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LA

Review

Jakob Layman

Broad Street Oyster Co.

$$$$
Written by
Jakob Layman

“Pop-up restaurant” could refer to anything. Maybe it’s a stall at Smorgasburg, or a grill in a Northridge backyard, or a one-night-only dinner served inside someone else’s restaurant. No matter what (or where) this pop-up is, it’s usually a dry-run for an actual restaurant - a low-stakes way for a chef to iron out all the kinks and experiment with dishes before making the leap to the big leagues.

But when a pop-up does convert to a full restaurant, anything could happen. Some open, realize too late they were better off in that backyard, and then disappear into the abyss. Others are like Broad Street Oyster Company. After a few years criss-crossing LA, this pop-up has grown up, with a permanent space in Malibu, a near-flawless menu, and an atmosphere that makes you feel like you’re hanging out with Jimmy Buffett’s roadies. If anything, it’s pretty close to our ideal seafood spot.

You wouldn’t know any of that when you pull up to Broad Street. You might not even know it’s a restaurant. It’s tucked down a corridor in Malibu Village - a mall on PCH where you’re more likely to be run-over by a drunk Mel Gibson than find a kick-ass seafood shack. But once inside, you’ll forget you’re eating next to a SoulCycle. There’s a fantastic view of Malibu Lagoon, thrift store paintings of grizzled old sea captains on the walls, Budweiser flags hanging from the ceiling, an old bamboo-roofed beach bar, and, of course, a stocked beer fridge.

But most importantly, there’s a raw bar behind the counter filled with oysters, mussels, poached shrimp, uni, and whatever else is in-season. Sitting in here feels like you’ve just joined a secret society of hard-partying, oyster-shucking pirates, which probably explains why they’ve got $2 Bud Heavies during Happy Hour. If you enjoy a party - or ever wondered “What would happen if Spicoli from Fast Times At Ridgemont High was really into seafood?” - beat a path directly to Broad Street.

Jakob Layman

When you order at the counter, you’ll see a huge, hand-scribbled menu of specials on the wall. There will be cross-outs, additions, and almost definitely a couple misspellings, but this is still a great place to start. We won’t go into each dish, because some - like tiny river crabs from Japan, grilled spiny lobsters, live spot prawns, an entire box crab, and, our favorite, the ominously named “fish bits” (fantastic, fried, fatty hunks of salmon head and fin) - are only available in-season, but just trust us that you can’t go wrong with anything on this portion of the menu.

The same can be said about most of the permanent menu, starting with the seafood tower. The standard version includes a dozen oysters, live uni, and six massive poached shrimp. It gives you a taste of all their best raw dishes and can easily be split three ways. You’ll want the anchovy duo, as well - two kinds of anchovies served with grilled bread and butter - and the clever highbrow/lowbrow pairing of caviar and Cape Cod potato chips. Ordering a hot lobster roll is also non-negotiable. Like all the best versions, its success lies in its simplicity: Broad Street’s is nothing more than big hunks of lobster and hot drawn butter on a perfectly toasted hot dog bun.

That hot roll, by the way, is our preferred version here - the mayo on the chilled roll masks an awful lot of the sweet lobster. There are other dishes that need some tweaking, too. The mussels, for example, come in a flavorful garlic wine broth, but are dotted with needless dollops of mayo that cancel out their briny excellence. And, as you might have guessed from the location in a high-end Malibu mall, a meal here can get expensive. But there’s a secret to keeping your bill down: Come on a weekday. Broad Street does an amazing all-night Happy Hour, with $2 beers, fantastic $10 crab cakes with huge amounts of blue crab, and $10 off those seafood towers.

We get it. A trek out to Malibu from just about any part of LA is a pain, and it may be inconvenient to sit on PCH during rush hour, but even when Broad Street was just a pop-up, they were worth seeking out. Now that they’re all grown up, you shouldn’t think twice about making the trip. The best parties are always worth the effort.

Food Rundown

Jakob Layman
Seafood Tower

If there’s anything more satisfying than scraping the meat out of a still-moving sea urchin, we don’t know what it is. OK, it’s also a bit terrifying. Either way, there’s urchin on this tower, in addition to everything else Broad Street does well. One version’s $65, and the “Admiral” - which adds snow crab claws and caviar - is $135. We usually go for the cheaper one, but if you want to splurge, or feel like transforming into Jack Nicholson in The Departed, go for the big boy.

Jakob Layman
Hot Lobster Roll

You won’t find many $22 lobster rolls in Maine, let alone Los Angeles. And that price - along with the massive hunks of lobster claw and tail - is why we love this hot buttered one so much.

Jakob Layman
Spiny Lobster

Served seasonally, this is a damn fine grilled lobster. As good as it is though, it’s probably too expensive to justify ordering, unless you’re a One Percenter who emerged from your castle in Carbon Canyon specifically for this meal.

Jakob Layman
Anchovy Duo

This isn’t the most attractive dish here, but you can use that to your advantage. Eat it all before the rest of your table wises up to how good this plate of bread, butter, and canned fish is.

Fish & Chips

Sure, it’s basically a big fish stick (made from lightly breaded halibut). But it’s the best fish stick, especially with the accompanying house-made, caper-filled tartar sauce.

Clam Chowder

Anytime you can find both massive hunks of pancetta and massive, whole littleneck clams in your bowl, you know you’re eating some good chowder.

Beach Burger

Just because you’re not coming here for the burger doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. And we’d probably tell you to come here just for this burger, anyway - it’s simple, with American cheese and shio kombu, seaweed that gives it a tiny hint of ocean-y flavor.

Caesar Salad

You’re going to need vegetables sooner or later, so you might as well have them covered in anchovies, lemon breadcrumbs, and cheese in this great version of a Caesar.

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