Some say that a giant, sun-drenched outdoor feast filled with tacos, mole enchiladas, and margaritas is what life’s all about. We strongly agree. And in a town like LA, we are spoiled with not only incredible Mexican food, but great patios to enjoy it on. From Oaxacan classics in Ktown to seafood specialists in Inglewood, here are 22 great options for eating Mexican food al fresco.
Thanks to Sharon Tate, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, and some of the strongest margaritas on the planet, this Beverly Blvd. landmark is one of LA’s most famous Mexican restaurants. And though no one should come here expecting a life-changing plate of carnitas, a meal at El Coyote still hits the spot and is always a hell of a time. Right now, you can either dine on their original front patio or on the massive expanded space they’ve set up in their adjacent parking lot. Either way, you’ll have plenty of room to kick back, go nuts on some table chips and salsa, and quietly order another round of margaritas for the table. They welcome walk-ins or you can snag a reservation here.
Find Chichen Itza inside Mercado La Paloma, a former factory turned into a community gathering space and food hall. The tiny vendor specializes in dishes from the Yucatan, like the tomato and pumpkin seed-based sikil-pac and their signature cochinita pibil that’s cooked and served in a giant banana leaf and topped with pickled onions. All vendors are currently serving on a shared parking lot patio, one of which is Holbox - a.k.a where to find our favorite ceviche in town. Make sure to leave room for a tostada or two.
Open since 1963, La Cabaña is a Westside institution serving tableside guacamole and pitchers of margaritas on their back patio. The menu is filled with good dishes, but their culinary masterpiece is the “El Verde Burrito” - it’s filled with a coop’s-worth of chicken, beans, lettuce, avocado, and tomato, all topped with salsa verde and cheese and is a must-order that can easily feed two people. La Cabana is open daily from 11am-11pm, reservations are encouraged.
Gish Bac is open seven days a week, but you should come here on the weekends because that’s when they fire up their lamb and goat barbacoa. The meat is cooked over avocado leaves, which gives it an earthy sweetness that you’ll be thinking about when you’re bored at work the next day. The mid-city spot is also very easy to find, with plentiful parking and a tented back patio with abundant shade, potted plants, and colorful fiesta banners.
The Beverly Grove spot has reopened for both dine-in and takeout with a large outdoor sidewalk patio going along Beverly Blvd. They have a slightly revised food menu featuring tacos and bar snacks, but don’t worry, their famous rainbow cauliflower nachos with poblano cream and kale is still available. Plus, all their margaritas are available to go as well.
El Compadre, another classic spot right in Hollywood with a second location in Echo Park, is where you go for massive enchilada platters and margaritas that arrive at the table literally on fire. The expanded back patio is still somewhat limited on seats, and given that it’s walk-ins only right now, definitely plan to wait a bit on the weekends.
The Mexican restaurant in Sherman Oaks has been in operation since 1956 and is one of those rare places in LA where A-list celebrities and completely random locals commingle - even on outdoor parking lot patios. The lobster quesadilla is great option to share and the tremendously strong margaritas set the tone for what will always be an entertaining night.
This casual Mexican restaurant in Santa Monica has always had one of our favorite spaces in the neighborhood, and with their new front patio a block from the beach, we’re comfortable doubling-down on that statement. Because at the end of the day, being able to sip margaritas and eat carne asada tacos by the ocean is something that no self-loving person passes up on. This is also a great spot to head to after lounging around at Will Rogers all day.
This 50-year-old Boyle Heights, order-at-the-window spot serves the best bean and cheese burrito on the planet. The pinto beans, stewed for 16 hours, are gloriously flavored with lard, and they’re topped with a bit of melted cheese and a splash of mild green chile sauce, before being wrapped in a flour tortilla. Head to Al & Bea’s on a Saturday afternoon and you’ll find the whole neighborhood hanging out - families, high school dates, local firemen, and everyone in between. You could certainly get a fried taco or a tostada and walk away thrilled, but there isn’t anything that should deter you from that simple, but glorious burrito.
This Mexican spot on the southern tip of Inglewood, with a second location in Del Rey, serves fresh, fantastic Nayarit-style seafood. You can’t go wrong with any of the citrus-y ceviches or aguachiles, but make sure the savory marlin tacos and whole grilled snook in an addictive salty house sauce hit the table as well. Both locations are now open with expansive back patios.
Salsa & Beer
With locations spanning from North Hollywood to Lake Balboa, Salsa & Beer is one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in the Valley. It’s easy to see why - the menu is filled with excellent dishes ranging from sizzling fajitas to carnitas tortas, they have a long list of Mexican beer and margaritas, and unlimited chips, salsa, and bean dip are always free. But most importantly, this mini-chain has still managed to keep that rowdy, neighborhood restaurant energy that makes it so hard to leave at the end of the night.
Loqui could’ve easily just been another run-of-the-mill taco spot people eat at while they shop for high-end hand soap. Instead, it’s become our absolute go-to place for tacos on the Westside. The flour tortillas are thick and chewy, and the spicy chicken gives it a nice kick that also doesn’t overpower the rest of the taco. Be sure to put the slightly sweet salsa seca on everything. Both locations have outdoor patios.
La Casita Mexicana is run by chefs Jaime Martin Del Campo and Ramiro Arvizu whose Jalisco-style menu has turned this neighborhood Mexican spot into a true LA dining destination. There’s rich, chocolate-y mole, Azteca cheese fondue, and steak served over grilled cactus, but the dish that you must order is the chile en nogada. This giant green chile comes stuffed with beef, spices, dried fruits, walnuts, candied cactus, pecan cream sauce, and topped with pomegranate seeds. It’s sweet, savory, profoundly herbaceous, and a dish we would happily eat as an appetizer, entree, or dessert.
Guelaguetza is an LA institution with some of the best Oaxacan food you’ll find anywhere in the city. The menu is massive, but ordering the “Festival de Moles” - four of their signature moles served with shredded chicken - is non-negotiable. The same goes for the queso fundido, which is our favorite version in town. Their brand new parking lot patio is complete with long picnic tables, colorful umbrellas, and lots of added foliage.
If you’ve missed Casita’s warm, neighborhood atmosphere and strong margaritas as much as we have, the historic Mexican restaurant in Silver Lake is back open with not one, but three new outdoor patios. All the tables are meticulously spaced out, there are string lights hanging everywhere, and tons of umbrellas for shade. In other words, the ideal atmosphere for one too many margaritas. Make a reservation here.
All three of Madre’s locations - Torrance, West Hollywood, and Palms - have reopened for outdoor dining. That means plenty of space for cecina memelas, mole bowls, and some of the best mezcal cocktails in town.
Nueva took the place of beloved bottomless brunch destination Sunny Spot on Washington in Marina del Rey during the pandemic, and didn’t miss a beat in bringing back a spot that’s ideal for a boozy weekend situation. Their huge outdoor dining room is almost always full, with people looking for tacos, ceviches, and mezcal-based cocktails. They’re doing brunch with everything from cast-iron pancakes to ceviche, too. Reservations are encouraged.
This new Mexican spot in Beverly Hills is fancy, fun, and a tremendous option when you need to get out of the house and celebrate something. There’s crispy salmon skin chicharrónes, a gamey, tender short rib quesadilla covered in fresh herbs, and some really incredible costilla tacos with Bordelaise sauce. And, unlike other upscale places in the neighborhood, you’ll only need about two dishes per person since the portions are enormous.
Casablanca has been around for almost 40 years, and the menu hasn’t changed much since then. The signature dish is the calamari steak, but we tend to go for either a grande burrito with perfectly-marinated birria or the build-your-own fish taco situation. And aside from serving solid food, Casablanca is always a dependable good time, with tortillas being made in the main interior dining room. Plus, if you stick around long enough, the owner will probably wheel the tequila cart up to your table. Their dine-in patio is open daily from 11am-9pm.
Tamales Elena Y Antojitos is an Afro-Mexican restaurant in Bell Gardens with an incredible menu filled with things like red pozole, pork tamales, and beef tongue guisado - all specialties from the owner’s home state of Guerrero. The biggest highlights on the menu, however, are the pescadillas. They’re thin, crispy, and filled with perfectly stewed fish, and we recommend getting at least three orders - one for you now, one for you in five minutes, and one for five minutes after that. They have a tiny, wrap-around patio perfect for a quick lunch.
El Cholo was established in 1923 in Koreatown and now has locations across the etire city - all of which are open for outdoor dining. The sprawling original location on Western feels like a city itself, except instead of traffic and never-ending highway construction, there are giant enchilada combo platters and incredibly strong margaritas. They’ve been serving the classic “El Cholo” margarita since 1967 and it’s smoky, tart, and delicious. As far as the food goes, we usually get the Sonora-style enchiladas with simmered chicken, salsa roja and verde, and fried egg.
Maestro is an upscale Mexican spot with a quiet patio in a busy part of Old Pas. Whether you’re there for brunch or dinner, it’s a great place to try dishes like arrachera with chorizo chimichurri and chile poblano chickpea rice, or the seared dayboat scallops with huitlacoche rice. Get a barrel-aged mezcal cocktail or a watermelon margarita while you’re there, too.