Having the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop is almost cheating when it comes to building a beautiful restaurant. The folks who designed Malibu Pier Restaurant and Bar had an even bigger advantage: The raw material they were working with was the gorgeous, vintage building that sits on the 109-year-old Malibu Pier. The design is still incredibly impressive. It's nautical chic at its best, a whitewashed dream of a beachfront restaurant. The main dining room's tiled floors and wooden walls are offset by subtle modern touches: Some light fixtures are made of rope and filament bulbs, while others have shades that look enamel but are made of pottery. There are Dennis Hopper photos of Jane Fonda while she was shooting Barbarella in the '60s, and a bar that looks like a cozy nook on a ship, except for the rainbow-colored Richard Phillips surfboard behind it adorned with a sultry California girl. The look of the restaurant honors every part of Malibu's charm, from 109 years ago to the present day. —Besha Rodell
23000 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, 90265. (310) 456-8820, malibupierrestaurant.com.