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A Guide to Al Fresco Dining in Los Angeles, Summer 2014

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2008_10_hasmapsalfrescodining.jpgAh, the weeks of endless sun. It's what Los Angeles is known for. Late sunsets, crisp mornings, perfectly bright afternoons where lunch seems like it ought to last for hours. And the long twilight that affords ideal happy hour and early evening drinking outside. In commemoration of sister site Curbed LA's Outdoors Week, here's an updated guide to the best al fresco dining in Los Angeles for Summer 2014.


Added 3/14: Gracias Madre, Umami Burger Santa Monica, Nikita Malibu, RivaBella
Added 7/14: Zinc Cafe, Beelman's Pub, Sun Cafe, Madera Kitchen, Cliff's Edge, Dockside, Superba Food + Bread, PUMP Lounge, Chaya Downtown,

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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A-Frame

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Roy Choi's ode to Hawaiian and Asian cuisine was inspired by picnic dining, and the dishes follow suit by being finger-friendly courses that are best consumed by your hands. The swordfish tacos, beer-can roasted chicken (fried chicken on the weekends), and hoisin ribs are the best things to get, in addition to the fantastic double-patty burger.

After taking over the previous spot Il Covo, AOC now has one of the most charming patios in the city, a completely enclosed area that feels like an Italian villa, not the middle of the city. Chef Suzanne Goin is still preparing market-fresh cuisine like wood-fired clams while sommelier Caroline Styne pairs them with terrific glasses of wine.

Alcove Cafe & Bakery

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This popular eatery in Los Feliz has an expansive patio that's great during the day or even late into the evening. The food and baked goods are probably a little unremarkable but with such a nice place to sit it's hard to complain.

This Culver City newcomer has more patio space than dining room area, which means it's the ideal place to enjoy a meal outdoors. Evan Funke's near-perfect pasta, made with the utmost care and attention to detail, might be some of the best in the city. And everyone raves about focaccia for good reason.

Café Gratitude

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Both the Rose Ave and this Larchmont location of Cafe Gratitude boast great patios, where diners can dig into a homemade veggie burger or a macriobiotic bowl with sea vegetables. Wash it down with a freshly made glass of juice.

Chosun Galbee

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While not quite as open as a traditional patio, this outdoor part of Chosun Galbee is great for Korean barbecue fans that would rather not smell like smoke at the end of the meal. Hanbok-wearing servers come around and prepare the grilled meats right before your eyes.

Connie and Ted's Seafood

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This West Hollywood seafood shack has an impressive patio that overlooks Santa Monica Blvd, which doesn't necessarily beat the Atlantic Ocean in terms of view. But still, Michael Cimarusti's perfectly executed New England seafood fare more than makes up for it.

Dominick's

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Chef Brandon Boudet's old-school Italian, with pastas like spaghetti and meatballs or whitefish picatta are great when enjoyed in the confines of Dominick's patio.

Drago Centro

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A recent addition to this large Italian restaurant in the Financial District, the patio is a congenial place to enjoy happy hour or a casual lunch with co-workers. The pastas are all handmade and the cocktails are worth ordering in twos.

Eveleigh

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Still a hot spot on the Sunset Strip, the quality of the cocktails never seem to wane here, with a constant flow of innovative bartenders mixing and shaking behind the bar. The food is pretty good too.

Goldie's

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The patio sits to the side of this design-minded restaurant on West Third, where every market-driven dishes can be enjoyed from morning until evening. There's bircher muesli for breakfast, diver scallops with kohlrabi for lunch, and hand cut tagliatelle with dungeness crab for dinner, along with great cocktails.

Gracias Madre

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The Cafe Gratitude crew ups the ante with this Mexican eatery touting plant-based cooking and an overall easy-to-approach menu that will be more familiar to the average diner. Think meatless enchiladas and a strong variety of tequilas to wash it down on the swell outdoor patio that works day or night.

Little Next Door

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This cute French bistro on West Third feels a bit like Paris, a little more casual than the Little Door. There's escargot, charcuterie, Nicoise salads, and moules frites, all paired with champagne or other beverages for a great summer night's dinner.

Mr Chow Malibu

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The second outpost of Mr. Chow's LA operation, this terrific setting for high-end Chinese has a great patio to enjoy outdoor dining throughout the summer. They also serve lunch on the weekends for the summer.

Nikita Malibu

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This pricey Malibu restaurant is quite the scene for the jetset and wealthy clientele in the 'Bu and Pacific Palisades, but the cuisine is overall polished enough to justify the price. And the seaside views on the outdoor patio makes it even more worth it. Don't skip the cocktails either.

Paichẽ

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Ricardo Zarate's newest venture, an homage to the fusion of Japanese and Peruvian flavors, sits just a stone's throw away from the ocean, where cool breezes will make the patio one of the best places in the city this summer.

Polo Lounge

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Newly redesigned and updated for this century, Polo Lounge is still one of the ultimate places in LA to see and be seen.

Ray's & Stark Bar

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A tremendous spot to enjoy a midsummer night's dinner (or a midday lunch), Ray's presents elegant, simple comfort fare in constant view of museum-goers.

RivaBella

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This expansive patio overlooking the Sunset Strip certainly feels more enclosed than the average al fresco spot, but on a sunny day or balmy evening, there are few places in the city that would pair better with a plate of pasta than RivaBella.

Sunny Spot

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Roy Choi's take on Jamaican cuisine is a great place to enjoy a meal under the sun. The brunch has a delicious spicy shrimp and grits while dinner features things like jerk chicken, baby back ribs, and roasted lamb. Cocktails are stellar too, with the Death in the D.R. boasting Dominican rum, lime, honey, absinthe, and champagne.

Scarpetta

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Located on the edge of a fully conceived park in the middle of the Beverly Hills Triangle, this patio at Scott Conant's Scarpetta makes the hours waste away, with glasses of prosecco and bites like burrata with roasted cauliflower, yellowtail crudo, and of course the signature spaghetti as the perfect companions.

Spago Beverly Hills

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Wolfgang Puck's enduring flagship in Beverly Hills still has one of the best patio spaces in the city, thanks in part to an improved menu that encourages more casual dining and sharing of plates. Chances of catching a celebrity dining here might be higher than anywhere else in Beverly Hills.

Wood & Vine

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The rather extensive outdoor patio at this Hollywood restaurant features a blazing firepit, which adds both warmth and comfort to the entire space. The happy hour is definitely the time to come, where drinks are a mere $5. Definitely a great urban escape from the absolute mess that is Hollywood Blvd at times.

Zinc Café & Market

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This gorgeous space in the Arts District serves reliable European and American dishes in a respite from all that industrial stuff going on around it. A mini-park inside the restaurant is the ideal place to waste away the hours drinking coffee, wine or beer.

Cliff's Edge

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Almost situated on a movie set, the jungle-like patio is both expansive and relaxing at Cliff's Edge, especially when paired with the expert cooking of chef Vartan Abgaryan, who uses seasonal ingredients and artfully places them on some of the most attractive plates in town.

Chaya Downtown

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This Downtown Asian eatery has a summer-long beer garden with grilled skewers and plenty of cold suds to cap off the work days. Yes it's amid all the high rises in the Financial District but it's a ways away from the noisy streets.

Sun Cafe

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This spacious plant-based eatery has some new digs in Studio City in some of the most expansive and bright patio space in town. It's not a bad celeb spotting place either.

Beelman's Pub

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This Downtown pub evokes a European street side cafe, making it an ideal place to sit out on the benches and watch all the pedestrians in Historic Core walk by. Have a cocktail, glass of wine or beer, order some delectable dishes by chef Tom Block, and enjoy the outdoors right in the heart of LA.

PUMP Lounge

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Lisa Vanderpump made sure that this was the kind of patio where people wanted to see and be seen. Using a myriad of pillows to ensure plenty of comfort, as well as even more comfort from the cooking, this is the place to hang out in West Hollywood this summer.

Superba Food + Bread

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Venice is always going to be rich in patio dining, but Superba Food + Bread is easily the most stylish place to hang out in this part of town. Soak in the sun while enjoying the light California cooking from Jason Travi.

Dockside at Playa Provisions

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The more composed, complete restaurant at Brooke Williamson and Nick Robert's Playa Del Rey four-part eatery has a shielded patio that's just steps from the beach. Easily the place to be this summer in Playa del Rey.

Madera Kitchen

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Escape from the bustle of Hollywood at this expansive Mediterranean restaurant with small, shareable plates and plenty of wine, beer, and cocktails to sip on while soaking in the sun. There's wood fire too, not that you'll need it for heat.

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A-Frame

Roy Choi's ode to Hawaiian and Asian cuisine was inspired by picnic dining, and the dishes follow suit by being finger-friendly courses that are best consumed by your hands. The swordfish tacos, beer-can roasted chicken (fried chicken on the weekends), and hoisin ribs are the best things to get, in addition to the fantastic double-patty burger.