The view from Nobu Malibu is magnificent. Tables run along the front balcony of the restaurant, which rises above the sandy beach and lapping waves. Every view is an ocean view -- to the north, south and west -- and every hour is the right hour for a visit. At lunch, the light blue sky rests on the brilliant blue sea. People stand and sit on the edge of the Japanese garden, listening to soulful samba, waiting for the doors to open at noon. Come for dinner and catch one of the world's most beautiful sunsets. What to order: Tai sweet shiso with red snapper and crispy shiitake mushrooms. 22706 E. Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu; 310-317-9140.
Meals at Coast aren't just enjoyed by guests of Shutters on the Beach. Plenty of locals have found this treasured spot, which cozies up to the boardwalk. This is a popular place for brunch, especially if you're lucky enough to get any of the three booths hugging the sand. Because the restaurant is slightly sunken, it feels as if you're in a fish bowl or submarine looking out at the joggers and people passing by as if they were interesting marine life. These are the seats to score. Although only Shutters guests can make brunch reservations, general manager Christopher Roman says he and his friendly staff will try their hardest to accommodate requests for the booths. What to order: lemon ricotta pancakes with fresh berries. One Pico Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-458-0030.
Standing on traffic-y, twisty Sunset Blvd., you might not suspect that Cliff's Edge offers a hidden oasis of calm on its back, two-level patio. In the center, a massive Ficus tree holds court, surrounded by oversized, empty clam shells and candelabras, of all things. The tables form a horseshoe around the tree, and the second level of seats looks like a long hut perched above, with bamboo shooting up and a pond in the back. In the far corner, the chefs work behind a window into the kitchen, and toward the front is a little service bar, which transforms into an oyster station every Thursday night, also known as Oyster Night. From 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., the little guys are $1. Buckets of champagne, piles of lemons and platters of crushed ice and oysters appear alongside specially created oyster-friendly cocktails. What to order: oysters. 3626 W Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles; 323-666-6116.