In the land of year-round sunshine, eating outside is just one of those lucky perks that comes along with being an Angeleno—and there’s certainly no shortage of places to do it. From great views to good vibes, we’re highlighting 11 of the best places for open-air dining.
Fifteen floors above Downtown LA’s concrete jungle, rooftop goodness awaits at always-busy Perch. Surrounded by the skyline, you might feel more like you’re in New York or Chicago, but the laid-back, boho vibe is 100% Angeleno. Live jazz bands and/or DJs set the mood; check the calendar ahead of time to see who’s playing. After 9 PM, the French-inspired restaurant morphs into a bustling bar—get there early if you want a good seat…and don’t leave without trying the truffle poutine.
If you saw the movie Chef, you’ve already peeped this Caribbean-themed, roadside eatery helmed by rock star chef Roy Choi. (The restaurant makes a cameo in the closing scene of the hunger-inducing Jon Favreau flick.) Take a seat on the colorful “back porch,” and feast on favorites like Choi’s towering Two-Fisted Burger, Cuban Torta, and yucca fries while listening to reggae.
Sink your feet in and stay a while at this beachy, timeless Malibu institution, where many of the tables are right on the sand. The casual outdoor patio is fashioned after the South of France, and some of the tables are covered with surfboards (apropos for enjoying the surf-and-turf fare). Though the wait can be long, the time is easily passed hanging out on the private beach or strolling the adjacent fishing pier. Also, be sure to check out all the wall memorabilia—this place has a lot of history, having been the filming location for Cali classics like Gidget and Beach Blanket Bingo. But the best site you’ll see is the look on people’s faces when they catch a glimpse of an epic seafood tower being paraded through the restaurant to its intended patrons.
Healthy, upscale Mexican food may seem like a bit of an oxymoron (in America, anyway), but then again, Gracias Madre isn’t your everyday eatery. This West Hollywood restaurant serves up organic, plant-based fare like spicy mole enchiladas and butternut squash quesadillas—not to mention a sizable drink menu. Hit up the colorful outdoor patio during happy hour (when selected items like gorditas and Mezcal Mules are only $5), and try to score a seat near the outdoor fireplace.
If reality show cred is your thing, you’ve come to the right place. PUMP is Real Housewife of Beverly Hills’ Lisa Vanderpump’s latest endeavor, and it’s right around the corner from SUR (where the delightfully trashy Vanderpump Rules is shot). It’s evident in certain décor touches at PUMP, too, like the hand-painted “RHOBH” quotes in the open-air VIP area. But bickering Bravo beauties certainly aren’t the only draw—this Mediterranean restaurant also offers an inviting secret garden-style patio, filled with fragrant, century-old olive trees.
This romantic Silverlake restaurant shows up on almost every al fresco dining list—and with good reason. Set behind a busy section of Sunset Boulevard (next to a 99 Cent Store, naturally), the candlelit outdoor dining area at Cliffs’ Edge’s still manages to feel like an urban oasis, with a protective wall of bamboo trees and a billowing canopy overhead. Go for Thursday Oyster Nights—when all oysters are $1 between 6-7 PM along with discounted drinks—or show up anytime for a killer plate of pumpkin ravioli and a can’t-miss pick from the vaunted wine list.
RAY’S & STARK BAR
Once you’ve got your fill of high culture at LACMA, set up shop at the adjacent Ray’s & Stark Bar to indulge in some people watching on the patio. (It overlooks the museum’s Resnick Pavilion, so you’ll get your fix of great architecture, too.) During the summer, book your table at this Mediterranean bistro for Friday night, when LACMA holds its free weekly jazz concerts. If it’s extra-hot outside, just request a visit from the resident water sommelier…yes, that’s a thing here.
Brave the always-insane Pacific Coast Highway traffic to reach this seaside sushi hotspot, and you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views in town. In 2012, Nobu relocated from its longtime perch inside the Malibu Country Mart to this sleek waterfront setting—known for its sweeping view of the Pacific. Essentially tailor-made for date night, Nobu is the perfect place to take in the LA sunset while enjoying some of celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s signature offerings (like Black Cod Miso and Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno).
This buzzy brasserie opened in December 2014 and has been going strong ever since, thanks to chef Kris Morningstar’s earnest take on California-French cuisine. And the setting is outstanding. Warm string lights and the shelter of a giant bishopwood tree distinguish the breezy garden patio. The best times to check it out are during brunch, late-night happy hour (where gooey-good onion soup poutine and Croque Cubano sandwiches reign), or the pork-tastic “Pig & Co.” dinners held every Monday.
BEACHSIDE (AT THE JAMAICA BAY INN)
This place lives up to the name, thanks to its plum perch right across from the Marina Del Rey beach. Though hotel restaurants can often be hit-or-miss, Beachside delivers with decadent dishes like French toast made from vanilla custard bread pudding, Mushroom Benedict on toasted brioche, and pan-roasted Pacific Mahi Mahi with coconut risotto. (Pro tip: Don’t let the diehard water yogis across the way guilt-shame you into not enjoying the caloric cuisine.) Bonus point: the patio is dog friendly, so bring your mutt for the waterfront meal.
Tucked away high in the hills of Burbank, this old-school favorite not only has killer panoramic views, but also lays claim to those four magic words: “all you can eat.” The epic brunch buffet offers all the usual trappings; highlights include the made-to-order pasta station, fresh seafood and sushi bar, and the chocolate fountain. (Oh, and let’s not forget the bottomless champagne.) Raise a glass as you enjoy the view, which spans all the way from downtown to the water.