Howdy's Taqueria in the Malibu Country Mart shopping center is a great choice if you're looking for a casual, inexpensive, unpretentious place to eat in Malibu. The restaurant offers a mostly predictable selection of Mexican staples like tacos, burritos, and quesadillas, with a few unexpected choices like a Hawaiian salad, mole tacos, wild salmon soup, and--get this--sushi.
I can't speak for the sushi--I really can't stomach the idea of ordering sushi at a Mexican joint, even if I can feel the ocean breeze while I eat, and even though I have no problem eating Mexican ceviche, which is raw fish soaked in citrus juice (also on the menu).
I did try the tacos and a quesadilla. All of the food, including the tortilla chips, was remarkably light and ungreasy for a Mexican restaurant. The meat was a little bland, probably from the lack of grease, but it was fine. The cilantro and onions added some kick, as did the selection of salsas. The salsa bar offers a milder, green tomatillo salsa, a basic red salsa, and a spicy orange salsa. They were all good, but not memorable; the same was true of the tacos and quesadilla.
The restaurant was plenty busy, but we were able to get a table indoors. They also have patio seating, which can be noisy because of the adjacent parking lot.
Howdy's has mixed reviews on Yelp!, but I think its overall rating of just three stars is undeservedly low. True, it's not the most authentic Mexican food, but you're in Malibu, not the Valley. Yes, it's a little pricey for Mexican, but it's inexpensive considering the ingredients are organic and free range and, again, you're in Malibu.
I wouldn't go out of my way to eat here, but for a fresh, affordable, and relatively healthy lunch when you're already in the area, it's a solid choice.
3835 Cross Creek Rd # A
Malibu, CA 90265
Howdy's Taqueria website
Howdy's Taqueria menu