Where To Drink Outside In Los Angeles
photo credit: Eric Wolfinger
Have you looked outside yet today? It’s a horrifying thunderstorm with softball-sized hail. Just kidding, it’s probably sunny as hell, just like almost every other day of the year. LA’s near-perfect year-round weather is news to no one, and that means every person who either comes to visit or lives here permanently is ready to take full advantage.
This city has more places to drink outside than it knows what to do with, but for every lovely beach-facing patio, there are two more places with rickety tables looking out onto a parking lot. You don’t want that. You want these places instead.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
Located on an asphalt parking lot in Santa Monica, Le Great Outdoors feels closer to a neighborhood barbecue than a full-scale outdoor restaurant. There are long picnic tables filled with friends and giant Santa Maria grills cooking up vegetables and meats in front of your eyes. Most people here are eating—the food is very good—but if you want to come to drink, that’s fine too. There’s a well-priced list of natural wines available by the glass, but if you’re with another person, just get a bottle. You’ll want the excuse to hang out longer anyway.
photo credit: Jessie Clapp
The Ruby Fruit is a tiny wine bar/queer space in Silver Lake that pulls in big crowds on a nightly basis. That means if you show up after 7pm, there’s a decent chance you’ll be drinking outside on the sidewalk. Don’t feel too dejected though, that’s where the heart of the party is anyway. You’ll spot first dates, married dates, neighbors, bandmates, and other people promoting their podcasts. Everyone’s drinking natural wine and beer (they serve non-alcoholic versions as well), hanging out, and snacking on the occasional hotdog when the munchies hit.
photo credit: Eric Wolfinger
Pretty much everyone in the tri-county area is trying to score a table at Funke right now, and we don’t blame them. But if your patience is running thin, head up to the rooftop patio instead. The sprawling space is walk-in only, and we’ve never had a problem snagging a table or seat at the bar. While there are snack-y dishes like focaccia, burrata, and amberjack sashimi, we concentrate mostly on cocktails. The list skews classic with drinks like G&T’s, negronis, espresso martinis, and spitzes. In other words, what you want to drink as you watch the sunset over the Hollywood Hills.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
No offense to Capri Club’s retro, leather banquette-filled interior, but the front sidewalk at this Eagle Rock aperitivo bar is where you want to be. For starters, there’s a lot more room, and if you’re down to hover for a few minutes, seats open up pretty quickly. Secondly, this is an aperitivo bar, meaning you’re drinking things like amaro and soda and negronis, and nibbling on dishes like fried fava beans and tuna stuffed peppers. Translation: Activities that are more fun when you’re outside.
photo credit: Eugene Lee
Hidden within the influencer apocalypse that is Alcove, Big Bar is one of our favorite places to grab a quick cocktail in Los Feliz. During the day, the massive outdoor space on Hillhurst is overrun by people doing TikToks, so our recommendation is to go at night. The crowds have thinned and a peaceful energy descends upon the lush patio, making it a great spot for an after-dinner cocktail under the stars. Or, um, haze.
photo credit: Marie Buck
Benny Boy Brewing
Equal parts brewery, cider house, and beer garden, Benny Boy is the perfect place to wear a crisp white t-shirt and jeans. This new Lincoln Heights spot does it all—there’s a giant patio filled with wooden benches and tree stumps that feels like a grown-up overnight camp, pop-ups like La Prieta Mexicana and Big Lou’s BBQ operate most nights, and, of course, the beer is flowing. Expect IPAs, ice-cold Mexican lagers, bold farmhouse ales with fresh basil, and more.
ERB is one of those mythical places that just 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. And yet, it’s the massive back patio that keeps us coming back. With a mix of small and big group tables, plus tons of space to stand and mingle, hanging out in this string-light-adorned backyard is the ideal Friday night for us.
Zebulon is one of our favorite live music venues on the Eastside, and their outdoor patio is a major reason why. Whether it’s to grab some pizza and cocktails while the sun sets or get some fresh air during an especially long acoustic show, the scattered chairs and tables make for a perfect spot to post up with some friends, drink too many beers, and take guesses on how many songs are left in the opening band's set.
De La Nonna’s string-lit patio in the Arts District is full of big groups, laughter, clinking glasses, and the smell of crispy pepperoni cups. A DJ spins house tracks in the corner, and buttery, brown-edged Detroit-style pizzas are the centerpiece of every table. No matter how many people you’re with (or how many will stroll in late) the friendly staff will find a spot for your party.
We frankly could put any bar in Boystown on this list (Rocco’s, Beaches, Hi, Tops, and Trunks, we see you), but for now, we’re going with Stache. The mostly outdoor restaurant/bar/performance space has fun programming throughout the week, including bearded lady cabarets, Drag Race viewing parties, and nightly DJs. If you’re in the mood to day-drink on the weekends, it’s all about the Wig & Waffles drag brunch. The menu includes everything from protein pancakes to breakfast burritos, plus bottomless mimosas.
Located inside a former car service station on La Brea, All Season’s cavernous space has both indoor and outdoor seating, a row of skeeball machines in the back, and a taco window for when you need to soak up some of the alcohol. Most people here are drinking beer (we love the tropical Figure 8 Hazy DIPA), but there are tasty cocktails (including some on draft), and $5 well shots to boot. The place gets crowded on weekends, but if you come after work for a few rounds, you’ll walk right in.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
There are many incredible places to drink outside in Koreatown, but the outdoor patio at Ddong Ggo might be our favorite. Walking into this massive beer garden late on a Saturday night is like stepping into the best party in town. Everyone is drinking pitchers of beer and smoking cigarettes (a lot of cigarettes), and the only time they take a break from either is when a gigantic kimchi pancake hits the table.
If you’ve ever driven down Lankershim in North Hollywood and wondered what’s up with the giant wooden barrel, that’s Idle Hour, one of our favorite places to drink and hang in The Valley. Though you'll usually have to wait a little longer to drink inside the barrel, the good news is there's always ample room on their excellent back patio. Come for their daily Happy Hour or brunch on the weekends.
photo credit: Jakob Layman
Spoke Bicycle is part cafe, part bicycle repair shop, and the most Eastside place that’s ever existed. Nobody should come here expecting to rip shots and day dance with yourself. You come to Spoke to sit around with your friends and discuss the outline for your fracking documentary, eat a fantastic veggie burger, and drink lots of wine and beer. Afterward, rent a bike and head down the bike path.
The classic dive bar is located right on the Santa Monica boardwalk, and despite its highly trafficked location, always manages to keep a local crowd. Don’t expect anything fancy, just cheap beer, solid bar food (their burger is one of our favorites in town), and a great front patio that’s quite literally on the beach.
Downtown has no lack of rooftop pool bars, but the Upstairs Bar at Ace is our favorite among them. This place has the best drinks, the best views, and a laid-back crowd that’s not going to throw you into the pool with your cell phone in your pocket. DJs on the weekend play everything from 70s punk rock to psychedelic pop. And there’s never a cover.
With an entrance that’s nothing more than a door frame on Sunset Blvd., El Cid is unknown to a lot of people and that’s what makes it so special. Walk through that door frame and down a 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 is the ideal spot to take a table over with friends for brunch or stop in for a quick nightcap and snacks after a date.
With its roomy, semi-private backyard patio, Verdugo Bar has long been one of the most underrated places to drink outside on the Eastside. It’s the kind of place you wind up at after being turned away from five other spots in Silver Lake and you kick yourself for not coming here first. The crowd is calm and casual, the craft beer selection is excellent, and there’s always a good food truck hiding out back.