World’s best waterfront restaurants promise more than a view
A delectable meal and a sublime view of the water is the best dinner theater in the world.
Achieve that food and drink nirvana with 26 of the world’s best waterfront restaurants.
Magenta sunsets, clear turquoise waters, dramatic cliffside terraces, gleaming cityscapes reflected in the water — they’re all here. Start your appetizing travel list now:
Padstow, UK: Paul Ainsworth No. 6
This cozy Michelin-starred restaurant is housed in an elegant Georgian townhouse overlooking the River Camel in the picturesque Cornish town of Padstow.
Wildly popular chef Paul Ainsworth sends out wave after wave of modern British seafood. Oysters recently hauled out of the nearby Atlantic are a must.
Paul Ainsworth No. 6: Middle Street, Padstow, Cornwall PL28 8AP, +44 01841 532 093 6
Maui: Mama’s Fish House
A Maui institution since 1973, this intimate family-owned restaurant is perched right on the beach. Every day, fisherman head out in small boats to catch fish such as mahi-mahi, ono, uku and papio, all of which are brought directly to the restaurant and served within hours.
The daily menu takes “local” to the next level, listing the name of the fisherman and where they caught the fish.
Mama’s Fish House: Hana Highway, 1.4 miles past Paia, + 1 808 579 8488
Indonesia: Sundara Bali
Sunset is the time to visit this stylish-but-relaxed modern Asian-inspired restaurant with sublime views of Jimbaran Bay.
As the sun dips below the horizon, the fire pits are lit and families happily tuck into seafood sourced from the bay along with local Balinese produce.
Desserts are made in house by award-winning pastry chef Yusuke Aoki. Most memorable is a tropical parfait made with pineapple compote, tapioca, coconut dried meringue and passion fruit sorbet.
Sundara Bali: Jimbaran, South Kuta, Badung Regency, Bali 80361, Indonesia, +62 361 708333
Menfi, Sicily: Da Vittorio Ristorante
Request a spot by the window at this Sicilian favorite, situated in the seaside town of Menfi, for the best views of the undulating waves.
The restaurant is justly famous for its pasta con I ricci di mare alla Vittorio, or pasta with sea urchin.
The ingredients are so simple: spaghetti, olive oil, white wine, garlic, parsley and local sea urchin. But they are of the very highest quality, making the dish truly otherworldly.
Da Vittorio Ristorante: Via Friuli Venezia Giulia, 9, +39 0925 78381
Pingwe, Tanzania: The Rock
Eating at The Rock is one of the most unusual dining experiences in the world.
Set on a small coral outcrop that was once the site of a fisherman’s post, this jewel-like restaurant is surrounded by the warm waters of the Indian Ocean. The African crew of chefs whips up dishes such as The Rock Special — lobster, cigal, king prawns, octopus and calamari, all expertly done on the grill.
At low tide, you can wade there from Michanwe Pingwe Beach; at high tide, you’ll be rowed there in a fishing boat.
The Rock: Pingwe Michanvi Kae, Michamvi, Tanzania, +255 776 591 360
Venice, Italy: Club Del Doge
Sip a Negroni and watch the gondolas glide by at Club del Doge, located inside Venice’s Gritti Palace Hotel, which sits magisterially on the Grand Canal.
Watching the water traffic is some of the most magnificent dinner theater in the world, but the food is equally sublime: small Venetian snacks known as cicchetti, homemade ravioli and heavenly risotto with shaved white truffles.
Club Del Doge: Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 2467, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy, +39 041 794611
Magic City serves as a glittering backdrop for this glitzy spot, a former industrial warehouse on the banks of the Miami River.
The house-made pasta, meats grilled on hot stones and wood-fired pizzettas get high marks, but the buzzy waterfront scene is the real draw. Watch yachts drop off their owners at the restaurant’s 500-foot dock.
Seaspice: 422 NW North River Dr, Miami, FL 33128, +1 305 440 4200
Big Sur, California: Sierra Mar
Perched on a cliff along the winding Big Sur coast with dramatic views of the glittering Pacific Ocean below, Sierra Mar has been the site of countless wedding proposals.
Chef Elizabeth Murray’s signature California fare is as glorious as the view. The four-course menu, a mélange of French, Mediterranean and Asian, changes with the seasons; produce is sourced from a nearby garden.
Sierra Mar: 47900 Highway 1, Big Sur, CA 93920, +1 831 667 2200
Santorini, Greece: Lycabettus
When you dine at this magical place, which sits directly on a cliff that stretches over the Aegean Sea, you’ll feel as if you are floating in blue — sky above, water below.
But the restaurant doesn’t coast on its breathtaking setting: Chef Pavlos Kiriakis makes innovative use of local Greek ingredients such as ripe pistachios, white fava beans and tomatoes grown in Santorini’s rich volcanic soil.
Lycabettus: Oia, Santorini, 84 702, Greece, +30 22860 72041
Dubrovnik, Croatia: Nautika
This restaurant, which sits alongside the western entrance to Dubrovnik’s Old City, is steeped in history: Formerly the Dubrovnik School of Maritime Studies, it has hosted famous seafarers since the 1880s.
The menu boasts local delicacies such as lobster from the Dalmation island of Vis, but it’s the deeply romantic vista that draws royal visitors from around the globe: On one side, the glittering Adriatic Sea, on the other, the dramatic fortresses of Lovrijenac and Bokar rise from the water.
Nautika: Brsalje no. 3, 20 000 Dubrovnik, Croatia, +385 20 44 25 26
Cape Town, South Africa: Azure
The breezy terrace at one of the Mother City’s most show-stopping restaurants seems to hover directly above the Indian Ocean.
Few experiences match tucking into local kabeljou fish as you watch the setting sun turn the sky pink and orange.
Chef Christo Pretorius, who is committed to using sustainable seafood on his menu, crafts a blend of local and international favorites, among them his signature Prawn Dahl, a mix of savory lentils, cauliflower and coconut puree, pickled apple, and tiger prawns seasoned with his fish spice mix, made in house.
Azure: Victoria Road, Camps Bay, Cape Town, 8005, South Africa, +27 21 437 9029
Krabi, Thailand: The Grotto
Tucked beneath a craggy limestone cliff that borders the vivid turquoise waters of Phranang Beach, this restaurant, part of the luxe Rayavadee Resort, affords the opportunity of dining inside an ancient, cathedral-like cave.
As you burrow your toes in the sand and indulge in Thai favorites such as the sweet and sour soup known as Tom Yum Po Tak Talay, you’ll feel like the world’s most glamorous castaway.
The Grotto: 214 Moo 2, Tumbon Ao-Nang Amphur Muang 81000 Krabi, Thailand, +66 2 301 1861
Santa Monica, California: 1 Pico at Shutters on the Beach
This bright, airy temple to coastal California cuisine seems to meld with the lapping waters of the Pacific.
The interior is done up in soothing oceanic tones, and palm trees sway in the sea breeze outside of the restaurant’s tall glass windows.
The menu leans Mediterranean and focuses on meat, seafood and California-grown produce.
1 Pico: 1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405, +1 310 458 0030
San Juan, Puerto Rico: aMare
Chef Luis Guzman playfully fuses his Puerto Rican roots (tostones, or fried plantains) and Serafina Beach Hotel’s Italian origins (spaghetti festively prepared tableside in a giant Parmesan wheel).
Watch the sun set over the sparkling Atlantic on the restaurant’s sleek, sophisticated terrace, done in clean blue and white to match the vibrant colors of the sea.
aMare: 1045 Ashford Ave, San Juan, 00907, Puerto Rico, +1 787 625 6000
St. Barts: Plage
This chic but laid-back beachside bistro was recently unveiled at La Sereno following the property’s top-to-bottom rebuild after Hurricane Irma. And it’s sublime: situated right on the pearly white-sand beach, it overlooks the dazzlingly clear teal-green waters of St. Barts’ iconic Grand Cul du Sac.
The fare of burgers and salads is casual and satisfying — and best enjoyed with your toes in the sand.
Plage: Grand Cul de Sac BP 19, St Barthelemy, +590 590 29 83 00
Hong Kong: Lung King Heen
Not only is Lung King Heen the world’s first Chinese restaurant to be rewarded with three Michelin stars, but it also offers ridiculously picturesque views of the gleaming Victoria Harbor.
Chef Chan Yan Tak, a Hong Kong native, crafts refined Cantonese dishes that reflect his heritage and a riotously popular dim sum — think baked whole abalone puff and steamed lobster and scallop dumplings.
There’s only one catch: If you want a coveted window table, book it a few months in advance.
Lung King Heen: 8 Finance St, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong, +852 3196 8888
Ocho Rios, Jamaica: The Gazebo at Goldeneye Resort
This breezy, treehouse-style open-air restaurant, reached by a charming lighted drawbridge, overlooks a serene lagoon.
Popular Jamaican chef Colin Hylton uses ingredients grown on Goldeneye’s 2,500 acre farm, such as the callaloo, a leafy green popular in local dishes and a fitting accompaniment to The Gazebo’s charred ribeye.
The Gazebo: Race Course, Oracabessa, Jamaica, +1 876 622 9007
New York City: Grand Banks
Inspired by the barges that plied oysters in 19th century Manhattan, the Grand Banks is a raucous floating oyster bar aboard the Sherman Zwicker, a historic wooden schooner docked at Tribeca Piers.
As gulls wheel overhead, enjoy nautical-inspired cocktails, ceviche and soft shell crabs while gazing at the magnificent cityscape — and marvel that you’re still in New York.
Grand Banks: Pier 25 Hudson River Park, New York, NY 10013, +1 212 660 6312
Dubai, UAE: Scape
The breezy terrace restaurant at the soaring Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, which stands higher than the Eiffel Tower, is the perfect vantage point to watch the sparkling waters of the Arabian Gulf below.
The Cote D’Azur-inspired menu includes Nicoise salad and grilled lobster or caviar if you’re feeling flush.
Scape: Burj Al Arab, Ground Mezzanine Floor – Jumeirah St – Dubai – United Arab Emirates, +971 4 301 7777
Porto Ercole, Italy: Il Pellicano
It doesn’t get more dreamily romantic than Il Pellicano, set on a Tuscan hill overlooking the bracingly clear Porto Ercole bay.
The menu is locally sourced, from the fish presented every morning at the kitchen door to the lamb that arrives from a nearby Tuscan farm.
As evening falls and the stars emerge, rosemary scents the air, and lights from fisherman’s boats flicker to life in the bay below.
Il Pellicano: Sbarcatello, 58019 Porto Ercole GR, Italy, +39 0564 858111
Stockholm, Sweden: Oaxen Krog
Set in Djurgarden, an island in central Stockholm, this dockside Michelin-starred stunner offers clean, deceptively simple takes on Nordic classics.
The menu changes often, but it’s always seasonal, and often flavored with wild herbs harvested from the surrounding woodland.
Light floods the huge picture windows that look out at the former shipyard that occupied the site.
Oaxen Krog: Beckholmsbron 26, 115 21 Stockholm, Sweden, +46 8 551 531 05
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico: COMAL
Get your smartphones ready for Technicolor sunsets at COMAL.
Suspended above the shores of Chileno Beach, the restaurant’s open-air layout spreads across three levels, offering unencumbered views of the cerulean Sea of Cortez.
Mexico City-born Chef Yvan Mucharraz (formerly of The French Laundry) prepares a fresh twist on Los Cabos cuisine using fresh local catches, from giant totoaba to sea bass.
COMAL: San Jose, México 1, Tourist Corridor, San Lucas, 23410 Cabo San Lucas, B.C.S., Mexico, +52 624 104 9600
The Maldives: Terra
At Terra, a restaurant in the newly opened Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi, dine in one of seven spectacular private bamboo pods.
Perched on an elevated treetop, each overlooks the blue horizon of the Indian Ocean.
The menu offers splurge-worthy fare such as Waygu beef with white truffles — after all, as it’s not every day you dine in a bamboo pod — and boasts an extensive wine list.
Terra: Ithaafushi Island, South Male Atoll, Male, 20009, Maldives, +960 4 0003000
Watch Hill, Rhode Island: COAST
Coast, the bright, clean-lined restaurant from The Ocean House, offers the quintessential New England experience: the freshest flavors of the Rhode Island coast and vast, unobstructed vistas of the Atlantic Ocean.
Its delectable vegetarian menu, hailing from nearby farms, is tempting even for carnivores: spicy fava beans, maple-glaze sweet potatoes, Maine grains spelt gnocci and white chocolate cremeux.
COAST: 1 Bluff Ave, Westerly, RI 02891, +1 844 380 1564
Hawke’s Bay, New Zealand: The Dining Room at Cape Kidnappers
Shaggy cliffs give way to epic views of the rolling Pacific Ocean at this striking cliffside restaurant at the rustic-yet-plush Farm at Cape Kidnappers. To amp the scenery even further, the property is surrounded by a bird sanctuary.
Fruits and vegetables are picked daily from Cape Kidnapper’s own garden and prepared using classical French technique.
The Dining Room at Cape Kidnappers: 446 Clifton Road Te Awanga Hawke’s Bay 4180 New Zealand, +64 6 875 1900
Perched on the tip of a steep cliff between Anguilla’s Barnes Bay and Meads Bay, Coba brings the drama. So mesmerizing is the sight of the surging Caribbean Sea that diners may trail off in mid-conversation.
Aside from jaw-dropping views, tempting dishes on offer in the hip Kelly Wearstler-designed space include spiny lobster with local crayfish bisque and curry crouton.
Coba: Barnes Bay, West End 2640, Anguilla, +1 800 201 9580
Jancee Dunn writes frequently about travel and lifestyle for publications such as Travel <>& Leisure, Vogue, and the New York Times. She has also written six books. She lives in Brooklyn, New York./p