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Where to find outdoor dining in Southern California

Outdoor dining at Greenleaf Promenade in Uptown Whittier. Open-air dining at Greenleaf Promenade in Uptown Whittier. | Photo by Dave Ricks

As businesses were forced to close their indoor operations to slow the spread of COVID-19, restaurants pivoted to expand their outdoor footprint. Many cities across Southern California streamlined the approval process for outdoor dining on sidewalks and parklets and in parking lots and alleys. And some have gone a step further, closing traffic lanes or entire streets to cars to create pedestrian-friendly corridors of on-street dining and shopping. These alfresco oases are often in downtown districts, providing businesses with a way to operate within health and safety guidelines while serving the community.

Tables are spread at least 6 feet apart, and diners have to follow some health and safety measures. Diners will be asked to wear a face covering when not actively eating or drinking at a table.

 

Los Angeles County

A garden-like outdoor setting at Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena. | Photo by AckerGraphics

A garden-like outdoor setting at Arroyo Chop House in Pasadena. | Photo by AckerGraphics

Pasadena 

Pasadena has closed lanes, but not entire streets, in Old Pasadena and Playhouse Village to traffic. The closures include Colorado Boulevard between Madison and El Molino avenues, Colorado between Fair Oaks and Raymond avenues, and Union Street west of Raymond Avenue. Parking is available at several nearby lots, while limited diagonal parking spaces are reserved for curbside pickup.

Burbank

Portions of South San Fernando Boulevard between Magnolia Boulevard and East Angeleno Avenue are closed to allow for outdoor dining through October 4. Nearly 20 restaurants, including Granville, Kabuki, and Shake Shack, have created outdoor dining spaces for guests. Plenty of parking is available in the surrounding area, including in nearby parking garages.

La Verne

In Old Town, D Street is closed to traffic from Bonita Avenue south to Third Street, with parking available in University of La Verne Parking Lot E. Call ahead to see if the restaurant you’re interested in visiting takes reservations because alfresco dining has been popular.

Whittier

The city has created The Greenleaf Promenade, a pedestrian-friendly stretch of Greenleaf Avenue from Wardman Avenue north to Bailey Street in Uptown. Restaurants can serve between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. To make up for lost parking, Whittier suggests using side streets, one of several nearby parking lots, or the free parking structure on Bright Avenue two blocks east. Greenleaf Promenade will remain open through October 25.

 

Tables line the pavement and streets of Santa Monica. | Photo by Sean Paul Franget—SPF Studios

Tables line the pavement and streets of Santa Monica. | Photo by Sean Paul Franget—SPF Studios

Santa Monica

Santa Monica has temporarily reimagined Main Street from Pico Boulevard south to Pier Avenue, removing parking and the center turn lane to allow for on-street dining and retail. Vehicles, bikes, and public transit will still have one lane per direction, and those looking to park can use lots behind Main Street or between Main and Nielson Way.

El Segundo

Enjoy on-street dining on Richmond Street, which is closed between Franklin and Grand avenues, or on Main Street, where one southbound lane is closed for dining between Franklin and Grand avenues. This outdoor dining pilot program has been extended until further notice. Looking for parking? Try the free garage off Grand.

Torrance

Torrance’s Downtown Does Dining Alfresco program runs the first, second, and third weekends of the month through September on Sartori Avenue, which is closed between Post and Marcelina avenues. Participating restaurants include Tortilla Cantina, La Capilla, and Local Kitchen. Guests will find outdoor areas with tables where they can also enjoy takeout from other eateries. Hours are 4–10 p.m. on Fridays, 11 a.m.–10 p.m. on Saturdays, and 11 a.m.–9 p.m. on Sundays. Parking is available on side streets.

 

Orange County

Diners enjoy lunch outside Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar in Old Towne Orange. | Photo by Eric Van Eyke

Diners enjoy lunch outside Haven Craft Kitchen + Bar in Old Towne Orange. | Photo by Eric Van Eyke

Orange

Glassell Street between Almond and Maple avenues in Old Towne Orange is now a pedestrian-only area with plenty of opportunities for outdoor shopping and dining. Diners can also enjoy alfresco parklets on Chapman Avenue and Orange Street. Free parking is available at the Old Towne West Parking Structure on North Lemon Street, plus several 15-minute spots along Chapman Avenue for pickup orders. The program,  called Orange Plaza Paseo,  runs through September 13.

Fullerton

Downtown Fullerton’s Walk on Wilshire closes a short stretch of West Wilshire Avenue, between North Malden Avenue and North Harbor Boulevard, until November. Guests can enjoy alfresco dining from Rialto Café, Fullerton Brew Co., Mulberry Street Ristorante, and Green Bliss-the Café. The city has also closed a portion of an alley behind North Harbor Boulevard in the SOCO District, between West Commonwealth and West Santa Fe avenues, where a few restaurants provide outdoor dining.

 

String lights add to the ambience at Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach. | Photo by SWA Group

String lights add to the ambience at Promenade on Forest in Laguna Beach. | Photo by SWA Group

Laguna Beach

Promenade on Forest is a pedestrian-only area on Forest Avenue between Coast Highway and Glenneyre Street. Enjoy dining, art, and shopping daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. through January 30, 2021. Pedestrians are asked to follow one-way foot-traffic rules to help with physical distancing. 

Huntington Beach

The Surf City Stroll program closes Main Street between Walnut and Olive avenues from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily for pedestrian-only outdoor dining and shopping. Participating restaurants include Sugar Shack Café, Huntington Beach Beer Company, Baja Sharkeez, and No Ka Oi. The city recently approved an expansion of the Main Street closure another block north to Orange Avenue.

 

Ventura County

A sunny day on a closed-off portion of Main Street in Ventura. | Photo by Visit Ventura/@visitventura

A sunny day on a closed-off portion of Main Street in Ventura. | Photo by Visit Ventura/@visitventura

Ventura

The Main Street Moves program closes five blocks of East Main Street between the Old Mission Basilica San Buenaventura and Fir Street and one block of South California Street between East Main and East Santa Clara streets through February 15, 2021, or when the county's health order expires. Guests will find hand-washing stations and 10 new racks for an additional 140 bikes. Free parking is available at surrounding meters and pay stations, which have been turned off for the time being. Added ADA parking is available on nearby side streets.

 

Central Coast

The popular State Street pedestrian promenade has been extended until December 8. | Photo by Karna Hughes/Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

The popular State Street pedestrian promenade has been extended until December 8. | Photo by Karna Hughes/Courtesy Visit Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara

Nine blocks of State Street between Victoria and Gutierrez streets are closed to vehicle traffic through December 8. You’ll find alfresco dining on the street and in nearby parklets and private parking lots. Plenty of parking is available at nearby city lots and on cross streets, and State Street remains especially walkable and bike-friendly with additional bike parking stations throughout the corridor. On Tuesdays, expect to also see the Santa Barbara Certified Farmers Market downtown.

Solvang

Copenhagen Drive between Alisal Road and Second Street is closed to vehicle traffic but open to diners and shoppers. Welcoming greenery and strings of lights have been added, along with hand-sanitizing stations. Parking can be found on adjacent streets and in nearby lots.

San Luis Obispo

As part of the Open SLO program (which also includes temporary parklets throughout the city and outdoor seating at Mission Plaza), the eastbound lane of Monterey Street between Chorro and Morro streets is closed to traffic to accommodate dining. 

 

San Diego County

Potted plants and umbrellas provide shade and privacy for diners in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. | Photo by Javier Luna @ ANONM Studios

Potted plants and umbrellas provide shade and privacy for diners in San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter. | Photo by Javier Luna @ ANONM Studios

San Diego

The city (with its perfect weather) is ideal for alfresco on-street dining, and you’ll find a lot of choices. In Little Italy, closures run on India Street from West Ash to West Grape streets, and on West Beech, West Cedar, West Date, and West Fir streets between Kettner Boulevard and Columbia Street. Enjoy on-street dining on Fridays starting at 3:30 p.m. and on Saturdays and Sundays starting at 1:30 p.m. Dining closes at 10 p.m. Many restaurants are participating, including Cloak and Petal, Solunto, Farmer’s Table, Ironside Fish and Oyster, and Buon Appetito. Surrounding lots and garages in Little Italy are recommended for parking.

In the Gaslamp Quarter, portions of Fifth Avenue are closed between L and Market streets  from 3 to 10 p.m. on Wednesdays; and between L and F streets from 3 to 10 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays, and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. Enjoy alfresco dining at Barleymash, El Chingon, Rustic Root, and more.

Escondido

One lane of traffic in each direction is closed along East Grand Avenue between South Maple and South Juniper streets. Park along one reserved lane or in surrounding areas. The parking lanes still exist in both directions. The program is ongoing until further notice.

San Bernardino County

Pepperoni pizza from Paulie's Pizza Pub is just as tasty outdoors as indoors. | Photo by Eric Van Eyke

Pepperoni pizza from Paulie's Pizza Pub is just as tasty outdoors as indoors. | Photo by Eric Van Eyke

Upland

Portions of North Second Avenue between East C and East A streets are closed. Participating restaurants include Rescue Brewing Company, Paulie’s Pizza Pub, Second Avenue Saloon, and Allegro. Outdoor dining is available until 10 p.m. Find street and lot parking in surrounding areas, including behind Second Avenue Saloon.

Redlands

East State Street between Orange and Sixth streets and North Fifth Street between East Redlands Boulevard and East Citrus Avenue will close to vehicle traffic on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings from 5:30 to 11 p.m. Enjoy on-street dining between 6:30 and 10:30 p.m. Barring changes to public-health orders, these plans will continue through Halloween. Participating restaurants include Darby’s American Cantina, Don Orange Tacos, The Living Root Cellar (Thursday only), Tartan of Redlands, The State, Rok N Fondue, and Caprice Café (reservations required at some restaurants). All restaurants except The State have table service. Other restaurants in the general area offer outdoor dining on patios. Plenty of street parking is available in the surrounding areas, plus lots and structures, including the mall parking lot on Orange across from State.

 

AAA Travel Alert: Many travel destinations have implemented COVID-19–related restrictions. Before making travel plans, check to see if hotels, attractions, cruise lines, tour operators, restaurants, and local authorities have issued health and safety-related restrictions or entry requirements. The local tourism board is a good resource for updated information.

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