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 the tricky big group dinner. For one, there’s always more room. Secondly, once that friend starts talking about how they’re only voting Third Party, you’ll have more oxygen to grab from as you start to hyperventilate. 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 15 fantastic spots.
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 right now 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.
E.R.B is one of those places that gets everything right without seeming like it put in an ounce of effort. The Arts District bar has an unpretentious vibe (a difficult task in this part of town), fantastic drinks, and a large back patio you’ll end up spending all night in (bocce ball anyone?). The menu at first reads a bit all over the place, but trust us - everything from the taquitos to the steamed buns to the chorizo burger is excellent. And your group will agree.
When all else fails, Red Lion Tavern is that place you go to 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. The menu isn’t exactly long, but if you’re sad about a platter of sausage hitting the table after your third boot of beer, we have nothing in common.
Cassia is the perfect birthday dinner venue for when the party got kind of big, but you still want to keep things a little bit fancy. Definitely reserve a table ahead of time and make sure you ask to be outside - the patio is crazy popular. It might be an otherwise-sad part of Santa Monica, but that’s nothing a few string lights can’t fix. The South East Asian-ish menu is even better when you get to share everything on it.
Planning a group dinner is rarely an easy undertaking, so do yourself a favor and head to Fat Dog. The neighborhood bar/restaurant in Noho is that place you can stroll in with a group of friends at the last second, and rarely have to wait too long for a table. The atmosphere inside is always laid-back, their upscale bar food is solid across the board, and that back patio is the perfect place to unwind on a Friday night.
The thought of the check hitting the table after a big group dinner is a terrifying one - people writing their names and how much they owe on the back till the math finally comes out right. It’s a nightmare. Your solution? C&O’s in Venice, for a festive (and yes, slightly cheesy) outdoor Italian dinner where everything is family style. The portions are huge, so just pick a handful of favorites for the table, then sit back and relax - an all-restaurant rendition of “That’s Amore” will be starting soon.
Playa Provisions can be a bit confusing - there’s an ice cream counter, a casual marketplace, a restaurant, and a whiskey bar hidden away somewhere we haven’t quite found yet. Make things simple, head for Dock Side (the restaurant) and ask for a spot on the patio. There are big picnic tables that will have you arriving for brunch and being that annoying loud group that stays until dinner. No apologies.
Hello, girls night out. This Hollywood hot spot inside the Roxbury Hotel is admittedly a pretty big scene, but sometimes that’s what the night calls for. And if you’re going to do it, you might as well pick a place that’s worth it - and Cleo always is. The outdoor patio is massive and beautiful and their Mediterranean/tapas menu is perfect for sharing (and not getting disgustingly full). The Hollywood and Vine location also doesn’t hurt when the night is young and you’re ready to dance.
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 bar where everyone can sit outside, drink craft beer, and order individually from whatever food trucks they want. The nightly lineup rotates, so be sure to check their Facebook or Twitter beforehand, because your friend will no doubt have something to say about that too.
Got some dairy-free, meat-free, grain-free, everything fun-free friends in town? Gracias Madre somehow makes these things fun. Look, if you’re a dairy-consuming carnivore, you will notice the difference between cashew cheese and regular cheese (the cashew doesn’t win), and the food has a serious stooge factor. But when you have a vegan in the group, it’s a good option, and with cocktails this strong you can stick to chips and guac without anyone noticing. And there’s a reason the patio looks familiar - it’s been all over your Instagram feed for years.
Before you start shouting at us - no, Commissary is not technically outside. But the whole restaurant is inside a greenhouse, so it basically counts. The food is full of crowd-pleasers that are easy to share, but if you’re anything like us, you’re here for multiple rounds of Gin & Juice - there are three flavors to try after all.
A-Frame is the fun option, plain and simple. Anywhere that serves Hawaiian food in a former IHOP and goes all in on the theme is always going to be a winner in our eyes. The outside area here gets rowdy, but 100% in a good way. Plus, there’s everything from poke to a killer Loco Moco, so no one can complain about having nothing to eat.
This 70-year-old Venice staple is one of our favorite Mexican joints 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.