30745 Pacific Coast Highway
Malibu, CA 90265
By MARIE TABELA | Special to the Palisadian-Post
Nestled away in Trancas Country Market is a must-stop spot when spending the day in Malibu or relaxing on Zuma Beach: Kristy’s Village Cafe.
Kristy’s is owned and operated by husband and wife team Kristy Apana and Greg Bashant, and their presence and dedication to the airy cafe is apparent in the quality of food and service.
“We’re very hands on,” explained Apana—that was clear in the way the regulars smiled and greeted her warmly as they would an old friend.
Kristy’s has been in its new location for a little over a year, and business is booming. With an array of shops and cafes throughout Trancas Country Market, Kristy’s new location is perfect for any time of day.
We kicked off our meal with the Salt and Pepper Calamari. It was clear right away that this would be a crowd favorite for a few reasons: one, it’s calamari, and two, it’s gluten-free. That’s right, gluten avoiders of Pacific Palisades: You can have this calamari dish.
As someone who has been strictly gluten-free for almost a decade due to a genuine allergy (I would devour pastries if I could; this has nothing to do with diet), I can tell you that this calamari hit the spot that has evaded me for many years.
Unlike far too many gluten-free options, this dish was actually light and crispy, and did not fall into the usual gluten-free trap of tasting like cardboard and weighing as much as a brick. If you eat gluten (lucky), you will not even be able to tell the difference.
It comes with house-made marinara, but you can request the garlic aioli as well and trust us, you want that aioli. The marinara is great, but the aioli will have you inquiring about whether they sell it in bottles … or vats.
It was “garlic-y,” yes, but will not have your date asking you if you’re sure you don’t want a mint.
Next up was Kristy’s Prime Beef Burger, which features prime beef, applewood smoked bacon, garlic aioli, maple onion jam and Gruyere cheese, all on a brioche bun (which is not gluten-free).
The burger was moist and fresh, with all flavors coming through, and the maple onion jam gave it a distinctive flavor you’re actually happy about. The bacon was extra crispy, giving the burger a salty crunch that played well with the texture of the other ingredients. The French fries on the side were addictive and a carb-avoiders Kryptonite.
If you are a seafood lover, the Hong Kong Style Catch should not be missed. The recipe, an original by Kristy’s own mother, is unique to the restaurant and has the homemade feel that can only come from a family recipe.
The fish is steamed with Asian seasoning, scallions, fresh ginger, mushrooms, sizzled with peanut oil and served with tamaki gold rice and broccolini. For gluten-free preparation, they can prepare it with soy sauce alternative Bragg’s Liquid Aminos.
The fish melts in your mouth, and the flavor of the sauce goes well with the buttery fish. Neither the fish nor the sauce overpower one another, and they do an excellent job of balancing the flavors so it is not overly salty.
For a salad option, we opted for the Apple and Prosciutto Salad because, well, prosciutto. Apples are great, too.
This salad is made with arugula, Fuji apples, Navarro cheese, prosciutto and lemon vinaigrette. The sweet apples tasted wonderful with the salty prosciutto, and the lemon added the perfect kick to bring the flavors together.
Last, but certainly not least, was the gluten-free Pasta Primavera. Again, the gluten-loving among us did not notice that their pasta was missing the dreaded allergen.
The pasta was made with seasonal vegetables, garlic, basil, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and for protein options, organic chicken, shrimp, meatballs, or the fresh catch of the day can be added.
This is the perfect “lunch” pasta—not too heavy and loaded with fresh vegetables. Top this off with fresh brewed Tea Forte iced tea, and it is the ideal spring meal.
If you are in the area but are looking for a refreshing and quick option, Kristy’s also has an array of fresh-squeezed juices, parfaits, acai bowls and smoothies.
For more gluten-free options, try out other pastas and flatbreads, which Apana boasted are the best gluten-free flatbreads around. If you are around for dinner and in the mood for something a little heartier, try Apana’s personal favorite, the Prime Ribeye. The 16-ounce steak is prepared according to the chef’s daily preparation.
The warmth and hospitality at Kristy’s truly cannot be beat. This duo has perfected the local neighborhood hangout while simultaneously serving delicious dishes that elevate classics without making them feel contrived.
A great spot to take the family, friends or a special someone, Kristy’s has a little something for everyone.