I've been wanting a firepit for our patio for those cool northern california evenings for some time now. I've seen some really expensive ones that I love, but I think I've finally found a good balance between design and cost.
The Design Within Reach cast iron bowl ($375) is shaped like a cone so that the lower bowl collects ash and elevates the flames off the ground to better dissipate heat. The cone grate in the upper bowl creates an air pocket and also f0cuses the fire in the center for a more efficient burn.
There is an optional grill that you can buy for those beach bonfire/BBQ's as well!