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 some cool sh*t for a few hours, here are 22 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 more than whatever it takes to keep that giant fountain at Wilshire and Santa Monica going year-round. Here’s the other thing about this place—it has one of the most objectively jaw-dropping views in the entire city. Here's your plan of attack when it comes to food: skip it. The generic salad and roasted chicken-filled menu is mediocre. Head to the nearly 360-degree space for a few cocktails as the sunsets. 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.
Melrose Place (the street, not the restaurant) is LA’s playground for people who like to sip cocktails on rooftops and show off how much Saint Laurent they own. For that reason alone, Melrose Place (the restaurant, not the street), is a perfect fit for the neighborhood. The new two-story restaurant is bright and airy with tons of mid-century modern design touches that look great on social media, and the Soho House-esque crowd buzzing around the bar will remind you that you’re not, in fact, a Wilhelmina model. But the rooftop patio is worth a visit. With its own bar area, plush pink booths, fire features, and panoramic views of The Hills, it’s the ideal place when you’re in the mood to be glamorous and pretend the only thing you have to do next week is maybe fly to Milan.
Located on top of The Hoxton, Cabra has all the requisite Downtown rooftop amenities—great skyline views, a semi-rowdy crowd full of questionable hat choices, and a pool that someone’s absolutely going to fall into. But what sets Cabra apart from the pack is the food. Run by the chef from nearby Girl & The Goat, Cabra’s Peruvian-leaning menu is filled with light, shareable small plates that are great for large packs of friends and won’t fill you up to the point where you can’t go out afterwards. 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.
It seems like every other week a new, impressive hotel opens up on the Sunset Strip. The latest is 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 reinventing the wheel, 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.
There are a lot of exciting things happening in LA right now, and we count the Beverly Hilton finally making something decent out of their rooftop space among them. The Greek/Mediterranean spot has expansive views of Beverly Hills and an excellent menu filled with dishes like marinated feta and flaky bourekas—plus a brand new indoor bar that debuted in late 2021. This is a great spot for an industry lunch, or when you need to appease a visiting friend who isn’t leaving until they see a celebrity.
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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 omelettes, sandwiches, and a very good avocado toast.
LA Cha Cha Chá
Between the massive palm groves, a separate stand-alone bar for late afternoon revelry, and views of the Downtown skyline from nearly every vantage point, Cha Cha Cha’s rooftop patio makes LA look like a million bucks. Add their delicious Mexican menu filled with things like tuna tostadas, tacos, and mezcal negronis, and it’s an ideal dinner spot for just about any occasion.
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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 fantastic 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 when you get hungry.
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Located directly behind Yamashiro overlooking the Hollywood Hills, Kensho is a Japanese bistro/wine bar and one of our favorite restaurants to open in 2019. Dinner reservations are currently available Wednesday through Sunday, with special events throughout the week. So keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest details, because there’s always something fun happening here.
The Old Place
The Old Place is one of our favorite escapes in LA. Located up in the Santa Monica Mountains, this historic saloon feels like you’ve truly stepped back in timez—or at least onto a sound stage for an old Western shoot. Snag a breakfast burrito or steak sandwich, find a seat somewhere on their property, and daydream about running away to the mountains for good.
If you’re looking for some of the freshest seafood on the Westside, head to Dudley Market. This neighborhood seafood restaurant in Venice is located just a block off the boardwalk with a front patio looking out on the ocean. If eating oysters and fish tacos while staring off into the surf isn’t your ideal dinner setting, we don’t have anything in common.
There’s a reason that Margot continues to be so popular - it’s one of the best places on the Westside to catch a sunset. It’s on the roof of Culver City’s Platform complex, and has excellent views of the adjacent train junction. There’s also a wide-ranging menu filled with solid tapas, pasta, and big plates of meat, but you’re really here for the gin and tonics—because they’re fantastic. And the sunset, of course.
If anyone chooses a regular patio over a patio that looks out over the ocean, they are not to be trusted. Which is why, when given the opportunity, you should always have Ballast Point Long Beach waiting in your back pocket. Sure, most people obviously come here to drink beer, but their food menu is solid in its own right with burgers, fish tacos, flatbreads, and other things that go great with beer.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
It’s pretty baffling that there aren’t more rooftop restaurants in Hollywood, and Mama Shelter continues to cash in on that fact. The boutique hotel in the heart of everything has a fantastic rooftop situation with solid food, cinematic-themed cocktails, and 360-degree views of the neighborhood. We recommend sticking to weeknights when crowds aren't as chaotic.
Located on a hilltop overlooking Hollywood, Yamashiro is an LA classic, with views of LA most restaurants 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.
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.
One of the best day trips 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 fantastic 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.
Whiskey Red’s seafood-leaning menu will be on no one’s list for the best food in town. However, its marina-facing patio is an excellent Westside spot to watch the sunset. Plus, you can watch rich people float around on their private boats to soothe your mind after another long week of realizing you have nothing left to watch on Netflix.
Not all great views have to be from an up-top perspective. The Escondite is one of our favorite bars Downtown, though its street-level location won’t exactly scream “jaw-dropping scenery this way!” from the outside. But thanks to a big empty lot next door, The Escondite’s expanded patio has an unobstructed skyline view of downtown you’d never really expect. Solid bar food, strong drinks, and colorful Adirondack chairs - count us in.
Paradise Cove Beach Cafe
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?
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.
The Strand House
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.