Very often, an image of the beach is one of the first that comes to mind when one thinks of the word "vacation." Going to the beach is the ultimate way to relax; stretching out with a good book or a great beer on a towel or a chair as you take in the salty sea air and nice breeze. Beaches can offer sweet waves, a romantic getaway, or even just a chance to stretch your legs. The best way to relax on the beach, however, is with food.
Some of the world's best beaches offer up spectacular views, amazingly clear waters, and the chance to truly unwind and relax your mind and body. At The Daily Meal, however, we believe in exciting the taste buds. Not only does a beach locale mean top-quality seafood is a near certainty, but there's something about the relaxing atmosphere of salty air, a nice breeze, and basking in the sunshine that can make a meal extra-delicious. While you should probably avoid drinking while on the beach itself, drinking at a beach restaurant is a different case, and many of these offer a serious cocktail game.
In order to determine which beach restaurants are the country's best, we started by combing through our own previous rankings, including our 25 Best Beach Bars in America. We then took a deep dive into existing rankings and review sites to get an idea of which beachfront establishments are the most renowned and well-loved according to both locals and tourists. Above all, we looked for restaurants with a beautiful dining room, a high level of culinary skill and creativity, all-day dining availability, a great bar program, a varied menu, fresh and seasonal ingredients, a high level of service, and of course, a spectacular view. Located at many of America's most popular beaches, these beach restaurants are the best in America.
Back on the Beach Café (Santa Monica, Calif.)
Back on the Beach is as SoCal as it gets, and you can enjoy all three meals sitting on the beach or staying indoors. Breakfast, which is served until 3:00 p.m., includes entrees such as North African shakshuka (house-made lamb sausage with eggs, tomato and pepper stew, and feta cheese), their Back on the Beach egg sandwich (fried egg with bacon, aged cheddar, avocado, arugula, and tomato aioli), and all kinds of omelets, scrambles, and breakfast pastries. For lunch, you can order one of their many salads, such as the Marion Davies Salad (organic greens, cranberries, candied pecans, blue cheese, and lemon vinaigrette), or fried shrimp tacos, a house-roasted turkey sandwich, or even a house-made quinoa burger. Dinner options include zucchini frittercakes, grilled rainbow trout filled with herbs and lemon with summer vegetables and pee wee purple potatoes, and Mary's Half Chicken, a crispy-skinned chicken served with mashed potatoes, cream corn, and roasted vegetables.
The Beachcomber at Crystal Cove (Newport Coast, Calif.)
Located right on the beach at Crystal Cove, the Beachcomber is a gorgeous seaside spot in Southern California. Try the mahi-mahi spring rolls served with a mango avocado salsa, their tiny ahi tacos, or even breakfast specialties such as their coconut-macadamia pancakes and steak chilaquiles (a flank steak braised in guajillo sauce and served with corn tortillas, cotija and cheddar cheeses, sour cream, avocado puree, and diced tomato and green onions).
Bill's by the Beach (Gulf Shores, Ala.)
Enjoy some freshly caught seafood at Bill's by the Beach where the restaurant implements a Gulf Wild tag system that will tell you just when, where, and even how your seafood was caught, as well as the exact path it took to get onto the plate in front of you. With a robust wine list and a cocktails and spirits menu, Bill's by the Beach serves an impressive weekend brunch in addition to their main menu with amazing entrees such as oyster Bienville (fried oysters on Gouda and white cheddar crostini topped with a house-made seafood Bienville sauce) and Rudy's signature shrimp and grits (half a pound of local shrimp that's been Creole-spiced with heirloom tomatoes and house succotash over course-ground cheese grits), as well as steaks, tacos, salads, and more.
Bill's By the Beach/Yelp
The Circle at The Breakers (Palm Beach, Fla.)
Beach restaurants tend to have a reputation for being more casual due to their location, but you can still enjoy a seaside meal among the swankiest décor and service at The Breakers Palm Beach, where you can wake up to an amazing meal at The Circle. One of the best brunch spots in America, the Circle is gorgeously decorated with 30-foot ceilings covered in frescoes and eight murals in the Italian Renaissance style, but its outside views aren't to be overlooked either, with beautiful palm trees and calming ocean waves. Find a beautiful buffet of hot and cold breakfast and brunch items, including crepes and omelets made to order.
Coast Guard House (Narragansett, R.I.)
Catch a stunning view and a taste of some delicious raw oysters at Coast Guard House, a Rhode Island restaurant that has been running since 1940. Enjoy a nice seafood meal or juicy burger and have a cocktail made with New England spirits in the restaurant or out on the deck where you'll get to take in the Narragansett Bay in all its glory.
Descanso Beach Club (Avalon, Calif.)
Located on beautiful Santa Catalina Island, the most underrated destination in California, Descanso Beach Club means amazing food and a fun time thanks to fantastic weather, a full ocean view, and a great menu. Cabanas and tables require a reservation, but the bar is open for those who don't have one, with all sorts of margaritas, cocktails, wines, and beers on the menu. Try some sea salt fries or a delicious sandwich or burger, which you can enjoy along with a live DJ or band on the weekends.
Descanso Beach Club/Yelp
The Dining Room at Castle Hill Inn (Newport, R.I.)
Another spot with a spectacular view of the Narragansett Bay is Castle Hill Inn, a hotel with a splendid, upscale restaurant called The Dining Room. The best hotel restaurant in Rhode Island, the elegantly decorated Dining Room has floor-to-ceiling windows so that you can enjoy the waves along with your meal, which can include dishes such as sliced Angus beef tenderloin and braised beef rillettes with fingerling potatoes and foie gras nage or passion fruit soufflé with Sichuan pepper shortbread and banana sorbet.
Frenchy's Rockaway Grill (Clearwater, Fla.)
Frenchy's Rockaway Grill is great for a family meal, located right on the beachfront where you can get an outdoor seat to soak up the sun and take in some deliciously fresh seafood and Floribbean cuisine. Live music from local artists is featured daily, and the kids' menu features fried shrimp and grouper nuggets in addition to chicken tenders, grilled cheese, and cheeseburgers. End your meal with a Beach Brownie Blowout: a homemade walnut brownie served with cookies 'n cream ice cream and topped with caramel, hot fudge, whipped cream, and nuts.
Hogfish Bar & Grill (Stock Island, Fla.)
Enjoy the best of the Florida Keys at Hogfish Bar & Grill - serene ocean views, fresh seafood, strong tropical drinks, and live music on the weekends. Don't leave without trying the blackened hogfish fajitas, and make sure you try their signature Hogfish Sandwich in which the delicious fish is covered in Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms on Cuban bread.
Latitudes at Sunset Key Cottages (Key West, Fla.)
Another seaside fine dining experience, Latitudes is the signature restaurant of Sunset Key Cottages, one of the many beautiful accommodations in Key West. Dine by the light of the tiki torches set up on the beach or inside the Ernest Hemingway Room, a classy spot decorated with photos of famous former residents of Key West. The menu here is ever-changing according to the season and what's available, but always makes sure to include tropical fruit and locally-sourced fresh seafood. A reservation is required, as well as "country club casual" attire if you're stopping by for dinner.
Manhattan Beach Post (Manhattan Beach, Calif.)
The menu at Manhattan Beach Post changes according to the seasons, but it's still always categorized by breads, vegetable dishes, seafood dishes, meat dishes, and "Charcuterie, Cheese, and Sumthin' Sumthin's," with each dish meant to be its own entree and not just a side. Five beers on draught and 12 bottled beers have also been chosen for the menu, each representing a region or style, as well as 10 hand-crafted signature cocktails, 30 different wines by the glass, and 100 different bottled wines. Located right on the beach, this is the right place to relax and enjoy some good food, drinks, and relaxing beach waves.09
The Marine Room (La Jolla, Calif.)
A beautiful and chic restaurant, the Marine Room can become quite the dramatic setting at high tide when the waves come crashing against the windows as you enjoy your meal. Specializing in fine dining that stars fresh seafood and globally-inspired flavors, you'll find dishes on the menu such as rooibos tea-spiced wild baja prawns, macadamia-coated Faroe Island salmon, five-spice kurobuta pork cheeks, and pomelo ginger-lacquered organic tofu.
The Marine Room/Yelp
The Marshall Store (Marshall, Calif.)
Enjoy a cold brew and fresh oysters right on the dock at Tomales Bay in northern California. The Marshall Store offers oysters from a farm just up the road in addition to other local seafood, smoked meats, sandwiches, and delicious clam chowder.
Jordan Jackson S./Yelp
Michel's at the Colony Surf (Honolulu, Hawaii)
Dine at the most romantic restaurant in all of Hawaii, which is located at the foot of Diamond Head, giving guests breathtaking views of the ocean waves which can literally be heard from the tables. Michel's menu is full of French-inspired cuisine such as filet mignon au poivre, lobster bisque, and yellowfin tartare, which you can enjoy along with live classical guitar to accompany your meal. Finish off with desserts such as local bananas with dark rum or cherries jubilee both flambéed tableside.
Moonshadows (Malibu, Calif.)
The famed oceanfront Moonshadows sits atop a cliff overlooking the ocean, offering a serene dining experience as well as the Blue Lounge, one of the best beach bars in the nation. Enjoy dishes full of fresh seafood and American, Asian, and Italian flavors as you sit out on the deck or relax indoors. Evenings bring about live DJ music and blue mood lighting as well.
Nikki Beach (Miami Beach, Fla.)
Nikki Beach is a beach club with quite a few locations throughout the globe, but its South Beach location is particularly well-regarded not only due to its gorgeous setting but also because of its impressive offerings. You'll find a mix of flavors on the menu, representing the many countries where you'll find a Nikki Beach, from Mexican and Italian appetizers to sushi rolls to seafood entrees. An extensive drink menu also accompanies the food, and the beach club is known to have Rosé Saturdays for lovers of this pink wine. The party keeps going here at night, too, where guests can enjoy live DJ music right on the beach.
North Beach Bar and Grill (Tybee Island, Ga.)
The easternmost point in Georgia, Tybee Island is a beautiful locale where you'll find North Beach Bar and Grill, a delicious restaurant serving soul food full of seafood. Order some mouthwatering jerk chicken that's been marinated in rum, lime, green onions, and plenty of spices or have a delicious sandwich, burger, or crab cakes. While enjoying your flavorful lunch or dinner, you may also get the chance to enjoy some live music as you kick back amongst the ocean scenery.
Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar (Carolina Beach, N.C.)
Enjoy the Carolina coast at this lively restaurant and bar which gives stunning panoramic views of the shoreline along with delicious seafood and drinks. Attend one of Ocean Grill and Tiki Bar's summer tiki shows featuring a live band every Thursday night and take advantage of the tiki cocktails on the menu for a truly relaxing getaway by the Atlantic.
Ocean House Restaurant (Dennis Port, Mass.)
Overlooking the Nantucket Sound, Ocean House Restaurant is an elegant dining spot with a beautiful ocean view and a New American menu that's been given a pan-Asian flair in terms of flavor. The menu is as delicious as it is varied, with dishes such as roasted Spanish octopus, wagyu beef sliders, miso five-spiced pork chop, pad thai, and New England lobster ravioli.
Paradise Cove Beach Café (Malibu, Calif.)
Rent a chaise lounge, a double beach bed, or even a beach terrace at Paradise Cove Beach Café, a great spot to enjoy surf and turf both on the menu and on the beachfront. Share an iced or hot seafood sampler or try their famous tacos (fish, barbecue chicken or prime steak, shrimp, red crab, pulled pork, or smoked pork belly) with a fresh fruit boba rum drink or one of their Super Duper 3 Scooper Häagen-Dazs Gourmet Milkshakes. Kids can enjoy anything on the main menu or something from their own, such as slider burgers, fish and chips, and hot dogs.
Phil's Fish Market & Eatery (Moss Landing, Calif.)
All your seafood cravings will be thoroughly satisfied at Phil's Fish Market & Eatery, which serves everything from pasta, sandwiches, and tacos filled with delicious fish and seafood to steamed little neck clams and both New England and Manhattan-style clam chowder. Their signature dish, cioppino, is often the star here, however. A stew made up of tomato broth with mussels, clams, calamari, crab, scallops, prawns, and white fish, you can enjoy it in a bowl, bun, or BYOP (Bring Your Own Pot) to take it to go.
The Rusty Nail (Cape May, N.J.)
A local favorite since the 1970s, The Rusty Nail is a surfer bar and restaurant located at the Beach Shack, a wonderful Cape May hotel. From May through December, you can enjoy a delicious meal and live entertainment right by the ocean. A firepit outdoors is available for the summer days whereas an indoor fireplace will warm you up during the colder months. Bring the whole family to enjoy their classic beach menu - dogs included with a special doggie menu just for them!
Salty's (Seattle, Wash.)
Salty's Seattle location is right on Alki Beach, serving up the best all-you-can-eat deal in the state for its weekend brunch, which has an amazing buffet filled with Washington state Dungeness crab legs, Alaskan snow crab legs, seafood chowder, peel-and-eat prawns, salt-crusted salmon, and more among a wide variety of pastas, eggs Benedict, cheesy bacon hash browns, fresh omelets, and other brunch classics. Dedicated to sustainability and featuring a stellar wine selection, it's also a great pick during the rest of the week, when you can enjoy Northwestern seafood, aged charbroiled steaks, and other dishes, desserts, and appetizers among the salty Seattle air.
Spago (Wailea, Hawaii)
Located at Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, Spago's Hawaii location is among Yelp's top eats in the nation. Delicious Hawaiian-influenced entrees and snacks combined with a gorgeous view of the ocean makes for a fantastic dining experience.
Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge (Cannon Beach, Ore.)
Located on the oceanfront of gorgeous Cannon Beach, Wayfarer Restaurant & Lounge is a great place to take in the stunning view while filling up your stomach. Take to the outdoor summer deck or the glass-enclosed lounge as you enjoy the Pacific Northwest cuisine full of seafood and fresh vegetables. The restaurant is also not too far from Indian Beach, one of the best beaches in America for avoiding crowds.
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