14 LA Restaurants With Great Views
photo credit: Conrad Los Angeles
LA has smog, sprawl, and a lack of left-turn arrows, but when you get past all that, this city can be pretty scenic. We have mountains everywhere, sandy beaches, and that giant blue thing we call the Pacific Ocean. LA’s patio game is strong, but some spots have views that take it to the next level. Whether you’re trying to impress a boss, a visiting friend, or you simply want to stare at something cool for a few hours, here are 14 restaurants with views that’ll remind you why this city is so great.
Here’s the thing about the Rooftop By JG—it’s located on top of the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills, which means a meal here will cost as much as it takes to keep that giant fountain at Wilshire and Santa Monica going year-round. And here’s the other thing about this place—it has one of the most objectively jaw-dropping views in the entire city. Your plan of attack when it comes to food? skip it. Head to the nearly 360-degree space for a few cocktails as the sun sets. It’s our go-to spot when we really want to show off the city to family and friends, but that said, we also leave with a little more love for LA, too.
It’s kind of a toss-up as to which view is better at Nobu—the big blue Pacific Ocean, or the people-watching. If you don’t see a celebrity here, you aren’t looking hard enough. We’d actually understand if the food here was mediocre, but the best part about Nobu is that it’s the opposite. All that excellent Japanese food comes at a price, but when Diane Keaton and her hats are sitting to your left, that’s the least of your worries.
It’s not every day you’re going to be able to convince yourself (or anyone else) to drive to Burbank for a fancy dinner, but when it involves The Castaway, you make it happen. Yes, it’s a bit pricey here, but they recently re-did their menu, and it was a much-needed upgrade. That said, everyone’s still here to huddle around one of the outdoor fire pits and gaze out over the (shockingly) beautiful San Fernando Valley.
Perched above the Santa Monica Proper Hotel, Calabra is a breezy Mediterranean restaurant with an indoor lounge, poolside patio, and curved couches that you can rent out for more privacy. On weekends, the music is loud and people get dressed up to be seen sipping mai tais by the giant circular bar. It’s also only a couple of blocks from the water though, meaning you’ll get unobstructed ocean views and the occasional waft of sea salt air.
As far as Hollywood rooftops go, this upscale Italian spot on top of The Aster is one of the rare ones where you’ll want to spend extended amounts of time. The menu at Lemon Grove includes a good mix of fusion-y pastas and small plates that work well for a breezy date night, but the real draw is the outdoor patio. It has postcard views of the Capitol Records building, plush patio furniture, and you can usually walk right in without waiting around for a table. Stop here for a mezcal Manhattan before a show at the Pantages or dance to disco beats at one of their weekly DJ sets.
San Laurel is one of the seemingly five hundred dining concepts inside the Conrad Los Angeles, a large high-rise hotel inside the larger Grand LA complex in Downtown. All the food comes from Spanish superchef/humanitarian José Andrés, and while there are some good dishes here—the sun-dried tomato tartare is quite nice—everything at this 10th-floor spot generally falls into the “safe hotel food'' category. But when the views from the outdoor patio are this good, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. We’ll happily take down a Basque cheesecake while watching the sunset behind the Walt Disney Music Hall any day.
Located on top of The Hoxton, Cabra has all the requisite Downtown rooftop amenities—top-tier skyline views, a cool crowd full of questionable hat choices, and a pool that someone’s absolutely going to fall into. But what sets Cabra apart is the food. Run by the chef from Girl & The Goat, Cabra’s Peruvian-leaning menu is filled with light, shareable small plates that are great for packs of friends. There are definitely some bigger dishes, such as the excellent pork shank with tangerine salad and crispy potatoes, but we recommend sticking mostly to the “Cold Stuff.” Here’s where you’ll find everything from salmon ceviche with pistachio to tuna tiradito topped with passionfruit and jicama.
If you want to know what kind of view you could have if you threw a couple million dollars at a luxury condo in West Hollywood, grab dinner on top of The Pendry. The massive complex is actually a mix of hotel rooms, private residences, and several different restaurants, but you want to head right up to the rooftop restaurant, Merois, where you’ll be treated to views of the Hills, Downtown, and even Catalina when the smog hits just right. The Wolfgang Puck-helmed restaurant isn’t groundbreaking, but its seafood-heavy menu is filled with dishes like seared scallops, charred octopus, and other things that taste great as you watch the sunset over the city.
The days of Topanga Canyon’s LSD-fueled, counter-culture commune might be long gone, but there’s no denying this place is still weird as hell. Driving up from PCH, you’ll pass crystal shops, outdoor Shakespeare amphitheaters, and homemade art installations that have all become local landmarks. It’s a fascinating day trip, and one that’s made even better by having lunch at Cafe 27. The almost entirely outdoor space is built into the side of a hill with sweeping views of the canyon that feels like you’re eating inside the tree-house of your childhood dreams. But instead of warm M&Ms and juice boxes, you’ll refuel on omelets, sandwiches, and a very good avocado toast.
Spire 73 is the rooftop lounge inside the InterContinental Hotel Downtown. And yes, the number 73 does mean it’s located on the 73rd floor, making it the tallest open-air bar in the Western Hemisphere. We were shocked to learn that too, but either way, it makes for a nice setting to drink with coworkers or show off LA to a visiting friend. There are countless fire features, big mod chairs to sit in, and 360-degree views of LA. Grab the slaw-topped burger if you get hungry.
Located on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood, Yamashiro is an LA classic, with picturesque views of LA that most restaurants can only dream about. The 100-year-old Japanese restaurant is admittedly a bit over the top, but that’s exactly why you came here. The menu received a big overhaul a few years ago (which was very needed), and if you’re considering another round of those Zen Garden Martinis, the answer is always yes.
One of the best drives everyone completely forgets about is a jaunt around the Palos Verdes peninsula. This extremely sleepy coastline has Malibu-level views with a fraction of the traffic, plus a great restaurant to soak it all in: Mar’sel. As the main restaurant inside the Terranea resort, Mar’sel serves the kind of very solid (and very expensive) food you’d expect from a resort, unobstructed ocean views, and the romantic vibes that make this a perfect “see, I still love you” date spot.
This beach cafe remains pretty touristy, but at the end of the day, eating your meal with your feet in the actual sand is why you’re here. The menu reads somewhere between cruise line dinner and community pool snack counter, but in general, everything tastes good and the portions are massive. Did we mention your feet are in the sand?
Located in a giant three-story building with unobstructed ocean views in Manhattan Beach, you’re not going to find much better sights than the ones at The Strand House. Sitting on one of their many patios and watching the sunset with a margarita in one hand and hamachi crudo in the other is something we could do every day for the rest of our lives.