Great Places For A Big Group Dinner Outside
When the crew’s rolling deep and you want to head outside, these are the 23 best places to do it.
We don’t need to tell you how nice the weather is here. You can just walk outside and see for yourself. But it does bear repeating that any chance you have to eat outdoors, you probably should - especially when it comes to big group dinners. For one, there’s always more room. Secondly, once that one friend starts trying to sell you on cryptocurrency, you’ll have more oxygen to inhale as the fatigue settles in. And lastly, eating outside is just always more fun. So next time the crew is rolling deep, move the party outside to any of these 23 fantastic spots.
Agnes Restaurant & Cheesery
Agnes’s space in downtown Pasadena used to be an actual horse stable, so needless to say, there’s all sorts of room at this upscale Midwestern spot that also doubles as a cheesery. Sitting at a table in the main dining room with the meat-filled hearth roaring in the background is certainly an experience worth having, but if you’re with a big group, the shaded back patio is the way to go. Here you’ll have all the space you’ll need to spread out and fill up your table with dishes like cornbread eclairs, loaded baked potato dumplings, and puppy chow ice cream. Plus, you’ll also have a front row seat to Agnes’s pasta-making room.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
This vegetarian Israeli cafe in Lincoln Heights has quickly become one of our favorite dinner spots on the Eastside, and its wrap-around patio is a big reason why. With patterned walls, red canopies, and a basketball hoop, Mazal works just as well as a casual midweek date spot as it does a big friend hangout on the weekends. We recommend going all-in on the spreads (hummus, madbuka, babaganoush) and rounding out your meal with a fresh Israeli salad and a Jerusalem bagel toast that comes with melted provolone, spicy schug, kale, and pesto. If you feel like drinking, most of their wine bottles fall in the $30-40 range.
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This fantastic Italian/Mexican pop-up is currently operating on a secret back patio in Highland Park every Friday night and Sunday afternoon for brunch. Expect copious amounts of space, free-flowing wine, and some of the most interesting and exciting food being served in LA right now. Think elote agnolotti and carnitas calzones at dinner and churro griddle cakes and sweet potato ceviche. Parties are capped at six people and tables do get snatched up quickly, so be sure to make a reservation well in advance.
Wife and the Somm
Wife & The Somm is a casual neighborhood wine bar in Glassell Park that’s much bigger than it appears from the sidewalk. With two different interconnecting patios and a main bar area that’s as outside as it is inside, you have several choices when it comes to seating. If you’re rolling in with a big group though, we recommend the leafy, semi-private back patio. When it comes to the food, expect small plates like charcuterie, seasonal pasta like tagliatelle in yuzu butter, and other things that taste great as you work your way down their excellent wine list, which includes an entire chilled red section.
Girl & The Goat
After a decade-long reign in Chicago, this enormously popular, meat-focused restaurant has opened its second location in the the Arts District. The never-ending industrial dining room and big wrap-around patio space is ideal for big friend get-togethers or after-hours work gatherings. The menu is pretty wide-ranging with everything from goat liver mousse with grilled blueberries and crumpets to roasted oysters and goat curry, but it’s all delicious and ideal for passing around the table.
While its Americana-adjacent location in Glendale makes Raffi’s a good option to grab a quick kebab before doing some shopping, the best way to use this Persian institution is to get together with family or friends for a big group meal. The massive patio space can accommodate any size group and its party-like atmosphere makes the whole place feel like one giant neighborhood reunion. The barg - thinly sliced filet mignon - is charbroiled, perfectly salted, and comes on a bed of fluffy basmati rice with a grilled tomato and Anaheim pepper. Come hungry, and order family-style.
With a truly cavernous space on Beverly Blvd., El Coyote has always been a great spot for a big group dinner. But now that this Mexican restaurant has taken over their equally large parking lot and turned it into a patio, that big group revelry can also exist outdoors. One area of the lot has an open tent not unlike what you’d see at an outdoor wedding, and if you’re rolling really deep, there are stand-alone tables with their individual tents as well. As far as the food goes, we tend to go for either the carnitas plate or fajitas, but at the end of the day, the reason for the season here will always be their famously strong margaritas. Just be sure to ask for ice on the side - you basically get two margaritas for the price of one.
When it comes to finding a place for group dinners, Korean BBQ is always a good place to start. While there are tons of great options in Ktown, Parks BBQ will always be one of our favorites. The price point is a tad higher than others in the neighborhood, but the quality of meat is unmatched, and the front patio atmosphere is festive without feeling like an off-the-rails house party. The extensive menu can be a little overwhelming at first, so if this is your first visit, stick to any of the combo platters on the back, and no one will go home hungry. We particularly love the P-1, which for $129 total, comes with bulgogi, beef brisket, galbi, boneless beef short rib, and a never-ending parade of excellent banchan.
Where To Eat KBBQ Outside In LA
LA Cha Cha Chá
It’s not easy planning a big group dinner, but if you suggest Cha Cha Cha, chances are people will have a hard time saying no. Located on a rooftop in the Arts District, this colorful Mexican restaurant somehow manages to hit that perfect Venn diagram of fun, casual, and downright gorgeous. The lush, massive patio has fantastic views of Downtown, the crowd is full of hot well-dressed people who don’t look like they tried too hard, and the food will fit the needs of just about everyone in your group. We love the tuna tostada and the scallop aguachile, but if you’re looking to go halfsies with somebody, do the steak pa’taquear. It’s essentially a $44 build-your-own taco station that comes with perfectly-charred New York strip steak, charred tomato, and red wine salsa, and is more than enough for two people.
Golden Bull Restaurant
This beach-adjacent spot in Santa Monica has transformed its side parking lot into one of the more impressive outdoor dining spaces in town and the locals have responded. Plain and simple, this place is happening. So, if you’re planning to rally your friends for a casual group dinner, you’ll need to grab a reservation at this American restaurant well in advance. That said, if you and a group show up before 4pm in flip-flops and a swimsuit after a day at the beach down the street, you’ll still probably find a table after a short wait. Get the burger and several rounds of martinis.
Broad Street Oyster Co.
This East Coast-style seafood shack in Malibu nearly doubled its footprint in quarantine by building out a massive patio in the front parking lot. Covered with large picnic tables, Broad Street is a great spot to hit when you’re coming back from the beach in Malibu with friends and you forgot to make a reservation somewhere. You’ll want to order a bit of everything here - oysters and spot prawns from the raw bar, a cup or two of their excellent clam chowder, maybe even a Caesar salad if you’re craving something green - but make sure to include their lobster roll. We like it served hot and absolutely smothered in butter. This luxurious sandwich is sure to impress even the snootiest of seafood eaters.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Chifa is a Cantonese-Peruvian restaurant in Eagle Rock that, against all odds, opened in late 2020. While they were takeout-only for a while, they have since reopened their truly adorable interior, as well as a back patio that’s far more conducive to big groups. The menu is inspired by the owner’s original restaurant by the same name in Lima, Peru, and features dishes like pollo a la brasa, mapo tofu, and traditional zongzi, sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and filled with Chinese sausage, pork belly, and mushroom. Whatever you do, make sure you save room for a few black sesame cheesecake tarts at the end - they’re incredible and a perfectly savory way to end a meal here.
Saddle Peak Lodge
Up in the mountains above Malibu, Saddle Peak Lodge is one of LA’s best destination restaurants. This massive place has history dating back to the Pony Express, but nowadays feels more like you’re eating dinner at Richard Branson’s hunting lodge in Montana. There are three separate floors, themed rooms (including an attic filled with tiny boats), and a sprawling patio overlooking the mountains that’ll accommodate any group size. There’s a big chance you’ll be seated next to a roaring fireplace, staring point-blank at a taxidermied deer, and eating giant plates of rare meat with your distant cousins, and you know what? You will feel great about it here.
Tar & Roses
With a convenient location in downtown Santa Monica and a wide-ranging menu filled with everything from oxtail dumplings to octopus skewers to a strawberry ricotta crostata, Tar & Roses is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. And we don’t mean that in a back-handed compliment kind of way either. The food is excellent and easily shareable (they do three-course family-style meals with wood-fired goat, paella, and chili crab that need to be reserved in advance) and the space perfectly straddles the line between being upscale dining and a casual neighborhood hangout spot.
If you want to feel like you’re a part of a big Southern family, but don’t own a seersucker suit and aren’t comfortable saying “Ma’am” out loud, then book a table at Alta. Because whether you’re there with your friends, family, or your girlfriend’s co-workers, you’ll feel right at home. They serve new (and excellent) takes on traditional Southern staples, like crispy fried chicken, black-eyed pea fritters with cilantro sauce, and oxtails and rice that are truly unlike any we’ve ever had - and also, way better than any we’ve ever had.
Dama Fashion District
A dinner on Dama’s massive patio feels like you hopped on a plane, flew to the Caribbean, and are currently partaking in the beach vacation of your dreams. In reality, you’re in the middle of the Fashion District in Downtown, but Dama’s indoor/outdoor space is designed like a colonial mansion in Havana, making it seem like you’re a thousand miles away. As far as the food goes, expect Latin American-inspired dishes that are both fantastic and perfect for sharing with big groups. Be sure to get the whipped beans, crispy pork shank, and the banana sundae for dessert.
Margot is the kind of all-purpose outdoor restaurant we wish there were more of in LA. It’s on the roof of Platform in Culver City, and has a huge outdoor patio where you can fit tables for parties of 10-plus pretty much any night of the week. They’ve got crowd-friendly food that everyone will be happy with - like crudos, pastas, and salads - and fantastic gin and tonics that everyone will be even happier with. The portions aren’t very big, so prepare to order multiples of everything.
This beer garden in Koreatown is certainly not where you’d take your HR department for a team dinner, but if you’re looking for a spot that can handle your chaotic and unpredictable group of friends, Ddong Ggo is it. Though it’s known mainly for beer towers, never-ending soju bottles, and chain-smoking college kids, their gigantic food menu is secretly excellent and ideal for sharing with large groups of friends who will probably get up and leave unannounced at some point. Make sure the kimchi pancake, honey butter chicken, and spicy rice cakes all hit the table.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele
L’Antica is only a few blocks from the manic energy of Hollywood and Highland, but their sprawling back patio - with exposed brick walls, string lights, and a legitimate mini-forest - feels like a completely different universe. And when you’re trying to get a bunch of friends together in the middle of Hollywood, that’s exactly what you want. That and a bunch of fantastic Neapolitan-style pizzas that everybody can share - something L’Antica also has going for it. If you want to add some other plates to the table, go for the calamari or squash blossoms. Otherwise, just do what we do, and order another pizza.
Was this spot specifically created for this guide? Probably not. But also maybe? There is nowhere in the city better suited for outdoor group-dining than Salazar. The restaurant is almost entirely outside, and all the food is made for sharing. Order a bunch of tacos, a few of the large-format plates, beers and margaritas for the table, and you’ll remember why you love this town.
Red Lion Tavern
When all else fails, Red Lion Tavern is that place you go for a guaranteed great time. The Silver Lake beer garden is surprisingly large, with one of our favorite patios in the city, and a lively scene to fill it. The menu isn’t exactly long, but if you’re sad about a platter of sausages hitting the table after your third boot of beer, we have nothing in common.
No matter what, there’s always that one person in the group who refuses to pay one cent above what they owe. Avoid that situation at Verdugo Bar, the excellent Glassell Park spot where everyone can sit outside, drink craft beer, and order individually from whatever food truck they want. The lineup rotates nightly, so be sure to check their Facebook or Twitter beforehand, because your friend will no doubt have something to say about that, too.
La Cabaña Restaurant
This 70-year-old Venice staple is one of our favorite Mexican spots in town, and one that remains criminally overlooked. Their outdoor patio in the back is fantastic, and the type of place where you can roll in with 15 friends and drink never-ending pitchers of margaritas without issue. The food is that kind of old-school Cali-Mexican cuisine everyone loves, and that means you and all your friends are walking away happy.