100-degree days in September are honestly just kind of f*cked up. But they’re also a good reminder that while the rest of the country prepares for “fall,” we need to prepare for second summer. And this year, there’s no hiding inside restaurants with A/C - all we’ve got is outdoor dining. So we put together this guide to eight spots where you can cool down in the shade, or near the ocean, or maybe just with the help of some really strong drinks. Here’s where to go when it’s so hot that your brain stops working.
If there’s one place in town that might actually stay cool when it’s a million degrees out, it’s Dudley Market. This seafood spot is on a side street that runs straight to the ocean, so you’ll get some actual semblance of a breeze. They serve ideal hot-weather food like line-caught tuna crudo, toro hand rolls, and yellowtail sashimi - much of which was hauled in on their restaurant-owned boat. They’ve also got lots of natural wines and Aperol spritzes. And hey, maybe you’ll convince them to take you out on that boat during the next really hot day.
Poke is an ideal hot-weather food. And the best place in the city to sit under an umbrella and eat it is Ali’i Fish Company. This El Segundo poke spot sources their tuna daily from the Honolulu Fish Auction - which means you’re going to get incredible quality ahi in your bowls, dressed simply with some ponzu. It’s genuinely perfect. Plus, Ali’i’s only about a mile from El Segundo Beach, so as soon as you finish your fish, you can hop in the water.
Maybe you’ve just given up on being cool today. The least you can do is drink too many margaritas at Casita Del Campo, one of the most fun restaurants in town. You’ll join (spaced-out) crowds on their new patio, which is covered in trees, succulents, and enough umbrellas to at least keep you out of the sun while you eat your enchilada platter. Casita is also one of LA’s most iconic queer spaces, and guaranteed to be a good time - even in the heat.
When we say Malibu Farm is on the water, we mean that it’s on the water. This restaurant occupies most of the Malibu Pier, and has a constant seabreeze that keeps the patio nice and cool for you while you’re eating your salmon nicoise salad. There are also Bloody Marys and watermelon mimosas, if that breeze isn’t doing it for you.
Happy Ice may not have an actual patio, but there’s truly no better place to cool off than this Philadelphia-style water ice truck (or their new shop on Melrose). This creamy shaved ice melts in your mouth, and will put ice in your veins faster than a Joel Embiid staredown. Yes, that was a very specific Philly basketball joke.
This bar on La Brea opened just before the pandemic hit. And since outdoor dining reopened in LA, they’ve reinvented themselves as an all-outdoor sports bar. The patio has TVs, daily specials like Taco Tuesdays and 25-cent wing Wednesdays, and enough beer to cool you down while you’re watching the NBA Playoffs. Or at least enough to make you forget that it’s 100 out.
Spoke Bicycle Cafe
There aren’t many places outdoors on the Eastside that stand a chance of staying cool on a triple-digit day, but you’ve got better odds at some spots than others. Spoke Bicycle Cafe is a great bet - they have a huge, shaded patio, and there’s always a bit of a breeze since it’s right on the LA River. Along with burgers, sandwiches, and salads, you’ll also find a great selection of local craft beer that’ll help you cool off.
When all else fails, crank that A/C knob to MAX, head to your favorite fast-food spot, and house a milkshake and some fries in the parking lot. If you close your eyes and concentrate, maybe you can pretend you’re inside your favorite restaurant... OK, maybe you can’t. But at least you’re staying cool. And getting good gas mileage.