In a city known for beautiful weather, beaches and views, outdoor dining in Los Angeles is a classic part of the L.A. experience. L.A. restaurants with great outdoor dining give you a unique and refreshing perspective on the city. Whether beachside or in the heart of the busy city, these are just a sampling of many outdoor dining choices. If you’re lucky enough to try them all, you’ll have a great sense of the city, its magnificent views and multiple personalities.
Nelson’s at Terranea Resort, Rancho Palos Verdes
With the exception of famous tourist trap Gladstone’s on Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu, L.A.’s coastline is surprisingly light on beachside dining. That’s great for coastline conservation, but bad for those who like to enjoy a beautiful ocean view with their meal. This casual spot at the new Terranea Resort (terranearesort.com) makes up for that. On a clear day, Catalina Island looks like an easy swim from your table. With a view of this unspoiled portion of L.A. coastline, spectacular waves crashing on rocks and the Point Vicente Lighthouse blinking in the background, this restaurant is one of the most scenic locations at the beach to enjoy a meal or drinks. Enjoy the sunshine or sunset on the patio, by the fire pits or fireplace. You can even bring your dog and dine at one of the picnic tables that sit outside the dining patio, after a hike along the adjacent walking trails. Nelson’s is a terrific place to bring out-of-town guests to show them the true beauty of this unspoiled portion of L.A.’s coast.
Pull over on Pacific Coast Highway, hand your car keys to the valet and forget you’re anywhere near L.A. It feels like Hawaii, if not heaven, up on the patio at Geoffrey’s. (www.geoffreysmalibu.com). (Just ignore all of the Hollywood types at the table around you.) High on a bluff, Geoffrey’s (pronounced Joffrey’s) is a Richard Neutra-designed building overlooking the Pacific, with every table enjoying an ocean view. Sip a glass of wine, some brie and your lobster Cobb salad and meditate on that deep, blue sea. Don’t drift off to sleep or you may miss the dolphins.
Saddle Peak Lodge, Calabasas
Follow the winding roads through Malibu Canyon to this longtime special occasion restaurant. An old hunting lodge outside and in, boar heads hang on the walls and interesting game selections dominate the menu. But for an old California feel, the patios and balcony, nestled among trees in the canyon and along a creek, are a delightful place to enjoy a drink and the sunset. For 100 years, the Lodge has stood under Saddle Peak, a rock formation made, according to the restaurant’s lore, when God’s first horseman sat upon the Santa Monica Mountains. In the shadow of the peak, cowboys, hunters, fishermen and miners stopped at the Lodge for food and libations. It is still a special place to get a taste of canyon life. (saddlepeaklodge.com)
Il Moro, West Los Angeles
You might not expect to find an outdoor patio tucked between two non-descript high rises in West L.A. But this restaurant, on the first floor of an Olympic Blvd. office building, offers an oasis, particularly at night, from the traffic and noise of the Westside. Lush landscaping and a waterfall surprise you, as will the delicious Italian food and attentive waiters. If you visit during the holiday season, don’t miss the Tortelloni Zucca, filled with pumpkin, fruit mustard, nutmeg, crushed amaretto cookies and mixed with a veal and beef Bolognese sauce. Il Moro is a unexpected spot for great food and great outdoor ambiance in the middle of the city. (ilmoro.com)
The Chart House, Marina del Rey
This is an off-the-beaten path choice. The patio here is small. But it’s an unexpected, hidden treat amid the bustle of the Marina area. The tiny patio at this national chain restaurant sits next to the walking path that adjoins the Marina slips and its beautiful boats. You can enjoy a quiet, outdoor meal here, and get a glimpse of Marina life as the boats, and their eclectic owners, pass by.