The Patio Power Rankings: Where To Eat & Drink Outside guide image


The Patio Power Rankings: Where To Eat & Drink Outside

The 25 best patios in Los Angeles, ranked.

You already know about LA’s weather. Aside from the occasional mega-drought or stint of June Gloom, it’s nearly perfect 12 months out of the year. And the obvious result of that is a great patio scene.

But how do you make sense of it all? For every Eden-esque outdoor space, there’s a DIY side alley filled with plastic furniture. You deserve better. Here are the 25 best patios in LA, ranked according to aesthetic appeal, functionality, and your ability to soak in as much California sunshine as possible.


Everson Royce Bar

ERB is one of those almost-mythical places that gets everything right. This restaurant/bar in the Arts District has fantastic cocktails, a massive wine and beer list, and bar food that’ll change the way you think about bar food—we're mostly talking about their burger. And yet, it’s the massive back patio that keeps us coming back. With a mix of small and large tables, plus tons of space to stand and mingle, hanging out in this string-lit backyard with friends is an ideal Friday night plan. 

This cafe/bike shop in Frogtown is home to the best daytime patio in LA. There are long, shaded picnic tables filled with friends drinking beer and pitching pilot scripts, families fueling up on sandwiches before biking down the river, and solo laptop warriors listening to records and maybe getting a little work done. You don’t need to worry about reservations (because they don’t take them), and outside of a few peak hours on the weekends, you’ll always be able to find an open table or two. Maybe you’re planning a day date or hoping to show out-of-towners a version of LA they don’t see on reality TV. Either way, nothing beats a sunny morning or afternoon at Spoke.

We never thought we’d say this, but the most romantic patio in LA might be in Westwood. Violet is a big French restaurant serving expensive, fussy dishes that are pretty good across the board if you’re into the finer things. But the real attraction here is the tucked-away back patio with foliage, brick walls, and tile rooftops—it looks like a secret alleyway from the village where Beauty & The Beast takes place. We like coming here during dinnertime when the strings of bistro lights overhead make the whole space glow.

El Cid is unknown to many, and that’s what makes it so special. Walk through the standalone door frame on Sunset in Silver Lake, down the steep staircase, and you’ll pop out on a patio you’ll never want to leave. With two separate levels, plenty of seating, and old black-and-white movies projected on the walls, this place works well for a quick nightcap after a date. There’s also a proscenium theater inside with a dinner-and-a-show setup that runs every Saturday and Sunday night, plus decent enough Spanish food that will keep your group happy. Once the show is over, grab another cocktail from the bar, and take the party outside.

Located on a quiet side street a few blocks from Hollywood and Highland, this upscale pizzeria feels a world away from the chaotic neighborhood it resides in. While we’d come here regardless for the excellent Neapolitan pizza (the place has been cranking out pies in Italy since 1870), the incredible back patio is the reason we’ll stay and hang out all night. With red brick walls, string lights, a real fireplace, and enough trees to qualify as a miniature forest, this sprawling space has all the features you want in a patio, but it’s the glass window that peers into the pizza kitchen that takes it to a whole different level.

Equal parts brewery, cider house, and beer garden, this Lincoln Park spot is the perfect place for big groups to gather ‘round a fire pit, order flights, and contemplate taking an axe-throwing class together. The giant patio is filled with wooden benches, tree stumps, and metal structures, achieving something that feels like a grown-up summer camp where people overuse the word "dude." Plus, food pop-ups operate most nights.

From the thatched entrance and ethereal club music pumping through the speakers, there’s a lot going on at Ka’Teen. But if you’re looking to get dressed up and have a messy night out in Hollywood, this is where to be. The mostly outdoor space is great for big groups, there’s a $495 bottle of Dom Perignon on the menu, and as for the food, the Yucatan-style menu has several bright spots like citrusy ceviches and lamb barbacoa platters. Sure, this place is loud, crowded, and clubby, but it’s also filled with people who want it that way. Make sure you’re one of them before going.

The days of Topanga Canyon’s LSD-fueled, counter-culture commune might be long gone, but there’s no denying this place is still weird as hell. Driving up from PCH, you’ll pass crystal shops, outdoor Shakespeare amphitheaters, and art installations that have become local landmarks. It’s a fun day trip that’s made even better with lunch at Cafe 27. The almost entirely outdoor space is built into the side of a hill with a multi-level patio that feels like you’re eating inside the treehouse of your childhood dreams. But instead of M&Ms and juice boxes, you’ll refuel on omelets, sandwiches, and a very respectable avocado toast.

The food at Mírate can be hit-and-miss, but it does have one major superpower: its courtyard. This labyrinth of a Mexican spot in Los Feliz looks like a luxurious, multi-story treehouse built for a billionaire evading the IRS in the jungle. The massive tree rising through the middle warrants a moment of quiet appreciation usually only reserved for mountain peaks or a perfectly ripe avocado. Whether you’re seated at one of the candlelit tables or the separate bar area, this place is unquestionably romantic. Stop by for a few tacos and some very impressive cocktails, like a spicy margarita made with lacto-fermented chorizo.

The Superba in Venice has always been a nice fallback for brunch and lunch when you want to eat chicken, salad, and pasta, but the location in Hollywood is an absolute destination. The food is good—they’ve got vegetable-forward breakfasts with eggs and baked goods that remind you why the restaurant’s full name is Superba Food + Bread. Later in the day, you’ll find salads, hulking sandwiches, pasta, and meatier things—most of which come with generous sides. But the space! If we didn’t have anything better to do, we’d spend every morning on the patio under the citrus trees and yellow-striped umbrellas, picking at olives and reading plotless novels.

When you book a table at Le Great Outdoor in Santa Monica, you’re basically signing up for a backyard barbecue. The kitchen at this entirely outdoor spot in Bergamot Station's parking lot has nothing more than a couple of grills, and the dining room is just a hub of picnic tables. Friends drink nebbiolo and talk about flying to Amsterdam on Delta points, dogs and babies run free, and families pass around giant platters of goat cheese-topped tartines and blistered lamb chops. There may even come a point towards the end of dinner when you forget you’re still at a restaurant and not a friend’s garden party.

When you enter Fia from the street, the first thing you’ll see is the patio. It’s gigantic. This incredible outdoor space in Santa Monica is cozy and romantic, filled with wooden furniture, aggressive string lighting, and enough pine trees to make you feel like you’re on the Mendocino coast. The Italian-ish food is just OK (we prefer what's being served inside, at their sister restaurant Fia Steak), but the burrata, raw bar, and pasta get the job done. Crowd-pleasing and easy on the eyes, Fia is on our shortlist for high-stakes dates and life celebrations.

Whether you’re visiting LA and want to see CAA agents screaming into their cell phones, or have lived here for years and find screaming CAA agents cathartic, Tower Bar is a must-visit. Located in the heart of The Strip, this iconic industry spot is a rare, hallowed ground where celebrities, fresh-faced newbies, and their anxiety-riddled representation all commingle and get as drunk as possible, together. The outdoor patio by the pool is a certifiable scene, so be sure to bring your biggest pair of sunglasses and sharpen up that side-eye. You’ve got some eavesdropping to do.

Santa Monica has miles of beaches and yet so few patios worth your time. Big Dean’s is one of them. This classic sports bar has been around since the 1970s, and though the design has changed throughout the years, the fantastic front and back patios remain better than ever. Big Dean’s is where you go on a lazy Saturday to watch some sports and end up staying all afternoon, drinking beer and eating one of our favorite burgers in Santa Monica.

The patio at Michael’s in Santa Monica is a great choice for someone who wants to experience the Westside. It's a bit jungle-like (if you brought white tablecloths and did away with all the bugs). Half the crowd has been coming here since they opened 35 years ago, and you might see the owner making the rounds before holding court at his regular table. The California-inspired menu isn’t going to change your life—the burger, roast chicken, pork chop, and vegetable sides are solid enough, though.

If anyone chooses a regular patio over a patio that looks out over the ocean, they are not to be trusted. Which is why, when given the opportunity, you should spend the afternoon at Ballast Point. Sure, the atmosphere can sometimes feel like an ice luge away from a Phi Kappa Alpha recruitment party, and you can find Ballast Point beer in any grocery store, but once you get up to the upstairs patio, none of that matters. With panoramic views of Long Beach Harbor and the coast, this is what drinking in California is all about.

Eating dinner at this upscale Mexican restaurant in the Arts District feels like a dream set in a future where all restaurants come with concrete slab seating, expansive industrial patios, and as many plants as an arboretum. Damian is an ideal place to eat boundary-pushing Baja seafood in the city. (It's one of our favorite 25 restaurants in LA, after all.) Think lobster al pastor with pineapple butter, nopal-topped tlayudas, and a dry-aged branzino that belongs in the Smithsonian. 

Do a quick search for restaurants in Malibu and you’ll find that most of them make a fuss about ocean views and beachfront patios. They aren’t lying. But there’s only one place in Malibu where you can eat with your feet in the actual sand, and that place is Paradise Cove. Sure, the gigantic bar food menu isn’t exactly memorable and the pricey parking lot might make your blood boil on a busy weekend, but the joy of watching your parents and other out-of-town friends realize they’re eating chilaquiles or eggs benedict on the Malibu Coast is worth the hassle. Order a piña colada no matter the hour.

It’s not every day you’re going to be able to convince yourself (or anyone else) to drive up into the Burbank hills for brunch or a fancy dinner, but when it involves The Castaway, anything is possible. Yes, price points can get a little high here ($100 a head if you really want to get after it), but the meat-heavy menu is good (the charcuterie and cheese bar is a particular bright spot) and the views from the patio physically couldn't improve. So grab another glass of red, huddle up next to an outdoor fire pit, and gaze out over the San Fernando Valley, which until this moment, you never realized was so beautiful.

The backyard at this West Adams Thai spot is the perfect place for a fun group meal. It looks like they hired Fran Fine from The Nanny as the landscaper, offered a couple of shots of tequila, and let her decorate the place. It’s ridiculous, over-the-top, and visually stunning, all at once. No matter what you end up eating, a few hours of socializing over Thai beers and cocktails in this kitschy, colorful garden will make your life feel briefly euphoric.

Ddong Ggo might be the smokiest patio in Los Angeles, but that’s also why it’s one of the best. This huge Korean drinking spot serves bar food like kimchi seafood pancakes and honey-fried chicken to fired-up crowds in its outdoor dining area. You’ll see those dishes on every table, along with multiple towers of Hite beer and several overflowing ashtrays. You might not spend the whole night here, but it’s a great place to kick off and/or round out a booze-fueled night in Koreatown.

Much like a 2003 romance/drama starring Diane Lane, Bacari Silver Lake is inspired by life in Tuscany. The courtyard is shaded by a thicket of trees, there are large, rustic tables in every corner, plus plenty of fire pits to keep you warm. It’s farmhouse chic, in the way we wish our shared backyard could be (we’re working on it). The menu is slightly less focused—there are Italian pizzas and burrata caprese, alongside shrimp ceviche, lamb kabob, and Oaxacan pasta. Bring a date who you’d like to see in warm, sensuous lighting, or come for brunch—it happens every weekend and, yes, it’s bottomless.

If you’re looking to get a little rowdy, this outdoor beer garden in Silver Lake always works well. 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? The Bavarian theme isn’t exactly subtle, but it feels genuine. And everyone’s having too good of a time to care about anything else.

The Silver Lake location of this vegan Mexican restaurant has roughly 5,000 square feet of outdoor space on Sunset (in that little strip mall next to Same Same) that somehow packs in a tiki bar, plant store, DJ booth/stage, and a lot of colorful patio furniture. This patio feels like a cross between a Malibu Barbie dreamhouse and the Jurassic Park set. There’s greenery everywhere you look, people are doing shots of rum in the corner, and yes, there's enough room for you and everyone you know.

Say hello to one of our favorite patios to take tourists. A dinner (or lunch, or brunch) here feels like you’ve left LA and are weekend-ing in Austin. The laidback space in Frogtown 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 tortillas. The drinks, tacos, and grilled meats are excellent, and the entire patio is full of people who are doing that rare dinner activity—having a legitimately good time.

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photo credit: De Buena Planta

The Patio Power Rankings: Where To Eat & Drink Outside guide image