From the owners of The Sinclair comes one of Fairfield's newest eat-and-drinkeries: Malibu Taco. The indoor/outdoor space recently opened its doors to the Post Road just north of downtown close to Beach Road, and CTBites stuck our head in just long enough to have a few - yes - bites, and a drink or two at the bar. Here's a quick intro to what Malibu is bringing to the county seat.
Step up from the sidewalk onto Malibu's raised patio on a nice enough day or evening, and there's practically no need to go inside. Glass fencing blocks a bit of the rush of cars from Route 1 without spoiling any views, and servers buzz back and forth to the tables through the open door which makes up most of the front wall. Breezes blow through and wash over the U-shaped bar just inside.
Colors are simple inside the space: white furniture with blue padding, matte prints of piers and other seaside scenes, hanging basket lamps (the one over the bar reminding me of a taco salad shell) - patrons could be forgiven for opening their eyes inside and thinking they were in a tiny bartaco, down to the wood of the bar top. The only real design departure between the two is the tall wall o' booze which takes up the vertical face at the base of the bar, and looks more "the club" than "the taco place." Overall, it's a welcoming atmosphere, and the open kitchen showcases both fresh fruit and the oven in which much of the food is made.
Taking a seat at the bar, I started with an enjoyably smokey, snappy mezcal mule served in the obligatory copper mug, and scanned the menu. Malibu, the city, is where people who got rich off L.A.'s movie and music businesses come to live on picturesque cliffs overlooking the Pacific. It is not, therefore, either East L.A., or Mexico, and Malibu Taco bar's menu reflects the not-Mexico of its namesake. Do not expect this taco place to be a taqueria. That said, the offerings are a mix of influences. The tacos range from sliced sirloin with chimmichurri, to black eyed pea falafel, chorizo, Japanese lentil, and pastrami reuben, to select a few of the varied options. I began with an appetizer of grilled pineapple chunks, which arrived in a good portion, drizzled in lime tajin (dried lime juice, chili pepper, and salt) pineapple syrup. They were delicious, and given just a touch of spicy edge by the tajin.
Tuna poke, chicken soup, peaches and shishitos, and cauliflower fundido dip round out some of the small plates to start with or pick at while you enjoy your drink. Most cocktails start at $11.50, which seems a bit steep, but both the mule and the vodka infused sparkling lemonade I tried were good enough to justify themselves if you're sufficiently immune to sticker shock.
The menu makes sure to to note the "stone oven" baked quesadillas, which appear to be cooked in something resembling a pizza oven, and are thus served open faced. I figured since Malibu went to the effort to reinvent the quesadilla it was incumbent upon me to try one. Searching the menu... kale and shrimp, no... lamb, pork and curry beef, no... fried chicken and cherry peppers, no... Do they have grilled or pulled chicken? No, but here's a bacon, egg, and cheese quesadilla with everything bagel seasoning that could be good for brunch, but no...
OK, how about a simple cheese and salsa quesadilla? Yes, that would be a trusty and useful yardstick. It arrived resembling for all the world a pizza from Colony down the street, spread over with pico de gallo, which was a separate item on the menu, but maybe that one is different if you order it. I'm still not sure. The tortilla was crispy, agreeably toasted by the oven, and the cheese was both a nice mixture, and liberally applied. The salsa/pico was fresh, and gratifyingly shot through with the occasional chopped jalapeno to keep the whole affair interesting. It was good, and it would also need to be for ten and a half dollars. Fairfield, man.
First blush: Malibu is about a sense of place. It is a relaxed, breezy atmosphere where the patio hangout, the bar, and the crowd are the main attractions. The food, curiously chosen in its variety, but attractively presented in every offering I observed, may require further investigation. They just opened, so now is your chance.
Malibu Taco Bar, 1177 Post Road, Fairfield; https://malibutaco.com/; (no reservations)