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Where to go for cool

Where’s the hottest patio in town? That would be the Tropicana Bar at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, or as the answering machine says, “Amanda Scheer Demme’s Tropicana Bar.” (When the name-dropping starts that early in the process, we regular Joes know we’re in trouble.)

If you haven’t heard of it, chances are you’re over 35. This is the place where Paris and Nicky, Bruce Willis, Chris Kattan and Kirsten Dunst have been partying of late. It’s located poolside at the once again fashionable hotel, and if you want to get in, well, good luck.

Fortunately, there are plenty of restaurants with sizzling patio scenes around town that will be happy to seat you even if your last name isn’t Hilton. But be warned, a spot outside is seldom guaranteed. After all, at some L.A. restaurants, everyone wants the patio, especially now.

On a recent Thursday night, it’s empty inside Dominick’s, except for the guy at the host stand and a waitress behind the bar. But out back, on the brick patio with vine-covered walls, a beautiful fireplace and jaunty overhead lights, it’s another story. The place is packed, the music is sexy and upbeat, and there’s a bottle of wine on every table. It’s a scene -- civilized, but a scene.

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It’s a similar tale at Chateau Marmont. Past the torches, in the shadow of the stunning Mediterranean facade, every single one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables is occupied. A group of model-skinny girlfriends spin their forks into shallow bowls of spaghetti while two impossibly chic French women chatter nearby.

Down the street at Katana, the patio is more laid-back in design than the interior because of the building’s landmark status, but nevertheless on a typical night it fairly jumps with people -- some dating couples, but mostly groups of friends. Everyone is checking everyone else out.

On the Westside, hot patios include those at blue on blue at the Avalon Hotel, the W’s Backyard (which, in spite of its sizzling popularity, will get a makeover in the fall from “Queer Eye’s” Thom Filicia and be reborn as Blanca) and celeb-heavy Nobu in Malibu. But the Westside’s patio of the moment might be Beechwood in Venice.

“It’s not as formal as the dining room. People just go out there and seat themselves anywhere they want,” says chef-owner Brooke Williamson.

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In fact, the Beechwood patio is so hot, Williamson and her partners decided to open the restaurant an hour early (at 5 p.m. ) on Fridays to accommodate the revelers.

Small bites

* Sunday evenings beginning this weekend are all-tapas nights at Ciudad, with half a dozen Spanish wines by the glass to accompany specialties such as Cabrales blue cheese fritters, seeded lamb chops with eggplant jam, and homemade linguica sausage.

Ciudad, 445 S. Figueroa St., Downtown L.A., (213) 486-5171.

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* Chloe offers a six-course tasting menu Wednesdays and Thursdays, changing weekly, and featuring dishes such as foie gras with plums and brioche and lemon panna cotta with raspberry sorbet. The price is $65 per person, $85 with wine pairings.

Chloe, 333 Culver Blvd., Playa del Rey, (310) 305-4505.

* Weekend afternoons the Bloody Mary bar at Belmont Cafe allows patrons to embellish their cocktail with a choice of five kinds of stuffed olives, a variety of tomato juices, and other garnishes such as anchovies and smoked oysters.

Belmont Cafe, 747 N. La Cienega Blvd., L.A. (310) 659-8871.

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* Solar Harvest, a new restaurant specializing in “food that’s good for you” opens mid-August in the former Real Food Daily space in Beverly Hills. The space has gotten a complete overhaul using environmentally friendly materials. There will be a selection of organic beers and biodynamic wines.

Solar Harvest, 242 S. Beverly Dr., Beverly Hills, (310) 777-6527.

* Also slated for a mid-August opening is Mastro’s Ocean Club, a seafood restaurant from the folks behind the popular steakhouses. It overlooks Crystal Cove State Park between Newport and Laguna beaches.

Mastro’s Ocean Club, 8112 East Pacific Coast Highway, Newport Coast, (949) 376-6990.

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* The Tower Bar at the Argyle Hotel is just a few months old, but already there’s a new chef at the helm. Piero Morovich, executive chef at Ammo for five years, is doing what he calls “French-Italian bistro with a flair.”

Tower Bar, 8358 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (323) 848-6677.


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