Birds were singing, flowers were twirling and sunshine was sprinkling between the clouds, but most importantly, cottontail bunnies were stomping among the gardens. It was a perfect day for Easter Sunday, and it was time to rally up the family once again for a hearty holiday feast. One of my brothers flew in from Texas, another drove up from Newport Beach and then my parents from OC corralled them into a vehicle to meet me in chillin’ Isla Vista.
For those of you who relate to what I am about to say, I empathize with you dearly. My family deserves the heavy gold medal for taking an infinite amount of hours agreeing on a restaurant to dine in. By the time we reached the place, I really did not care if it was my first or last option, considering any scraps of food would cure my “hangry” behavior.
My family, however, had the entire drive this time to make up their minds, so my dad suggested the Malibu Café the moment he squeezed me into a bear hug. My brothers immediately exchanged glances, and I knew exactly what they were thinking: Why would they drive two hours north to just seat ourselves in a simple, boring café?
We have all heard the phrase “don’t judge a book by its cover,” which is exactly what we did, but seriously, do not make the same mistake; some places are drop-dead extraordinary, which was what I learned about Malibu Café. We meandered through the skyscraper hills of Malibu and shimmied between the trees to finally arrive at this diamond-in-the-rough country kitchen and bar. As my dad tossed the keys to a handsome man valeting our car, I was in shock to have discovered a fancy operating valet hidden deep within the trees of Calamigos Ranch.
As we sauntered to the entrance, my chin was held high. We gaped at the bubbling, bright greeting, “Howdy!” hanging upon the arched tunnel entwined with leaves and snaking vines. We practically floated through to the end of the tunnel to find ourselves tucked into a country wonderland. Reservations were highly recommended, but somehow we scored the golden ticket and got seated within 10 minutes. Little did we know a humongous Easter brunch buffet awaited us at a whopping cost of 50 bucks per person. Yes, my friends, a café was $50, but I promise this was not just any café. It was the golden egg at the Easter egg hunt, folks.
I had never dreamed of wanting a longer wait time at a restaurant in my entire lifetime until the moment we were escorted to our table. Twinkle lights were strung across the sky like pearled frosting on a red velvet cake. Fireplaces, lounge chairs, benches and wooden tables scattered across the lawn for a good time. Rainbow-colored umbrellas floated above our heads in one area as if we were in the streets of Portugal (my ultimate favorite). A life-sized chess and wooden Jenga game, an outdoor bowling lane and a rowdy game of corn hole projected waves of excitement into the experience of Malibu Café, where families and friends giggled and bonded for hours. An Easter bunny plopped itself upon a throne awaiting pictures with families and jolly children. To top it all off, a live band splashed sweet melodies up into the clouds while bars slid out cocktails and beers across the countertops.
When we walked into the dining area, it was a feast for the senses. There was an arrangement of scones, muffins, fruit, yogurt, granola and salmon with cream cheese on one side. On the other lay sausage, potatoes, scrambled eggs, build-your-own omelets and turkey with a plethora of assorted condiments and dips to choose from. Even a roasted pig was sprawled out as the centerpiece of this hearty buffet! The meal even came with a complimentary paddle boat ride located at the entrance. The line was swarming with guests so, sadly, we did not get to enjoy this experience at what the restaurant calls “Lake Love.”
I encourage everyone to walk away from this article knowing that you must visit Malibu Café. A special thank you to my dad for dragging us to such a gem of a restaurant. You finally did it this time, big man.