions, dried cherries, French brie, and whole grain mustard — on a baguette, topped with brie. ($16)

We’re all encouraged to eat salmon a few times a week. Their Pan Roasted Salmon will keep your taste buds from being bored for sure. It’s served on a bed of beans (yes beans). Catalini, cranberry and romano beans cooked with just a tad of butter, create a healthy and surprisingly flavorful sauce. Grilled foccacia toast laid on top of the Salmon adds a crunch and is terrific when it soaks up the sauce. ($20)

Another fabulous dish is the lamb special newly introduced for this winter season. It starts with sliced roasted Delicata Squash atop which sits a mix of Beluga Lentils, finely diced apples and fennel that create a taste like no other, causing me to relish the taste of every single lentil. On that, sit four perfect double-cut lamb chops. Yet, Chef Gil Vasquez’s inspiration for it was simply his grandmother’s northern winter family meals ($34).

For desert I recommend the Chocolate Lava Cake which is sure to deliver flavors you can’t quite place because it’s topped with Aztec chocolate ice cream, toasted and seasoned hazelnuts and homemade Nutella powder ($8). It’s perfect for sharing.

I’d like to be able to say I’ve had everything on The Sunset’s menu — and I’m working on that. Meanwhile, every Sunset dish I’ve had has been perfection.


Something fun nearly every night

  • Wednesday is Karaoke
  • Thursday from 5-7 is free wine tasting with live jazz
  • Friday is dancing to live classic rock

There’s also a private room upstairs for special events, and an entire large event room. And something unique: The Sunset is the only place in So Cal where you can get married on the sand.


Restaurant Details

6800 Westward Beach Road Malibu CA 90265 TheSunsetRestaurant.com Tuesday – Friday 5-10pm (Happy Hour 5-7pm) Saturday and Sunday 11am-10pm Closed Mondays Parking is $3 Reviewed November 2009


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