If you should make your way out of Los Angeles and towards Malibu, stopping at Dukes is a must. Located on the ocean just over the Malibu border, the restaurant is positioned in such a way that with its enormous windows diners at every table enjoy breath taking views of the ocean. Avid visitors to Hawaii have compared the views and feel of the restaurant to that one would encounter in a place such as Maui (the restaurant is named and dedicated to Duke Kahanamoku the “father of International surfing”. The food is delicious and is primarily seafood and American menu. Dukes is famous for its hamburgers and nacho appetizers but also is known for its Calamari, shrimp and fish dishes. Waiters wear traditional Hawaiian button up shirts and the vibe is far from touristy but an authentic mix of Malibu locals and Angeleno’s looking for a relaxing meal.
Duke’s is definitely a food staple to the Los Angeles scene. However its one of those places where Angeleno’s either know it or they don’t. Those that explore their city and brave the freeways to get to the PCH are familiar. Any given visit to Dukes and one will feel a relaxed atmosphere with cocktails at almost every table and customers in designer flip flops, button up short sleeve shirts and shorts. Even those who don’t get a table by a window get amazing views. About once an hour a high wave crashes into the rocks that serve as a buffer between the restaurant and sea creating a spectacular white mist that splashes the large windows.
Should the restaurant be full, or, if you want to still experience Dukes but at a cheaper price, go to the Barefoot Bar adjacent to the restaurant. The Barefoot Bar also has spectacular views of the ocean and Santa Monica in the distance. Unlike the more refined dining area of Dukes the Barefoot Bar has TVs, more rustic seating areas and a focus more on cocktails and hamburgers and nacho appetizers. However the Malibu, beach-surfer vibe is alive and well.
Ideally Dukes should be enjoyed for lunch or brunch primarily because of the stunning visual appeal the restaurant provides of the ocean. However the food is good and if time only permits will be good for dinner as well.
Parking at Dukes is primarily by valet only. The Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) out front can be insanely busy, and, if a spot can easily be found take it. However its safer to actually pull into the parking and pay the extra $5 fee for the valet than risk the craziness of the PCH.
Getting to Dukes is easy. Take the PCH north from Santa Monica about nine miles. It will be on the left hand side. Keep your eye open as speeds on the PCH can top 60 MPH and you will want to give ample time to slow down to make the left turn in.