Santa Monica Pier restaurants have a single, distinct advantage over their land-based counterparts: Location.
The 6 restaurants below are physically on the pier.
However, to round out the Santa Monica Pier food offerings, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that there is also an ocean-view food court in Pacific Park, the pier's amusement center.
It features primarily take-out fast-food.
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 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.
Offering three distinct dining options, an experience their website refers to as a "fresh new restaurant concept."
The bottom floor of Seaside on the Pier provides quick and casual sandwiches, salads, and soft-serve ice cream for on-the-go visitors and picnickers. 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.
This old-school fish house serves up an excellent selection of oysters, fish tacos, and a long list of artisan beers in a cozy, woodsy environment.
Lots of long tables and a view of the coast and its beach people 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.