Outdoor Beer Drinking: Five Great Westside Spots


In so many cliché ways, the Westside often gets a bad rap. Certain arguments hold up better than others: Yes, there actually is great food near the beach; yes, people tend to get real territorial about space; no, you can't afford a house there. But you can't deny that there are some outstanding Westside places to sit down with a cold beer and enjoy the summertime.

In this part of town, the air is breezier, the sun seems to shine a little more clearly, and the sand and surf are never far away. Here, summertime means something very different than a lot of those Eastside-ish spots. Things are more relaxed, as if the summer never really left at all. And, depending on where you're doing your patio drinking, maybe that's true.

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Renee's Courtyard Café

Renee's is the sort of local draught beer spot you can still find yourself getting lost in, and not minding one bit. A sprawling procession of kitschy rooms and string lights might otherwise give the whole place an unsavory vibe, if the courtyard weren't so damn charming. Trees -- both real and painted -- wind along the walls and a red brick floor clacks underneath you while you meander to a spot on the communal bench, emanating the sort of casual vibe you might find at a backyard BBQ. Or, maybe this place is more reminiscent of a rich, eccentric aunt who can't help but hang things from the trees in her backyard. One thing's for certain: With plenty of nooks (both indoor and out) to tuck away in with a friend, you'll never feel out of place here.

Renee's Courtyard Café
522 Wilshire Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA 90401


Steingarten LA

If you can't quite make it out to the waterfront, there are worse places to stop off for an evening pint than Steingarten LA. The German-centric Pico Boulevard restaurant offers chic dining up front, with an ivy-ringed patio in the back. Larger groups can enjoy the corner booth, a padded hideaway surrounding an open flame heater, should the temperature decide to plummet. Otherwise, grab one of a handful of tables with a friend or two and strap in for a ride through Bavaria. Sausages arrive with reckless abandon and the extensive beer menu counts bottles into the hundreds, plus another two dozen beers on tap. Steingarten LA may not fit the bill of a true Munich beer garden, but two bottles into a warm night with good friends, you won't mind much.

Steingarten LA
10543 W. Pico Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90064


On The Waterfront Café

With so much going on around you, On the Waterfront Café isn't exactly made for summer relaxation. But, with a nice slice of real estate that literally sits on the Venice boardwalk, you can't beat the people watching. Day or night, a visit to On the Waterfront Café will inevitably include the following sightings: two dudes on their way to Muscle Beach, an ambiguous person in dreadlocks carrying bongos, a family of Europeans in matching roller blades, someone doing something with fire for money. The beers are almost exclusively German, the pitchers flow all night, and there's a promotional video that looks like it was made in 1987. What's not to love?

On the Waterfront Café
205 Ocean Front Walk
Venice, CA 90291


Moonshadows

If you're looking for Westside drinking with all the frills, Moonshadows in Malibu is your kind of place. It's upscale, with plenty of tinted blue lighting and $20 bottles of Affligem Blonde. There's also an unbelievable patio with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and all along the coastline. Sure, the place has a sordid history with celebrities and it's one hell of an expensive cab ride home, but for pure ocean aesthetics with a full bar, there's not much that beats Moonshadows.

Moonshadows
20356 Pacific Coast Hwy
Malibu, CA 90265


Simmzy's

You may scoff at the designation of a Manhattan Beach hangout as a 'Westside' joint, but you certainly can't turn your nose up at Simmzy's, one of the best casual pubs in all of Southern California. If you really want to get uppity about this Westside business, they've got another location in Long Beach. At the Manhattan Beach outpost, the menu is inspired, with a blue cheese haystack of fries and a burger that are both out of this world. Yet, the star here will always be the tap list, an extensively curated selection of $6 pours that is sure to satiate the masses. Chimays and Sam Adams small batches share the chalkboard with abbey ales from San Diego's The Lost Abbey, or seasonals from Sierra Nevada. All this, plus a straight shot look from the patio down to the Manhattan Beach Pier. You might have a hard time landing a table outside, but when you do, you'll realize that Simmzy's is exactly the type of place you should make a summertime destination.

Simmzy's
229 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266


Bonus: The Little Door

Depending on how you read a map, 3rd Street's The Little Door is considered to be anywhere from the Westside to Mid City West to NoFax to Timbuktu. No matter; once you slide through the eponymous entrance you feel a world away. Leafy green foliage encircles the cozy restaurant, which alternates between outdoor and indoor seating seamlessly. Past the patio and the slim bar sits the winter garden, an elegant white tablecloth affair with an understated French vibe. You may choose to fall in love with one of the many wines on hand, or make it a summertime celebration with some champagne. If you ask politely, they'll even bring you a Fischer beer. Whatever your choice, The Little Door will charm you senseless.

The Little Door
8164 West 3rd St.
Los Angeles, CA 90048


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About the Author

Farley Elliott is a freelance food writer and comedian. He currently writes for KCET.org, SeriousEats.com, LAist.com, and L.A. Weekly. You can catch Farley doing comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in Hollywood.
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