Gracias Madre

 

Zinque (credit: Steven Lake)

How to enjoy Spring with LA's best outdoor dining—on a budget

By Leila Najafi

After the unseasonably—if it can even be called that—rainy weather of the past couple of months, the arrival of spring in LA this year actually feels like a real reason to celebrate. It’s time to get back out there and really appreciate what New Yorker’s can only dream of: restaurants where you can soak in the sun or sit under the stars, all without paying an arm and a leg. Here are seven LA spots that offer some of the best outdoor dining—from the views to the food to the bills that won’t make you blink.


E.P. & L.P.

E.P. & L.P.
Chef Louis Tikaram brings his favorite Fijian and modern Asian flavors to the heart of West Hollywood at this sprawling, two-story space. And while you can feast at the restaurant downstairs, the gorgeous rooftop, boasting stunning views of Los Angeles, is really where you’ll want to be. A limited but affordable late-night menu is available every night from 9 p.m. until close on the L.P. rooftop—and the crispy chicken sandwich ($8.50), pastrami bao topped with smoked chipotle (two for $10) and soy caramel popcorn ($6) are the finger foods you’ve been craving after a night out.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP

Porta Via
This Canon Drive restaurant is a must for their fresh California cuisine alone, but the best part about Porta Via might just be that it offers some of the best people watching ever, in the heart of 90210. Sidewalk seating at this neighborhood bistro is considered prime real estate, so be sure to snag a table outside. While their menu prices may live up to the zip code, there are some gems to be found, like the beloved (and generously portioned) kale and quinoa salad with chicken ($22.50), the chicken paillard topped with a lemon caper sauce ($24.25), and, if you’re craving carbs, the rigatoni Bolognese ($22.50). Owner Peter Garland is an avid farmers market shopper and often handpicks the produce that graces the menu, so you can always count on fresh, locally sourced ingredients—California cuisine at its finest.
Neighborhood: Beverly Hills MAP


Mama Shelter

Mama Shelter
One of Hollywood’s best-kept secrets is the rooftop of this quirky boutique hotel. French designer Thierry Gaugain has done it again, with vibrant colors radiating from the mismatched furniture to the decorative floor tiles, and it all somehow seems to work against the backdrop of the city, spanning from Downtown to Santa Monica. The rooftop delivers epic sunsets and the menu features a variety of hearty grilled entrees alongside the expected LA salads, and nothing is over $18.
Neighborhood: Hollywood MAP

Zinc Cafe & Market
Zinc Cafe & Market is an Arts District gem with a bright indoor and outdoor space. The spacious café has a large menu including a weekday lunch salad bar, and it's always a surprise to learn that Zinc is a vegetarian restaurant because their food is flavorful, varied, and satisfying at an affordable price. Lunch crowds come to savor a slew of colorful dishes like the eggplant parmesan ($14) or the mac and cheese ($14), which pair nicely with the light Zinc salad ($7). As an alternative, mix and match any of their marketplace creations—then grab a seat on their gravel patio, with its ample seating and zen garden vibe, and enjoy your feast.
Neighborhood: Arts District in DTLA MAP


Gracias Madre

Gracias Madre
This trendy vegan eatery in the West Hollywood Design District has one of LA’s best—and quite possibly biggest—patios, where it’s still near impossible to score a table, no matter what day of the week it is. It’s airy and adorned with all the patio pleasures you can dream of: an intimate bar, fireplace, string lights, and colorful pillows. But the patio is not the only thing to love about Gracias Madre; their happy hour menu delivers serious bang for your buck, asking just $6 for select food and drink items. Pop in after work and take advantage of the tail end of happy hour by ordering the nachos, jackfruit tacos, gordita, and a seasonal sangria (warning: It will creep up on you, so pace yourself!), all for under $25.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP

Zinque Melrose
While the original location is in Venice, there is something magical that happens when the string lights go on at Zinque’s Melrose outpost. The French-inspired coffee and wine bar just screams “rosé all day,” with its rustic boho-chic decor and light menu offering traditional French fare like ratatouille, beautifully plated tartines, and silky-smooth quiches, but one of their most popular dishes is served in a bowl. The Le Bowl ($14) includes avocado, tomato, and fresh greens atop brown rice, drizzled with sriracha for a kick and offering the option of your choice of protein. It may not exactly be French, but it is so delicious it doesn’t matter. And don’t even think about leaving this place without trying one of their fruit tarts, like the apple almond tart ($8) served with a scoop of ice cream, to make it a sweet ending for the al fresco dinner. If you make your way down to their Newport Beach location, be sure to check out their jaw-dropping view situated directly on the marina.
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP


The Den on Sunset (Credit: Gary Ananian)

The Den on Sunset
Over the years, the Sunset Strip nightlife has gone through many evolutions, but this neighborhood watering hole keeps West Hollywood bar hoppers coming back. The cabin-like gastropub dishes out crave-worthy bar food to keep you fueled up, whether for that very serious game of Jenga or your award-winning karaoke performance (Wednesdays at 10 p.m.). The string-lit patio with communal seating is what summer nights in LA are made of, and the menu offers a myriad of options to fit the under-$25 bill, including flatbreads like the BBQ chicken ($14), the quinoa salad ($11), and the loaded tots ($10).
Neighborhood: West Hollywood MAP

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