As LA begins to slowly reopen from its most recent lockdown, we’re all probably asking ourselves the same two questions: “Why does time not feel real anymore” and “Where can I safely drink outside right now”? We’re not even going to attempt to answer the first one (DM us for therapy recs), but when it comes to drinking outside, we have some ideas. From a West Hollywood drag bar to craft breweries to late-night tented spots in Koreatown, here are 18 great spots to be drinking al fresco right now.
Please note that all current LA County restaurant restrictions and guidelines still apply, including no TVs, no groups larger than six people, and other safety and sanitation protocols.
Located on top of the Platform development, Margot is just as much of a restaurant as it is a bar. And while the food is solid, we love it most as a place to lounge, sip some incredibly strong gin and tonics, and watch trains roll by towards the sunset. Yes, it’s as oddly romantic as it sounds. Open nightly for dinner, as well as brunch on the weekends. Reservations encouraged.
There are plenty of incredible places to drink outside in Koreatown, but the outdoor patio at Ddong Ggo might be our favorite. Walking into this massive beer garden at 11pm on a Saturday feels like you’ve stepped 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. They’re currently open from 5pm-2am daily, walk-ins encouraged.
Open since 2014, Santa Monica Brew Works is the Westside’s only craft brewery, and it’s a good one too. They’ve recently reopened their massive outdoor space complete with picnic tables, string lights, and of course, an abundance of cute local dogs. They’re only operating on weekends right now, but keep an eye on their Instagram for their most updated hours, food truck schedules, and can releases.
The classic West Hollywood drag bar has pivoted in a big way in quarantine, taking over an entire adjacent parking lot with astroturf, tables, and yes, plenty of drag queens. They’re open Wednesday through Sunday with nightly bingo (except on Friday and Saturdays), plus their famous drag queen brunch on the weekends. There are two separate brunch seatings (11am and 1pm), and reservations are a must.
Located in a converted Virgil Village bungalow, Melody is a tiny natural wine bar that still feels like a secret - and that’s exactly why we like it so much. This isn’t a raucous day-drinking spot, where one mimosa leads to ten mimosas and suddenly can’t find your phone or the bathroom. Instead, this is where you go on a first date to drink orange wine, or meet up with your best friend to try out whatever pop-up Melody has scheduled that night. The patio is open daily from 5-10pm.
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 we’ll have to wait a bit longer to actually drink inside the barrel, the good news is their excellent back patio is open Tuesday through Sunday with a daily Happy Hour and brunch on the weekends.
Open since 1963, La Cabaña is an LA institution. It’s not the most inventive Mexican food in town, but you’re not at this Venice landmark for a thoughtful take on the sope. You’re here for tableside guacamole and pitchers of margaritas on their back patio while trying to figure out how you’re going to finish the culinary monstrosity that is the “El Verde Burrito” (a coop’s-worth of chicken, beans, lettuce, avocado, and tomato, all topped with salsa verde and cheese). Open daily from 11am-11pm, reservations encouraged.
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. Afterwards, rent a bike and head down the bike path. Currently open Wednesday through Sunday, 10am-4pm (9am on the weekends).
The classic dive bar is located right on the Santa Monica boardwalk, and despite its highly trafficked location, always manages to keep the crowd local. Don’t expect anything fancy here, just cheap beer, solid bar food (their burger is one of our favorites in town), and a great front patio that’s actually on the beach. Bonus: Due to LA County’s restrictions on TVs in bars right now, you won’t have to wait as long to get a table.
Few places have our late-night heart quite like Dan Sung Sa, the seminal Ktown drinking tavern. While we dream of the day we can once again be inside eating cheese corn, pounding soju, and writing love notes on the wall, their new outdoor patio will certainly hold us over. Open 7 days a week from 4pm-2am, walk-ins are welcome or call (213) 487-9100 to reserve a table.
Hollywood’s Mama Shelter is one of the most consistently fun rooftops in the city - they’ve got great cocktails, a solid wine list, and a surprisingly bearable weekend brunch crowd. Keep in mind that capacity is limited, and they don’t take reservations. Open everyday from 11:30am until midnight.
If you’ve missed wine bars as much as we have (which is to say, without every fiber of your being), Esters newly reopened patio is a great way to scratch that itch. The casual Santa Monica wine shop/bar opens everyday for seating at 4pm, followed immediately by a two-hour long Happy Hour with $5 beer, $9 glasses of wine, and cheese and charcuterie. And if you’re in the mood for something a little stronger, they also do batched negronis and Old Fashioneds. Make a reservation here.
Red Lion is an LA classic, and one of the only true German beer gardens in the city. This isn’t where you come to sample sours and discuss how many notes of apricot you’re getting. This is where you come to drink gigantic steins of cheap beer, nod along as your one friend tries to explain Australian rugby, and stumble out four hours later than you intended. Their menu of German sausages and other giant plates of meat will help you feel much better in the morning. Open until 1am on Fridays and Saturdays.
Do you really need to go to the tasting room of a beer brand you can find in any local Ralph’s? When that tasting room is Ballast Point in Long Beach, the answer is yes. That’s because this massive, two-story beer emporium has a sprawling rooftop patio with unparalleled views of the Long Beach harbor and the ocean off in the distance. Be sure to make a reservation beforehand and come hungry - their bar food menu is way better than it needs to be.
The Ace Hotel in DTLA has one of biggest rooftops in the city - and they’re back open with an all-day menu including tacos, charcuterie, and other small plates. There’s also a pool up there, though it’s unclear if anyone will be taking a dip anytime soon. Reservation only.
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. They’re currently open Wednesday through Sunday.
Open Wednesday through Sunday until midnight, Verdugo Bar is 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.
For years, La Boheme was a quiet, neighborhood standby in West Hollywood, but thanks to a massive new patio in their adjacent parking lot, this French spot has transformed into a boozy brunch powerhouse. Brunch runs Saturday and Sundays from 11:30am-4pm with $23 bottomless mimosas, but they also have specials through the week like daily Happy Hour with $7 glasses of wine and “Community Night” on Mondays, where locals get one round of drinks on the house.