Santa Monica Pier restaurants have a distinct advantage over their land-based counterparts: Location.
The lucky half-dozen restaurants below are physically on the pier.
There is also an inexpensive, casual food court with primarily take-out fast-food in Pacific Park, the pier's amusement center.
Now, of course, you could walk off the Pier and be steps away from some of Santa Monica's best restaurants on Ocean Avenue.
But I've had friends visit who have to have lunch on the pier, not a few steps or blocks away. So this list of places to eat on Santa Monica Pier is for them - and you.
I've listed the restaurants below by type of cuisine, and added one to four dollar signs ($) beside each restaurant's name to give you an idea of how spendy a place it is - or isn't. Four $$$$ is most expensive, one $ is the least expensive.
There are four cuisine types to choose from among these winning Santa Monica Pier Restaurants: American, Italian, Mexican, and Seafood.
Don't let the name fool you - this place has it all. Sure, there are burgers. And veggie burgers. And local California sea bass sandwiches. Creamsicle and purple cow floats.
It's a pretty fun menu; the food simple but satisfying.
Rusty's has been a pier fixture since 1994, serving up a bit of everything - from seafood cocktails and calamari rings to fajita platters and daily fish specials - to live music and dancing.
There's never a dull moment here.
Take in a glorious sunset from the rooftop lounge while enjoying cocktails and tasty eats from full menu featuring seafood, pizza, burgers and beyond.
The bottom floor of Seaside on the Pier provides quick and casual sandwiches, salads, and soft-serve ice cream for on-the-go visitors. The middle level offers casual indoor tables and seating.
The top floor includes a rooftop bar and grill with outdoor seating and a view of the Pier and the Pacific Ocean.
If savoring mega grande margaritas and stellar Pacific Ocean views are your thing, this Baja Cantina is for you.
Mariasol's use of distinctive sauces, flavorful peppers, and fresh fish makes it a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
Everyone is looking for a relaxing spot to catch up and catch a great seafood dish! The Albright offers people just that! An ideal place to enjoy a high-end meal with craft beers and incredible California wine.
This old-school fish house serves up an excellent selection of oysters, fish tacos (Taco Tuesday anyone?), and a long list of artisan beers in a cozy, woodsy environment.
Lots of long tables and a view of the coast and the beach below combine to create a deliciously memorable meal.
Putting the "South" in Southern California, Bubba's is a lively spot to get your shrimp fix or even some Dixie-style baby back ribs. Come hungry.
Be sure to call your Pier restaurant of choice in advance to secure a reservation. Otherwise, be prepared to wait up to two hours for your ocean view table. This is especially true during the busy summer months.
If you're driving to the Pier, you can plan your parking as well. Get details about Santa Monica Parking here.