You already know about LA’s weather. Mega-drought and El Niño aside, it’s goddamn perfect 12 months out of the year. And the obvious result of that is a patio scene that no other city in the country can even come close to rivaling.
But how do you make sense of it all? For every game-changing outdoor space, there’s a sad, shadowy side alley with plastic furniture in it. You deserve better. Here are the 27 best patios in LA, ranked according to aesthetic appeal, functionality, and their ability to get you as much glorious California sun as possible.
Say hello to the best patio in Los Angeles. A dinner (or lunch or brunch) here feels like you’ve left LA and are weekending in Austin. The laid-back space 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 house-made tortillas on the other side. 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.
If anyone chooses a regular patio over a patio that looks out over the ocean, they are not to be trusted and you should delete them from your phone as quickly as possible. Which is why, when given the opportunity, you never pass up an afternoon at Ballast Point. Sure, the atmosphere is one ice luge away from being a Phi Kappa Alpha recruitment party and you can find Ballast Point beer in any grocery store in California, but once you get up to the second floor patio, none of that matters. With panoramic views of Long Beach harbor and the coast, this is what drinking in Los Angeles is all about.
You come to ERB for the burger and the beer and the never-ending wine list, but you absolutely stay for that back patio. The Arts District bar/restaurant has long wooden communal tables for when the crew is rolling deep, and small tables off to the side for some date night glory. With trees covering the patio and the requisite string lights hanging above your head, there isn’t a better place to be drinking outdoors in DTLA.
In a town of excellent patios, Chateau Marmont’s is by far the most Hollywood. It feels like a movie set, is full of people who never take their sunglasses off, and even though we should hate it here, we definitely don’t. There’s almost always an Olsen twin or a member of Radiohead present (both, if you’re lucky), the food is much better than it needs to be at a celebrity “hot spot,” and mostly we like to pretend that we’re the type of people who can get away with wearing sunglasses all the time too.
The patio at Michael’s is the best on the Westside. Eating here feels like eating in the jungle, but with white tablecloths and without all the bugs. The atmosphere is great, half the crowd has been coming here since they opened 35 years ago, and it’s the kind of place where the owner does the rounds of the tables before holding court at his regular spot. The food isn’t going to change your life, but that’s not why you’re here.
The small plates at this longtime West 3rd St. go-to are solid, the courtyard is everything your love life has ever wanted (and needed), and look, there’s Mila Kunis getting flirty in the corner. Consider this essential outdoor LA dining.
Rappahonnock is a fantastic oyster and seafood bar in the Row DTLA development. The massive complex (it used to be the old American Apparel factories) has more outdoor space than it knows what to do with, and this all-day restaurant has the best location in the whole place. Right at the main entrance with an unobstructed view of a giant tree that looks like it came from the set of Avatar, Rappahonnock makes you feel like you’re eating lunch or dinner on the backlot of a movie studio, not in the middle of downtown.
If you’re looking to get a little rowdy, this outdoor beer garden in Silver Lake is always one of your best options. 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?
Have you been to Hollywood lately? There are construction cranes on every block. And those cranes are building hotels - a lot of hotels. Like Mama Shelter. The whole place feels like a Real World house, and their casual rooftop patio is the icing on the cake. Part restaurant, part sofa-bed lounge, part get-yourself-drunk-on-a-Sunday HQ, this patio is where our summer weekends begin and end.
Located right on Ventura Blvd. in Studio City, Firefly is a full-scale restaurant, but don’t show up here hungry. The food is overpriced and mostly subpar - but the more important news is that most people here are only drinking and taking advantage of the patio. Complete with a standalone fireplace, a hillside of ivy in the back, and giant cabana-like booths along the sides, Firefly feels more like a Vegas pool area than a dinner spot in the Valley. Come here to drink outside after a long week of work.
Seemingly overnight, Highland Park’s York Blvd. went from sleepy neighborhood thoroughfare to a major restaurant row. And while Block Party might not be a full-fledged restaurant, it has one of our favorite patios in the city. The expansive back space has full-sized shuffleboards, a retro hot dog stand, and all the tables in the world to enjoy the tremendous craft beer stock.
Botanica is a bright Silver Lake spot with a shaded back patio that looks very good on your wellness blogger friend’s social media. The real twist, though, is that the food is great. There’s definitely a healthy bent - yes, that is beet in your cocktail - but everything from the Turkish eggs at breakfast to the chorizo and clams at dinner is so good you’ll forget about that. Just how we like our healthy food.
Triple Beam’s back patio won’t win any awards for great views (it’s a parking lot), but what it lacks in the visuals department, it makes up for in size (no matter how crowded it gets, you can always manage to find an open table) and a low-key atmosphere that you could spend all night hanging out in. With a few bottles of wine and some of the greatest pizza in the city on your table, you won’t find many reasons to rush.
Apotheke is a 19th-century apothecary-themed cocktail bar in Chinatown. And while its medicinal-themed drinks are reason enough to come here, it’s their sprawling back patio that’ll make you stay. With its own circular bar, tons of chairs and tables, and a view of old industrial buildings that’s much cooler than it sounds, the patio should be the first place you head when walking into Apotheke.
After essentially being left for dead, a restaurant group swooped in and saved this Hollywood landmark from becoming condos for people who don’t even live there. Now, the massive, 100-year-old Japanese restaurant with the best patio (and people watching) in the Hills is back to its old glory days status. This is an LA classic you should visit at least once.
La Cabana has been around since the 1960’s, and is the kind of old-school Mexican joint people fantasize about being regulars at when they fly into LAX. Their guacamole (made tableside), the massive el verde burrito, and the unlimited chips and salsa are all delicious, but this Venice staple’s bread and butter is that back patio. There are very few things we love more than a night here with friends, a couple margarita pitchers, and a mariachi band that may or may not perform on the roof.
Cliff’s Edge has been on a bit of a roller coaster ride the last few years. Update: they’re doing just fine. The food is still solid, the cocktails are great, and no amount of chef changes and menu swaps will ever take away that incredible back patio. If you don’t want to eat dinner in a space that feels like a Jurassic Park luxury suite, we have nothing in common.
Though its 1970′s heyday is long gone, there are enough roadside stops and weird things in Topanga Canyon to make it worthy of a day trip. Just be sure one of those stops is at Inn of The Seventh Ray for lunch. The upscale restaurant has a patio straight out of a Narnia fever dream, and you want all of it.
Yes, C&O’s is cheesy as f*ck and no, we don’t care. The family-run Italian joint steps from the Marina Del Rey beach has a familiar menu that never disappoints and an outdoor patio that feels like a backdrop to a Woody Allen movie. The waiters just sang “That’s Amore!” to you and your parents, and will do it again in an hour. Welcome to heaven.
While Nobu down the street has the exclusivity factor covered, Malibu Farm Pier Cafe is all about accessibility - with views that are almost as good. Located at the end of the Malibu Pier, you can have a delicious lunch for under $20, completely surrounded by water.
EP & LP pretty much went right from being open to being packed at all times. This place is a nighttime go-to for young people, and the rooftop patio has some of the best views in West Hollywood. The second floor is a full-scale restaurant serving decent Asian fusion, but our move is always the top floor. (If we can get in.)
This all-day Los Feliz cafe is an all-out scene, with everyone from last Friday’s Tinder hookup to Emily Blunt hovering around to snag a table. So skip the weekend brunch rush and mosey in on a weekday night for dinner - or just dessert and a nightcap from their surprisingly good bar.
Yet another vegetarian option on Abbot Kinney feels unnecessary at this point, but when you have a back patio like Plant does, there will always be room. The enormous space is great all day, but the real magic happens when the sun goes down and the twinkling tree lights turn it all into the meatless Ferngully of your dreams.
A few people who complain about everything continue to bemoan the loss of the original Rose Cafe, but after one meal inside this place, you’ll realize they do everything completely right. There’s a lot going on here (raw bar, market, bakery, cocktails, handmade pasta) and somehow it all works. The food is solid and the three separate patios are the ideal spots to enjoy another sunny day by the beach.
It’s not everyday you wake up craving a meal in Palos Verdes, but when you do, go to Mar’sel. Located inside of the beachfront Terranea Resort, Mar’sel has very good (and very expensive) food, but you’re here for the views. When you’re overlooking the Pacific with Catalina Island off in the distance, there’s not much else to say except “more wine spritzer please.”