With close to 365 days of flawless weather, outdoor dining is a year-round occurrence in Los Angeles, and even more so during a pandemic. And now that summer is officially here, there’s nothing like a lively patio, especially in the power-lunch centers of Beverly Hills and Century City, where the majority of talent agencies and entertainment law firms are perched.
Industry regulars say that patios throughout Century City and Beverly Hills are bustling these days. “As Beyoncé declares in her new single, ‘Break My Soul,’ we are ‘back outside’,” says Patrik-Ian Polk, co-executive producer of Starz’s P-Valley. “As convenient as Zoom meetings are, nothing beats the in-person L.A. business lunch circuit. It’s a vital part of the entertainment industry social scene that was sorely missed.” UTA partner Darnell Strom tells THR that he feels it’s harder to get a reservation “last second” right now in the area. “People are really wanting to spend more time dining at restaurants,” he adds. “I think people are trying to make up for lost time.”
Statistics from booking app OpenTable bear this out. From January to May, reservations at participating Beverly Hills restaurants that have an average check of $50 a person were up 30 percent over 2021 and 13 percent from 2019. There’s been a vibe shift in recent months, according to writer and documentary producer Irena Medavoy, compared with 2021, which saw a rash of high-profile crimes in the area. “Beverly Hills took a big hit with the smash-and-grabs and when that person got shot at Il Pastaio,” says Medavoy, referring to an attack on a jewelry dealer on the restaurant’s patio in March 2021. “I think it made everybody pause, but everyone is back now.” But film campaign consultant Terry Press, a regular at The Palm on Canon Drive, says she feels power-lunching hasn’t fully returned to pre-pandemic levels. “You know what took over the business lunch? All the delivery services,” she says.
Even so, the area’s restaurant landscape is set to be more crowded this year when a new Jon & Vinny’s (on North Bedford) and Daniel Boulud’s first L.A. outing (at the Mandarin Oriental Residences on Wilshire Boulevard) are both slated to open. In the meantime, these five al fresco dining options (all opened since the pandemic began) can help seal a deal while enjoying atmospheric settings.
Lumière at Fairmont Century Plaza
With its prime perch across from CAA, the iconic Fairmont Century Plaza reopened late last year after a five-year, $2.5 billion renovation. Boasting a rich history as a mecca for celebrities including The Beatles and Sonny & Cher and as President Ronald Reagan’s hotel of choice, the 400-room luxury property and residences hosted the Critics Choice Awards in March and is home to French restaurant Lumière. Furnished with antiques, the spot has a bistro-style menu with dishes such as a knockout chicken liver mousse with olive oil jam. The patio feels like a slice of Provence with an herb garden, fountain and lush lavender plantings. 2025 Avenue of the Stars, L.A.
With views of Century City’s neighboring high-rises, Nerano’s swanky patio — opened in 2020 in a onetime parking lot — offers an oasis in the middle of the city. The cuisine, inspired by the Amalfi Coast, includes spaghetti with squash blossoms and the same Tuscan-style thin-crust pizzas served at sister restaurant Toscana in Brentwood. “It’s fantastic food with a great outdoor area, chef, maitre d’ and staff,” says CAA agent Ted Miller. 9960 S. Santa Monica Blvd., Beverly Hills
Nua at The Crescent Hotel
Located inside The Crescent Hotel (near the offices of Live Nation and UTA), 1-year-old Nua feels like a Tel Aviv-style cafe that landed in Beverly Hills. Regulars, who include Columbia Records president Ron Perry, come for chef Yoav Schverd’s modern Mediterranean cuisine, including charred eggplant with tomato salsa and date syrup, and shakshuka featuring slow-cooked tomatoes and poached eggs on a perfectly chewy Jerusalem bagel. The small, intimate patio, hidden from the street, woos diners looking for a serene lunchtime escape. “Nua is a cozy, tucked-away spot with delicious food,” says Gersh partner Roy Ashton, “and the staff makes you feel like you’re at a friend’s house.” 403 N. Crescent Drive, Beverly Hills
The Terrace at The Maybourne Beverly Hills
Flanked by lemon trees, potted plants and white parasols adjacent to the Beverly Canon Gardens, the sun-drenched scene at The Terrace oozes Mediterranean elegance. Located at The Maybourne Beverly Hills hotel — sister property to Claridge’s in London — the restaurant features items such as decadent homemade corn agnolotti with black truffle and steak tartare with lemon crème fraîche. The hotel also recently enchanted guests with a quintessentially British afternoon tea courtesy of Claridge’s world-renowned midday ritual. While the crumpet-laden experience was a pop-up, the splendor will become a permanent fixture after the ongoing lobby renovation is complete. Until then, tea is offered at The Terrace every weekend from 2 to 5 p.m. “The food is great,” says Medavoy, who along with husband Mike recently lunched there with producer-director George Stevens Jr. and his wife, Elizabeth. Adds Strom: “The Terrace Restaurant at the Maybourne Hotel is my favorite place for a business lunch. The outdoor patio is spacious, the food is delicious, and if you squint for a second, you feel like you are dining outdoors in Europe.” 225 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
Tommy’s Beverly Hills
The well-connected manager at industry-beloved Craig’s for many years, Tommy Salvatore is the man behind Tommy’s. Located just across from The Terrace in the former location of Thomas Keller’s Bouchon, the restaurant serves up chef Vartan Abgaryan’s Italian fare, including antipasti platters, spicy meatballs and cacio e pepe pasta alongside such options as a burger and a mixed wild rice bowl. Lunch and happy hour happen at the vine-covered patio at The Café on the ground floor, while the main restaurant upstairs serves dinner. Says Polk: “Tommy’s is the perfect power-lunch spot. The vibe is cozy, and the food is to die for. And Tommy himself walks around greeting tables, the nicest guy and an L.A. legend.” 235 N. Canon Drive, Beverly Hills
This story first appeared in the July 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.