The great outdoors


One of the perks of living in Southern California is dining outdoors year round. Here are a few spots that make the most of it.


Early in the evening, diners in de rigueur black nibble on lobster chopped salads and skinny fries. Later, the spacious patio with its high walls, open roof and fireplace turns into a cocktail scene, with music video projections and, sometimes, movies.

* Small plates, $9 to $14; plates and grilled items, $12 to $26. 7213 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood. (323) 850-5350.


Lilly’s French Cafe

The two-level patio is where those in the know sit at this modern French cafe. The best tables enjoy a view of the enchanting gardens next door, but wherever you sit, the French onion soup and moules frites hit the spot.

* Appetizers, $6 to $12; Entrees, $15 to $22. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice. (310) 314-0004.


This patio, a Spanish mission-style looker off the main concourse of Union Station, is surrounded by jacaranda trees and twinkle lights, making for big romance. The Caesar salad is a must, as is the sweet juicy pork chop.

* Appetizers, $6 to $14; entrees, $19 to $27. 800 N. Alameda St., Downtown L.A. (213) 625-1999.


Just about everyone requests an outdoor table at this progressive American restaurant. That’s because the patio enjoys a view of a lush garden (something of a surprise, given the strip-mall locale). Try the juicy herb-roasted chicken and other simple dishes.

* Salads and starters, $4.50 to $10; main courses, $17 to $29. 2531 Eastbluff Drive, Newport Beach. (949) 718-9650.



A favorite of industry folks and docs from across the street, this Italian eatery known for its lovely composed salads, thin pizzas and well-executed pastas features a charming patio shaded by ficus trees where the be-jeaned and be-suited feel equally at home.

* Appetizers, $7 to $14; main courses, $19 to $30. 8706 W. 3rd St., L.A. (310) 274-7144.


A fire pit and oversized candles bathe the garden in a golden glow -- and make it one of the sexiest spots in town. Start with the fried cicchetti olives, and then perhaps the meltingly tender all-day baked pork with polenta.

* Appetizers, $7 to $16; main courses, $15 to $24. 11720 Ventura Blvd., Studio City. (818) 762-1833.