Burgers, ice cream, oyster bars and great patios: What and where to eat in L.A. this summer

Diners outside Cafe on 27 in Topanga.
(Stephanie Breijo / Los Angeles Times)
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“The drive itself is one of the most breathtaking in the region,” my colleague Stephanie Breijo begins when describing her destination, Cafe on 27 in Topanga. She includes the restaurant as part of the Food team’s guide to our favorite patio dining around Los Angeles, published this week.

The cafe’s perch overlooks the canyon, its brick patio shaded by billowing umbrellas and canopies tied to surrounding trees. I’ve never been, but Stephanie’s report is nudging me there for kofta tagine and tahdig benedict this weekend.

Guests enjoy a meal on the outdoor patio space at Le Great Outdoor.
(Joel Barhamand / For The Times)

Welcome to high summer in California, when beachy tropes and weeks of dreamy blue skies meet the realities of wildfires and heat-related dangers. Hopefully you’re having a safe holiday — and taking an extra-long weekend, as are some of our crew. To plunge into summertime, here’s a collection of some of our other guides vital to dining in the season.

Every summer is Summer of Ice Cream

Last August, the staff went all in on a frozen-treats project. Ice cream shops? Of course (and shout out to my favorite, Ginger’s Divine in Culver City, for their seasonal fruit creations), but also vegan shakes, a rainbow of paletas, everything soft serve and restaurants that serve incredible ice cream (hi, Antico Nuovo) and sundaes. Plus, Camryn Brewer, Danielle Dorsey and Astrid Kayembe unite for an ode to one of our great nostalgic figures of childhood: the ice cream man.

Vanilla Cherry Whiskey ice cream in a waffle bowl at Ginger's Divine Ice Cream on West 3rd Street
Vanilla Cherry Whiskey ice cream in a waffle bowl at Ginger’s Divine Ice Cream on West 3rd Street.
(Bill Addison / Los Angeles Times)

Before dessert, though ...

When days are hot and appetites are light, head to an oyster bar. Kat Thompson named 16 standouts across the region, including two of my favorites: Ceviche Project in Silver Lake, and the mightily loved Found Oyster in East Hollywood.

Diners enjoy a spread at Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
All in at Found Oyster in East Hollywood.
(Annie Noelker / For The Times)

The other very-L.A. choice: a salad. Last June, Lucas Kwan Peterson ranked the city’s salad-focused chains. We so agree on the best of the best. And if you’re hungering specifically for a top-shelf version of the city’s all-but-official salad, Sarah Mosqueda names 10 great places for a Caesar.


Thai Cesar Salad at Poltergeist
The statuesque Thai Cesar Salad at Poltergeist in Echo Park.
(Ron De Angelis / For The Times)

Finally: We all know that any time of year is burger time in Los Angeles. Still, the tactile pleasure of America’s most perfectly engineered food is arguably most satisfying in the heat of summer. We have a roster of burgers broad in styles and geography, but I’ll name the one I love most right now (and that Danielle writes about in the guide): the tall, hefty dry-aged cheeseburger at Here’s Looking at You, which the restaurant starts serving at 8:30 p.m. in a take on a reserve happy hour. It is exceptional alongside a very dry martini.

The Ode to Mos burger on the menu at Ototo in Echo Park
The Ode to Mos burger on the menu at Ototo in Echo Park.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Also ...

  • More weather-appropriate dining suggestions, highlighting a region of the world defined by its temperate climate: Astrid Kayembe has a guide to 19 of the finest Caribbean restaurants across L.A. “Los Angeles may lack dedicated enclaves for its Caribbean communities,” she writes, “but the influence from countries that border the Caribbean Sea — island nations such as Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Haiti, as well as Central and South American countries including Belize, Panama, Guyana and Suriname — has been felt for decades and is gaining wider recognition.”

    Santana's Chicken at El Bacano in North Hollywood
    Santana’s Chicken at El Bacano in North Hollywood.
    (Catherine Dzilenski / For The Times)
  • Cindy Carcamo has the story on why the Varnish, L.A.’s most influential cocktail bar, is closing after 15 years in business.
  • And Stephanie follows up on the restaurant service fees sticking after all, with Newsom’s signature of a last-minute bill.
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