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Neptune’s Net serves up surfside classics for half a century

Pictured is the fried seafood platter at Neptune’s Net, which features calamari, shrimp, clams, scallops, fish and crab cakes on a bed of french fries, served with homemade coleslaw and cocktail and tartar sauces. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Pictured is the steamed seafood platter at Neptune’s Net, which features steamed crab legs and shrimp, served with broccoli and corn on the cob. Photos by Chris Bashaw/22nd Century Media
Ashleigh Fryer, Senior Editor
2:11 pm PDT March 10, 2014

The westbound drive up Pacific Coast Highway toward the Ventura County line boasts a lot of iconic Malibu views that have remained virtually unchanged for decades — idyllic blufftops, legendary surfbreaks, rolling hills and Neptune’s Net.

The surfside seafood joint has been around since the 1950s and has changed ownership three times since, according to general manager Margaret Lee whose parents purchased the restaurant in the early ‘90s from Paul and Dolly Seay. 

The original restaurant consisted of a patio and small indoor eating area with a kitchen that served up burgers, sandwiches and fried seafood classics. The Seays added on second component to the eatery: an area where guests could order from a wider menu of fresh seafood options.

“Structurally, it hasn’t changed since,” Lee said. “That’s probably why people love it so much.”  

But, it is Neptune’s Net’s staple from the original kitchen, the fried seafood platter, that brings guests through the doors of the unassuming, cement, paper plate and picnic table-adorned roadside eatery year-round.

Comprised of gratuitous amounts of fried calamari, shrimp, fish, clams, scallops and crab cakes atop a bed of french fries, the fried seafood platter requires a sizeable appetite and the aide of a few friends. Homemade cocktail and tartar sauces and a tangy, sweet coleslaw accent all the different flavors and textures piled high on the platter.

But, Lee insists the high caliber taste of the restaurant’s fried options is rivaled by that of the healthier steamed items featured on their menu, most of which they source from nearby Santa Monica fisheries.

“We’re known for the fried stuff,” Lee said. “But people would be surprised at the variety of some of the healthier things we offer.”         

In addition to serving guests with all different preferences and appetites, Neptune’s Net has also become a favorite stopping point to an interesting mix of people, both regular locals and out-of-town passers by.

“It’s definitely eclectic — surfers, out-of-towners, bikers,” Lee said. “It’s the kind of location that brings in all kinds of people.”

It just so happens that the “location” Lee spoke of exists along one of the most coveted stretches of shoreline on the West Coast. While some restaurant owners might say that operating a restaurant that is accessible from only one road, far from the center of town, is the least desirable situation, Lee, her family and their predecessors know that that is one of the secrets to Neptune Net’s success: a great meal served with a great view.”

“We’re on the Ventura side of Malibu. It’s not easy to get to from any side,” Lee said. “But, year-round, as long as the weather is good people love to take that drive up PCH.”

Other dishes not to miss...

• Clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl — This dish features homemade clam chowder served in a freshly baked, in-house sourdough bread bowl. 

• Steamed seafood platter — This dish features steamed Alaskan King crab legs and jumbo shrimp and is served with steamed broccoli and corn on the cob.