The Best New Rooftops In LA
LA has a lot of great rooftops. These new spots are its rising stars.
With great power comes great responsibility, and with skyline views come tiki cocktails and multiple $ signs. That’s the way things tend to go with rooftops in LA. And as the days get warmer and the sun sets later, you might be in the mood to sip a Sidecar 40-floors above street level. When that time comes, use this list to find all of the best new LA rooftops options that have opened since last summer.
photo credit: Andrea D'Agosto
Desert 5 Spot
We love a themed bar. Why aren't more bars themed? Tell us what to wear! We'll have an amazing time. Self-described as "a little bit country, a little bit of rock-and-roll," Desert 5 is a Pioneertown-inspired rooftop bar in Hollywood that is committed to the bit. There are glowing neon signs, cocktail glasses shaped like cacti and boots, and a stage where some band you've never heard of plays their heart and soul out while rocking cowboy hats. It's Hollywood theatrics, of course. Not an actual dive bar in the desert, but something shiny and fun. It gets crowded here on weeknights, so probably come then. Weekends are packed, packed, packed.
Located on top of The Godfrey Hotel, IO is the latest in a *checks notes* never-ending line of Hollywood hotel rooftops. And while the space has all the required elements for a popular rooftop—great views and $18 cocktails—what we like most about it is how chill the atmosphere is most nights of the week. The music never gets too loud, there are hidden seating areas for quiet conversations, and various movies or live TV are being projected onto a massive wall. If you’re looking for a nightcap after a date or an easy place for a midweek post-work hang, keep IO Rooftop in your rooftop rolodex.
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Melrose Place LA
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.
photo credit: Wonho Frank Lee
When an excessive night is in order (Promotion? Celebrating life? Your best friend finally dumped her toxic ex?), Grandmaster Recorders’ rooftop is a fantastic option to keep in your back pocket. The absolutely 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 and pricey restaurant downstairs is great, but the rooftop is super fun too. You can seamlessly continue the party upstairs, where you’ll find a striking jade green bar and giant heaters that look like table lamps. Drinks are named after famous songs and albums—we loved the Shake Your Money Maker, a bright yellow cocktail made with pineapple, lime, and smoky mezcal.
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.
Cara Cara sits at the top of the Proper Hotel in Downtown LA and is the chic destination to text your friends about, immediately. It’s home to strong cocktails and some of the best views around—stunning city skylines, mosaiced fireplaces, and a plant aesthetic that toes the line between “well-groomed” and “slightly overgrown.” You’ll want to come here to pregame before a night out, or to just catch the gorgeous sunset, now that it doesn’t get dark until, like, 9pm. Plus, the menu was created by the Lucques chef, and is packed with extremely “California” things, like chickpea fritters, halibut crudo, piri piri fried chicken, cara cara cobb salads.
Poppy + Rose
Poppy + Rose is a casual daytime spot in DTLA that serves brunch classics like brioche french toast and lox bagel sandwiches across the street from The Flower Market. From Friday through Sunday, though, you can have it all on their turf-lined rooftop patio. There are picnic tables, great views of the city skyline, and a bunch of friendly faces you can talk to after having one too many mimosas. If you’re planning a get-together downtown with a bunch of your friends this summer, do it here with a plate of eggs benedict or fried chicken and waffles.
From Hollywood to the Arts District, new hotels seem to be opening daily in LA right now—and most of them have some form of a rooftop. If you’re wondering which one you should prioritize, head to Cabra. Located on top of The Hoxton Downtown, the sprawling space has all the requisite 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. 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 big groups and won’t fill you up to the point where you can’t go out afterwards.