From sidewalks to alleyways to back parking lots, we saw a surge of patios open across LA in the last year. What could once be considered a weak spot in our city’s dining culture has now become one of our strongest assets. Besides, this city has enough parking lots anyway. And considering the blessed weather this city gets on a year-round basis, it’s about time. From quiet backyard patios in Lincoln Heights to rowdy Arts District rooftops, here are the 16 best new patios that you need to check out this summer.
Gamboge, a Cambodian restaurant that opened in the summer of 2020 in Lincoln Heights, has a tremendous menu filled with dishes like braised sardines in tomatoes, khmer chicken salad, and several different num pang sandwiches (the spicy pork shoulder is our current favorite). But a big part of the allure of this tiny cafe is without question the back patio. With taunt sun canopies, potted plants, and a wooden fence lining the perimeter, it feels like you’re eating lunch in your best friend’s backyard. If you’re looking for a quick solo lunch on the Eastside, it doesn’t get much more idyllic than Gamboge.
Located in the front courtyard of The Pasadena Playhouse, Saso is Spanish/Mediterranean spot with a patio that feels like you apparated to a real plaza in the south of Spain. There’s a bubbling stone fountain, string lights hanging overhead, and massive trees providing natural shade as the sun sets over downtown Pasadena. It’s somewhere you could use for a number of different situations, but we love it most for date night, when you can share a bunch of pintxos (don’t miss the wagyu steak bites with chimichurri) and take advantage of a wine list where most of the bottles fall under $50.
This tiny Israeli cafe in Lincoln Heights has quickly become one of our favorite casual dinner spots on the Eastside, and it’s wrap-around patio is a big reason. With patterned walls, red canopies, and a basketball hoop (there’s no threat of pick-up games happening, it’s decorative only), 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.
For us, one of the great joys of LA reopening was finally getting to spend an afternoon lounging around Chez Jay’s back patio sipping martinis and eating calamari. The classic Santa Monica dive bar recently redid their entire outdoor space, which now comes complete with big awnings, lounge chairs, a separate bar, and plenty of string lights. They also open at 10am on the weekends, which only sounds aggressive if you’ve never had martinis at 10am before.
Whether it’s date night, your birthday, or hanging out with friends you haven’t seen in awhile, Cha Cha Cha works for no matter what kind of night you’re having. And while a menu filled with shareable Mexican plates like tuna tostada and a build-your-own steak taco situation plays a role in that, the real reason is the patio. Located on a second-floor rooftop in the Arts District, the sprawling space has a separate wrap-around bar, countless alcoves with lush greenery if you want some privacy, and incredible views of Downtown just about everywhere you look.
Thanks to a new patio in their adjacent parking lot, La Boheme has quickly transformed itself from a neighborhood French spot to a West Hollywood brunch powerhouse. The patio itself has all the essentials - astroturf, sun canopies, and plenty of foliage - plus big, plush-y lounge chairs that give the whole place a fun “somebody emptied their attic again” aesthetic. Add in a solid menu filled with croque madames, red curry mussels, and $23 bottomless mimosas, and you can start to see why you should make a reservation beforehand.
You’ll definitely need to get a reservation well in advance for this Arts District spot, and should be prepared to drop some cash, but the planning is well worth it. The outdoor tented patio is a mix of concrete walls and jungle-like plant arrangements that’ll make you feel like you’re in a less stressful, non-dystopian version of Maze Runner. The menu is filled with Mexican dishes, many of which are borrowed from the chef’s other restaurants, Cosme in NYC and Mexico City’s Pujol, including smoked clams with cucumbers, fish tempura tacos, and an extra-smoky pescado a la brasa served with tortillas. If you’re looking to impress the socks off a client or someone you might be in love with, Damian is where you should head.
Home to the world-famous Drag Brunch, Hamburger Mary’s in West Hollywood has taken over an adjacent parking lot complete with astroturf, plenty of shade (both kinds, henny), and yes, a lot of drag queens. Even though you don’t come here specifically for the food, you’re going to need something to soak up those drinks. And their menu, filled with everything from potstickers to Impossible burgers to the egg white and turkey-filled “Circuit Boy” wrap, will certainly do the trick. Reservations are a must.
This Santa Monica chophouse has been around for decades, but thanks to a massive new patio in their side parking lot, Golden Bull is experiencing a full-on renaissance in 2021. Come any night of the week and you’ll find everything from first dates to family meals to groups of friends looking for a post-beach Happy Hour hangout. It’s definitely a scene, but one that’s still fun and perfect for getting back into your social groove this summer.
SOL’s patio isn’t the biggest on this list nor does it have crazy views or conversation-starting art pieces, but what it does provide is true peace and quiet - and sometimes that’s all that matters during a chaotic work week. Located behind Rag & Bone on Melrose, this sunny Australian cafe is the perfect place to simply sit with a flat white and stare off into the distance for a half hour. If you get hungry, don’t miss the brekkie sandwich - it’s one of our favorites in town.
After almost four years of buildout, All Season Brewing officially opened its doors in February 2021 and gave LA something it’s never really had before - a brewery smack in the middle of the city. All Season’s cavernous space, located in a former car service station on La Brea, has a massive wrap-around front patio, a row of skee-ball machines in the back, along with a Chica’s Taco window. Most people here are drinking beer (we love tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots as well. If you’re trying to get a hold of us this summer and we’re not responding, chances are you’ll be able to find us here.
If you’ve missed Casita’s del Campo’s warm, neighborhood atmosphere and strong margaritas as much as we have (in other words, an inexplicable amount), we have some good news for you - the classic Silver Lake restaurant is back with not just one, but three new back patios. All the tables at this historic, gay institution are meticulously spaced out, there are string lights hanging everywhere, and tons of umbrellas for shade. In other words, the ideal atmosphere for drinking one too many birthday margaritas with your friends and eating giant plates of sizzling fajitas.
For those in the know, Don Antonio’s is synonymous with a windowless cave filled with bottomless chip baskets and large groups who are there for a good time. But since 2020, Don Antonio’s has expanded the party outside as well. They converted their parking lot into a potted plant-filled watering hole on Pico, complete with papel picado overhead. Regardless of where you sit, you’ll probably end up eating too many chips before the food comes out, but that - and the made-to-order margaritas - are all part of the experience. Everyone seems to like the super burrito, but we recommend a combination plate involving enchiladas, crispy tacos, and chile rellenos.
In what might just be the most oxygen-rich set-up in town, Lady Byrd Cafe has placed plant-filled greenhouses around every table, ensuring maximum English garden aesthetics. Couple that with a menu that includes breakfast burritos, bolognese, and fresh green juices, and this new all-day cafe in Echo Park might just be as good of an al fresco dining situation as you’ll find. Who knows? All of that exposure to greenery might finally make you understand what they mean by “becoming one with nature.”
Between its hidden courtyard surrounded by glass walls, huge trees that bloom next to your table, and what seems to be a Property Brother seated 100 feet away, a dinner at Phenakite is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Run by Minh Phan, the chef behind one of our favorite comfort spots, Porridge and Puffs, Phenakite is equal parts theater, pyrotechnics, and excellent experimental food. The nine-course meal changes monthly, and has included dishes like black sesame vichyssoise and swordfish that’s blowtorched tableside, all of which is served on an elegant, almost futuristic patio.
One of our [favorite restaurants from 2019], Bar Restaurant is a weird, experimental French spot in Silver Lake that’s somehow perfect for almost any occasion. Their menu is a fun blend of recognizable, shared plates, like super soft jamón Ibérico ham and marinated olives, mixed with unique takes on moules frites (it comes buried beneath a creamy Dijon sauce and a mound of curly fries) and BBQ sauce-slathered NY strip steaks. They’ve completely transformed their adjacent parking lot into not one, but two impressive patios where you’ll find perfectly spaced-out tables, hanging lanterns the size of UFOs, and a cozy atmosphere ideal for both dates with love interests and “completely platonic” friends.