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The Dish: Don’t miss dinner at Coogie’s

Pictured are three vegan pesto quinoa cakes at Coogie’s Natural Café in Malibu.
Pictured is the quinoa linguine at Coogie’s Natural Café in Malibu. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Chris Bashaw, Assistant Editor
2:08 pm PDT July 15, 2014

Coogie’s Beach Café has been a popular gathering place for locals seeking healthy options for breakfast and lunch since 1997. With breakfast and lunch menus together boasting a collection of healthier dining options that can satisfy most cravings, the restaurant has earned its place as a Malibu mainstay.

But by the time the sun begins to slump more toward a golden red horizon, the influx of Coogie’s patrons curiously begins to wane; but what dinner diners who choose other eateries may not know is that they’re passing up Coogie’s 5-10 p.m. dinner menu, which is just as broad, healthy and delicious as earlier menus.

With more than 40 dinner menu items including a number of vegetarian, gluten-free and vegan options, Coogie’s dinner menu includes several “big plate” options not seen on either its lunch or breakfast menus.

Included on this menu are dishes such as pesto chicken pasta, a grilled New York steak as well as an island-style grilled salmon, but a shining example of Coogie’s effort to move its menu in the healthiest direction possible is the eatery’s quinoa linguine.

Coogie’s quinoa linguine is served in a portion that’s neither meager nor too generous. It’s just the right amount of gluten-free quinoa pasta tossed with wild arugula, oven-roasted tomatoes, toasted garlic and goat cheese to satisfy customers’ hunger, leaving them feeling refreshed in the process.

While the “meat and potatoes” of this dish is its quinoa linguine, the star attractions are the full-flavored goat cheese and over-roasted tomatoes, whose unique flavors have a tendency to steal the show.

The dish is both gluten-free and vegetarian, which Coogie’s Co-owner Jamie O’Keefe said was inspired, in part, by local food trends.

“We noticed the trends around here were moving toward organic, gluten-free and vegetarian foods, so we want to flow with these trends and providing dinner options that are still very flavorful,” O’Keefe said. “We always listen to what our guests want.”

Although the $14 dish is vegetarian by default, customers can add grilled chicken and a little bit more protein to the mix for $3 more.

What’s more, Coogie’s permit to extend its hours was approved by the City of Malibu Planning Commission on July 7. The restaurant is now permitted by the City to operate until 11 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, as well as until 1 a.m. on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Coogie’s also received a permit to serve spirits in addition to wine and beer, but O’Keefe said the change is unlikely to occur before the end of summer.

Another dish not to miss:

- Vegan Pesto Quinoa Cakes: For $12.50, this dish is served with three medium-sized vegan pesto quinoa cakes, organic mixed greens, grape tomatoes, cucumbers and scallion. Drizzled with basil oil and a balsamic reduction, the star flavor in these cakes is pesto, which livens up the otherwise normal flavor of quinoa.