LAGuide

The Least-Awful Rooftop Restaurants & Bars In LA

When you absolutely have to be on a rooftop in LA, make it one of these.
The Least-Awful Rooftop Restaurants & Bars In LA image

photo credit: Eataly

In a city with as much sunshine and as many tall buildings as LA, you’d assume it would be easy to find great bars, restaurants, and dance parties on rooftops. It’s not. But the weather’s getting warmer, you have an outfit that’s been waiting to be worn for eight months, and there’s a deep yearning within you that’s begging for strong cocktails and panoramic views of the city.

But now is not the time to give in and go to places with overpriced drinks and crowds full of people who shriek when Harry Styles comes on. Stick to these rooftops in LA, try to make a reservation when possible, and both you and your little outfit will be happy.

THE ROOFTOPS

photo credit: Matt Gendal

Mediterranean

Santa Monica

$$$$Perfect For:Outdoor/Patio SituationOutdoor SeatingDrinks & A Light Bite

For some reason, rooftop pools are scarce close to the ocean. But there is Calabra. Perched atop the Santa Monica Proper Hotel, this splashy Mediterranean restaurant has an indoor lounge, poolside patio, and lots of loungey furniture. The music is loud and people definitely want you to notice their outfits, but the atmosphere is fun and breezy, and the lamb burger is really good. Load up on dips and enjoy the ocean breeze. 

This glamorous NYC import atop The Maybourne in Beverly Hills is a full restaurant, but the mostly mediocre Italian food isn’t the highlight. Come for the exceptional views and even better cocktails instead. The menu has sections dedicated to martinis, negronis, spritzes, and agave spirits—all things you want to be sipping as you stare out over multimillion-dollar mansions. Most drinks cost $20+, but come with fun little flourishes that feel appropriate for the setting (prepare for bartenders to spray olive brine mist on your dirty martini or scorch green chilis for your spicy margarita.)

This is the rooftop bar to end all other rooftop bars. Not only is Cha Cha Chá not awful, but it somehow manages to strattle the fine line of fun, casual, and downright beautiful. Located on a tree-filled rooftop in the Arts District, this is where you come when you want a one-way ticket to the city depicted in movies like La La Land. It’s the perfect place to swing by with a couple of friends for mezcal cocktails and tuna tostadas, hit a romantic date night out of the ballpark, or seal the deal with someone you’re desperately trying to convince to move to LA.

photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee

$$$$Perfect For:Day Drinking

Even with all the flashier Hollywood rooftops like Bar Lis and Desert 5 nearby, the best of the bunch remains Mama Shelter. This spot perched atop the hotel of the same name has been around since 2016—ancient history in Hollywood rooftop world—but still strikes the optimal balance between strong cocktails, great views, and a semi-local crowd that’s down to get weird. On weeknights, the scene is mostly Netflix employees drinking sangria as quickly as possible, but on Saturday afternoons, expect to find seasoned weekend athletes, the kind trained in sipping frozen slushies, eating decent fish tacos, and falling asleep on one of the day beds.

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 is the food. The Peruvian-leaning menu is filled with light, shareable small plates that are great for packs of friends and won’t fill you up to the point where you can’t go out afterward. We recommend sticking mostly to the “cold stuff” section, which includes things like salmon ceviche with pistachio and hamachi tiradito topped with kumquats and miso brown butter.  

This sleek Italian spot is one of the rare Hollywood rooftops where we'll happily lose track of time. The menu includes a good mix of fusion-y Italian small plates we’d come back for, but the real draw at Lemon Grove is the fantastic terrace. It has postcard views of the Capitol Records building, plush patio furniture, and enough decorative cacti to make the space look like a press event at Coachella. When you're not staring at all of that, you’ll be snacking on hamachi tartare and grilled prawns while sipping sangria.

photo credit: Merois

RESERVE A TABLE

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If you want to know what life feels like inside a luxury condo in West Hollywood, grab dinner on top of The Pendry. The massive complex is a mix of hotel rooms, private residences, and several different restaurants, but Merois, the rooftop restaurant, should be your priority. The indoor dining room offers full views of the Hills, Downtown, and even Catalina when the smog clears. The Wolfgang Puck restaurant isn’t groundbreaking, but the seafood-leaning menu has solid dishes like seared scallops, charred octopus, and other things that taste good as you watch the sunset over the city.

photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee

$$$$Perfect For:Big GroupsDate Night
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This grand, multi-story restaurant and bar in Hollywood was once a recording studio by the same name where Stevie Wonder, Bowie, and the Chili Peppers made magic happen, so the food and music carry equal weight. The fun, pricey restaurant downstairs is great, but the rooftop is super fun too. You’ll find a striking jade green bar and giant heaters that look like table lamps and drinks named after famous songs and albums—we loved the Midnight Vulture, a smoky mezcal drink that involves Campari and cilantro. 

photo credit: Eataly

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Drinking on the roof of a mall sounds like an activity you’d get caught doing in high school, but in Century City, it’s a whole scene. Terra is one of several sit-down dining options in the Eataly complex, but it’s the only one with an outdoor patio and views of the Hollywood Hills. Come weekdays, the place is slammed with agents and TV execs pounding spritzes and eating salads and grilled vegetable skewers on their lunch hour. The weekends get more touristy, but the lush terrace is still a great place for a quick sundowner before seeing a movie—or continuing your shopping spree. 

There’s always something going on at Hollywood’s Bar Lis. On Tuesdays, you can drop in for a glass of Gamay and live jazz. And on Saturdays, the whole place transforms into a tequila-fueled dance party. This plant-filled bar has a retractable roof, a lounge with an open-air deck, and a huge indoor space where you and a few friends can dance while a DJ spins disco and soul tracks. Cocktails start at around $18, or you can get bottle service starting at $350 if your pseudo-celebrity friend is paying. The next time you want to be outside with a great view of the Hollywood sign while wearing that outfit you'd put on to win back your ex, head to Bar Lis.

Chances are, if you’re over 21 and owned a bandage dress in the year 2014, you’ve been to E.P. & L.P. Ever since they opened their doors on Melrose and La Cienega, they’ve been famous for their incredible rooftop patio (and infamous for their long lines on the weekend). With unobstructed views of West Hollywood and plenty of space in between tables, it’s an ideal place to eat and drink outside while still feeling comfortable. The food menu isn't as extensive as Bombo, the upscale Mexican spot downstairs, but you can still get a decent burger and some tacos and watch the sunset over the Hills.

Located at the very top of the Freehand Hotel in Downtown LA, Broken Shaker is exactly what you might picture when the words “Los Angeles rooftop bar” pop into your head. Despite the hordes of people posing in front of the pool, $15 cocktails, and the overall see-and-be-seen attitude, this rooftop bar still manages to remain relatively low-key. It offers all the requisite things you need for a proper day at the pool, like strong drinks, unobstructed views of the city skyline, and enough animal floaties to populate Noah’s ark.

Located on the 12th story of the Waldorf Astoria, this lush rooftop patio serves a panoramic experience that’s just as luxurious as the neighborhood it’s housed in. Emerald green chairs are draped in satin, cocktails are strong and tasty (we like the slightly spicy ginger margarita), and you’ll have a view of the city that’ll either make you feel like a bird soaring over the California coastline.

LA is home to plenty of unsolved mysteries (like the sudden disappearance of the Mr. Peanut mural on Temple Street), but none are more perplexing than the lack of good rooftop pool/bars/restaurants on the Westside. Luckily, we have the High Lounge. The rooftop space at the Hotel Erwin in Venice is one of the few hotel rooftops you can check out even if you’re not a guest. Though there isn’t a pool, the drinks are solid and the views are as good as you’d expect from a hotel one block from the beach. The crowd on the weekends can get bro-tastic, but if you’re able to go on an off-time, or after work during the week, you might have the place to yourself.

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