Santa Monica has a lot going for it: The beaches, the dive bars, Bob Dylan’s weird boxing gym. Oh, and a whole bunch of restaurants with patio dining. So we put together this list, which includes incredible French food, killer lamb tacos, and even - possibly - LA’s best sports bar.
We’ll continue to update it as spots reopen around Santa Monica, and if there’s a patio you think needs to be included, email us at email@example.com.
Santa Monica neighborhood spot Art’s Table has always had a great patio, and they’ve just reopened it with a wide-ranging menu that includes fish tacos, burgers, and salads.
Located on Montana Ave. in Santa Monica, Bardonna is an all-day cafe specializing in salads, sandwiches, and a brunch menu that’s available all dang day. There’s now outdoor seating wrapped around the entire exterior, too.
Bergamot Cafe is an ideal place for a quick, affordable weekday lunch. This daytime spot off Olympic in Santa Monica not only serves an excellent veggie burger - a black bean and corn patty topped with chipotle aioli and cheddar - and a killer roast beef and avocado sandwich, but nearly everything on the menu is $10 or less. And, if you’ve got the time, It’s also a fun, low-key place to drink outside for an extended lunch, thanks to their beer and wine list.
The classic Santa Monica hangout - located steps from the beach and basically, like, kinda behind the Pier? - has both their front and back patios open, and while you have to order food, you would’ve done that anyway. After all, Big Dean’s double cheeseburger is one of the best in the city.
One of our favorite restaurants of 2019, Birdie G’s in Santa Monica has reopened with an expanded outdoor space in the front corridor that wraps around to the back of the restaurant. They have a new seasonal menu (with plenty of old favorites), hand sanitizing stations, and virtual menus you can access through your phone as well.
Formerly known as Bondi Harvest, Bluey’s is an Australian cafe in Santa Monica that’s open for patio dining 7am-9pm (8am-9pm on weekends). They’ve got a great breakfast plate involving eggs, bacon, Tabasco kale, roasted tomatoes, and avocado, along with a bunch of sandwiches (like coconut-marinated chicken) you’ll want to order, and a new dinner menu. Plus, the coffee is phenomenal. First-come, first-served.
Clubby steakhouse BOA is on the corner of Ocean and Santa Monica in one of the busiest parts of the Westside. They’ve got sidewalk seating for you to eat all the lobster tails and ribeyes you can afford. So, like, one of each, maybe. Reservations recommended.
The classic Santa Monica dive bar is back with a new patio in its parking lot, plus a recently renovated back porch as well. Though the quirky, nautical-themed interior will forever be one of our favorite places to drink on the Westside, being able to eat a buttered steak and lobster in their back parking lot is equally as odd... and exactly what we want at a place like Chez Jay.
Open since 1983, Wolfgang Puck’s Santa Monica staple Chinois On Main serves what they call Chinese-French fusion cuisine. They’ve got limited outdoor seating available - reserve here.
Citrin and Melisse
Upscale spot Citrin - and the tasting counter in the back, Melisse - have reopened with an all-new, crossover restaurant in their recently-astroturfed parking lot. In addition to a four-course, $145 tasting menu, they’ll also have a la carte offerings like lobster Bolognese, lamb sugo, and truffle risotto. Reservations available online.
The Santa Monica wine bar has always had a great patio, but after expanding along 7th St., it’s even greater (both literally and figuratively). If you want to know where we’ll be sipping wine, eating charcuterie, and remaining socially distant this summer, it’s here.
They took over the old Wilshire spot in Santa Monica last year, and remain one of the city’s best-kept secrets, thanks in no small part to their fantastic, tree-filled back patio. Now’s your chance to see it for yourself. While the Coastal Mediterranean menu’s not the most inventive (plenty of burrata, handmade pastas, and a raw bar), Fia makes the kind of crowd-pleasing food that absolutely anyone will enjoy. And, again, the patio …
Gilbert’s El Indio has been serving Mexican classics on Pico in Santa Monica for almost 50 years - and the pandemic hasn’t slowed them down. Their patio is open for combo platters, margaritas, and more.
Santa Monica Canyon’s Golden Bull is an iconic spot that’s been around (almost) since the real Will Rogers lived next door. They’ve got steakhouse classics like crab cakes, French onion soup, and a burger, along with, of course, a bunch of different steaks.
The Santa Monica cocktail bar just opened up an outdoor seating area along the front sidewalk. All the tables are six feet apart, making it a great option for some al fresco drinking and tacos courtesy of Barbakush in East LA.
Loews Hotel Santa Monica
Blue Streak, the outdoor lounge at the Loews Hotel in Santa Monica, is back open for dining with ocean views and firepits, serving cocktails, light bites like tacos and sliders, and brunch on the weekends. Reserve here.
Lunetta All Day is an (all day) spot in Santa Monica with three separate patios open for quarantine dining. Their breakfast and lunch menu includes sandwiches, salads, and bigger plates like steak frites, and at dinner they add options like house-made pasta. Make a reservation online.
Makai Lounge is a clubby spot on the corner of Ocean and Broadway in Santa Monica. They’ve reopened their patio for dine-in, with wide-ranging options like sushi rolls, shrimp skewers, and cheeseburgers.
All-day Santa Monica spot Margo’s has reopened their patio - it’s dog-friendly, too - serving a wide range of comfort food like smoked bacon mac & cheese and medjool date BBQ ribs on their Montana Ave. patio.
On Fourth St. in Santa Monica, Massilia has a covered patio where they serve a mix of French, Moroccan, and Italian food. This means options like tagliatelle with morel mushroom cream sauce, couscous with merguez sausage and lamb, and pizza with prosciutto. No matter what, don’t skip the white Negroni, made with Aviation gin and Lillet.
One of the best places to eat on the Third Street Promenade, The Misfit is open daily for lunch, Happy Hour, and dinner. They’ve got burgers, sandwiches, salads, and stellar cocktails. Happy Hour until 6pm daily.
Santa Monica’s excellent French spot Pasjoli is back open, with a newly redesigned back patio and a pared-down menu that still includes many of our favorites. That means house-baked brioche with chicken liver mousse and shaved truffle, a caramelized onion tart with gruyere, and crispy duck breast with duck leg bread pudding. Reservations recommended for lunch and dinner.
Rustic Canyon has been one of Santa Monica’s best dinner spots for years now, and with new and expanded seating along the sidewalk, you can safely take advantage of this classic spot all summer. Expect seasonal summer dishes to be added each night.
Santa Monica Polish spot Solidarity has a secret back patio that’s a great place to eat pierogies and drink a few too many Warsaw Mules (made with Zubrowka). If you’re looking for something a bit bigger, the golabki (stuffed cabbage, beef, and jasmine rice) is one of our go-tos, but with comfort classics like schnitzel, stroganoff, and handmade gnocchi in mushroom cream sauce on the menu, you can’t go wrong.
The popular pub in Santa Monica has reopened with a gigantic back patio that used to be their parking lot. Expect picnic tables, astroturf, a lot of day drinking, and plenty of Celtics and Red Sox fans now that sports are back (sigh).
Spumoni Trattoria & Pizzeria
Spumoni is an Italian spot in Santa Monica with an absolutely massive menu, which includes handmade pastas, pizzas, and a gnocchi bar (yes, you read that right). Reserve here.
This Mexican-Burmese-Indian cantina in Santa Monica has always had one of our favorite spaces in the neighborhood, and with their brand new front patio a block from the beach, we’ll double-down on that statement. Because at the end of the day, drinking margaritas and eating masala tacos by the ocean is a combination you can’t really pass up.