Photo credit Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
International readers might be surprised to hear that Los Angeles is not an outdoor dining city. The usual arguments are pervasive: traffic noise, smog, too many homeless people, no privacy, etc. But if there is one thing the pandemic forced the City of Angels to reckon with (in a very good way), it was dining outside.
When California shut down indoor dining, the state’s restaurant scene had to act fast. Practically overnight, restaurant workers could be seen setting up sidewalk seating, installing temporary barriers, rolling out heat lamps (yes, LA gets cold at night), and creating a comfortable environment where diners could feel safe from Covid while enjoying their meals.
The current buzz around the city is that outdoor dining has not only been successful in keeping transmission rates low, but it has also pushed LA’s finicky eaters to come to a realisation – dining outside can be, and is, really exceptional.
Almost every great restaurant in Los Angeles had to pivot to some version of outdoor eating. Some, with the proper space and money, have built large-scale eating areas, while others have figured out how to utilise sidewalks, parking spaces, and other creative solutions.
These are some of LA’s best outdoor eating establishments – not all came about because of the pandemic – but hopefully all will continue giving diners the pleasure of eating outside for a long time to come.
Nancy Silverton’s trio of restaurants, Osteria Mozza, Pizzeria Mozza, and chi SPACCA dominate a block of LA and are known for their Italian food supremacy. But their pandemic pivot makes them even more formidable as they’ve turned the rear of the building into a two-level piazza for dining under the stars.
The Naples transplant is known for its majestic and authentic Neapolitan pizzas, but it’s owner Francesco Zimone’s eye for design that makes this pizzeria truly stand out. The courtyard at da Michele is a tree-lined oasis with exposed brick and hanging lights that make hungry diners forget about the pandemic and dream of the Amalfi Coast.
The seafood haven Connie and Ted’s took things to a whole new level for their pandemic response. Practically overnight, the fishmongers at C+T built a massive pavilion that complemented their architecturally beautiful structure while giving fish fiends a safe and relaxing outdoor eating environment. The best lobster roll in LA is still yours for the taking.
The best vegan Mexican restaurant in LA (only vegan Mexican restaurant?),Gracias Madre was well-positioned to meet the pandemic head on. Their outdoor dining area seats dozens of health-conscious Angelenos and is the perfect escape for privacy-minded celebs and lovers of interior design. The menu by executive chef Mario Alberto is chock full of plant-based gems, like their gluten free chicharron tacos with oyster mushrooms or their wet burrito with jackfruit carnitas.
The newest outdoor escape in LA is set atop the iconic Beverly Hilton hotel. Sant’olina is a salacious mix of Mediterranean favourites that includes zucchini keftedes, cauliflower tabbouleh, chickpea matbucha, and so much more. The real treat, however, is the 360° views from the hotel’s rooftop. Not only can you spy over the Beverly Hills shopping elite, but you also get front row views of the Hollywood Hills and, on clear days, the bright blue Pacific Ocean.
The internationally acclaimed Nobu has many iterations of its famous sushi around the globe, but you’d be hard-pressed to find one with a better setting. Nobu Malibu sits right on the silky white sands of Carbon Beach and is the perfect locale for any special occasion. If you’re looking for superb sunsets, socially-distanced outdoor dining, and great sushi, this is your spot.
After going a full year without a social scene in the city, Great White has become the ideal elixir for mingling singles looking for safe and sexy outdoor dining. The restaurant is now a Venice hotspot that serves leopard-spotted pizzas, crispy chicken sandwiches, and seared wagyu steaks. Their outdoor perch is also great for a post-beach brew or just gawking at the weird and wonderful that Venice denizens have to offer.
Do you like miraculously marbled meats? How about A-list celebrity sightings? Or maybe you’d like to bask in the world’s greatest sunsets? All of this can be yours at Mastro’s Ocean Club on the beaches of Malibu. This renowned steakhouse is home to LA’s well-heeled crowd (a dress code ensures it) and provides meat and seafood-loving locals with romantic views alongside the most savoury meals.
Many consider this quaint and charming restaurant to be the best Italian spot in the city. It’s hard to argue against it once you’ve slurped up chef Gino Angelini’s decadent pasta dishes. Helping it maintain its stellar reputation, the restaurant has fully adopted an outdoor dining mentally which gives its loyal customers a safe and tasty way to eat outside.
Photo credit Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel
The Beverly Wilshire, AFour Seasons Hotel in the heart of Beverly Hills has taken outdoor dining to another level. Made famous by its starring role in Pretty Woman, the hotel has always maintained a well-earned reputation for high-end cuisine. The current special outside the hotel is the reimagined valet area, which has become a private hideaway of fine-dining under hanging lights and high-end heat lamps. Between lush hedges, diners at THEBlvd Privé can expect locally sourced branzino, ruby red Snake River Farm steaks, and an endless wine and creative cocktail list.
Massimo Bottura’sfirst foray into LA opened a month before the pandemic caused the city’s dining scene to come crashing down. But the meticulously designed space, featuring Italian marble mosaic floors, red marble tables, and wicker dining chairs, was partially constructed to accommodate a plethora of outdoor dining. Fans of Bottura and executive chef Mattia Agazzi can still gawk at Rodeo Drive socialites while eating the world’s best tortellini with Parmigiano Reggiano cream.
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