You already know about LA’s weather. Mega-drought and El Niño aside, it’s goddamn perfect 12 months out of the year. And the obvious result of that is a patio scene that no one else in the country can even come close to rivaling.
But how do you make sense of it all? For every game-changing outdoor space, there’s a sad, shadowy side alley with plastic furniture in it. You deserve better - and we’ve done the dirty work for you. Here are the 26 best patios in LA, updated for Summer 2017, and ranked on appeal, functionality, and getting you as much glorious California sun as possible.
Check out the rest of our 2017 Summer Guide here.
Say hello to the best patio in Los Angeles. A dinner (or lunch or brunch) here feels like you’ve left LA and are weekending in Austin. The laid-back space is almost entirely outdoors - save for a semi-indoor bar and a little area where you can smash your face against the glass and watch them make their house-made tortillas on the other side. The drinks are excellent, the Sonoran-style Mexican BBQ can’t be beat, and the entire patio is full of people who are doing that rare dinner activity - having a legitimately good time.
The patio at Michael’s is hands-down the best on the Westside. Eating here feels like eating in the jungle, but with white tablecloths and without all the bugs. The vibe is surprisingly great, given that half the crowd has been coming here since they opened 35 years ago - it’s the kind of place where the owner does the rounds of the tables before holding court at his regular spot. The food isn’t going to rock your world (it can be a bit heavy), but that’s almost besides the point.
You come to ERB for the burger and the beer and the never-ending wine list, but you absolutely stay for that back patio. The Arts District bar/restaurant has long wooden communal tables for when the crew is rolling deep, and small tables off to the side for some date night glory. With trees covering the patio and the requisite string lights hanging above your head, there isn’t a better place to be drinking outdoors in DTLA this summer.
In a town of excellent patios, Chateau Marmont’s is by far the most Hollywood. It feels like a movie set, is full of people who never take their sunglasses off, and even though we should hate it here, we can’t get enough of it. There’s almost always an Olsen twin or a member of Radiohead present (both, if you’re lucky), the food is much better than it needs to be at a celebrity “hot spot,” and mostly we like to pretend that we’re the type of people who can get away with wearing sunglasses all the time too.
When it comes to knock-out patios, nobody can really come close to what Nobu Malibu has to offer. Located on the most prime real estate in Malibu, Nobu’s unobstructed ocean views and legendary sushi make this one of LA’s most iconic patios. You’re going to spend a lot of money, and you’re going to be perfectly ok with it.
After essentially being left for dead last year, a restaurant group swooped in and saved this Hollywood landmark from becoming condos for people who don’t even live there. Now, the massive, 100-year-old Japanese restaurant with the best patio (and people watching) in the Hills is back to its old glory days status. No, the food isn’t going to blow anybody away, but that’s not why you go to this LA classic.
S-E-X. That’s the actual acronym of this longtime Weho/Beverly Hills go-to. The French/Spanish small plates are excellent, the back courtyard is everything your love life has ever wanted, and look, there’s Mila Kunis getting flirty in the corner.
If you’re looking to get a little rowdy, this outdoor beer garden in Silver Lake is one of your better patio bets in the city. The space is large (though it fills up quickly), and people come here to do one thing - drink heavily. What’s one boot of beer when you can have two?
Wolfdown feels like the house of your one very stylish friend, but in restaurant form. The side patio is covered in string lights, has strategically-placed heaters, and generally feels like the classy backyard dinner party you’ll realistically never be able to throw. There’s an Asian theme to the food - huge plates of Korean fried chicken, coconut black rice, and oversized dumplings will keep everybody happy.
Botanica is the newest restaurant on this list, but this kind-of-healthy Silver Lake spot has come out of the gate very strong. Their back patio is shaded and looks very good on your wellness blogger friend’s social media, but the real twist here is that the food is fantastic. There’s definitely a healthy bent - yes, that is beet in your cocktail - but everything from the Turkish eggs at breakfast to the chorizo and clams at dinner is so good you’ll forget about that. Just how we like our healthy food.
La Cabana has been around since the 1960’s and is the kind of old-school Mexican joint people fantasize about being regulars at when they fly into LAX. Their guacamole (made tableside), the massive el verde burrito, and the unlimited chips and salsa are all delicious, but this Venice staple’s bread and butter is that back patio. Few things are better than a summer night here with friends, a couple margarita pitchers, and a mariachi band that may or may not perform on the roof.
Few LA restaurants are as polarizing as Gracias Madre, but no one will deny that the patio is amongst the finest in town. Regardless of whether you prefer to have real cheese in your quesadillas or not, sitting out there with a well-made cocktail after work in the evening or on a Saturday afternoon with friends is never a bad idea.
Have you been to Hollywood lately? There are construction cranes on every block. And those cranes are building hotels. A lot of hotels. Mama Shelter is one of them, and their colorful space is excellent. The whole place feels like a Real World house, and their casual rooftop patio is the icing on the cake. Part restaurant, part sofa-bed lounge, part get-yourself-drunk-on-a-Sunday HQ, this patio is where our summer weekends begin and end.
Cliff’s Edge has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride the last few years. Update: they’re doing just fine. The food is still solid, the cocktails are great, and no amount of chef changes and menu swaps will ever take away that incredible back patio. If you don’t want to eat dinner in a space that feels like a Jurassic Park luxury suite, we have nothing in common.
While DTLA’s rooftop patio situation is rapidly improving, the best is still Perch. The massive wraparound outdoor space offers a view of LA you kind of forgot existed. Come for dinner or drinks, or to enjoy the nightly live music.
The fact of the matter is you do not come to The Castaway for the food. You come here for the vibes, the view, and because it’s probably your boss’ birthday. But the Burbank staple is special because its vantage point up on the Verdugo Mountains is the only one of its kind. So grab a glass (or three) of wine, and enjoy an amazing night out by the fire pits.
LA loves itself a commune, and few areas are more woven into that culture than Topanga Canyon. Though its 1970’s heyday is long gone, there are enough roadside stops and weird things here to make it worthy of a day trip. Just be sure one of those stops is at Inn of The Seventh Ray for lunch. The upscale restaurant has a patio straight out of a Narnia fever dream, and you want all of it.
Yes, C&O’s is cheesy as f*ck and no, we don’t care. The family-run Italian joint steps from the Marina Del Rey beach has a familiar menu that never disappoints and an outdoor patio that feels like a backdrop to a Woody Allen movie. The waiters just sang “That’s Amore!” to you and your parents, and will do it again in an hour. Welcome to heaven.
While Nobu down the street has the exclusivity factor covered, Malibu Farm Pier Cafe is all about accessibility, with views that are almost just as good. Located at the end of the Malibu Pier, you can have a delicious lunch for under $20, completely surrounded by water.
The 75-year-old NoHo icon had fallen on some pretty hard times over the years, but after a lengthy gut job, it’s safe to say the kitschy drinking spot is back and probably better than it ever was before. The menu has your typical bar food standards, but everything is good. And that massive back patio with grumpy pipe dog is the perfect spot to eat and drink your way through a lazy Saturday afternoon.
Seemingly overnight, Highland Park’s York Blvd. went from sleepy neighborhood thoroughfare to a major restaurant row. And while Block Party might not be a full-fledged restaurant, it has one of our favorite patios in the city. The expansive back space has full-sized shuffleboards, a retro hot dog stand, and all the tables in the world to enjoy the tremendous craft beer stock.
We’ll be honest - Ivory does not have the best food on this guide. That said, it’s still pretty decent and if you roll in deep to this sceney Sunset Strip spot, everyone in the group will find something they like. But let’s talk about the patio - it’s why you’re here. With insane views and everything from couches to bar stools to a sexy table-for-two in the corner, Ivory’s patio has everything your Saturday night needs.
If you’re wondering where just about everybody on the Eastside goes for lunch or dinner or any meal in between, the answer is Alcove. The Los Feliz cafe has turned into an all-out scene with everyone from last Friday’s Tinder hook-up to Emily Blunt hovering around to snag a table. Skip the weekend brunch rush and mosey in on a weekday night for some dessert and a nightcap.
The South Bay has never had any trouble throwing a party, and Abigaile is playing full-time host. The Hermosa Beach nightlife spot is part restaurant, part brewery, part nightclub. And somehow, it all works. The beer is great, the food is stellar, and there’s no better way to soak up that Hermosa Beach who-gives-a-sh*t vibe than out on that fantastic patio.
Yet another vegetarian option on Abbot Kinney feels unnecessary at this point, but when you have a back patio like Plant, there will always be room. The enormous space is great all day, but the real magic happens when the sun goes down and the twinkling tree lights turn it all into the meatless Ferngully of your dreams.
EP & LP pretty much went right from being open to being packed at all times. This place is a nighttime go-to for young Hollywood types, and the rooftop patio has one of the better views in West Hollywood. The second floor is a full-scale restaurant serving decent Asian fusion, but our move is always the top floor. (If we can get in.)
A few people who complain about everything continue to bemoan the loss of their old Rose Cafe, but take one glance inside this place and tell us they didn’t get it completely right. It’s basically 14 different concepts put into one restaurant and somehow it all works. The food is solid and their two separate patios are the ideal spots to enjoy another sunny day by the beach.
mar'sel100 Terranea Way
It’s not everyday you wake up craving a meal in Palos Verdes, but when you do, there’s no better place than Mar’sel. Located in the truly impressive Terranea Resort, Mar’sel has very good (and very expensive) food, but you’re here for that view. Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific with Catalina Island off in the distance, there’s not much else to say except “more wine spritzer please.”