Go Camping in the Comfort of Your Own Home With S'mores Dip
Chef Suzanne Goin and sommelier/partner Caroline Styne shifted their share-friendly Mediterranean restaurant from Mid-City to the shadow of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in 2013. With one of the city’s great patios, A.O.C. makes it feel like you’re on the courtyard of somebody’s European villa. The partners even have an olive tree, which shades diners who partake in bacon-wrapped dates, Spanish fried chicken, and a flurry of vegetables. Weekend brunch is of course a natural in this setting, as are natural wines and Christiaan Rollich’s seasonal cocktails.
Walk through towering wood doors in Silver Lake to reveal another world, a tree-lined, romantically lit patio. The restaurant from designer Dana Hollister and her partners features eclectic décor, including a bizarre horse mermaid logo, but nobody minds, because they’re just happy to be there. For years, food was beside the point, until Vartan Abgaryan upgraded edible proceedings; he’s since ceded control to chef Gavin Humes, who carries on the emerging culinary tradition with dishes like diver scallop with carrot curry and puffed rice.
This gastropub from Fork n' Awesome Hospitality Group (the pun-friendly team behind Santa Monica restaurants like Ox & Son and Art’s Table) might not look like much from the front. The surprise comes after you order at the front counter 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 from chef Bradley Miller with red onion bacon jam, sharp white cheddar, paprika aioli, and watercress, served with herb & Parmesan fries.
Sarkis Vartanian is the Jackson Pollack of LA’s food world, taking a very free-form approach in a curved Arts District alley that came into fruition in 2011. A brick path with ivy-lined walls and mismatched tables has been a welcome home to the neighborhood’s creative types, who flock to the alley for Stumptown coffee drinks, egg dishes in the morning, and lunchtime sandwiches like “The Farmer,” which the menu humbly calls the “best sandwich ever,” and which comes loaded with roasted veggies and ancho chile jamon.
Silverlake Wine co-founder Randy Clement, former Mozza chef Matt Molina, and other partners turned a once woebegone Arts District corner into a hotspot. After entering the moody bar and seeing “My, That’s Better” in white neon, you may be tempted to stay indoors, but keep walking back: a big patio is open to the sky, and hosts dark-stained picnic tables, wood & brick walls, colorful patchwork flooring, and a blue bocce court. Grab a cool glass of rosé or a well-constructed cocktail and delve into Molina’s comfort-food menu, which includes a critically acclaimed burger, as well as taquitos and flaky biscuits.
This buzzworthy rooftop bar is the Long Play portion of this music-themed complex from Australian owners DJ Grant Smillie, businessman David Combes, and model Ashley Hart. Low-slung seating offers 360-degree views of the city, including the nearby Hollywood Hills. Brittney Olsen now helms L.P.’s bar, which dispenses creative boba cocktails. Neighborhood fashionistas from design houses and modeling agencies descend on L.P., and the bar is an always-hopping weekend date destination.
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 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 warm and welcoming, with picnic tables and shade trees. It even has a replica of Culver City’s bygone Bulldog Café, which is dog-shaped and accommodates just enough seats to host a private party.
Chef Travis Lett is the pied piper of the Venice food world. Any concept that he and business partner Fran Camaj open, people flock to at the flick of an oven’s "on" switch. Gjusta is their latest triumph, behind Gold’s Gym, with display cases that would make a wealthy Venetian weep. Move left to right and encounter baklava croissants, fresh-baked breads, cured fish, pizza, rotisserie chicken, and Sightglass coffee. Continue to the back patio and find a bohemian wonderland with mismatched tables, strings of lights, and enlivening plantlife.
Chef Helene Henderson runs two restaurants on Malibu Pier, including this 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. Yes, Malibu Farm has indoor tables, but the umbrella-shaded tables on the deck that provide views of surfers and paddleboarders from cushion-backed banquettes are far better.
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 incapacitated Angels Flight funicular railway that once climbed Bunker Hill. Communal 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).
The Atwater outpost of 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. Oh yeah, it also serves creative, sometimes atypical Mediterranean food, like avocado hummus and duck schwarma.
Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese only tells part of the story on Melrose. Pass through the kitchen, up a small flight of stairs, open a door, and find Maré. This seafood-focused restaurant from chef Eric Greenspan and business partner Jim Hustead features mood-building plants and lights and a retractable roof to guard against unexpected “weather.” Most of the time, though, your view is of the night sky, and of brothy noodle bowls.
Nobu Malibu 2.0 relocated from Cross Creek to the posh Malibu waterfront with help from landlord Larry Ellison. Now, you’ll find similarly modern (and pricey) Japanese food, but with 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.
Chef Eric Greenspan clearly has a thing for complicated entrances. You have to take two elevators at Mid-City’s Hotel Wilshire to reach The Roof. But, damn what a roof. Cabanas ring a pool, and anywhere you sit, you’ll find panoramic city views, including nearby office towers, the Hollywood Hills, and so much more. Greenspan flexes his trademark creativity with dishes like pancake lasagna, but also knows when to show restraint, serving great seared branzino.
Patina Restaurant Group runs this restaurant and lounge on LACMA’s sprawling courtyard, in the glow of Chris Burden’s iconic "Urban Light" installation. The restaurant and bar are named for famed producer Ray Stark, who made movies like Steel Magnolias and Annie. The experience is far from dramatic at Ray’s and Stark Bar. Tables line the plaza, running along a glass-framed dining room, and a bar features sumptuous red lounge chairs (and cocktails) that encourage guests to linger, especially on summer Fridays during the museum’s live jazz series.
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 practices transparency on Melrose, presiding over an open kitchen and featuring a big patio out front. White walls frame wood tables (filled with seasonal pizza, pasta, and salads) topped with strings of moody lights.
This just-opened restaurant from chef Esdras Ochoa and Billy Silverman resides at an LA River bike trailhead and occupies Antonio Salazar’s former auto body shop at the mouth of the emerging neighborhood of Frogtown. A tidy dirt patio houses shaded tables, and the former auto bay is the domain of bartender Aaron Melendrez, who incorporates aguas frescas. Ochoa, a Mexicali native, contributes creative, often wood-grilled Mexican cooking, including tacos, burritos, and more.
Terrine draws at least some of its powers from the Javanese bishopwood tree that serves as the central focus of the restaurant’s back patio, which is clearly the best place to be when the skies don’t cry. Even when LA does experience rain, this accomplished restaurant still has plenty to fall back on, including Kris Morningstar’s rustic French-Cal cooking and the suave hospitality of front of house partners Stephane Bombet and Francois Renaud, who both grew up in France and have firm grasps on wine. Resident bartender Ryan Wainwright and his team are also ready to serve, with dangerously deft cocktails.
Bombet and Renaud also preside over Viviane, a modern French restaurant with chef Michael Hung that revolves around the courtyard pool area in Avalon Hotel Beverly Hills. Designer Kelly Wearstler contributed her fashionable flair, including colorful geometric patterns on the walls of cushioned, vine-framed cabanas and wood tables. Check the restaurant’s geotag on Instagram to see just how fashionable the clientele can get, including a fleet of fashion designers, models, and the occasional actor.
Wolfgang Puck manages this culinary oasis in the ritzy Bel-Air hills, leaving seasonal California cuisine in the capable hands of chef Hugo Bolanos. Brunch and afternoon tea are both legendary at Hotel Bel-Air, for good reason. Splurge-worthy food and service are consistently good, and the setting is picturesque. The restaurant’s covered patio features floral accents, white-clothed tables, and warm wood panel flooring -- and you can even say hi to a resident swan on the way to your car.
1. AOC8700 W 3rd St, Los Angeles
2. Cliff's Edge3626 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles
3. Ashland Hill2807 Main St, Santa Monica
4. The Daily Dose1820 Industrial St, Los Angeles
5. E.R.B.1936 E. 7th St, Los Angeles
6. E.P. & L.P.603 N LA Cienega Blvd, West Hollywood
7. Idle Hour4824 Vineland Ave, North Hollywood
8. Gjusta320 Sunset Ave, Venice
9. Malibu Farm Cafe23000 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
10. Horse Thief324 S Hill St, Los Angeles
11. Momed3245 Casitas Ave, Los Angeles
12. Mare7465 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
13. Nobu Malibu22706 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu
14. The Roof on Wilshire6317 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
15. Ray's & Stark Bar5905 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles
16. Spartina7505 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles
17. Salazar2490 Fletcher Dr, Los Angeles
18. Terrine8265 Beverly Blvd, Los Angeles
19. Viviane Restaurant9400 W Olympic Blvd, Beverly Hills
20. Wolfgang Puck At The Hotel Bel Air701 Stone Canyon Rd, Bel Air
Mid-Wilshire's A.O.C. is an intimately styled wine bar, with one of the city’s greatest patios, serving world-class Mediterranean small plates and a solid wine list. With wines from all over the world and a cozy and romantic atmosphere, A.O.C. is a great place to bring a first date that you are really looking to impress.
Cliff's Edge is a Silver Lake mainstay with towering wood doors, a seasonal, New American menu, craft cocktails, and an eccentric -- but more importantly, reasonably priced -- wine list. While this is all well and good (and it is... really, really good), the real draw is the almost enchanting, vaguely woodsy, foliage-lined patio with lights strung among the treetops and one large, protruding tree trunk to anchor the outdoor space. Sit here, slurp oysters in red wine mignonette, sip grower Champagne, and you might just be able to tune out the traffic sounds blaring from Sunset Boulevard.
Ashland Hill opened in the former Wildfire Pizza space in 2015; the beer bar boasts a massive patio -- perfect to camp out on during the summer -- and a strong-to-very-strong draft list and shareable goodness like shishito mac & cheese and lamb and pork meatballs.
The Daily Dose Cafe, located in downtown in the Arts District, serves classic American food made from fresh, locally grown produce, and certified organic products. A brick path with ivy-lined walls and mismatched tables has been a welcome home to the neighborhood’s creative types, who flock to the alley cafe for Stumptown coffee drinks, egg dishes in the morning, and lunchtime sandwiches like “The Farmer,” which is loaded with roasted veggies and ancho chile ham.
From Matt Molina, a James Beard Award-winning alum of Osteria Mozza, and Randy Clement of Silver Lake Wine, Everson Royce Bar is a relaxed bar with well-constructed cocktails and critically-acclaimed food (especially the burger). The large back patio is a huge draw, complete with picnic tables, wood and brick walls, and a blue bocce court.
It's a bit hard to discern which is which at this two-for-one West Hollywood spot. Downstairs is E.P., an Asian restaurant that combines Thai cooking with Chinese, Fijian, and Vietnamese elements. Meanwhile, L.P. is the upstairs patio bar serving up street food small bites and killer cocktails surrounded by stunning views of the Hollywood Hills.
Originally built as a tap room in 1941, Idle Hour has been refurbished and reopened into a shining example of what every bar shaped like a giant whiskey barrel should be. Cocktails on tap, a top-notch patio out back, and even a separate private party annex that's shaped like a giant, pipe-smoking bulldog (everything is shaped like something!!) take this Vineland drinking destination to the next level.
An artisanal bakery-deli hybrid, Gjusta is a takeaway-centric spot from the Gjelina owners that mixes up American, European, and Middle Eastern flavors. It’s a mecca for all your breakfast and lunch cravings -- think everything from baklava croissants and lox to porchetta melts and tuna conserva. While the interior is industrial and sprawling, the counter-serve interior is standing room-only, but there is a sprawling back patio.
Malibu Farm Pier Cafe is a dining destination, offering a delicious organic menu serving breakfast and lunch directly on top of the Pacific Ocean at the end of the pier. Pass by casting fisherman to reach this rustic cafe with white walls, wood tables sporting lavender centerpieces, and views of surfers and the sea.
Wade McElroy and Russell Malixi's outdoor restaurant at Grand Central Market, Horse Thief BBQ, serves gourmet smoked meats and sides to pair them with. The communal seating provides views of passersby, downtown office towers, and fosters a share-friendly forum to enjoy smoked meats like brisket, pork spare ribs, chicken, and craft beers.
The Atwater outpost of 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, which has a concrete patio fronted by stylish white and grey tiles. Marble communal seating adjoins a covered patio with blonde wood tables and white wicker chairs. However, it's the avocado hummus that really completes the experience.
Eric Greenspan’s Melrose restaurant isn’t just coastal, it’s European coastal. Home to one of the best g-damn patios in LA, the seafood spot is cleverly tucked behind Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese and is decked out with twinkling lights, candles, and SoCal flora. Maré's focused menu appeals to surf-and-turf lovers, featuring dishes like branzino with fig-pomegranate glaze and skirt steak with oregano and sea urchin butter.
For sushi and celebrity sightings in LA, there's Katsuya. For sushi, celebrity sightings, and beachfront views, there's Nobu Malibu. From master chef Nobu Matsuhisa and Robert De Niro, the PCH outpost of the worldwide brand has been delivering consistently A-list Japanese fusion food since 1999. Expect Matsuhisa's signatures -- black cod miso and yellowtail sashimi with jalapeño -- as well as Malibu specials like ribeye with truffle butter sauce. The space feels more like a resort than a restaurant thanks to an open patio with lounge seating, bonzai trees, and views of the Malibu Pier.
Getting to the rooftop restaurant atop Hotel Wilshire is a little complicated because you have to take two elevators, but once you make it to there, you'll never want to leave. Cabanas surround the pool and no matter where you stand, you'll get panoramic city views of the Hollywood Hills and Mid-City. Chef Eric Greenspan helms the all-day restaurant and bar with creative plates like pancake lasagna and a Wilshire (not Waldorf) salad.
Located at LACMA, this swanky bar and restaurant takes museum dining to new levels with an upscale American menu, killer cocktails, and an expansive outdoor patio. Expect wood-fired pizzas, plenty of veggie plates, and classic entrees like a burger with caramelized onions and grilled fish. The Stark Bar has an impressive spirit selection sourced from across the world, and the craft cocktails taste just right at happy hour.
Spartina features market-driven, farmhouse Italian cuisine served in a chic, open-air dining room. The chef practices transparency on Melrose, presiding over an open kitchen and featuring a big patio out front. White walls frame wood tables (filled with seasonal pizza, pasta, and salads) topped with strings of moody lights.
Located in a converted auto body shop in Frogtown, Salazar specializes in Sonoran-style Mexican food, which means mesquite barbecue, tacos, and burritos. The mostly outdoor space has a huge desert-themed patio with communal tables and utilitarian chairs. Expect plenty of mezcal, tequila, and Micheladas.
Nostalgic French fare is given the expansive brasserie and a fairytale garden it deserves in Terrine, with chef Kris Morningstar masterminding elegant chicken confit salad, garlic-butter bathed escargots and a steak frites with smoked bone marrow that can be paired with an impressive French wine list. The namesake terrine, made with foie gras and served with apricot compote, proves worthy of the honor. Yet, a visit is utterly incomplete without sampling the charcuterie boards: with truffled chicken liver, terrine de campaign, liverwurst, andouille sausage and smoked beef deckle arranged with pickled morsels on a sturdy wooden disc. Dreamy and casual, the dining room is filled with bistro chairs, distressed brick and umber-hued leather banquettes with ornate mirrors propped behind them. The best part awaits behind an archway in the back, revealing an outdoor lounge with a giant illuminated tree as the centerpiece. The spot is more than an ideal perch for star-gazing, a well-balanced classic cocktail by Ryan Wainwright making you question your balance.
Viviane, a modern French restaurant with award-winning chef Michael Hung in the kitchen, revolves around the courtyard pool area inside the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills. The interior has a fashionable flair, including colorful geometric patterns on the walls and cushioned vine-framed cabanas and wood tables. On the menu, you can expect classic European and American cuisine- plus great brunch options.
Wolfgang Puck manages this culinary oasis in Bel Air, leaving seasonal California cuisine in the capable hands of chef Hugo Bolanos. Brunch and afternoon tea are both legendary at Hotel Bel-Air, for good reason. Splurge-worthy food and service are consistently good, and the setting is picturesque. The restaurant’s covered patio features floral accents, white-clothed tables, and warm wood panel flooring.