When you’re stuck in an office all day, you look for ways to justify it. You tell yourself there’s free coffee, fast internet, and virtually zero chance a bird will poop on your head.
But then you make the mistake of looking out the window, or going down the block to pick up your lunch, and you realize how much you’d rather be outside. And that leads to the inevitable 3pm “drinks after work?” group text, because you live in Los Angeles, and you should enjoy that fact. These are the best places to eat and drink outside after work.
Downtown Santa Monica is heavy on mall restaurants and coffee chains, but a lot lighter on nice places to drink outside. Esters, though, is an excellent wine shop with a huge bottle selection and a great menu of sandwiches and cheese boards. Head straight to their side patio, where there are a bunch of couches, and some longer tables that can fit larger groups.
Mama Shelter is a rooftop bar with great views of the Hills and a blessed lack of tourists hoping to catch a glimpse of a Real Housewife. Which means it should be at the top of your after-work list. Come with a couple friends, order one of the eight versions of Moscow mules, and sit on brightly-colored lounge chairs while you argue with each other about how tall the Hollywood sign actually is.
With its views of the marina and Seal Beach, Ballast Point is the best place to drink outdoors in Long Beach. It’s much calmer after work than on weekends, when it can feel a bit like a frat party. Almost everyone here will be coworkers and friends meeting up to drink IPAs you can’t find in a grocery store, and eat things from a solid menu of bar snacks.
Alta in West Adams has a menu full of interesting takes on Southern staples, like oxtails and rice, black-eyed peas (in fritter form), and some of the crispiest fried chicken in town. It also has one of LA’s best patios - we especially like it because Alta’s cocktails seem specifically designed to be consumed outside (like the Bikini Bottom, with mezcal, pineapple, and cilantro).
After another sh*tty day of staring blankly at Excel spreadsheets when you’d really rather be working in the Galapagos as a Planet Earth key grip, head to this dive bar/biergarten in Silver Lake. There aren’t any blue-footed boobies here, but on the patio on a weekday, it does feel like you’ve escaped LA. It’s dark, quiet, and, like when you’re chilling with a bunch of birds, no one is going to talk to you about expense reports.
You know a place is doing something right when hanging out on their patio feels more like a vacation than a trip to Downtown - and that’s exactly what it’s like going to Rappahannock Oyster Bar at the Row. You can pretend you’ve picked up and moved to Chesapeake Bay, with cobblestone streets all around you, string lights, and a big tree looming over the patio. There’s a good list of wine and beer, and oysters that come from the restaurant’s own farm in Virginia. If you want something more substantial, the lobster roll is also up there with the best in town.
Everson Royce Bar is the sort of all-purpose place that we’d use any excuse to go to, but really, it’s at its best on weekdays after work. The patio in the back has a bocce court, and a whole bunch of space for when your friends actually take you up on that invitation to get drinks on a Wednesday. They have all kinds of cocktails that are especially good to drink outside - and particularly great alcoholic slushies - and during Happy Hour, their burger and fries is only $10.
Possibly the liveliest after-work spot in town, Electric Owl’s outdoor bar area is where you should go when you need to cut loose, down some stronger-than-usual drinks, and fantasize about dramatic ways to quit your job. The martinis are $6 during Happy Hour, and Electric Owl’s smashburger is so good it makes all the BS you endured at the office a distant memory. At least until tomorrow.
This Chinatown spot has a whole bunch of couches and nice views of the surrounding neighborhood. They call themselves a speakeasy, but what that really means is that they have excellent cocktails and bartenders dressed up like old time-y pharmacists. Next time you want to mix things up for a casual weeknight drinks date, this place should be at the top of your list.
The patio at Connie and Ted’s used to be one of the most crowded spots in LA. Fortunately, things have calmed down some, so now you don’t have to plan ahead when you want the best New England-style seafood in LA. Close your eyes while you’re eating the seafood boil, and you can almost imagine you’re on a dock in Cape Cod. Which is impressive, considering you’re on one of the more trafficky parts of Santa Monica Blvd.
You and the other former assistants from your first job in LA still have a group text to keep track of your terrible old bosses. And to also occasionally plan random nights where you all meet up and have too much beer together. The next time it’s one of those nights, go to the Fat Dog. Even though they have the same studio worker crowd as other North Hollywood and Studio City spots, there are a lot fewer people talking about work than you usually get. Take advantage of the good cocktail and beer lists, and order some potato skins for the table while you talk about whose old boss finally got fired.
Culver City has a lot of offices, but not a lot of places for the people that work in those offices to drink outside afterward. Margot, the rooftop restaurant at Platform, has plenty of space, firepits, and some of the best cocktails around. It’s the ideal place for a catch-up meal with friends after work, or an early-in-the-game date when you really want this person to think you have good taste. There are also fantastic views of the ocean at sunset and the trains pulling into Culver Junction.
This Glassell Park bar doesn’t look like much from the outside, but head inside and out the back, you’ll find a biergarten you probably never knew existed. They’ve got 20 beers on tap, including some hard-to-find stuff from places like Kern River Brewing, and DJs playing music you actually want to listen to. You can also get rowdy here on a weeknight, if you want to - they always have deals on picklebacks, and affordable shots of good whiskey. Technically, there’s no food here, but they do have trucks out front some nights, and free tacos on Thursdays.