Don't wait in that long dinner line slowly snaking into Moonshadows in Malibu. Waltz right into this pretty shorefront restaurant and go for a seat in the Blue Lounge outdoor patio or the separate tiny, ocean-overlooking balcony bar. Here's your decision: Stretch out on one of the Blue Lounge's beach-y white Naugahyde daybeds (free of charge, but you must share if you've got room) and enjoy a kick-ass view of incoming ocean curls? Or perch on bar stools directly above the lapping waves in the cozy, seven-stooled open-air balcony? Once settled, enjoy a Brasserie du Bocq wheat beer and a bar appetizer such as Dungeness crabcake with saffron aioli. Some nights, an otter who plies this stretch of saltwater puts on a show, diving below the waves and then surfacing beneath Moonshadows' specially aimed floodlights to inspect what he's nabbed from the bottom — a small crab, perhaps. He balances his treasure on his stomach, then joins you, munching on an appetizer of his own. —Jill Stewart

20356 Pacific Coast Hwy., Malibu, 90265. (310) 456-3010,

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