Where LA’s Top Food Writers and Bloggers Like to Dine and Drink Outside

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Temperatures are up and the weather is gorgeous.  All across the station, we’re talking summer.  Good Food asked Los Angeles’ top food writers, critics and bloggers like Jonathan Gold, Elina Shatkin, Lesley Barger Suter, Lesley Balla, Dana Goodyear, Josh Lurie and more where they like to dine outside and what they order.  Here is what they said along an interactive map:

Lesley Balla, Chow Balla
If I’m not in my friend’s backyard drinking rose, you might catch me at Stark Bar at LACMA drinking a glass of wine or one of the great cocktails (right now they have one called the Lemon Balla, made with gin even, my favorite…how could I not love that?!). I love being there sort of late afternoon/early evening, when the museum crowds are winding down. They have these high-back felt chairs on the patio that I adore. If I get one of those, I will twirl and sip for hours, watch the sun go down and just people watch. Even if it’s really hot outside, it’s somehow still cool under that canopy, especially when it’s breezy. It’s the perfect place for a glass of wine, maybe some charcuterie and cheese.  And maybe another glass of wine.

Daniela Galarza, Associate Editor/Eater LA
It’s a splurge, but I can’t get enough of the new Wolfgang Puck at the Hotel Bel Air. The open-air dining room is comfortably outfitted with spacious banquettes and though the foliage is almost too perfectly manicured, seeing a hummingbird dart by is delightful. Plus, the food is delicious, especially the tea service, with tea sandwiches laid out like sashimi and bottomless pots of Chinese blends or floral brews like Earl Grey with rose.

On an average summer Sunday I can be found at the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, juggling bags of melons and spring onions from Weiser farms, a cherry crumble pie from Marcia’s Pies and a tall cup of strawberry lemonade. The pupusa place is a favorite if the sun isn’t beating down. They grill and griddle their hand-pattied pupusas, giving them a smoky flavor. Otherwise, Valerie Confections always has some sort of savory hand pie (feta and mint? scallion and cheddar?) that works for a mid-morning snack.

Evan George, Blogger and Cookbook Author/Hot Knives
Verdugo Bar (Glassell Park) – Not only does the Verdugo Bar boast one of the city’s best beer lists, its outdoor patio is unrivaled. With three long rows of wooden picnic tables under a shaded roof, I recommend you camp out early on summer weekends with a round of hoppy West Coast IPA and wait for the food trucks to roll into the parking lot. It’s the only place I’ve ever been able to scarf a veggie burger wedged between two grilled cheeses (Grill ‘Em All Truck) while sipping a sour grape stout. And there’s a Janga game for those who need an afternoon project.

Silver Lake Farmers Market – Thankfully, we live where farmers markets go year-round, but there’s still something magical to me about hot Saturday mornings in July at this pedestrian strip just off Sunset Blvd. I go early to grab an espresso from Cafecito Organico followed by a sticky rice breakfast roll from Dave’s Korean stand. There’s heartier fare, like papusas and crepes, but what matters is that it be eaten on the grass by the water fountain while the tiny budding hipster kids get their faces painted by the woman in fairy wings.

Lucky Baldwin’s Pub (Old Town Pasadena) – A true patio institution, Lucky Baldwin’s remains my favorite place to sit outside for hours and milk a bottle of Belgian beer. Show up early this month to take in the World Cup with real rowdy fans. While the dim interior gives off a faint whiff of urine, the dozen or so tree-lined patio tables let you bask in the sunshine while you ponder an extra large order of fish n’ chips or, my favorite, a plate of French fries smothered in beans, sauteed mushrooms and copious amounts of HP sauce.

Jonathan Gold, Food Critic and Columnist/Los Angeles Times
It would have to be a toss-up between Mongolian hot pot on the “terrace” at Monland Hop Pot City in San Gabriel and seared diver scallops in the garden at Michael’s.

Dana Goodyear, Staff Writer/The New Yorker
For summer lunches, I like the garden at AXE, where I always order the fresh ginger tea, iced.

Drew Hubbard and Ben Waters, LA Foodie
Drew: The Los Angeles Farmers Market at 3rd and Fairfax. I get some friends together, grab a pitcher of whatever beer is on special at 326, order a large plate of beef nachos from Lotería Grill, and plop down at a table.

Ben: Up in the hills above town, Malibu Cafe is nestled away like a secret oasis. On a Sunday morning, it may take a minute to get my lobster Eggs Benedict, but between the bluegrass band that looks like they slept on the beach last night and the paddleboat rides around the idyllic lake, you couldn’t ask for a better spot to spend it.

Josh Lurie, Food GPS
One of my favorite places to eat outside in the summer is Poke Poke, which is located around the corner from Muscle Beach and the madness that is Venice Beach. The couple that opened the stall learned to make poke on the North Shore of Oahu, and my favorite thing on the small, highly customizable menu is the spicy poke. They toss cubes of rosy ahi with soy, onions, scallions, sesame oil, sesame seeds and Sriracha. It’s a great meal on a sunny beach day and is probably the closest thing we have to the kind of poke you’d find in Hawaii. 

Elina Shatkin, Senior Editor/Los Angeles Magazine
Alcove   Tuna melt — with onion rings! I don’t normally don’t dig the fish + cheese combo, but their tuna melt is great. Also, all of the desserts are terrific.

For dessert, the moles de platano: fried plantains covered in a sweet, lightly cinnamon-y sauce.

Attari Sandwich Shop  
The patio at this small Iranian sandwich shop is usually packed at lunch time. I get the beef tongue or sosee (sausage) sandwich and maybe a side of the garlicky green olive dipping paste. (I forget what it’s called.)

Blue Cow
  Good lunch spot. I like the Tandoori turkey club sandwich: It’s on naan instead of regular bread and it involves bacon, avocado and pickled red onions. But what really makes the sandwich are the sweet-and-spicy candied jalapenos.

Drago Centro  
Happy hour: the calzone and cocktails. I usually pick what’s on special for Happy Hour or whatever sounds most interesting from their seasonal menu.

I expect any restaurant or bar in this area to be awful, overpriced, tourist-driven or all of the above. Let’s face it, most of them are. But somehow Eveleigh manages to make really good food (get the burger!)

I love the vibe of this patio. I don’t remember any special dish. Just regular breakfast food.

Joan’s On Third
  There are lots of cafes along Third Street aka “the Cafe Corridor” but none have achieved the Platonic ideal of the omelet like Joan’s. I love having breakfast here. I usually get the veggie omelet and (if I’m trying to be sort of healthy) a morning muffin or (if I’m not trying to be healthy at all) a Fruit Loops/marshmallow square or chocolate-peanut butter cupcake.

Brunch. Endless games of gin rummy. Coffee. Chilaquiles — definitely with chorizo!

Beer, blue cheese fries and people-watching late at night.

Square One  
Like everyone else, I get the pancakes with bacon-infused caramel sauce. Is there any other reason to brave the wait for brunch on a weekend?

I loved this spot way back when it was Highland Grounds: giant cups of iced coffee and a breakfast of poached eggs on top of potato pancakes. I still love it as Street though now it’s for Kaya toast and Turkish donuts.

Farmer’s Market at the Grove
  There are too many good places to eat in here, so here’s my ideal fantasy meal (not in any order) if my stomach and wallet were big enough to support this kind of gluttony:
eggs, bacon and hash browns (extra crisp, please) and a cheese-bottom pie to take home  at Du-Par’s, beef tacos at Magee’s, apple fritter and an ice tea at Bob’s, egg and ham boreka at Moishe’s, chilaquiles and a taco sampler at Loteria, moules, frites, wine  at Mr. Marcel, chocolate-dipped banana and a scoop of Fancy Nancy ice cream (faintly bitter coffee ice cream with banana chunks and caramel) at Bennett’s, and a slice of bacon cheddar chili croissant bread pudding, something sweet and a cup of coffee at Short Cake

Krista Simmons, Food Editor/LAist
When it comes to picking the best outdoor eateries, it all boils down to the occasion. For brunch, I usually opt for the patio at Little Dom’s in Los Feliz. How could you say no to $12 bottles of prosecco on a Saturday morning? It’s some of the best people watching in town, and I am obsessed with their breakfast pizza with speck, tomato sauce, and mozzarella topped with a perfectly-set sunny side up egg. Is there anything more satisfying than watching yellow yolk slowly slide down a slice of thinly-cut speck? I think not.

If we’re talking lunch, Post & Beam in Baldwin Hills is a favorite. Basking in the sunshine while lounging on retro 70s furniture is a beautiful thing, made even better if I get to catch a peek of Govind Armstrong working in his edible garden. His sandwiches are excellent, namely the crispy-on-the-outside, moist-on-the-inside buttermilk fried chicken breast with collard green relish and Cajun mayo, or the braised short rib grilled cheese with red onion marmelade.

For dinnertime, I’m a huge fan of Cliff’s Edge in Silver Lake, especially since they just opened their oyster bar. Sipping French champagne while noshing on a dozen freshly-shucked briney Morro Bay oysters just screams summertime. Come to think of it, I might just head over there right now.

Lesley Bargar Suter, Dine Editor/Los Angeles Magazine

Back while I was just a freelancer I worked for a short time at the Alcove Café in Los Feliz. Even after spending day in and day out at this place, I still feel it has one of the best patios in town. There’s a great mix of sun and shade, lots of plants and flowers, cute dogs, vintage mix-and-match bistro furniture, and the chance to  drink a glass of something boozy in the summer with a wholly satisfying salad, or better yet, the crab cake eggs benedict. Just remember to tip your barrista!

Lately, I’ve also been really enjoying the front patio at Golden Road Brewing Company on the outskirts of Atwater Village and Glendale. I grab a giant pretzel and a beer and just enjoy the afternoon. And while I don’t have any kids of my own yet, I take comfort in the large number of parents I see enjoying a beer and a bite with kids in tow—Mom and Dad deserve an IPA and a fresh breeze the same as the rest  of us. Entertainment comes in the form of a digital jukebox and the occasional train that roars past. It’s a leisurely spot and I see myself spending much of my summer perched right there.