Exclusive Malibu, on the fraying edge of the continent, gives new meaning to the term "global village." The Hollywood types who inhabit its multimillion-dollar beach bungalows may be international celebrities, but the town itself feels like a sleepy little backwater. There are few chic boutiques on its major thoroughfare and even fewer first-class eateries.

Which perhaps explains the excitement attending this month's launch of a new restaurant called Malibu Adobe. On opening night Joan Collins, Billy Crystal, Bruce Dern, Larry Hagman and 300 other upscale villagers turned out to gaze at each other and graze on such updated Southwestern specialties as corn-and-red-pepper pancakes and goat cheese quesadillas.

"It tastes great," said actress Jill St. John, not bothering to wait for the inevitable cry of "Less filling!" Continued St. John: "The decor is marvelous. It looks just like a real Mexican estancia. I'm hoping Ali will do one of my houses, but she's probably too busy."

That's Ali as in MacGraw, 48, who has lately launched a second career as an interior designer. She is responsible for the Santa Fe-style decor of Malibu Adobe, which features such grace notes as polished pine floors and a ceiling of hand-hewn viga beams. "I worked on this seven days a week since mid-July," says MacGraw, who has already redone several private homes. "It's been a killer, but very rewarding." If Adobe does as well as expected, the restaurant's 20 or so celebrity backers may be rewarded as well. Talent agent Andrea Eastman and personal manager James R. Palmer, the Adobe's principal owners, have culled an A-list of limited partners from their respective clients and acquaintances, including Dustin Hoffman, Stacy Keach, Bob Newhart and Alan Ladd Jr.

"Malibu is like an oasis away from town," says producer Allan Carr. "This should be the neighborhood hangout—if you're rich and famous." He didn't have to add, "Like us."