A beach bonfire is nice, but we’ll take the civilized version: dinner and drinks around a fire pit.
A bed of shimmery glass makes the fire pit at this Orange County newcomer all the more alluring. A bonsai tree and a view of the ocean add to the mood. To eat, chef Azmin Ghahreman delivers a “global” menu. Consider just one entrée, the duck: crispy duck leg confit (France) with white polenta (Italy) and cherry chocolate mole (Mexico with a twist).
Duck, $25. 1200 S. Coast Highway, Laguna Beach, (949) 715-9888.
Ocean & Vine
At this contemporary American spot in the Loews Hotel, you can choose the dramatic fire pit anchoring the dining room or the cluster of fire pits outside. We like the latter, where ocean breezes complement chef Gregg Wangard’s farmers market-driven offerings, such as an artichoke flight with fondue, a salad with pine nuts and Parmesan, and the classic steamed globe with garlic aioli.
Artichoke flight, $16. 1700 Ocean Ave., Santa Monica, (310) 458-6700.
On Friday and Saturday nights, it’s a scene on the patio. Hipsters gather around the rectangular fire pit sipping cocktails and munching sweet potato fries. If you’re hoping for a quieter alfresco dinner, come early for the lemon grass steamed wahoo or potato-corn fritters with chive crème fraîche. And save room for dessert: Think Whopper fudge cake and peach Melba.
Wahoo, $18. 822 Washington Blvd., Venice, (310) 448-8884.
Napa Valley Grille
An organic BLT salad with homemade herb-buttermilk crackers and summer squash pappardelle with a basil nage are among the offerings from newish chef Joseph Gillard, ex of the Patina Group’s Nic & Stef’s. There’s also an expanded list of some 40 California wines by the glass, best enjoyed during nights by the circular fire pit on the patio.
Pappardelle, $18.25. 1100 Glendon Ave., Westwood, (310) 824-3322.
This sprawling Italian restaurant-
cum-disco sports one of the prettier patios in town. Sure, busy Colorado Boulevard is just a few feet away. But the fire pit and cabanas make it oh so lovely. Best to stick to the simplest dishes when ordering: angel hair pomodoro, penne alla vodka, that sort of thing.
Penne, $13. 168 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena, (626) 793-2233.