Some may refer to Big Dean’s Oceanfront Cafe as a dive bar, but that's always with the utmost affection. This cool and slightly offbeat beach bar is the epitome of beachside living. With a spacious outdoor patio always filled with animated groups drinking pitchers of beer and a "more is more" type of attitude when it comes to their interior decorating, Big Dean's is that relaxed beach bar you always dreamed of.
Usually sandwiched in between a cluster of happily abandoned sandy bicycles and a group of sunburned beach goers strolling along the boardwalk, Big Dean’s Oceanfront Cafe feels right at home by the Santa Monica Pier. Slightly faded by the sun, the forest green awning with "Big Dean's Ocean Front Cafe" scrawled across it in vintage white lettering sets the tone for a totally relaxed, old school type of pub. Before you even enter the building proper, there is a front patio lined with wood picnic tables and dark green benches (that match the overhead sign). On this patio, squeezed on to the benches, you will find groups of friends underneath the cover of strategically placed umbrellas when it’s sunny out, or heat lamps when the ocean breeze gets just a bit too cool at night. As it’s on the boardwalk, Big Dean’s isn’t directly on the Pier itself, but it’s close enough to draw in the perfect mix of locals that have made Big Dean’s a weekly tradition, and tourists that feel compelled to stop in once they see how much fun everyone inside is having. At any given point during the day you can expect to see people munching away on fish and chips or freshly made hamburgers while they wash everything down with a cool pint of beer. At night the place becomes increasingly populated, with people looking to enjoy a few brews while they dust the day’s salt and sand off themselves. They do have an indoor area (filled with delightfully kitschy and eclectic odds and ends), but regardless of the time, you're always bound to find more people flocking to their patios that flank the restaurant on either side. Under the toasty sun or hastily strung up white lights, people walk around and soak up the salty ocean air while truly getting a taste of the Santa Monica SoCal lifestyle.
Written By Darianne Doobie
Initially dubbed Laring’s Lunch Room, Big Dean’s Oceanfront Café has seen some true talent walk through its doors since it opened in 1901. Playing host to mega celebrities and icons such as the illustrious Cary Grant and Natalie Wood, to our modern s
Though people tend to fight to the death for one of those coveted picnic tables at the front, there is also a fairly large beer garden in the back that can house plenty more people. If you’re going with a bigger group, or don’t feel like shuffling your feet until someone abandons their post, just make your way to the back and settle in there.