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

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2008_10_hasmapsalfrescodining.jpgWell, that was quite a storm. And hopefully the last of such deluges to hit L.A. for a while. The sun is out, springtime is neigh, and that means dining outdoors, al fresco. There are so many restaurants that dedicate a large part of their space outdoors that it's practically a necessity. And it also doesn't hurt that a lot of the market-driven cooking and freshly-shaken cocktails are conducive to dining under the sun (under umbrellas) or even under the stars late into the night. Eater presents, alphabetically, an updated guide to the best al fresco dining in Los Angeles.


Added 3/14: Gracias Madre, Umami Burger Santa Monica, Nikita Malibu, RivaBella

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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 chef Kris Morningstar's 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.

Umami Burger

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Spread out on the patio next to Fred Segal, this SaMo outlet of Umami Burger might be one of the more pleasant lunch time experiences in the area. Just far enough from the tourist traps of 3rd Street, and with a pretty low price tag on the polished burgers and other comfort fare.

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.

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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.

AOC

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

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.

Bucato

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

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

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

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

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.