When asked about his new Food Network Show, Beach Eats USA, celebrity chef Curtis Stone responded simply: “It’s a bloody dream job.” High praise indeed coming from a man who not only runs his own restaurant, but has also served as judge on Top Chef Masters. “I get to travel the entire country and eat delicious food on the beach."
And while a cross-country beach tour with the Aussie dreamboat just jumped to the top of our bucket list, we'll have to settle for the consulation prize; his guide to the best beachside restaurants in the world.
Iceberg’s in Bondi Beach in Sydney, Australia
“It’s a pretty seasonal menu. Pretty heavily seafood, and they do that really, really well. The thing that I love about Iceberg's is that the food’s fabulous. It’s dead simple, and it’s things like like a piece of grilled local snapper with a little herb salad and an emulsion sauce, and the fish is just cooked perfectly. You can order the best chips that you’ve ever had. Truthfully, it’s not super tricked up, it’s just bloody delicious. You’re sitting on the side of Bondi Beach, and you’re out at about the same distance as the surfer’s paddle out to, so you’re watching these surfers take off on waves. It’s a really special place.”
Queenscliff Fish & Chip Shop in Victoria, Melbourne, Australia
“[Queenscliff] is hard to describe. It’s a little shop. There’s no where to eat in there, and there’s sometimes a line out the door to get your fish and chips. And you literally get them in a parcel that looks like newspaper without the ink. I know it’s a British tradition, fish and chips. But in Australia, we do it slightly better. I probably shouldn’t say that, but we do. [laughs] And it’s beautiful fresh fish, and delicious potato cakes. They do things like scallops and shrimp, and it’s wrapped up together with lots of salt and lemon. And you just eat it all on the beach.”
Geiger Restaurant in Key West, Florida
“You drive there, and it’s this little place, almost what you imagine Key West was like 30 years ago, 40 years ago. It’s not touristy at all; it’s actually an RV park. They call it a fish camp. They’re a restaurant, they have things on the menu, but there are also boats tied up that people are constantly in and out of all day. People go out fishing and come back with their catch, and give it to the chef, and they will cook it up into a fried fish sandwich. These guys just nail what they do.”
“We caught some hog fish, and the chef fried it and put into a sandwich, and he blackened it, which was really interesting, served it with rice and beans. The South has such strong culinary traditions. I really took to them.”
Back on the Beach in Santa Monica, California
“This is a bit of a local fort of ours. It’s right next to the Annenberg in Santa Monica, which is right on the water. There’s this really cool play equipment there that we take our kids down to so we can sit on the beach with our feet in the sand and a glass of wine in our hand, and watch our children play in the safety of Santa Monica beach. And they cook this ridiculously good burger, where the chef serves it with a sunnyside-up fried egg. When they put it on the table, they stab through the top of the bun with a steak knife, and the yolk oozes out all over your burger, acting like a sauce. It’s kind of perfect.”
Edith’s in Cabo San Lucas, Baja Mexico
Edith is literary a person, and she’s there, and she’s amazing. It’s right on the water again, so you’re sitting in the sand when you eat your fish tacos. Super fresh fish. The way they cook them changes regularly—they have this delicious spicy, dry-rub seasoning that they put on the fish before they grill it, lots of fresh lime. She makes incredible margaritas. I went down there when I first came to the states. I took a little vacay, and came across this joint and thought what a good find.
Caroline Hallemann is the associate digital editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow her on Twitter at @challemann.