Where to Dine Outdoors in Los Angeles Right Now
Parking lot patios are so 2020.
Since LA has sunny weather 300 days a year, it’s made life in the time of COVID-19 that much more bearable thanks to nearly year-round outdoor dining options. LA restaurateurs have been pivoting seemingly every other week since the beginning of the pandemic to keep their businesses afloat, and for summer 2020 that means everything from expanding existing patio areas for social distancing protocols to building out entirely new outdoor seating areas in parking lots. Here are 21 great places to sit and eat outdoors across Los Angeles right now.
Chef Brian Dunsmoor and his partners normally have a relaxing full-service patio in front of their sprawling wood-fired restaurant, complete with mismatched tables set atop gravel. During the pandemic, they keep things simple, letting people order at the bar and seat themselves in the parking lot, which now hosts umbrella shaded tables, light strings, and potted plants. Hatchet Hall only allows walk-ins for their Deep South meets SoCal dinner menu and breaks out a lowcountry-inspired boil for weekend lunch. This regional South Carolina dish also goes by Frogmore stew and features smoked sausage, sweet corn, Gulf shrimp and potatoes with a house spice blend, served on a tray with drawn butter.
How to book: Currently walk-in only.
The Garland hotel’s front-yard restaurant normally features an inviting light-strung patio with a mix of cushioned banquette and standalone seating with tabletop flowers and sycamore trees. During the pandemic, they’ve expanded dining to the valet area, where umbrella-shaded tables now also host lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch. Chef Larry Greenwood’s globally-inspired menu ranges from a patty melt to duck prosciutto carbonara to “Thai Town” salmon salad.
How to book: Via OpenTable.
This open-air restaurant spans two floors atop a historic building that overlooks surrounding office towers and adjacent Pershing Square. The plant-lined 15th floor dining area features vintage-looking tile floors and the 16th floor rooftop is dotted with potted plants and fire pits. Perch is ostensibly a modern French bistro with date-friendly vibes and dishes like French onion soup, filet mignon au poivre, and bouillabaisse, though they do delve into other cuisines. Weekend brunch may be the most popular time to visit Perch for Bellinis and Benedicts topped with smoked salmon or Maryland blue crab.
How to book: Groups of 6 or less can book a table by calling 213-802-1770 or through OpenTable.
Chef Brendan Collins and Michael Greco took over the restaurant in 2019, revamping a longtime Westside favorite with their seasonal Cal-Italian menu. Their charming plant-lined garden patio is romantic enough for a date but casual enough for any occasion.
How to book: Via OpenTable.
Twin patios highlight this legendary Napales import, which Francesco Zimone debuted on a side street in 2019. An exhibition kitchen on the tree-lined back patio showcases wood-fired Neapolitan-style pizza that cooks in a blue and white oven, and a smaller wooden patio welcomes diners up front.
How to book: Via Opentable
Even before the pandemic hit, this stylish restaurant already provided one of LA’s best outdoor dining experiences. Their sprawling patio atop the mixed-use Platform complex delivers 360-degree city views from tables and lounge seating amidst potted plants and rustic flourishes. The dinner menu from Michael Williams and his team includes grilled focaccia with a choice of accompaniments, house-made pasta, and bone-in pork chops. Sunday brunch offerings include French toast with cinnamon ricotta and fried chicken with Calabrian chile infused honey. Bonus: IB Hospitality’s sister restaurant Norah introduced a new backyard patio to accommodate WeHo diners during the crisis.
How to book: Via Resy.
Power lunches with lawyers and Hollywood agents may be on hiatus during the pandemic, but the patio of this restaurant at the base of a luxury condo remains a work of art. A living plant wall complete with mesh fencing, interconnected “rafters” and curved wood banquettes make it uniquely stylish. Hinoki’s streamlined menu includes a signature lobster roll with green curry and Thai basil nestled in a striking black charcoal bun and a similarly herbaceous avocado tostada with nori aioli and shiso. Chef Brandon Kida launched his delivery-only Go Go Gyoza concept during the pandemic and he’s got a deluxe pan-fried version on Hinoki’s menu co-starring pork belly, Dungeness crab, and chile oil.
How to book: Via Tock.
Neal Fraser and Amy Knoll Fraser have plentiful space to work with in the former St. Vibiana’s cathedral. Sadly, they’re not able to host events during the crisis, but that allows the couple to devote more space to outdoor dining. They’ve peeled back Redbird Coutyard’s retractable roof and also offer seating in the gravel-lined Redbird Garden and Vibiana Courtyard with towering palm trees. As always, they continue to serve refined high-end comfort food, dishes like bacon-wrapped rabbit saddle over Anson Mills polenta and whole-grilled Basque turbot. Happy hour features creative riffs on a lobster roll and Buffalo chicken wings (made with duck).
How to book: Specify your preferred seating area on Tock. Redbird outlines reservations and protocols on their outdoor seating webpage.
Chef Suzanne Goin and sommelier/partner Caroline Styne shifted their small plates Mediterranean restaurant from Mid-City to the shadow of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2013. One of the city’s great patios, A.O.C’s makes it feel like you’re on the courtyard of somebody’s European villa. They even have an olive tree, which shades diners as they feast on bacon-wrapped dates, Spanish fried chicken, and seasonal vegetable dishes. Weekend brunch is of course well suited to this setting, as are natural wines and Christian Rollich’s seasonal cocktails.
How to book: Via Opentable
This gastropub from One The Verge Hospitality (the group behind Santa Monica restaurants like Margo’s, The Golden Bull and Art’s Table) might not look like much from the front. The surprise comes after you order at a window and retreat to the back patio. A mural of Humphrey Bogart from “The Big Sleep” sets the tone, complete with a quote from Raymond Chandler: "It seemed like a nice neighborhood to have bad habits in." Two of Ashland Hill’s primary vices are the ambitious craft beer program and its burger, a behemoth with sharp white cheddar, caramelized onions, and special sauce, served with herb & Parmesan fries.
How to book: Via Resy
This buzzworthy rooftop bar is the Long Play portion of this music-themed complex from The Botanical Group. Low-slung seating offers 360-degree views of the city, including the nearby Hollywood Hills. The bar is an always-hopping weekend date destination, but during the pandemic, they’ve slowed down the pace, launching a Tulum-inspired Las Palmas pop-up adjacent to L.P. on the roof. Executive chef Sabel Braganza collaborated with Botanical Hospitality Group Culinary Director Monty Koludrovic on Yucatan-style small plates, including a grilled lobster quesadilla and carne asada skewers.
How to book: Via SevenRooms or call 310-855-9955.
Forget the cocktails, craft beer, and better-than-average bar food -- the main reason to visit Idle Hour is definitely the setting. The 1933 Group revived this legendary North Hollywood bar, which dates back to 1941 and last served as an apartment. The primary structure is barrel-shaped, which is a sight to behold, and the back patio is certainly inviting, with standard tables and shady trees. The patio even hosts a replica of Culver City’s bygone, dog-shaped Bulldog Café.
How to Book: Via Resy.
Bryant Ng, wife Kim Luu-Ng and their RC Family partners lifted the cover off their wraparound patio and even converted their parking lot into a hedge-framed auxiliary patio with red sun sail shading and light strings to accommodate 50 additional dinner guests during the crisis. Cassia’s streamlined Southeast Asian menu remains robust. Any meal that can still include sunbathing prawns, spicy lamb breast and tongue tingling laksa commands attention.
How to book: Via Resy.
This gorgeous Cal-Italian bakery/deli/cafe, and sibling to legendary outdoor dining destination, Gjelina (currently closed), was owner Fran Camaj’s final triumph with former partner Travis Lett. Scan their pristine display cases for baklava croissants, fresh-baked breads, cured fish, pizza, rotisserie chicken, and a Sightglass coffee bar. Continue to the back patio and find a bohemian wonderland with mismatched tables, strings of lights, sail-shaped shades, and ‘Gram-worthy plantlife. For the pandemic, Gjusta added a host station off the parking lot and full-service dining out back.
How to book: Via OpenTable.
Chef Helene Henderson runs two restaurants on Malibu Pier, including this casual breakfast & lunch destination directly on top of the Pacific Ocean. Pass by casting fishermen to reach a rustic cafe with white walls and wood tables sporting lavender centerpieces. Umbrella-shaded tables on the deck provide views of surfers and paddleboarders from cushion-backed banquettes. Near the pier’s entrance, Malibu Farm Restaurant provides full service and a full bar.
How to book: Via Yelp
Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi have the only outdoor restaurant at Grand Central Market, and its communal seating provides views of passersby, Downtown office towers, and the historic Angels Flight funicular railway that traverses Bunker Hill. Wood tables provide a share-friendly forum to enjoy smoked meats like brisket, pork spare ribs, chicken, and craft beers (apparently it has salads, too, if you’re into that sort of thing).
How to book: Walk in.
Alex Sarkissian’s modern Mediterranean concept rests along railroad tracks, which means you’ll get the occasional horn blast in your ear. It’s worth it to experience the outdoor setting at the creative Atwater Crossing compound. A concrete patio with wood front gives way to coffee and wine bars, both fronted by stylish white & grey tiles. Marble communal seating adjoins a covered patio with blonde wood tables and white wicker chairs. Foodwise, expect creative, sometimes non-traditional Mediterranean food, like avocado hummus and duck shawarma.
How to book: Make a reservation for dinner or weekend brunch through OpenTable.
Nobu Malibu relocated from Cross Creek to the posh Malibu waterfront with help from landlord Larry Ellison in 2012. Now version 2.0 feels like a beachfront institution, with similarly modern (and pricey) Japanese food, and far better views. The space features wall-to-wall wood and a lot of natural light. The patio provides views of Malibu Pier and pounding waves from cushioned lounge seating, with the breezy vibe accented by succulents and sculpted bonsai trees. It may be psychological, but “new style” sashimi and miso black cod seem to taste better by the beach.
How to book: Reserve a table by calling 310-317-9140.
In 2015, native New Yorker Stephen Kalt revived a well-regarded New York City concept he commanded in the ‘90s -- Spartina -- naming both restaurants for a John Casey novel. The chef’s Melrose restaurant features a big patio out front. White walls frame wood tables illuminated with strings of moody lights. Kalt’s seasonal Italian menu runs deep. Pasta is a particular strength, with options like fettuccine carbonara and rigatoni with Sicilian shrimp and pistachio pesto.
How to book: Walk-ins are welcome, and they accept dinner and brunch reservations through OpenTable.
Raphael Lunetta operates twin concepts near Santa Monica College, more casual Lunetta All Day and the more ambitious Lunetta At Night. A pleasant back patio is in demand, and Lunetta also added 48 outdoor seats on twin patios in the parking lot in response to the pandemic. Diners can now sit at tables amidst olive trees and potted succulents under shaded AstroTurf “lawns.” Their seasonal lunch, dinner, and brunch menus yield hits like pineapple grilled Prime skirt steak and crispy chicken & lemon ricotta pancakes. The restaurant also added a three-course, $48 “Taste of Lunetta” for dinner that changes weekly and recently included chilled soba shrimp salad and peach BBQ pork ribs.
How to book: Reserve a table through OpenTable.
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