Summer may seem like the season to enjoy alfresco dining in Los Angeles, but we’re going to key you in on a little secret: the very best time is actually the fall.
Even as the leaves begin to drop, picturesque weather is here to stay with clear blue skies and balmy days. Plus, sunset hues are more vibrant during this season, adding an extra pop to those happy-hour plates.
These are some of our favorites spots to savor great views and delicious eats around the city.
Living Room at Shutters on the Beach
For those in the know, this cozy lounge within Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Shutters on the Beach hotel is one of L.A.’s best-kept secrets for stellar outdoor dining with water views — which is harder to find than you’d think in a city along the ocean.
There are only a few tables outside, but if you can score one, you’ll find yourself on a petite patio with vistas of the Santa Monica Pier and Pacific Ocean.
This isn’t the place for a full-blown meal, but it’s the spot for a light bite and drink while watching the sun sink below the horizon.
Thursday evenings feature an Italian-themed menu of regional wines, meats and cheeses, while Fridays are dedicated to ceviche and margaritas.
Inn of the Seventh Ray
Home to hundreds — if not thousands — of engagement proposals and anniversary dinners over its nearly half-century history, this hidden gem boasts a picture-perfect patio that runs alongside a tree-dotted creek.
Tucked into the Santa Monica Mountains with a remote woodland feel, the health-centric fine-dining restaurant serves up seasonal, organic, sustainably raised Californian cuisine.
Weekend brunch is definitely a standout here thanks to a glorious buffet overflowing with delights, including vegan and raw selections and a build-your-own granola bar to boot.
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Celebrity chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s Malibu outpost is a stylish scene for locals and celebrities alike. It should come as no surprise that this location claims to be among the most Instagrammed Nobu restaurants in the world — the waves literally lap under your feet.
Snag a table on the covered patio or catch some rays at one of the sun-drenched bar tables — especially ideal for a pre-dinner drink or happy hour.
Reservations are a must and should be made about a month in advance if you want prime hours on a weekend. Rest assured, the extra effort is worth it once you sit down to a glorious spread of chef Nobu’s signature items, such as crispy sashimi tacos, miso black cod and rock shrimp tempura paired with stunning views and fresh ocean breezes.
The newest rooftop restaurant in Santa Monica features North African-inspired décor with hanging fabrics, woven baskets, open fireplaces, stone and wood finishes.
Of the flavorful dishes on the Southern Mediterranean menu, don’t miss the whipped eggplant appetizer and broccolini with cashew pesto. And, while you may not be directly on the beach, you’ll still have one of the best seats in town to take in the sunset.
Make reservations in advance, especially if you plan to visit on weekend nights — the venue doesn’t allow walk-ins.
The Rooftop by JG
French celebrity chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten heads up the dining program at Five-Star Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills — one of the select properties to make Forbes Travel Guide’s exclusive Verified List for the most luxurious hotels in the world — and his 12th-floor restaurant lacks for nothing.
The all-day menu runs the gamut, whether you crave a quick snack like pistachio guacamole with tortilla chips or a heartier lobster burger topped with Gruyère, yuzu pickles and green chili dressing.
Overlooking Beverly Hills’ Golden Triangle, it’s a great location for a power lunch or a pre-show drink before heading down the street to Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts.
This Kelly Wearstler-designed rooftop bar offers sweeping views of Tinsletown, from the Hollywood sign to the Griffith Observatory — after all, it is touted as the neighborhood’s highest bar.
Located atop a luxury apartment building, the 22nd-floor lounge is open to the public for light bites in the evening (think hummus, salads and burgers) and a gorgeous weekend brunch.
See and be seen at this celebrity dining hot spot in West Hollywood. The first West Coast incarnation of the successful New York City seafood restaurant features decadent fish-lover favorites (salmon belly carpaccio, truffle sashimi and Cantonese lobster) with plenty of opportunities for meat-eaters and vegans to indulge as well.
The rooftop is especially lovely with its abundant floral landscaping and twinkling lights. Make reservations far in advance to snap up a choice table.
E.P. & L.P.
Follow the signature wallpaper up the stairs to reach the Instagrammable open-air deck atop this Asian eatery. Trust us when we say the views of the Hollywood Hills alone are worth the short trek.
Here, the atmosphere is casual and feel-good. It’s the ideal place for either a happy-hour or late-night nosh thanks to Australian chef Louis Tikaram’s delicious Southeast Asian fusion cuisine.
Meet up with friends to start the weekend off right or catch an outdoor movie screening on the rooftop with special snacks that could include caramel popcorn, sticky spare ribs, and salt and pepper tofu.
For all the trendy new alfresco spots in town, it’s nice to have a few retro favorites, too. This iconic Burbank venue recently completed a beautiful remodel, highlighting its hilltop perch with a pleasant patio from which to enjoy those sweeping vistas.
It’s hard to pass up a lazy brunch over lobster and waffles or rum-roasted banana French toast. And if you need to work off that decadent breakfast, there’s plenty of hiking among the nearby Verdugo Mountains.
If you’re aiming to impress (or just have a sweet tooth), make sure to order the Midnight in Paris dessert experience — it incorporates all of the chef’s favorite treats onto one looming tower.
This beach bum-chic bar and taco stand proves that outdoor dining experiences don’t have to be on swanky rooftops or within salt-spraying distance to be memorable.
Known affectionately as Frogtown, L.A.’s Eastside neighborhood (home to many up-and-coming and established artists, including Obey clothing founder Shepard Fairey) has never been known for a restaurant scene until Salazar moved in. Serving up modern Mexican dishes out of a remodeled gas station, the venue’s best feature (beyond the grilled fare and high-octane drinks, of course) is its massive sun-drenched terrace.
The eatery is so homey that it feels like you’re hanging out in your own beautifully landscaped backyard with friends while someone magically grills mesquite pork chops and shakes up La Paloma cocktails for you.
Fun fact: Salazar has one of the largest mezcal selections in the city and regularly offers tastings of its wide collection.