Dexter Filming Locations: the Beach Patio Cafe


The location: Beach Patio café.

Q. What is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. A patio café.

Q. Where is it supposed to be on the show?

    A. Right on the beach, in Miami.

Q. When did we see it on the show?

    A. In Episode 2 (of Season 3), "Finding Freebo".

    It's where Maria LaGuerta meets with Miguel Prado.

    The scene opens with Miguel arguing at the café with his brother, Ramon, who is impatient about the lack of progress in finding Freebo (the man he assumes killed his other brother, Oscar).

    Maria shows up, and when Ramon begins to criticize her about the Freebo case, Miguel tells him to go home.

    Maria tells Miguel that she has bad news: they have found new evidence that a man he helped put away, Chicky Hines, didn't do the carjacking/homicide that he was convicted of doing. It looks like Prado convicted the wrong man.

    Coming on the heels of his brother's death, this leaves Prado in a bad temper.  But he covers it, turning on the charm, and suggesting that Maria and he get together later. When he adds that the invitation includes with his wife, Maria seems a bit disappointed.

Q. What is it actually in real life?

    A. A patio restaurant on the beach - but far from Miami.

Q. Where can I find it in real life?

    A. This was shot at La Palapa Del Mar, at 4020 E. Olympic Plaza, in the Belmont Shore section of Long Beach, CA.

    That's at the foot of the city's Belmont Pier, next door to the Olympic Pool.

    And it's also right next to the beach used for the scene where a stranger stalks Rita's daughter. (In fact, La Palapa is visible in the background of some of the shots in that beach scene.)

    And just a short walk from the alleyway where Debra interviewed some hookers in another scene. (But don't worry, this isn't a dangerous part of town - far from it. It's one of the nicer sections of Long Beach.)

    It's open to the public, so feel free to drop by on some sunny day to enjoy a meal on the patio.

    To get there, just take Ocean Blvd to S. Termino Ave and turn towards the ocean. The cafe is right on the beach, and you can't miss its pointy roof.

    The restaurant even has its own website, at

    I shot the photos below in 2009, early in the day, before the restaurant had opened.

    Here is an aerial photo of the park. And here is a map link.

UPDATE: The Belmont Plaza Olympic Pool, mentioned in this article, was demolished in early 2015.  They discovered seismic deficiencies in the old building, so they torn it down. It will eventually be replaced with a new pool.

La Palapa, the patio café which was the location of several different "Dexter" scenes over the years, was attached to the west side of the pool building, so it was torn down as well.

Here, for the record, is a Google StreetView of the pool, when it was standing.

And here is a YouTube video of the historic building being torn down.

Q. How the heck did you figure out where it was?

    A.  This find was a result of a tip by my pal Tim Grobaty, award-winning columnist for the Long Beach Press-Telegram.

    Tim mentioned in his daily column that "Dexter" was filming down at La Palapa. So when it showed up on the show, it was easy to spot.  Then I just had to drive down to Long Beach and get some matching photos.

    But there were also some clues to be had, if I had needed them. The Long Beach oil islands are visible off shore. Some of the downtown buildings on Ocean Blvd are visible in the background (including the same one visible in the stalker beach scenes). And, well let's face it, there aren't that many patio cafes sitting right on the sandy beach.

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