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Very "LA" restaurants with outdoor seating to take visitors?

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I'm looking for trendy restaurants that would give visitors from NorCal a sense of LA (and why we give them a run for their money.) Preferably with a patio and outside seating, but open to all suggestions. Price isn't a big issue, but trying to stay within a moderate range.

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  1. What does the phrase "stay within a moderate range" mean in terms of per person cost for food and drink?

    1. The "trendiest" patio is probably Chateau Marmont. Don't know much about their food.

      Little Door has a terrific patio. So does Spago. (though can't call the prices moderate.) And maybe the best outdoor dining space is Cliff's Edge is Silverlake. I'm not a huge fan of their food...but others like it.

      Cliff's Edge
      3626 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026

      Chateau Marmont
      8221 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046

      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

      The Little Door
      8164 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

      1 Reply
      1. re: perk

        I had no idea Little Door was still around it. Loved it when I ate there years ago.

        The Little Door
        8164 West 3rd Street, Los Angeles, CA 90048

      2. Michael's Santa Monica, Joe's Restaurant, Cafe Santorini in Pasadena, the Ivy if you can get the patio.

        I know the Loews in Santa Monica has outdoor seating, Cafe Pinot at the Central Library, Asia de Cuba at the Mondrian....

        Cafe Santorini
        70 W Union St, Pasadena, CA 91103

        Cafe Pinot
        700 West Fifth St., Los Angeles, CA 90071

        2 Replies
        1. re: scottca075

          michael's in santa monica, imho, charges prices that are higher than "moderate."

          1. re: westsidegal

            Could be. Everyone has their own ideas of moderate. I wish people would just give price ranges like "no entrée over $30", which would be my definition of moderate.

        2. The Ivy, on Robertson. Food's not so good, but very L.A.

          1 Reply
          1. re: J.L.

            "Food's not so good"

            ...but the prices are so very moderate... not! ;-D>

          2. I always take visitors to to Yamishiro.... before people get in a tizzy here is how and why.
            Just before sunset so they can get a grasp at how big L.A. is and if it's clear you can see Catalina, while the sun sets all the lights come up blows all my out of towners away.
            Bonus you may see a celebrity last time I saw Gwen Stefani and husband Gavin.
            I sit in the bar area and have appy's and drinks or just have dinner it's very unique to los angeles but not as trendy as say KOI or Bazaar.
            You can always go for bar bites at Bazaar's bar centro for full on blitzkrig of trendy

            1. Nothing is more LA to me than the very casual picnic table patio at Neptune's Net in Malibu with the Pacific Ocean right across the street.

              Or the beautiful patio with the Santa Monica mountain views at the Getty Center restaurant. Good food too. Lunch daily except Mondays and dinner served only Saturday nights.

              Getty Center
              1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049

              Neptune's Net Seafood
              42505 Pacific Coast Hwy, Malibu, CA 90265

              1. Zengo in Santa Monica has a nice patio on the 3rd floor of the Santa Monica Place over looking the 3rd Street Promenade. The ZENGO BRUNCH on Saturdays and Sundays has Latin-Asian fusion Unlimited Small Plates and Free-Flowing Cocktails for $35 per person.

                395 Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                1. gjelina

                  1. Wilshire
                    Buffalo Club
                    Il Cielo
                    Chateau Marmont
                    Whist at the Viceroy

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: yogachik

                      +1 on Wilshire. Whist. Gjelina, Michaels

                      Take them to the Getty Center for lunch.
                      Eveleigh in Hollywood has a great outdoor space and scene.
                      Sonoma Wine Garden in the Santa Monica Place has a great view, food is about average.
                      Penthouse at the Huntley for drinks and sunset, food is not that great.
                      And there's the ubiquitous LA presence at the Ritz Carlton downtown, WP24 for Chinese Puck.

                      Getty Center
                      1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                      900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                      8752 Sunset Blvd, West Hollywood, CA 90069

                      Sonoma Wine Garden
                      395 Santa Monica Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90401

                      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                    2. Gjelina or Spago would be my choice given your criteria.

                      176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                      1. Saddle Peak Lodge.


                        Saddle Peak Lodge
                        419 Cold Canyon Rd., Calabasas, CA 91302

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: ipsedixit

                          Brentwood Country Mart. Get a chicken basket from Reddi-Chick or a burger from Barneys, Chances are the folks "dining" in the patio are what used to be called the "Movers and Shakers." Ih any event, the patio at the Mart is great and ice cream at Sweet Rose Creamery makes the experience that much sweeter.

                          Sweet Rose Creamery
                          225 26th St #51, Los Angeles, CA 90049

                        2. For a low key breakfast or lunch in a great outdoor setting try the Trails Cafe in Griffith Park.
                          Kid friendly, dog friendly, and there's a chance at a possible star sighting if your friends are impressed by that kind of thing.

                          Excellent food, some of the hits out of many include the avocado sandwich, lavender short bread cookies, scones it's vegetarian but don't let that scare you off.

                          I'm not and i don't miss being a carnivore when I'm there.

                          A hidden LA gem.

                          1. Spago, Il Moro, Polo Lounge; Chateau are all great. Pane Vino is not as good, but is solid Italian and less expensive.

                            176 North Canon Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210

                            Il Moro Restaurant
                            11400 W. Olympic Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90064

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BSW6490

                              Cafe Stella / Cliff's Edge = pretty outside dining
                              WP24 = view of Hollywood sign and great overall view of LA from several stories up in the Ritz-Carlton high-rise downtown; if you don't want to eat Wolfgang Puck's cuisine, you can just grab a cocktail there at sunset and eat somewhere else
                              Moonstone's in Malibu? Or is it Moonshadow's?
                              that rustic restaurant in Topanga Canyon, but I can't think of the name right now

                              Cliff's Edge
                              3626 W. Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90026

                              Cafe Stella
                              3932 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90029

                              900 W Olympic Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90015

                              1. re: Liquid Sky

                                re: Topanga Canyon--do you mean Inn of the 7th Ray?

                            2. The Foundry on Melrose has a great patio. It isn't on the street if that is what you are looking for but the food is delicious & innovative, the setting pretty and in an "interesting" part of town. The chef is a pretty amiable guy and the waitstaff really care. Oh, yes, no one has mentioned Lucques yet. It has been a while since I have been. But, they also have a wonderful outdoor space. Have seen a few complaints of late but I still think it is a keeper.

                              8474 Melrose Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Fru

                                I believe the Foundy does have some street seating as well as the lovely back back patio.

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  Oops, you are right! All though, I wouldn't want to sit there.

                              2. Lunch at the Redondo Beach Pier never fails to impress visitors - line up to get a selection of oysters (we had 23 different kinds last time we went) and then a big crab a piece for all the diners eaten on a table outside with butcher paper all over it, a bib, and a mallet its heaven sucking all the crab legs - go on Saturday morning before the world is up and sitting in the bracing sea air
                                enjoying the food and the view - visitors just love it.

                                1. Saddle Ranch on Sunset Blvd. has a patio. If you sit on the side facing Sunset Blvd, then you can watch all of the fancy cars roll by.

                                  Saddle Ranch
                                  8371 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90069

                                  1. +1 on Wilshire, Gjelina.

                                    I also think "hidden gem," low-key but hip and tasty, or higher-end but still relatively subdued might be more impressive to visitors from N. California than are the other more "stereotypical" LA places. My impression from the little time I've been up there is that many people from that part of California don't like LA specifically b/c of the glitz and glam (which they find off-puttingly pretentious).

                                    And so, to that end, I'd be more apt to recommend a place like Square One or, for dinner, places like Lukshon, A-Frame, Waterloo and the City, Animal, Spice Table, Playa, or Lazy Ox (I think Lukshon and Lazy Ox have outdoor seating, although there's not much of view to speak of.... Don't know if the other places have outdoor seating at all). I think these places show what LA does *well*, as opposed to what LA does simply *differently*.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: ilysla

                                      Speaking as a Northern California, I agree with this assessment except that it's so wonderful to get to sit outside in the summertime that I'd happily drink bad coffee at the Getty.

                                      LA has a fair number of beautiful people restaurants with high prices and mediocre food and service straight out of LA Story. (We have a few of them here, but I don't tend to hang out at them.) I loved Little Door for both the scene and the food when I ate there years ago.

                                      But the amazing part of the LA food scene is its diversity: ethnically, at every price point, great bang for the buck.

                                      FWIW Gjelina hasn't made it onto my list for next week's visit, despite the high praise, because the menu is a lot like all the hot restaurants in San Francisco. Maybe I'll regret that; or get take away one day.

                                      1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                      1. re: Windy

                                        >>Speaking as a Northern California, I agree with this assessment except that it's so wonderful to get to sit outside in the summertime that I'd happily drink bad coffee at the Getty.<<

                                        >>FWIW Gjelina hasn't made it onto my list for next week's visit, despite the high praise, because the menu is a lot like all the hot restaurants in San Francisco.<<

                                        I think you're right. The general region around The Bay seems to have a serious pipeline of food culture. It starts from agricultural sources that take great pride in offering superb raw ingredients, to artisans who create top shelf goods from those sources, and ultimately to eateries that know how to use all of the previously mentioned things and showcase them. Gjelina is in the same vein. As with so many places around the general NorCal area, Gjelina's flavors and textures annunciate with vibrance and freshness with a strong dose of casualness. Their arugula is loviingly pockmarked with little holes left by six-legged creatures who decided to take their share before these herbs ended up at the back door of the restaurant. And it's some of the best arugula I've tasted. Unlike most places that showcase burrata as the center of a dish, Gjelina will use it as a garnish or a nonchalant component to a salad. Angelenos initially have to tilt their head sideways when first taking in the food here, whereas folks from The City and its extended clan expect this kind of quality and whim.

                                        What is obviously difficult for the general Bay area to replicate IS the weather here. In my experience up that way, there is a very small sweet spot of superb weather that is somewhat inland but not too far so. Unfortunately, there seems to be very little along that specific longitude. The immediate coastal regions seem to be in an almost permanent state of overcast and 50s-low 60s with an occasional break of sunshine which is soon overcome by the clouds and cold weather. The inland areas can get way too sunny and hot. The in-between area is usually saved for the beautiful stands of Coastal Redwoods - a more than fair trade-off in my opinion.

                                        When visiting another area, embrace what is here and not there - otherwise, why leave home, right? :)

                                        1. re: bulavinaka

                                          The weather in Northern California isn't that bad :) It's been an extremely foggy summer, and I'm looking forward to a patio, and a barbecue that doesn't require a fuzzy hat and wool scarf!

                                          I imagine anyone visiting from here will be similarly happy with an iced tea and chopped salad out on a patio, served by an "actor."

                                          LA's food scene has plenty of the same farm to table ethos, but spread across a greater area. I loved the Venice farmer's market last September. Mariquita Farms can thrive because there's sufficient demand from midrange restaurants and CSA members, not just high-end restaurants.

                                          Still working on whittling down my list of 50 or 60 LA restaurants to a manageable 10, but it's been very refreshing reading this board...(I loved the "quintessential LA" thread too.)

                                          1. re: bulavinaka

                                            Just going along w/ what Windy and bulavinaka (sort of) wrote, as someone from SF, you probably wouldn't regret not going to Gjelina. It's stylish, it's tasty, etc, etc, etc, but my friend who's been living in SF for the past year thought it wasn't *that* big deal (and, truth be told, neither did I after returning from a weekend trip to SF). Heck, I unexpectedly had a better execution of the concept at Local 121 in Providence (although I realize that Providence is apparently quite a foodie town)....

                                            And, yes, I agree, embrace what's in the town you're going to! I wasn't expecting to have world-class Chinese food in Boston (but who knows? Maybe it does exist there?), but I did have lots of good Italian. =)

                                            And, to paraphrase what's been said, it's awfully hard to get a truly *bad* meal in LA (I think). A wide variety of really tasty food to suit every budget is nothing to sneeze at.... And to return you to your regularly scheduled thread....

                                            1429 Abbot Kinney Blvd, Venice, CA 90291

                                      2. I ate lunch at the re-opened Axe on Friday which now has a gorgeous back patio space full of gorgeous people being waited on by the gorgeous staff . I even commented to my girlfriend while we were eating, only in LA....

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: mollyomormon

                                          I'm so happy Axe reopened!

                                        2. Here are my out of left field suggestions. What about Inn of the Seventh Ray (the food is NOT the best, but the outside patio/creek) in Topanga - VERY So Cal. Also, One Pico doesn't have outside seating, but you'd be hard-pressed to find a better view or more serene setting (but, you would need to specify window searing).

                                          One Pico
                                          1 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405

                                          1. I like Los Angeles, I'm a big fan of downtown Los Angeles.

                                            Dining on the patio at Cafe Pinot, along the garden, under the shadow of the city's stunning Central Library is always a pleasure.

                                            I like the staff at Cafe Pinot. They'll aid and abet as I orchestrate a multi-course meal for two of appetizers ending with salad. Wine selection is good. The food is equal to the urban views and then some.

                                            1 Reply
                                            1. re: steve h.

                                              The Brentwood Country Mart

                                            2. In & Out Burger in Westchester.
                                              Get it to go,they have a back patio in back, next to the parking lot with the most unbelievable views of incoming LAX aircraft. I've lived here my whole life & I still get excited when I've made plans to be over there for an afternoon.
                                              Trendy? Check
                                              Sense of LA? Check
                                              Patio & Outdoor Seating? Check
                                              Moderate? Check

                                              Second choice would be Wurstküche downtown. I love the views of the skyline at night from their patio, for some reason it's a very "LA" place. Trendy too, so get there on the early side!