By Charles Trepany| Outdoor dining has become as much a part of summer in Los Angeles as going to the beach on the Fourth of July. From eating under the stars to making new friends, here are four Westside restaurants, each with their own take on the outdoor dining experience.
Community is On the Menu
At Plant Food + Wine’s outdoor patio in Venice, general manager Justin Pineiro said customers can enjoy “a fairy-like environment,” with small lights hanging from trees, a garden where a large portion of the restaurant’s ingredients are grown and a large table for communal seating.
“The outdoor patio is definitely like a little magical oasis,” Pineiro said.
Pineiro said the restaurant’s patio is also a great place to make friends, especially at the communal table.
“Dining outside is just an experience that makes everybody feel like they’re at home,” he said. “We get a lot of people that just connect outside. If they haven’t met, it just sets the stage for everybody to feel welcome and feel like they’re all dining together, but also in their own individual experience at the same time.”
According to Pineiro, the best summer drinks are the Havana Crush and seasonal Sangria.
Pineiro said the patio is one of the most relaxing places to sit, day or night.
“It’s a little hidden gem. It makes you feel like you’re in a completely different place and at the same time enjoying everything that’s magical that L.A. has to offer.”
Address: 1009 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice, CA 90291
Dinner Under the Stars
A summer brunch special of rosé and toast, plus a patio with a retractable roof, make the outdoor dining experience at Baltaire Restaurant in Brentwood perfect for any weather, said Brandon Guidry, the restaurant’s general manager.
“The terrace itself has these lovely, dim, glowing light fixtures and candle features on the table,” he said. “The ambience out there is just absolutely perfect.”
The restaurant’s outdoor seating, which includes a lounge area with a fireplace, is covered by a retractable canopy roof that can be pulled over the patio or brought in, depending on the weather.
“If it’s lovely and warm, we can open it,” Guidry said. “If it’s too bright, too breezy, looks like it’s going to rain, we can close it.”
Guidry said the roof can filter partial sunlight during the day while keeping the heat from beating down on guests. On warm summer nights, he said the roof opens so guests can dine under the night sky.
“The people who dine in that area get the true dining al fresco experience of having their dinner under the stars,” he said.
Last Saturday marked the beginning of the restaurant’s “A Toast to Rosé” summer brunch special, where customers can order from a menu of four appetizer toasts, which the restaurant’s beverage director has paired with four rosé wines from around the world.
The special, which first began last year, will be available every weekend for the rest of the summer.
Guidry said the toasts and rosé wines are perfect to enjoy on the patio.
“To have that experience of eating a lighter fare like the toasts, having the rosés which are great for warm weather, and the ambience of the patio would just be a fantastic combination,” Guidry said.
Address: 11647 San Vicente Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90049
A Classic That’s Always Fresh
This summer at the restaurant Wilshire in Santa Monica, guests can enjoy a diverse summer menu on one of the restaurant’s two outdoor patios, said co-general manager and events manager Eryn Bradley.
Complete with fire torches, a fireplace and a fish pond, the outdoor seating at Wilshire is a staple of the restaurant.
“Outdoor seating is probably 65 to 70 percent of our restaurant, and it’s certainly the most in demand area of the restaurant, as a far as diners are concerned,” Bradley said. “If you look in our reservation books, you’ll see every single person has requested outside seating.”
The outdoor seating also includes a loft space called the Sea Garden Lounge that overlooks the lower patio.
Bradley said the patios at Wilshire are a favorite for locals.
“We have guests who’ve been coming here for 13 years that have their particular table and who come here specifically because they can sit outside and enjoy our beautiful patio,” she said.
Bradley said patrons can always count on Wilshire to have a variety of menu options, as they switch out items on their menu on an almost weekly basis to include the freshest ingredients from the nearest farms.
“If you want to have a true summer dining experience, not only will it start with the beautiful aesthetic of the patio, but it will end with the menu that is catered to and based on seasonal summer ingredients,” she said.
Wilshire will offer a new cocktail menu of summer beverages this week as well as live acoustic music on the patio every Sunday brunch.
“Our Sunday brunch is really becoming something special, and it’s large part due to that outdoor patio area,” Bradley said. “It’s a great place for an outdoor patio brunch.”
Address: 2454 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica, CA 90403
An Authentic Hideaway
At Café Chez Marie in Century City, customers can enjoy a diverse menu of authentic French, Moroccan and American cuisine on a secluded outdoor patio resembling that of a Parisian café.
“You feel that you are in Paris, because of the French feel we have created. Everything we have is authentic,” said Marie Saltzman, who owns the restaurant with her husband, Steve. “It’s like Paris, except instead of having noises and cars, you have gardens, and flowers, and trees, and hydrangeas and roses.”
Founded almost 19 years ago, Café Chez Marie is located in what used to be an early 20th century French Revival Cottage, and the building has been designated a Los Angeles City Cultural Historical Monument for over 30 years.
Saltzman said the restaurant’s cultural authenticity makes it special.
“There is no B.S.,” Saltzman said. “Everything is authentic.”
Saltzman said customers can enjoy the restaurant’s outdoor patio any time of the day for a quick getaway.
“It’s so quiet and peaceful,” she said. “You feel like you are not in the middle of the city. It’s an escape.”
Address: 10681 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90025