LA has smog and sprawl and very few left turn arrows, but when you get past all that, this city can be pretty palatial. After all, we have mountains everywhere, sandy beaches, and that giant blue thing we call the Pacific Ocean. Even during the pandemic, our restaurants are taking full advantage - if anything, the city’s patio game is stronger than ever, but some spots have views that take it to the next level. Whether you’re trying to get out of the house, or trying to get someone else out of the house, here are 18 restaurants with views that’ll remind you why this city is so great.
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-Saturday, with special events throughout the week, like Wednesday Wine Night and “Yakitori & Sake Night” on Thursdays and Fridays, where they set up a binchotan grill right on the patio. So keep an eye on their Instagram for the latest details, because there’s always something fun happening here.
Plain and simple, 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 time - or at least onto a Westworld sound stage. In quarantine, it’s now operating as a full take-out window Thursday-Sunday, with breakfast and lunch menus available during the weekends. So 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 immediately to Dudley Market. This neighborhood seafood restaurant in Venice is located just a block off the boardwalk and now has a new front patio with excellent views of the beach and ocean. If eating oysters and fish tacos while staring off into the surf isn’t your ideal dinner setting, we certainly don’t have that in common.
Lost in all of this year’s chaos is the fact that Downtown got itself another excellent rooftop restaurant with Pilot. Located on top of The Hoxton, this all-day restaurant serves a coastal Mediterranean menu that includes pizza, pasta, and plenty of salads, plus great views of the surrounding neighborhood. There’s also a weekday Happy Hour from 2-6pm with tons of specials and $4 beer.
There’s a reason, even in a pandemic, 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, which gives it a very unique feel. 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.
E.P. & L.P.
Ever since EP/LP opened its doors at Melrose and La Cienega, it’s been home to one of the best rooftop patios in LA. With unobstructed views of West Hollywood and a massive footprint to ensure plenty of space in between tables, it’s an ideal place to eat and drink outside while still feeling comfortable. The current menu is filled with small dishes that range from lobster quesadilla to carne asada skewers, plus a separate burger menu that’s available late into the night.
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.
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. They still don’t accept reservations, so we’d recommend sticking to weeknights when crowds are always much smaller.
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 in quarantine 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.
Long before Downtown was a neighborhood people went to for rooftop patios, there was Perch. And today, this casual French restaurant is still going strong - with a fantastic skyline view that’s only gotten better over the years. The menu isn’t going to blow you away, but it doesn’t have to. The view, the tranquil ambiance, and that big glass of wine you’re holding will do the job every time.
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. 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” quarantine 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. And if watching rich people float around on their private boats doesn’t soothe your mind after another long week of realizing you have nothing left to watch on Netflix, then we simply don’t have much in common.
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.
Even in quarantine, this family-family 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?
The rich people of Los Angeles pay millions of dollars for unobstructed views of the Pacific, but that just seems kind of idiotic seeing as you can pay $16 for a plate of Swedish pancakes and get the exact same thing. The Malibu Farm pier cafe is one of our favorite spots in Malibu for both its Scandinavian-inspired food, and for helping us pretend we’re actually millionaires during the time it takes for us to eat those pancakes.
It’s kind of a toss up as to which view is better at Nobu - the big blue Pacific ocean, or the people-watching. To put it bluntly, 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 cares.
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.