Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Reel Inn at Malibu: A Piece of Heaven, with Beer and Seafood

(originally posted at Ventura Craft Beer Examiner on April 29, 2010)

The Reel Inn is just what you want a seaside fish and beer shack to be: "a rustic, casual place to grab some fresh fish and a brew after a day at the beach." It's almost a miracle that such places still exist. The Inn is located at the southern end of Malibu, where Topanga Canyon empties out onto the Pacific Coast Highway.

Courtesy of the Reel Inn Facebook Page
The menu is extensive, featuring fresh-caught fare such as ahi tuna, mahi-mahi, salmon, tilapia, red snapper, and halibut, all of which are on display while you wait in line. You place your order, they throw it on the grill, and then it's yours, with two sides and some coleslaw. There's also fish and chips, fried shrimp and scallops, and the dish that made the Reel Inn famous 28 years ago: "epic" fish tacos.

An assortment of popular bottled beers and five draught beers are available, the best of which is Newcastle Ale. Brewed in the north of England, where the Tyne meets the sea, Newcastle is a brown ale, made with a combination of light and dark malts. Because fewer hops are used in the brewing process, the taste is less bitter and more creamy-smooth. Hops are the bright green, cone-shaped female flowers from a climbing herb called humulus lupulus in Latin.

While the Reel Inn is a cozy mellow place in the winter -- Herman Melville might have felt at home here -- it's crazy and busy on the weekends when the sun is out and the crowds are getting their tan on. Luckily, the Inn provides weekend valet parking, so if you don't mind a bit of a wait, parking's not a problem.


And it's worth the wait. The view from the outdoor dining patio is magical. As a hawk lifts off the cliffs of Topanga Canyon, one is transported back to the days of the condor, when the Hokan-speaking people of Malibu met their Shoshone-speaking pals from the Valley to trade fish stories and crafts, and enjoy the sound of the surf. Coincidentally, that's what humaliwo (shortened by Spanish and English speakers to Malibu) means in the local dialect. Topanga translates as "close to heaven" in the Valley dialect, and that's where you'll be, with a pint on the patio of the Reel Inn.




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